How is the theme good vs evil relevant to The Ramayana?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Insofar as The Ramayana (translated as Rama’s Journey) depicts a struggle between good, in the person of Rama, Sita, King Dasa-ratha, The Earth Mother, and others against evil, in the person of Ravana, the demon king of Lanka (or Rakshasas), and Queen Kaikeyi, one of King Dasa-ratha’s wives who wants her son and Rama’s half-brother Bharata to be designated regent instead of Rama, then the theme of good versus evil is entirely relevant to this ancient Hindu story.  The Ramayana is mythology.  As with ancient Greek mythology, gods interact with the human world, attempting to manipulate outcomes.  In the case of The Ramayana, the gods ask Vishnu, one of the Supreme Gods, to bless Dasa-ratha with four sons, enabling the king defeat Ravana.  Vishnu’s wife Lakshmi is sent to Earth as a mortal to help facilitate developments favorable to Dasa-ratha.  Rama is the first, or eldest son and, as such, rightful heir to his father’s throne.  The son born to Queen Kaikeyi, Bharata, is second in line but, as noted, the queen wants Bharata to inherit the throne instead of Rama.

The Ramayana is an enormously long and complicated text, and involves repeated reference to Hindu deities.  Anyone who has attempted to truly understand Hinduism who was not brought up in that faith will find it a difficult religion to understand.  The epic’s length, its structure and its subject matter all combine to make reading it a very protracted effort.  Parallels to Homer’s epic The Odyssey have been made, and Rama’s ability to bend the bow of Shiva, the criteria set forth by King Janak, Sita’s father, to win the right to Sita’s hand in marriage, is similar to Odysseus’ ability to prove his identity after his long absence by stringing his bow.  Meanwhile, Queen Kaikeyi has manipulated King Dasa-ratha into agreeing to force Rama into exile, thereby enabling Bharata to inherit the throne, a development that does not sit well with Bharata when he discovers his mother’s subterfuge.   Ravana’s sister will fall in love with Rama, which pits her against Sita, about whom nasty rumors had been passed around during Rama’s years in exile.  In any event, suffice to say, this is a complicated story.  That Sita had been imprisoned by Ravana, prompting the rumors of infidelity among demons and humans alike -- rumors that made their way to her husband, Rama -- did not help matters, but did serve to illuminate the central conflict between forces of good and forces of evil.

The manipulations of Ravana and Queen Kaikeyi represent evil, and Rama and Sita represent good.  As The Ramayana is about this conflict of good versus evil, the theme of good and evil is entirely relevant.  

shrutigopal | Student

The answer to this question is a bit complicated and depends on one's perspective.the goodness has been shown to be emerging specificallyfrom lord Rama and Sita. lakshmana, the brother of rama, and hanuman, the follower of rama, are too an incarnation of good. The antagonists of the epic are ravana and manthara,the worker of queen kaikeyi. As said, only the reader can talk about who they want to place on the good side as well as evil. Even lord rama cannot be said that he was made out of goodness when he sent Away his pregnant and well deserving wife. Ravana kept sita in the ashoka vatika after kidnapping her, why? Thus there are no specific good vs evil here but the circumstances playing out to let the better side win accordingly.