According to the Ramayana, what does it take to be a hero?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It seems to me that the theoretical underpinnings of The Ramayana would stress that the most enduring quality needed to become a hero is adherence to the sense of dharma.  This quality, adhering to the natural order of the universe, is where heroism lies.  The ability to subjugate one's own condition to dharma is the reason why Lord Rama is such a hero.  Lord Rama is a hero because he does not put his own interests ahead of dharma.  He accepts his banishment, follows what dharma tells him to do, and even atones for kiling Ravana at Rameshwaran because of dharma.  Ravana's failure is that he breaks this condition of being.  He seeks to establish a world in which there is no dharma, no regulatory pattern or order to the universe.  

The forces of heroism in the Ramayana are individuals who adhere to this condition of dharma in the world and place their own sense of being within this context.  Sita Devi is heroic because she does not hesitate in following dharma, both when her husband is banished to the forest, and even when she is compelled to walk through the fire.  Lakshmana is heroic because of his willingness to adhere to the dharma of being Lord Rama's brother.  Hanuman is heroic because he pledges his life, being, and sense of action in the world towards dharma towards Lord Rama.  Heroism is seen as embodying dharma.  Once this is understood, all else falls into its rightful place.

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