The Ramayan The Moral Values Of Individual And Societal Duty

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Austin Okuno RLST / ASST 104 Section ADE 10/2/14 Paper 1: Question 2 The Ramayana exemplifies some of the conflicts inherent in the ethical values of individuals, particularly with regards to “good” and “evil” and also with individual and societal duty. The story is used to depict the “perfect” person and illustrate “good” and “evil” in the Hindu tradition. “Good”, as defined by Hindu mythology, is the fulfillment of one’s societal obligations; alternatively “evil” is deviation from the laws of rta. While Rama and Sita embody the ideals of Hindu tradition, Ravana’s abuse of power creates disharmony. Throughout the Ramayana, Rama is portrayed as the “perfect” individual that everyone strives to model his or her life after. Rama and his three brothers, all sons of Dasharatha, are raised learning the Vedas, mastering weaponry, and “excelling in bravery and virtue” (MHB 27). However, it is Rama who everyone idolizes and wants to be the next king. But Rama accepts his stepmother, Kaikeyi’s, wishes and retreats into the forest for fourteen miserable years. Given Rama’s social status and his obedience towards his parents, he follows this order despite the hardships of living in the forest. Another example of Rama following his dharma as a Ksatriya is when his counselors announce that the citizens doubt Sita’s purity because “she was touched by Ravana”(MHB 106). Despite Sita’s successful fire trial, the citizens believe Rama is setting a poor example by allowing Sita to be

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