The Theme Of Dharma Can Be Found Throughout The Ramayana

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The theme of dharma can be found throughout the Ramayana. Rama, firmly committed to duty, is meant to be a near perfect representation of dharma (though he stumbles in a few places, as I will explore in the next paragraph), an example to strive toward. Here, though, I will examine examples within the text of adharma, and through examining what not to do, find out more about what to do. I will focus mostly on the actions of three characters: Kaikeyi, Soorpanaka, and Ravanna. But first I will examine one of the more questionable actions taken by our hero. Even a few actions by Rama at points throughout the story appear to be adharmic. Though some would reply that the appearance of adharma in some of Rama’s actions is just a result of human misunderstanding, and the circumstances of those incidents justify the actions, it’s still worth exploring why those actions would usually be considered adharma and what we can learn from them. Rama’s attack on Vali in particular seems difficult to justify – why should Rama pick sides in this squabble between family? Even if he is right to intervene, why not seek out more peaceful means of ending the squabble before resorting to violence? Even if he has to resort to violence, why not come out and face Vali directly instead of ambushing him while he’s busy with Sugreeva? Rama tries to answer all of these questions when asked by Vali, but none of his answers are particularly convincing, leaving us “ordinary mortals,” as Narayan writes,

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