“Acts of Rama” is an ancient Indian epic consisting of 7 books and about 24 thousand couplets-shlok; attributed to the legendary sage Valmiki
Once the ruler of the kingdom of demons-rahshasas on the island of Lanka was a ten-headed Ravana. He received from Brahma the gift of invulnerability, thanks to which no one but a man could kill him, and therefore he humiliated and persecuted the heavenly gods with impunity. For the destruction of Ravana, the god Vishnu decides to be born on earth as a mere mortal. Just at this time, the childless king Ayodhya Dasaratha performs a great sacrifice in order to find an heir. Vishnu enters the womb of his eldest wife Kausalya, and she gives birth to the earthly incarnation of Vishnu – Rama. The second wife of Dasaratha, Kaikeyi, simultaneously gives birth to another son – Bharata, and the third, Sumira, – Lakshmanu and Shatrughnu.
Already a young man gaining fame by many military and pious deeds, Rama is
sent to the country of Videha, whose king, Janaka, invites to the contest the suitors who lay claim to the hand of his daughter, the beautiful Sita. At one time Janaka, plowing a sacred field, found Sita in his furrow, adopted and raised her, and now intends to marry someone who bends the wonderful bow given to him by the god Shiva. Hundreds of kings and princes vainly try to do this, but only Rama manages to not just bend the bow, but break it in two. Janaka solemnly celebrates the wedding of Rama and Sita, and the couple have lived in Ayodhya for many years in happiness and harmony in the family of Dasaratha.
But Dasaratha decides to declare Ramah his heir. Learning about this, the second wife of Dasaratha Kaikeyi, incited by her servant – the vicious hunchback Manthara, reminds the king that he once vowed to fulfill two of her every desires. Now she expresses these desires: for fourteen years to expel from Ayodhya Ramu and anoint the successor of her own son Bharata. In vain, Dasaratha implores Kaikeyi to abandon her demands. And then Rama, insisting that the father remained faithful to the word given to
him, himself retires into forest exile, and Sita voluntarily followed him and his devoted brother Lakshmana. Unable to endure separation from his beloved son, King Dasaratha dies. Bharata should ascend to the throne, but the noble prince, believing that the kingdom rightly belongs not to him but to Rama, goes to the forest and persistently persuades his brother to return to Ayodhya. Rama rejects the insistence of Bharata, remaining faithful to his filial duty. Bharata is forced to return to the capital alone, but as a sign that he does not consider himself a full ruler, he raises Rama’s sandals on the throne.
Meanwhile, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita settle in a hut built in the forest of Dandak, where Rama, while preserving the peace of the holy hermits, destroys the monsters and demons that plague them. Once, Ravana’s sister is the ugly Shurpanakha to Rama’s hut. Falling in love with Rama, she jealously tries to swallow Sita, and an angry Dakshmana cuts her nose and ears with her sword. In humiliation and fury, Shurpanakha incites to attack the brothers a huge army of rakshasas led by a ferocious Khara. However, with a shower of irresistible arrows, Rama destroys both Khara and all his warriors. Then Shurpanakha turns to Ravana for help. She urges him not only to avenge Khara, but, after seducing him with Sita’s beauty, kidnap her from Rama and take her as his wife. On a magic chariot, Ravana flies from Lanka to the forest of Dandak and orders one of his subjects, the demon Maric, turn into a golden deer and distract Rama and Lakshman away from their habitation. When Rama and Lakshmana, at the request of Sita, go deeper into the forest after the deer, Ravana forcibly puts Sita in her chariot and carries her through the air to Lanka. He is tried to block the way by the king of the jaits of Jatayus, but Ravana mortally wounded him by chopping off his wings and legs. In Lanka, Ravana offers Site wealth, honor and power, if only she agrees to become his wife, and when Sita disdains all his claims, concludes her in custody and threatens to punish death for her obstinacy.
Not finding Sita in the hut, Rama and Lakshmana in great tribulation go to her search. From the dying vulture Jatayus they hear who was her captor, but do not know where he went with her. Soon they meet the monkey king Sugriva, devoid of the throne by his brother Valin, and the wise counselor Sugriva monkey Hanuman, son of the wind god Vayu. Sugriva asks Ram to return the kingdom to him, and in exchange promises to help in the search for Sita. After Rama kills Valine and again elevates Sugriva to the throne, he sends out his scouts to all directions, instructing them to find the tracks of Sita. This is being done by the sent to the south monkeys headed by Hanuman. From the vulture Sampati, the brother of the deceased Jatayus, Hanuman learns that Sita is in captivity in Lanka. Pushing away from the mountain of Mahendra, Hanuman falls on the island, and there, having shrunk to the size of a cat and having scoured the entire capital of Ravana, finally finds Sita in a grove, among the Ashoka trees, under the protection of fierce female rakshasas. Hanuman manages to meet Sita secretly, deliver the message of Rama and comfort her with the hope of an early release. Then Hanuman returns to Rama and tells him about his adventures.
With a myriad of monkeys and their bear allies, Rama is campaigning against Lanka. Hearing this, Ravana gathers in his palace a military council, in which Ravana Vibhishan’s brother, in order to avoid the death of the Rakshasas, demands the return of Sita Rama. Ravana rejects his demand, and then Vibhishana moves to the side of Rama, whose army has already set up camp on the shores of the ocean opposite Lanka.
According to the instructions of Nala, son of the heavenly builder Vishvakarman, monkeys build a bridge across the ocean. They fill the ocean with rocks, trees, stones, through which Rama’s army moves to the island. There, at the walls of the capital of Ravana, a fierce battle begins. Rama and his faithful companions Lakshmana, Hanuman, nephew of Sugriva Angada, the king of bears Jambavan and other brave warriors are resisted by hordes of rakshasas with the commanders of Ravana Vajradamstra, Akampana, Prahasty, Kumbhakarna. Among them, the son of Ravana Indrajit, who is well versed in the art of magic, is especially dangerous. So, he manages to become invisible, mortally wounded by his arrow-snakes Ram and Lakshmanu. However, on the advice of Jambavan, Hanuman flew far to the north and brings to the battlefield the summit of the Kailasa mountain, covered with medicinal herbs, which heals the royal brothers. One by one, the leaders of the Rakshas fall down; Indrajit, who seemed invulnerable, perishes at the hands of Lakshmana. And then on the battlefield appears Ravana himself, who enters into a decisive battle with Rama. In the course of this duel Rama cuts off all ten heads of Ravana in turn, but each time they grow up again. And only when Rama strikes Ravana in the heart with an arrow given to him by Brahma, Ravana dies.
The death of Ravana means the end of the battle and the complete defeat of the Rakshasas. Rama proclaims the virtuous Vibhishana the king of Lanka, and then orders Sita to lead. And here, in the presence of thousands of witnesses, monkeys, bears and rakshasas, he expresses her suspicion of adultery and refuses to accept again as a wife. Sita resorts to the divine judgment: she asks Lakshman to build a funeral pyre for her, enters his flame, but the flame spares her, and the fire god Agni, rising from the fire, confirms her innocence. Rama explains that he himself did not doubt the Sita, but only wanted to convince her of their warriors’ impeccability. After reconciliation with Sita, Rama solemnly returns to Ayodhya, where Bharata gladly gives him a place on the throne.
This, however, did not end the misadventures of Rama and Sita. Once Rama reports that his subjects do not believe in Sita’s goodwill and murmur, seeing in it a corrupting example for their wives. Rama, as it is hard for him, is forced to submit to the will of the people and orders Lakshmana to take Sita into the forest to the hermits. Sita with a deep bitterness, but steadfastly accepts a new blow of fate, and it takes under its protection the wise-ascetic Valmiki. In his abode, Sita is born two sons from Rama – Kush and Lava. Valmiki educates them, and when they grow up, he teaches them their poem about the deeds of Rama, the same “Ramayana”, which later became famous. During one of the royal sacrifices, Kusha and Lava read this poem in the presence of Rama. In many ways, Rama recognizes his sons, asks where their mother is, and sends for Valmiki and Sita. Valmiki, in turn, confirms Sita’s innocence, but Rama once again wants Sita to prove her purity of life to the whole people. And then Sita as a last testimony asks the Earth to enclose it in its maternal embrace. The earth opens before her and takes her into her womb. According to the god Brahma, now Rame and Sita are destined to find each other only in heaven.