The Ramayana, A Journey To The Self
This is a wonderful summary and outlook of the Ramayana. The Ramayana is the story of the journey of Rama. It's a story of devotion, love, truth and courage. I love this version by Hamish Henry. I've copied his interpretation below for you to enjoy, it is an excerpt from his book "Yoga Dharma"
These are the main characters in the story and what they represent, I hope you enjoy as much as I did:
Rama represents God / soul
Sita represents mind / manas
Ravana represents Ego / Asmita
Hanuman represents Prana / life force
Dasharatha represents body
Kaushalya, Sumrita, Kaikeyi (Dhasharatha's wives) represent sattva, rajas and tamas
Lakshmana (Rama's brother) represents Dharma / duty
Jambavan King of bears represents ancient wisdom / guru
"Our story starts in Ayodhya (place of no struggle). Dasharatha (body), the king, wishes to make Rama (Soul) the prince regent, but his third wife calls in a favor and gets her son Bharata to become prince regent and Rama (soul) exiled for fourteen years. Rama (soul) leaves for the forest with Sita (mind) and Lakshmana (Dharma). There a demoness tries to tempt Rama (soul) but Lakshmana (dharma) cuts off her nose. Furious she tells her brother Ravana (ego) who is very powerful and has ten heads. (This may represent either our ego, or his vast knowledge as when you cut off one head another grows). So for revenge Ravana (ego) entices Sita (mind) with a golden deer. Sita (mind), desiring the deer, persuades Rama (soul) to catch the deer. When Rama (soul) doesn't return she asks Laskhmana (dharma) to find him. Lakshmana (dharma) draws a line around Sita (mind) and their hime so she will be protected (the line of Dharma). Raven (ego) fools Sita (mind) by distinguishing himself as a sage. he cant cross the line but persuades Sita (mind) to cross it. He then captures Sita (mind) and takes her to Lanka. But Sita (mind) is wise and drops pieces of jewelry so Rama (soul) will be able to follow. When Rama (soul) returns he is in despair at the loss of Sita (mind).
While searching for Sita (mind), Rama (soul) meets Hanuman (life force) the general of Sugriva’s Monkey Army. Hanuman (life force) is sent to the south along with Jamvaban (guru), king of the bears, in search for Sita (mind). He takes with him a ring belonging to Rama (soul). They get to the end of India and can see Lanka but cannot get there. Then Jambavan (guru) reminds Hanuman (life force) that he can do much more than he imagines. Hanuman (life force) jumps the waters that divide India from Lanka. There he finds Sita (mind) and shows her Rama’s (soul) ring. Hanuman’s (life force’s) next trick is to allow himself to be captured. The demons then set his tail on fire. But Hanuman (life force) escapes and sets Lanka on fire.
Back in India Hanuman (life force) tells Rama (soul) what he has seen. So the monkey army build a bridge of stones to Lanka and a terrible battle unfolds. Raven (ego) sends our his giant brother Kumbhakarna. So Hanuman (life force) uses his magical powers to grow in size and destroys him. Then the all powerful Indrajit is sent out and unleashes a terrible weapon killing all the monkey army. Again only Hanuman (life force) can save them now. He rushes to the Himalayas under Jambavan’s (guru’s) advice and tried to find the blue flowered sanjivani herb that will heal all the wounds. Unable to identify the herb he lifts the whole mountain and flies back to the battle field and revives Rama (soul), Lakshmana (dharma) and all the monkeys. To end the battle Rama (Soul) chants a mantra (mind protection) given to him by the sun God Surya. The mantra is the Adhitya Hridyam. Rama (soul) shoots an arrow at Ravana’s (ego’s) one weak spot and kills him. Sita (mind) returns to Rama (Soul). But unfortunately her purity is questionable by the citizens of Ayodhya (place of no struggle) and as a final test she steps into the fire to prove her purity and of course she comes out unharmed. Peace now flows throughout the world. "
The teachings of the story are that we should be honorable, truthful and faithful friends. That the mind is easily distracted by golden deer and only with prana and dharma can mind be recovered from ego and there is nothings more powerful than soul.