Hindu Epic of Ramayana is a huge Poetry, divided in different chapters. Below
is a small gist of the epic, just give you the outline of the story, and the view
of deepavali that originated from it. This is, by far, the most widely believed
origin and history of diwali:
There lived in ancient times a mighty rakshasa-a
most fearsome asura-named Ravana who, strengthened by a boon granted to him by
the great god Brahma, unleashed a reign of terror on the world.
to bear his cruelty, the devas approached the great god Vishnu for help.
"0 great Vishnu," they cried. "Ravana is terrorizing the world,
plundering and looting at will. Because Lord Brahma granted him power over all
devas and asuras, we are helpless against him. You must help put a stop to him."
Vishnu's eyes narrowed as he listened intently. "You say that devas
and asuras are helpless against him," he observed. "What about men and
"There was no mention of them in the boon,"
replied the devas. "But," they added scornfully, "men are such
tures. They posses neither strength nor supernatural powers. How
they stand up to Ravana?"
"H'mm" murmured Vishnu”
stroking his chin thoughtfully. "We'll see about that. Tell me, is there
anyone on earth at this moment praying for a son?"
replied the devas. "King Dasaratha of Ayodhya is at this very minute performing
a huge sacrifice for an heir."
"Thatha sill! Let his wish be
granted," declared Vishnu, with a mysterious twinkle in his eyes.
was a brave and honourable king and his people were happy and prosperous. As was
the custom in those days, he had three beautiful queens, but, to his bitter disappointment,
no heirs. He decided, therefore, to perform a homa-a fire sacrifice to please
Building a great fire, Dasaratha poured ghee and other offerings
into it while a thousand priests chanted holy mantras invoking the devas. The
best of his cattle were sacrificed and gifts of land, cattle, fine clothes, and
gold were distributed to the deserving.
Towards the end of the sacrifice,
a radiant being emerged from the fire. He held out a golden bowl and, addressing
the king in a booming voice, said, "Great King, the devas are pleased with
your sacrifice and send you their blessings. Give this payasam to your queens
and they will bear you noble sons."
Soon thereafter, to Dasaratha's
delight, each of his queens became with child and, in due course, delivered handsome
sons. The eldest of the princes, named Rama, was especially gifted with beauty,
strength, and dignity.
When Rama came of age, he won the hand of the
beautiful Princess Sita of Mithila. Dasaratha, who had become old and weary, decided
that the time had come for him to retire and to make Rama king. Everyone rejoiced,
for Prince Rama was greatly loved.
Everyone, that is, except for Kaikeyi,
Dasaratha's youngest and favourite queen, who wished her own son, Bharatha, to
rule. Reminding Dasaratha of two wishes he had granted her in the past, she demanded
that Rama be banished to the forest for thirteen years and that Bharatha be made
king in his place.
Upon hearing her demands, the old king collapsed in
grief. But Prince Rama took the news with dignity. "Dear Queen," he
said, bowing solemnly. "I will honour my father's promises."
Discarding his royal robes, Rama donned the plain attire of a woodsman and left
for the forest. The beautiful Sita and his brother, Lakshmana, from whom Rama
was inseparable, went with him.
In the forest the three built a small hut
to live in and settled into a simple life. Rama and Lakshmana hunted by day, while
Sita collected berries and cooked whatever they brought home. They made friends
with the many sages and woodsmen who also lived in the forest and the years passed
Meanwhile, the wicked Ravana was growing more powerful day by
day. He threatened both asuras and devas, and even stole the winged chariot that
belonged to Kubera, the Lord of Riches! Moreover, under his leadership, all the
other rakshasas also became unruly and troublesome.
Hearing of Sita's
great beauty, Ravana dedded that he must have her for his bride. He commanded
his uncle, Maricha, to disguise himself as a beautiful spotted golden deer and
lure Rama and Lakshmana away from the hut. Then, disguised as a poor old man,
Ravana went to the hut begging for alms. When the kind-hearted Sit a brought out
a bowl of rice for him, he turned back into the tenheaded rakshasa and carried
her off in Kubera's winged chariot.
As Ravana sped away with Sita to
his kingdom of Lanka, Jatayu, the King of Birds, tried to stop him. But Ravana
merely laughed wickedly and chopped off his wings.
When Rama and Lakshmana
returned, they searched high and low for Sita. Finally they came upon Jatayu,
lying wounded on the ground.
"Rama, Lakshmana," gasped J atayu
hoarsely. "Ravana tricked you with the spotted golden deer. He has carried
Sita away to Lanka in a winged chariot. I could not save her."
princes were devastated. "We must rescue her!" cried Rama unhappily.
"But how?" asked Lakshmana. "Ravana is all-powerful and has
a large army of gruesome rakshasas. Also, because of Lord Brahma's boon, he is
stronger than the devas and asuras. How can we fight him?"
must, at least, try," said Rama. "Poor Sita will be so sad and frightened."
Just then, a vanara called Hanuman came by and wondered who the handsome
"Who are you?" he asked. "And why are you
Rama explained how Ravana had tricked them and carried away
Sita. "She must be rescued, but alas, we have no army. How can we fight
the mighty Ravana?"
Calling all the monkeys of the forest together, Hanuman
replied, "Don't be discouraged, dear Prince. We will help you. Our monkey
army will gather stones and make a bridge across the sea to Lanka." And so,
Hanuman and his monkey army began building a bridge. All the animals of the forest
came out to help, even the little chipmunks. Rama stroked them lovingly and to
this day they proudly bear the marks of his fingers on their backs.
times Surya rose in the east and sank in the west and on the eighth day, the bridge
was complete. It was the fifteenth day of Kartika and the night of the new moon.
Surya was at his lowest point on the horizon, and Chandra was but a sliver in
the sky. Night loomed dark and long. Followed by the monkey army, Rama and Lakshmana
crossed the bridge into Lanka.
Thousands and thousands of rakshasas came
out to meet them, howling savagely and hurling spears. The monkeys fought
fiercely and valiantly alongside Rama and Lakshmana.
At last Ravana came
out of his castle. Beating his chest and shaking his ten heads threateningly,
he gave a mighty roar. He was a scary sight!
"Have you come to fight
me, Rama?" he mocked with a wicked laugh. "Don't you know that neither
deva nor asura can overpower me? How dare you, a mere man and a pack of monkeys
But Rama stood his ground fearlessly. Stringing his
bow, he let fly an arrow with a mighty twang! It whizzed through the air like
lightening and severed one of Ravana's heads. However, no sooner did the head
fall to the ground than another grew in its place! Rama sent another arrow...
And then another...
But each time a head
was severed, another grew back on.
Ravana's mocking laughter grew louder
and louder until it shook the earth and rent the sky.
ha! Is this all you can do?"
Then Hanuman stepped up and whispered
in Rama's ear, "The seat of his power lies in his belly. Aim your arrows
With lightening speed, Rama's arrow sped through the air
and found its mark before Ravana could lift his club.
roared the mighty Ravana. His scream rent the sky as he fell to the ground with
a thud. Ravana was defeated, for rakshasas, like asuras, lose their magic powers
once they fall to the ground. When they saw their leader fall, the rakshasa army
fled in panic. The monkey army cheered as they realized that the battle was over.
Flowers fell from the sky as devas gathered to rejoice. "The mighty Ravana
was defeated by a 'mere' man and an army of monkeys!" they chorused.
Sita came out of the castle, her gentle face full of love. Greeting her joyfully,
Rama declared, "Our period of exile is over today. We will return home to
Kubera, the Lord of Riches, offered them his winged chariot
to carry them back home. Hanuman went with them.
The people of Ayodhya
were eagerly awaiting their rightful king's return. Even Rama's brother, Bharatha,
was overjoyed, for he, too, wanted Rama to be king and had merely been looking
after Ayodhya until his return. They lit rows and rows of lamps to brighten the
dark night and greet the royal couple. Rama's coronation was celebrated by a burst
of fireworks and a great feast. Fine clothes and sweets were distributed to everyone.
And, to this day, many Hindus celebrate the defeat of Ravana and the return
of Rama from exile by lighting lamps on this darkest night of the year!
Diwali Greeting cards