INM Asia Guides -> Thailand Travel Guide -> The Ramayana Epic
The Ramayana epic first, several hundred years ago, was told on the Indian subcontinent but has since spread from there as far away as Indonesia. It is the legend of the hero Rama and the beautiful princess Sita, and of the fight between gods and demons and good and evil. The Siamese or Thai version of the story is called Ramakien. Large parts of this Thai version of the Thai Ramakien  have, by the way, been written by King Rama II, who before his succession to the throne was a poet and writer. The Ramakien story goes as follows:
 

A Battle Scene (Mural at Wat Phra Kaew)


 Once upon a time there was a giant king (called Tosakan) on the island of Lanka who won a battle against the god Indra and then sought to achieve the rule of the whole world. The gods knew that only a mortal man would be able to stop the invulnerable giant and sent the god Vishnu down to earth.

Vishnu is reincarnated as Prince Rama (Phra Ram), son of the mighty King Tosarot of Ayuthaya. Rama and his faithful brother and friend Lakshman  (Phra Lak) become famous heroes and Rama is appointed by his father as successor to the throne of Ayuthaya. When Rama manages to win  beautiful and chaste Princess Sita as his wife, their happiness seems complete. However, an envious concubine of King Tosarot convinces him to favor her son and to disinherit Prince Rama. Rama, Sita, and the faithful Lakshman are expelled from the royal palace and have to flee into the jungle where they spend the next fourteen years hidden in a hermitage. 

Entering the Castle!
Rama and his friends on the way to the giant`s castle

 Even in the seclusion of their forest retreat, however, Sita`s beauty does not go unnoticed, and the evil giant King Tosakan decides to lure her way from Rama.  He disguises himself as a lovely deer and carries Sita off to Lanka where she is forced to live in his palace. Rama and Lakshman, of course, try to find her and enlist the help of the monkey king Subrik and his white general,Hanuman. Hanuman, by flying through the air to Lanka, finally discovers poor Sita. Supported by Hanuman and an army of monkeys, Rama and his brother reach the coast in front of Lanka and Hanuman builds with his body a causeway to the island (Image).
 
Giant
The Giant! (Mural at Wat Phra Kaew)

 And the battle starts. When it turns out that Rama and his followers are going to be victorious, however, the evil giant Tosakan manages to sneak out of the palace and takes lovely Sita with him. Again, it is Hanuman who helps: he finds the giant and becomes his confidant. Tosakan trusts him so much that he reveals to Hanuman the secret of his invulnerability. That allows Prince Rama to successfully fight (in an exhausting seven day battle) and finally kill the giant and to win Sita back - although in the beginning he does not believe in Sita`s faithfulness and she must undergo a trial of fire to prove her chastity.
 
Sita`s Abduction (Mural at Wat Phra Kaew)
Sita`s Abduction (Mural at Wat Phra Kaew)

 All of them now return to Ayuthaya, where the unlawful king, the son of the envious concubine, resigns and Rama again becomes king. Everybody could be happy now, but Rama is still in doubt about Sita, who is expecting a child. He expels her from the palace and orders his brother Lakshman to have her killed. Lakshman, however, does not obey and brings Sita instead back to the hermit in the jungle where she and Rama spent fourteen years during Rama`s exile. There she gives birth to a son and the hermit, a powerful magician, forms a twin brother of the child and teaches both arts and mystics. Rama hears about the children,  and finally recognizes his son. After a final battle with the remaining rebel giants, Rama`s mission is fulfilled and he returns to heaven.

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Last Updated 25.12.2008