was a real or mythical king in ancient India
, whose life and heroic deeds are related by the Sanskrit epic Ramayana
Astronomical data in the Ramayana
has been interpreted to suggest that his reign would have been at approximately 2015 BC, however the Ramayana was written many centuries after this date, probably two thousand years later. It cannot be taken as an accurate guide to the life of the historical Rama, except by devout Hindus.
In Hinduism, Rama is regarded as the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu and worshipped together with his companion Hanuman, the monkey-god who assists him in the epic narrative of the Ramayana.
He is the Prince of Ayodhya and is banished to a forest by his stepmother. While in exile, his wife, Sita, is kidnapped by Ravana, King of the Rakshas on Lanka (cur: Sri Lanka). Rama, along with Hanuman, rescued her, killed Ravana and becomes King of Ayodhya.
Rama also killed Vali, the monkey-King of Kishkindhya. He is protected during his adventures by Agastya, and also rescued Ahalya after she was turned to stone by her husband for having an affair with Indra.
In recent years the cult of Rama has become associated with Hindu Nationalism. Rama is held up as a model of Hindu devotion to caste and the rules of dharma, and as a militant opponent of those who would break with it.
Alternative name, and to avoid confusion with others called Rama (see below): Ramachandra
The following characters in Indian mythology also may sometimes be called by the name Rama.
Parasurama - Rama with the axe.
Balarama - (also called Balabhadra, Balabhadrarama), the elder brother of Krishna.
The kings of Thailand of the Chakri dynasty also have the royal title Rama.
Also, in Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, Rama is a giant, cylinder-shaped alien built spacecraft containing a self-sustaining biosphere.