A Hero’s story or a journey is an elaborative narration of quest, magic, extra ordinary deeds and larger than life people and events. Every such story has a beginning, middle and an end. A Hero is set up at the beginning of the story and then there are heaps of challenges thrown towards him and after facing many foes , overcoming various obstacles and the magical guidance rendered by some divine mentor, the Hero wins the battle and mostly saves a girl.
All such trials and tribulations faced by a youthful, naïve hero subsequently leads to his personal growth and transforms him from a mortal to an extraordinary being. A Hero story always has its protagonist as a male warrior rescuing damsel in distress, a lady is mostly portrayed as one who is in danger and totally dependent on the male Hero for her own rescue.
In Indian mythology, Ram and Krishna from our revered epics are the greatest heroes for us and while they are going through all possible adventures and saving the damsels too they are always portrayed as perfect Godly beings aware of their divinity in every such moment. But to speak of Ramayana, it does have one such distinctive characteristic in its narration wherein instead of trapped damsels, there are women playing crucial roles and displaying the strength of their character at each stage of Rama’s heroic journey from a Prince to the consciousness of an Avatar.
From Kaikeyi to Tadka, Ahalya to Surpankha all had shaped Rama’s character in their own ways and most importantly and obviously Ram’s eternal soul mate Sita had the key role from all of them. These women encountered by Ram lead him towards the greater cause of his life’s purpose. Ram’s hero journey is initiated when for the first time he crosses the threshold of his magnificent & luxurious grand palace and begins his training with a tough mentor Vishwamitra, who throws towards him a challenge in the form of a She-Demon Tadka and this was Rama’s first call to adventure. His fight and eventually slaying of this She-Demon Tadka by getting over his dilemma of killing a woman showed that Ram accepted the call to his adventure and was on the path to his own transformation.
Many years later when his step mother Kakeyi’s popular conspiracy made him renounce the Kingship which was about to be conferred on him and pushed Ram again in facing a realm of unknown. It was then he treaded towards the journey of an Avatar which will make his name to be remembered for many generations on.
As per popular version of Ramayana, Ram’s first sign of divinity was apparent when he rescued Ahalya who was cursed to be lived as stone for many years due to the act of so called infidelity towards her husband. This curse of Ahalya called for the compassion hidden in Ram’s heart and the ability to empathise. It was in this instance, the tenderness in Ram can be seen emerging and he is shown in an emotional act apart from the usual killings by him as Kshtirya (warrior).
His marriage with Sita can be termed as the highest turning point of Ram’s life. This union not only made our hero Ram a lover but also an individual with whom now an ordinary being can also identify. Ram and Sita together were the names uttered in every household and remained in mind and heart of every man and woman. The sacred marriage of Ram and Sita was the source of inspiration and essential aspect of the greatest epic Ramayana. It was then the idealistic, divine and brave Ram puts his first step towards the passage of Maryada Purshottam Ram.
And last but not least, enters a woman called Surpankha who was the final pedestal of Ram’s adventurous voyage. She is the famous temptress who tries to lure our hero and an attempt of seduction leads to the foundation of all those events which we fondly and admirably refer as our Ithihasa (History) until today.
Thus Rama’s hero journey begins and concludes with all these heroines without which the epic of a ‘Perfect Man’ and his perfect way of life would have been incomplete. Together they gave us Ram–ayana; meaning the way and life of Rama to the mankind and its society.