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Indian epic poem, composed in Sanskrit c. 300 BCE. With the Mahabharata, it is one of the two great epic poems of India. Consisting of 24,000 couplets in seven books, it describes the royal birth of Rama and the loss of his throne. Banished to the forest with his wife, Sita, and his half brother, Laksmana, he spends 14 years in exile. When a demon king carries off Sita, Rama enters into an alliance with Sugriva, king of the monkeys, and Hanuman, the monkey general, who help him rescue her. Rama regains his kingdom, but Sita is banished when her chastity is questioned, and she is swallowed by the earth after proving her innocence.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Ramayana, visit Britannica.com.
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