Shri Ram Katha is the recitation of the life story of Lord Rama. Ram is ras - enjoyment/energy; love is also an enjoyment; and for Tulsidasji, even meditation is enjoyment. Katha is ras; the spoken and the listening are both ras.
The Ramayana is an epic poem which was first written from memory (smriti) by sage Valmiki in the Sanskrit language. Many years later, Goswami Tulsidas, born in the 16th century, wrote the Ramcharitamanas. Through Asia, the Ramayana has served not only as poetry, but as the ideal of life and embodiment of principles, as the basis for festivals, plays and rituals, as the foundation for religion, and as an eternal tale of love and duty.
The Ramcharitmanasa is broken up into stanzas called chaupais, passages of which are interposed with dohas or couplets. It is filled with exquisite poetry and consists of seven chapters: Bal Kand, Ayodhya Kand, Aranya Kand, Kiskindha Kand, Sundar Kand, Lanka Kand and Uttar Kand.
All these sections cover the different periods of Lord Rama's life, taking us right from his boyhood, through his exile and his life in the forest, to the abduction of Sita, the war which follows in Lanka and finally, what happens after the recovery of his wife. Preceding these seven sections, the story of Lord Shiva has also been narrated in the form of a prologue to Ram's story.
Lord Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, is one of most popular deities worshipped in the Hindu religion. Each year, many devout pilgrims trace their journey through India and Nepal, halting at each of the holy sites along the way. The poem is not seen as just a literary monument, but serves as an integral part of Hinduism, and is held in such reverence that the mere reading or hearing of it, or certain passages of it, is believed to free from sin and bless the reader or listener. Lord Rama is an incarnation (Avatar) of the god Vishnu. The main purpose of this incarnation is to demonstrate the righteous path (dharma) for all living creatures on earth.
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