The Ramayana (Sanskrit: रामायण, Rāmāyaṇa, ?) is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon (smṛti), considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India, the other being the Mahabharata. It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king.The name Ramayana is a tatpurusha compound of Rāma and ayana ("going, advancing"), translating to "Rama's Journey". The Ramayana consists of 24,000 verses in seven books (kāṇḍas) and 500 cantos (sargas), and tells the story of Rama (an avatar of the Hindu preserver-God Vishnu), whose wife Sita is abducted by the king of Sri Lanka, Ravana. Thematically, the Ramayana explores human values and the concept of dharma.
Verses in the Ramayana are written in a 32-syllable meter called anustubh. The Ramayana was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and Indian life and culture. Like the Mahābhārata, the Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages(Vedas) in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and devotional elements. The characters Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Hanuman and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India, Nepal, and many South-East Asian countries such as Thailand and Indonesia.
There are other versions of the Ramayana, notably the Ramavataram in Tamil, Buddhist (Dasaratha Jataka No. 461) and Jain adaptations, and also Cambodian, Indonesian, Philippine, Thai, Lao, Burmese and Malay versions of the tale.