Discussion Question 6

  1. Every epic work defines heroism differently, and many heroes are great of stature without being moral paragons. As the headnote to the Ramayana points out, Rama is a virtually perfect man. Do you find him less interesting than other heroes on that account? What indications are there in this portion of the text that his perfection may not be totally innate, but a state of being that he must work to achieve? How would this mirror the efforts we see his mother, Kausalya, make to discipline her feelings? How would that be consistent with the Hindu religious beliefs that imbue this work?

I find Rama to be far less interesting than other heroes. As the headnote to the Ramayana points out he is a virtually perfect man. Rama always does the right thing, which in my opinion made his character very predictable. There was no “Wow Factor’ to his character and I wasn’t left guessing what would happen next. His perfection was put to the test when he was exiled and he calmly accepted it and gave up the kingdom rather than enter into a state of anger. With that being said his perfection was definitely a state of being that he had to work to achieve. Kausalya was sad at first, but was able to file her feelings away and accept Rama’s fate and awaits his return.

2. In The Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna speaks to Arjuna, a warrior afraid to fight: compare Arjuna’s dilemma with that of Achilles in the Iliad, or that of Medea as she struggles with her maternal emotions when she is about to kill her sons by Jason. Compare the code of behavior Krishna outlines to the view of violence in Homer’s poem or Euripides’ Medea. If appropriate, look for materials in other belief systems that reflect on these questions: consider “[The First Murder]’ (Genesis 4), the Beatitudes (Mathew 5), or “The Offering of Isaac,’ or the table (Sura 5 of the Koran)

Arjuna and Achilles are completely separate from each other. Arjuna was against the idea of fighting against his family and friends, and only wanted to better himself, whereas Achilles fought because he was seeking glory and wanted revenge. Achilles wanted the “bragging rights.’ Arjuna fought by the code of behavior and Achilles fought for himself and didn’t really live by much of a code.

3 thoughts on “Discussion Question 6

  1. gpetrie

    I agree with you that Arjuna and Achilles had very different reasons for wanting and not wanting to fight. However, I think that Ramā was in fact more interesting than other heroes because he was so perfect. I think that the author did a good job of creating depth in the character.

  2. sxkristoffersen

    I wonder if him accepting becoming exiled was even a gesture of being perfect. Maybe it was actually just him doing what he was told. His father banished him so Rana had to go. The same thing would have happened if anyone else was banished. So maybe it was not that he was perfect, but that he was commanded under the rule of the land. Honor could be argued, but even honor doesn’t equate to perfection.

  3. Caitlin

    I also agree with your point about Arjuna and Achilles. They were completely different when it came to fighting.

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