Regional Compositions of Sri Ramayana, Part Seven


Serial presentation of the preeminent versions of Sri Ramayana.


Adhyatma Ramayana, literally the "Spiritual Ramayana", is a medieval Sanskrit text extolling the spiritualism in the story of Ramayana. It is embedded in the latter portion of the Brahmānda Purana. Some scholars attribute it to 14th-15th Century A.D. The author as unknown.

Written in mellifluous Sanskrit, the work sums up the main events of the Valmiki Ramayana. Discussions pertaining to Advaita Vedanta philosophy, the path of Bhakti, and Rama-bhakti in particular, with several hymns in praise of Lord Rama are the hallmarks of this work.

Adhyatma Ramayana is the portrayal of a conversation between Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati, as reported by Lord Brahma to Sage Narada. The text philosophically attempts to reconcile Bhakti in Lord Rama and Shaktism with Advaita Vedanta.

Adhyatma Ramayana constitutes over 35% of the chapters of Brahmanda Purana, often circulated as an independent text in the Vaishnavism tradition. It is also an Advaita Vedanta treatise. The text is comprised of over 65 chapters and 4,500 verses, organized into seven kandas:

1. Bal Kand - This chapter begins with the description of Brahmaswarup, the cosmic and celestial appearance of Lord Rama as an avatar of Vishnu, who descended to earth as a human being to remove rakshasas such as Ravana. It includes Rama's childhood and the story of Ahilya's deliverance by Rama.

2. Ayodhya Kand - Life in Ayodhya, including Rama's exile, the death of his father Dasarath, etc.

3. Aranya Kand - The forest (aranya) chapter, which includes the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana.

4. Kishkindha Kand - The episode of Kishkindha. This chapter describes the killing of Bali, and the initiation of the active search for Sita.

5. Sundar Kand - Details Hanuman's arrival and activities in Lanka.

6. Lanka Kand - Corresponding to the Yuddha Kanda of the Valmiki Ramayana, it contains details of the battles between Rama's armies and Ravana, the killing of Ravana, and the coronation of Rama upon his return to Ayodhya from Lanka.

7. Uttar Kand - Epilogue. It includes the banishment of Sita, the birth of Lava and Kusha, and Rama's departure to Vaikuntha. The fifth adhyaya (sub-chapter) of the Uttar Kanda describes a conversation between Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana, often referred to as the Rama Gita (the song of Rama). It is essentially an Advaitic philosophical work.

Taking the form of a dialogue between Shiva and Parvati, Adhyatama Ramayana contains the ideal characteristics of Lord Rama and the precepts related to devotion, knowledge, dispassion, adoration and good conduct.

The Advaita elements of the text represent Lord Rama as the Brahman (metaphysical reality), mapping all saguna (attributes) of Rama to the nirguna nature (ultimate unchanging attributeless virtues and ideals).

This text influenced the popular Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas, and is thought to have inspired several later versions of the Ramayana story in languages, including Oriyan, Bengali and Malayalam.

The Malayalam version, known as Adhyathmaramayanam Kilippattu, was written by Thunchaththu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan in the early 17th Century. It is considered to be a classic of Malayalam literature. Ezhuthachan used the Grantha based Malayalam script to write his Ramayana, although Vatteluttu writing system was the traditional writing system of Kerala at the time.