Skip to content


The following five lessons will give substance to the discussion of moral dilemmas in the Ramayana. Each character faces a distinct dilemma in which he must make choices most in line with righteous behavior. The correct choice depends on principles, circumstances, and individual personality. It is not easy to act according to dharma; thus the dilemmas the characters face present thought-provoking problems.

Lesson 1: Dasaratha's Choice

Dasaratha, king of Ayodha and Rama's father, has to choose between a promise he has made to his son or a promise made to his wife.

Lesson 2: Lakshmana's Loyalty

Lakshmana, brother of Rama, must decide to stay and protect his sister-in-law or to save his brother's life.

Lesson 3: Rama Chooses Sides

Rama has to decide whether to follow through on a hasty promise to support the younger brother, Sugreeva, against his older brother, Vali, in a battle to the death.

Lesson 4: Hanuman Burns Lanka

Hanuman, monkey general and devotee to Rama, is faced with the decision to punish the city of Lanka, both the innocent and the guilty, or to flee without harming anyone.

Lesson 5: Sita's Ordeal by Fire

After Sita returns from being held captive in the home of the evil Ravana, Rama must decide whether to accept her back or to put her through a trial by fire to prove her chastity.

South Asia Center
346 Eggers Hall