Moral Dilemas: Full Lesson



This lesson has been designed to accompany a study of the Ramayana . It deals with five episodes within the epic, and it uses these episodes to provide substance for the discussion of Dharma. Students are asked to identify the point at which the character must make a decision which is in conflict with his or her dharma. Once this is done, students may discuss how effective a choice the character has made based on the Hindu concept of dharma and on human nature in general. Students are then asked to relate each dilemma to their own experience


Students will be able to:

1. understand the concept of Dharma.
2. describe Dharma's effect on major characters in the Ramayana.
3. appreciate the differences in moral reasoning across cultures.
4. examine characters' relationships as they surface in specific scenes and as they relate to the overall work.
5. relate the moral dilemmas of the Ramayana to their own experiences involving similar choices and dynamics.


· Begin with the page entitled "Moral Dilemmas: The Role of Dharma." Review with students the importance and meaning of dharma, keeping in mind that dharma changes with each position in society.
· Have students review the story of the Ramayana and stop prior to each of the five dilemmas:

1. Dasaratha's Choice of a Successor
2. Lakshmana's Loyalty to Rama (Leaving Sita in the Woods)
3. Rama Chooses Sides between Sugreeva and Vali
4. Hanuman Burns Lanka
5. Sita's Ordeal by Fire
As you reach each dilemma, divide the students into groups of three or four, ask them to refer to the section labeled "Defining the Dilemma." Once this is done, have each group review the "Outcomes/Consequences" and "Dharma" sections to gain greater understanding into the difficulty of each decision. Then, refer to the questions at the end of each episode.
· Each group should answer all questions. Then, continue as a class and ask each group to report on their decision.
· See the "Extensions" (with the lessons) for further questions