Ramachandra Hindu god, considered the seventh incarnation of vishnu, who appeared at the end of the Treta Yuga (Second Age) to destroy the demons who infested the earth. As a human being, Rama was the son of King Dasharatha and Queen Kaishalya of Ayodhya. He is the hero of Valmiki's epic, ramayana, in which he is depicted as an ideal human being. He is a devoted and dutiful son and a loving brother and husband. An ideal hero, Rama is a brave warrior who is devoid of pride and greed. Benevolent towards hermits and generous to his subjects, Rama commands both love and respect.

Rama's concern for hermits as well as his warrior skills are demonstrated in his destroying the demons so that Vishvamitra and his fellow sages are able to perform their devotions. Rama wins sita by performing a superhuman feat: bending shiva's bow. Rama marries Sita and then returns to Ayodhya.

Dasaratha wishes to install Rama as his heir apparent. But on the eve of the ceremony, his favourite wife, Kaikeyi, at the instigation of her wicked nurse Manthara, asks Dasaratha to grant her two boons he had formerly promised her. She demands the exile of Rama for fourteen years to the forest and the installation of her own son, Bharata, as Yuvaraja (Crown Prince). Rama solves his father's dilemma by voluntarily offering to go into exile in the forest accompanied by Sita and Laksmana, his brother.

During their stay in the forest, the ten-headed demon-king Ravana of Lanka carries off Sita. Rama, with the assistance of Sugriva, the king of monkeys, crosses the sea, kills Ravana and all his demons and recovers his wife.

Rama then faces a greater problem when people question him about Sita's chastity. Sita has to prove her chastity through an ordeal of fire. She passes through the fire unscathed. Rama returns to his capital with Sita and becomes king of Ayodhya.

Rama is worshipped by the Hindus as the incarnation of Vishnu, but also revered as a symbol of a king of mercy, virtue, truth and humanity. [S Ranganath]