Out of all the characters mentioned in Hindu mythology, the character of Rama is one of the most famous ones. It would probably be a difficult task to find a Hindu who is not familiar with this hero or his exploits. He is the main protagonist of the Ramayana, still considered to be one of the greatest Indian epics of all times. Till date his story is taught in schools in India in the form of history and to instill morality in children. Standards set by him, though hard to attain, are ones that are laid out for men in the community to follow.

There is no question amongst the minds of people today that he is divine. What is it about Rama that caused him to reach the status that he holds today? Most of what we know about Rama comes from the Ramayana. Though numerous Ramayanas have been written, scholars agree that the earliest version seems to be that written by Valmiki. It is quite likely that Valmiki's Ramayana underwent changes and was reconstructed at a particular time or has had alterations made at different times.

Several portions of the original poem were removed and various new ones added. Scholars find it hard to determine which bits were part of the original and which ones are additions to it. These changes certainly brought about interesting consequences. The position that the heroic Rama holds within Pan-Indian tradition has gone through many paradigmatic structures as a result.

The changing Ramayanas and notions of Rama reflect a changing cultural pattern amongst the Hindus. There have been quite a few different floating stories of Rama's ties with other Hindu Gods which probably led his position to be that of what it is today. His perception amongst Hindus has changed from that of an ideal character to a successor of Indra and finally an avatar of Vishnu. The essay aims to trace the growth of the Rama tradition. In order to do that, however, it is crucial to comprehend Valmiki's conception of Rama. How does this character come across in the original book?

Rama's various different roles in the poem paint a vital picture of this conception. Viewing Rama through the lens of the other characters of the poem allows us to judge him the way Valmiki's audience would have. Rama's relationship with the characters around him is very significant. Throughout the poem, he comes across as a dutiful son.

He respects his father Dasaratha, and is anxious to fulfil his dreams. He understood the hierarchy of human relationships in Hindu society as well. This can be inferred from the fact that he told his own mother Kausalya that her primary duty was towards her husband when she tried to dissuade him from going into exile. The height of his devotion towards his elders is seen by the fact that he places equal importance to all his mothers, even Kaikeya who wishes him evil. He makes not the least protest when informed of his father's unexpected, harsh decree but merely accepts his fate and prepares to leave. One of his most frequently stressed attribute is self-control.