Rama is the protagonist and hero of the Ramayana. He is virtuous, strong, and committed to his duty. He has no lust for power and is completely committed to his wife. Despite being a god, Vishnu, in human form he never abuses his power or betrays his dharma. He is one of Hindu’s most celebrated heroes and his story is as popular and powerful today as it was a thousand years ago. Rama’s unyielding commitment to both the idea of honor and his wife has inspired Hindu’s for centuries.
Ashoka was a legendary Indian ruler who oversaw the Maurya Empire during the third century BCE. According to legend after expanding the empire to its farthest reaches, he converted to Buddhism and became an unequivocal believer in non-violence. He banned animal sacrifice and committed himself fully to the idea of virtuous living.
The men shared many characteristics including an unyielding devotion to morality. They were also concerned with the legitimacy of their position as leaders. Rama went so far as to fulfill the full term of his exile despite the fact his father attempted to change his mind. Rama believed he had to fulfill his duty no matter what. Each man preached the values of respect and acceptance.
Rama accepted the help and befriended Hanuman, a monkey most humans would have deemed unworthy of assistance. While Asoka was a Buddhist he was very tolerant and accepting of other religions. He believed this would earn loyalty. Despite both men’s aversion to violence they would use it if necessary but did so reluctantly. Each man has contributed greatly to Indian belief in dharma, honor, and humility.
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most widely read Hindu stories in the world. It is written as two men having a conversation during war. The story tells of gods and virtues important to all Hindus such as love, devotion, dharma, and sacrifice. In the story Arjuna is conflicted. He is a member of the warrior caste, Varna, and is across the battlefield from members of his family. He does not want to go to war with his kin but his duty as a Varna requires it to fulfill his dharma. Krishna warns him that the earthy world is an illusion and not to get caught up in worldly matters. He tells Arjuna he must fulfill his duty or not only will he fail himself but he will be causing his kin to fail because they cannot fulfill their duty as warriors. Krishna explains that in to attain atman he must fulfill his earthy duties.
The Upanishads are the mystical portion of the Vedas. It uses metaphors to teach and, is also the section of the Vedas that clearly points to Brahman, or a Supreme Being. They expound on the idea of attaining atman and merging with Brahma in order to attain release from the cycle of rebirth, called moksha. Like the Bhargavad Gita the Upanishads use dialogue between two people to teach.
The Chandoyga Upanishad is written as a dialogue between two men like the Bhargavad Gita but, rather than just plainly speaking about the...