Valmiki, who was once a robber, wrote the Ramayan: one of the greatest Hindu epic that imparts lessons on being an ideal human being. One of the core foundations of the Hindu culture, Ramayana was first passed by Valmiki to the sons of Lord Ram, and has been since passed on to the generations that have come. We have all heard about Ram’s exile of 14 years, and Ravan’s kidnapping of Sita, and Ram’s eventually victory over the Evil with the help of his army of monkeys, but there’s so much more to this legendary epic, and today we bring you some of the most hidden stories from the Ramayana.
Here we go…
#1. King Dashratha had one more child. And here’s how Ram and his brothers were born.
Before Ram and his brothers were born, King Dashratha and his first wife Kaushalya had a daughter named Shanta. Kaushalya’s elder sister Vershini and her husband Raja Rompad (who was a great friend of Raja Dashratha as they studied in same Ashram) had no offspring. Once, when Vershini was in Ayodhya, she joked around asking for a child, to which Dashratha promised her she can adopt his daughter, Shanta. As the promise of ‘Raghukul’ had to be kept, Shanta was adopted by Raja Rompad, the king of Angdesh.
One fine day, when Shanta was grown up to be an adult and was now a very beautiful woman, she was in a conversation with Raja Rompad. At this time, a Brahmin came to visit King Rompad requesting help for cultivation during the monsoon. Busy in the conversation with his adopted daughter Shanta, Raja Rompad ignored the Brahmin who left the kingdom. Lord Indra, the God of rains, was offended because a Brahmin devotee of his was insulted. Lord Indra decided to punish Rompad and hence, it did not rain in the coming monsoon.
To get free from this curse, Raja Rompad called a Rishi, Rishi Rishyasringa, to perform a Yagna asking the Lords for rains, which succeeded. To pay honour to the Rishi, King Dashratha and King Rompad decided to marry-off Shanta to Rishyasringa.
As Dahsratha had no heir yet, he then called Rishyasringa to perform a Yagna for him too, after which the God of Fire gave a dessert to Dashratha for his wives to consume, eating which: Ram and his brothers were born.
#2. The interesting story behind the 10 heads of Ravan: who in fact was an extraordinary Veena Player and a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva.
Considered the antagonist of the epic, Ravan, factually, was a great follower of Shiva, an inordinate scholar, an excellent ruler and a maestro of Veena. Attaining education, Ravan underwent a colossal penance to please Lord Shiva on the banks of river Narmada. Willing to please the Lord, Ravan axed his head. Each time that happened, the head grew back, which continued 10 times, pleasing Shiva. Shiva thus granted 10 heads to Ravan that he sacrificed. These 10 heads indicate the six shastras and the four vedas that Ravan mastered.
After winning over Lanka, Ravan again went to meet Shiva in Kailash, where he was denied entry by Nandi-Shiva’s gatekeeper. Annoyed, Ravan teased him and hence a furious Nandi cursed him that his Lanka would be destroyed by a monkey! To prove his devotedness to Shiva, Ravan tried to lift Kailash. Angry Shiva placed a toe on the hill and Ravan’s hand crushed beneath it, so painfully that his cry shook the world.
To please Shiva now, Ravan plucked out his nerves and played Shiva’s praise to which Shiva released him and gifted him a sword and gave him the name Ravan, which means “the one with terrifying roar”.
#3. Laxman did not sleep for the entire 14 years of Ram’s exile! Urmila, his wife, made a huge sacrifice to make this possible.
Urmila, the wife of Laxman, was ready to accompany him when he was leaving for exile with Ram, but he forced her to stay home. When in forest, Laxman wanted to protect Ram and Sita day and night and wanted to defeat sleep. He thus approached the Goddess of Sleep – Nindra – and asked her to overlook him for the next 14 years. Nindra commanded that someone else must sleep on his behalf to create balance, and Laxman asked her to consider his wife Urmila for this. Nindra went to the Ayodhya Palace and asked Urmaila if she would take up Laxman’s sleep, which she gladly did.
Urmila slept for 14 years, till the day of Ram’s coronation, and had it not been for her, Laxman would never have been able to slay Meghnath as Megnath was granted a boon that he could only be killed by Gudakesh: the one who defeated sleep!
#4. Ram is the reincarnation of Vishnu, but who are his brothers reincarnations of?
As Ram is considered an incarnation of Vishnu, Bharat and Shatrughan are considered to be his Sudarshan-Chakra and Conch-Shell, while Laxman is considered to be his Shesh-Naag, Vishnu’s seat in Vaikunth (adobe of Vishnu or Brahmalok). As Earth rests on Shesh-Naag’s head, whenever Adi Shesh is angered, the Earth shakes. When in the courtroom of Janak (father of Sita), during Sita’s ‘swayamvar’, nobody could lift the bow of Shiva, Janak got upset and declared that the Earth is now devoid of strong men. This angered Laxman so much that the Earth started to tremble.
Laxman was later born as Balram, the elder brother of Lord Krishna. Laxman had complained that since he is born as the younger brother, he has to obey all commands of Ram and thus, his wish to be the elder brother was fulfilled when he was born as Balram.
#5. A promise of Ram became the cause of Laxman’s death.
After Sita was consumed by Mother Earth, Ram knew that his duties on Earth were over and he decided to return back to Vaikunth, but that couldn’t be accomplished as Hanuman won’t allow Yam, the God of Death to meet Ram.
To distract Hanuman, Ram threw his ring in the underworld (Paatal) and asked Hanuman to procure it. Ram then invited Yam, but he put forth a condition that the conversation between them must remain unrevealed and if anyone intercepts the conversation, Ram would kill the person. Ram asked Laxman to guard the gate to ensure no one came in to intercept the meeting of Lord Ram and Yam.
In the meantime, angry sage Durvasa came in to meet Ram only to be halted by Laxman. Angry Durvasa warned that he would curse Ayodhya if not allowed to meet Lord Ram. Seeing the situation, Laxman decided to go and talk to Ram and hence intercepted the meeting. After this incident, to fulfil his brother’s promise, Laxman went to Saryu and gave up his life.
Laxman’s death before Ram’s was necessary as the Shesh-Naag (the seat of Vishnu) that was Laxman had to return first, before Vishnu returned to Vaikunth. Vishnu here was Lord Ram.
#6. Here’s how Hanuman got the name “Bajrangbali”.
After the Ram Rajya was established, once when Sita was applying vermilion (kumkum) to her forehead, a curious Hanumam asked her the reason for this. Sita explained that it was a ritual that would result into a longer and a healthier life for Ram. Enthusiast Hanuman, as big a devotee of Lord Ram he was, went on and covered his entire body with kumkum and hence turned completely orange! Bajrang means orange and hence came the name: Bajrangbali!
#7. Once, Ram issued a death sentence to Hanuman and a war between the two started! *whoa*
After Lord Ram became the King, once, when the court was adjourned, Narada – known for creating disharmony between Ram and Hanuman – asked Hanuman to greet all sages except Vishwamitra, since he was a King once. Hanuman did so but that did not affect Vishwamitra.
Narada went on and instigated Vishwamitra, which boomed up his anger so much that he went to Ram and asked him to punish Hanuman to death. Vishmamitra being Ram’s guru, Ram could not ignore his command and punished Hanuman to death by arrows. Next day in the field, the statement was to be executed, but all arrows failed to do any harm to Hanuman as he kept chanting Ram!
Since Ram had to abide by his Guru’s word, he decided to use the Brahmastra. To the surprise of all, Hanuman’s chants of Ram even failed the most powerful Brahmastra! Seeing this, Narada went to Vishwamitra and confessed his mistake, stopping the war!
#8. Bali of Ramayana became the reason for the death of Lord Krishna from the Mahabharata!
Bali, the elder brother of Sugreev, known for his strength, had a boon that whosoever engaged in a combat with him would lose half of his strength to Bali. Invincible Bali was challenged once by Ravan for a combat. Enraged Bali, grabbed Ravan by his head and took him round the world, making Ravan accept his defeat.
Bali, when took over Sugreev’s wife and the kingdom of Kishkinda forcefully, Sugreev fled the kingdom and met Hanuman in the woods for help. In the interim, Ram killed a demon named Kadambh in the forest while searching for Sita and a curse-free Kadambh now asked Ram to meet Sugreev to help him from Bali.
Ram decided to execute Bali after meeting Sugreev.
Ram shot Bali from behind the tree, and Bali alleged that Ram had betrayed him as he didn’t challenge Bali for a combat. To this, Ram explained that if a man ill-behaves a woman, it is the duty of a righteous man to punish him. Ram then promised Bali that in his next life, he would become the reason of Vishnu’s death and thus take revenge of this incident.
Bali was later reborn as Jara, the hunter, who was the reason of Krishna’s death in the Dwapar Yug!
#9. Had it not been for Soorpnakha, there wouldn’t have been any Ramayana. And here’s why Soorpnakha became the sole catalyst of the Battle of Lanka.
Many accounts of the Ramayana, except that of Valmiki, suggest that Soorpnakha, the sister of Ravan, had no romantic interest in Ram. Valmiki’s account suggests that Soorpnakha, or Minaxi, approached Ram because she had a romantic interest in him, but was rejected as Ram was committed to Sita. Soorpnakha also approached Laxman but Laxman too rejected her. Seeking revenge, Soorpnakha enticed Ravan to capture Sita, which he did, triggering the Battle of Lanka.
Other accounts however suggest that Soorpnakha, who was first married to Dushtabuddhi Rakasha, enticed Ravan to kidnap Sita to seek revenge for her husband’s death. Dushtabuddhi maintained good relations with Ravan until he started demanding more power: this resulted into Ravan killing Dushtabuddhi. Deeply disturbed by the death of her husband, it is said that Soorpnakha realised Ram could well be the only person to be powerful enough to kill Ravan, and thus got her nose chopped from Laxman (by proposing her) and then enticing Ravan to abduct Sita.
Despite Ravan’s family’s reservations and fears, considering Ram’s power, Ravan did abduct Sita causing the Battle of Lanka. It is thus believed that Soorpnakha played a pivotal role in making of the Ramayana and her absence would have ensured no such story to come into existence!
#10. Kuber, the Lord of Wealth, was the stepbrother of Ravana and the actual ruler of Lanka. Ravana fought Kuber to then conquer Lanka!
Lord Brahma produced ten Prajapatis, or mind-born sons when he created the Universe. These ten were the father of the human race and one of them was Sage Pulatsya, the father of Vishrava. Vishrava – a sagacious scholar, mesmerised Rishi Bhardwaj so much that he offered his daughter Ilavida to Vishrava for marriage. Ilavida gave Vishrava a son, Kuber, the Lord of Wealth.
An asura Sumali and Tataka, decided that their daughter Kaiseki should marry the most virtuous man and hence they planned a meeting of Kaiseki and Vishrava. He fell in love with her and fathered Ravan and his brothers. Hence, Ravan was a Brahmasura.
Vishwakarma, the architect of Universe, created Lanka for Shiva; and Vishrava later asked it from Shiva as a dakshina. Vishrava’s son Kuber then inherited Lanka and shared all his wealth his half-brothers including Ravan. However, after getting all kinds of booms from Brahma, Ravan considered himself the most powerful of the lot and demanded entire Lanka from Kuber. When Kuber did not pay heed to his demands, Ravan fought Kuber and conquered Lanka.
Later, after killing Ravan, and returning to Rameshwar, Lord Ram created the Shiva Temple so as to reimburse his sin of Brahmanhatya.
#11. How Lord Ram affected the tail of Squirrels.
While creating the bridge to get to Lanka, a squirrel was helping the monkeys headed by Nal and Neel (trained by Vishawakarma). Seeing a squirrel carry beach sand for the Setu (the bridge from the tip of India to Sri Lanka), some monkeys started laughing! Upset squirrel went and sat near Ram. Acknowledging the tiny creature’s dedication, Ram cuddled its back and hence ever since, squirrels carry white stripes as the finger signs of Ram!
#12. The final victory over Ravan was made possible by Bali’s Son’s ill-treating of Mandodari, the wife of Ravan.
When only Ravan was left to battle with Ram and his army of monkeys, Ravan organised a Yagna for his victory. The caveat was: Ravan could not leave the Yagna. Knowing this, Ram asked Angada, the son of Bali, to head a group of monkeys to impure and extinguish the Yagna.
Reaching the palace of Ravana, Angada and his group created mayhem but Ravana was indifferent to this. In order to grab Ravan’s attention, and make him leave the Yagna, Angad then pulled Mandodari’s hair in front of Ravan. When Ravan still continued to focus on the Yagna, pleasing the Gods, Mandodari pleaded Ravan to help her and she taunted to Ravan mentioning what Ram was doing for his wife! This made Ravan leave the Yagna, and Angad and his group fled the palace as their purpose was done.
#13. Lord Indra’s jealousy cursed Kumbhakaran with his sleeping pattern!
Once brothers Ravan, Vibhishan and Kumbhakaran were asked for a boon they wanted by Brahma. Indra, on the other hand, was jealous of Kumbhakaran’s wit and valour and thought that Kumbhakaran would ask for Indra’s Indrasan – the Kingdom of Heavens. Fearing this, Indra requested Goddess Saraswati to tie Kumbhakaran’s tongue, compelling him to ask for eternal Nindrasan. Brahma granted Kumbhakaran the boon of eternal sleep.
Seeing this, Ravan requested Brahma to undo this as it was really a curse. Brahma did undo it, but he decided that Kumbhakaran would sleep for half a year and then wake up the rest of the year – during which he ate eternally. During the Battle of Lanka, Kumbhakaran was asleep and was walked over by a thousand elephant as that was the only way he could have woken up!
#14. Hanuman also created his version of Ramayan – which was supposedly a superior version compared to that of Valmiki’s – but Hanuman destroyed it!
After the war when Hanuman went to Himalaya for continuing his reverence of Lord Ram, Hanuman etched his version of Ram’s tale on the walls of Himalayas with his nails.
When Maharshi Valmiki visited Hanuman to show his version of Ramayana, he saw the walls and felt sad as Valmiki believed that Hanuman’s Ramayana was superior and that his arduously created version of the Ramayana would remain unnoticed. Realising this, Hanuman discarded his version. Taken aback, Valmiki said he would love to be reborn to sing the glory of Hanuman!
#15. The first letter of every 1000th Shloka of the Ramayana together make up the Gayatri Mantra!
There are 24 letters in the Gayatri Mantra and there are 24,000 Shlokas in the Valmiki Ramayana. The first letter of every 1000th Shloka together of the Ramayana forms the Gayatri Mantra, making this revered mantra the essence of the epic. While the Gayatri Mantra has been actually first mentioned in the Rig Veda, it has gained significance thanks to the Ramayana.
Editor’s note: There have been numerous, conflicting versions of the Ramayana, each with certain modification, told over centuries in different languages and forms across the nation. In this story, while most of the facts have been derived from the Valmiki Ramayana, there are some taken via citations of other versions of the Ramayana. The author and the editors involved with the story have ensured that every fact stated here holds enough significance in literary context to be considered a fact, but if one was to compare this story of compilation of different stories of the Ramayana with a particular version of the Ramayana, one may find some conflicting information. Our sources include the Valmiki Ramayana, this Wikipedia Page and further related linked Wikipedia pages, and this Quora thread. Note that this is an informational story and it is not intended to hurt the sentiments or question the ideals of any religion, sect, community or person.