The Ramayana is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature.
The Ramayana belongs to a class of literature known in Sanskrit as kavya (poetry), though in the West it is considered to belong to the category of literature familiar to readers of Homer, namely the epic.
It is one of two epics, the other being the Mahabharata, which have had a decisive influence in shaping the nature of Indian civilization.
It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king.
Like the Mahabharata, the Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and ethical elements.
The characters Rama, Sita, Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata, Hanuman and Ravaṇa are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and south-east Asian countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia.