The Ramayana is one of the two major epic poems of ancient India, the other being the Mahabharata. The story traces the events in the life of Rama, traditionally considered to be the 7th Avatar of Vishnu, and his battle with the evil King Ravana. Just as the Mahabharata takes place at the close of Dvapara Yuga and the beginning of Kali Yuga, so the Ramayana takes place at the close of the Treta Yuga and the beginning of the Dvapara Yuga—Rama’s death indicates the shift from Treta to Dvapara just as Krishna’s death indicates the shift from Dvapara to Kali.

As with much of Indian history, modern scholars are at great odds with traditional Indian chronology, with modern scholars granting much shorter durations for the events recorded in the Indian Epics, Puranas, etc. Indian tradition places the death of Rama and the end of Treta Yuga some 864,000 years before the death of Krishna, hence over 869,000 years ago. While unbelievable by modern historical standards, it accords with the much more expansive timeline offered by Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrinein particular it coincides with a date offered for a major cataclysmic deluge which sank remnant islands of Atlantis 850,000 years ago (see SD 2:313-14). Students are encouraged to explore all claims with an open but discerning mind. See also Vedic and Pre-Historic India.

Of the Ramayana and its events, Blavatsky gives the following interpretation:

When Vishnu Purâna narrates that “the world was over-run with trees,” while the Prachetasas—who “passed 10,000 years of austerity in the vast ocean”—were absorbed in their devotions, the allegory relates to the Atlanteans and the adepts of the early Fifth Race—the Aryans. . . . It hints at the great struggle between the “Sons of God” and the Sons of the Dark Wisdom—our forefathers; or the Atlantean and the Aryan Adepts.

The whole History of that period is allegorized in the Ramayana, which is the mystic narrative in epic form of the struggle between Rama—the first king of the divine dynasty of the early Aryans—and Ravana, the symbolical personation of the Atlantean (Lanka) race. The former were the incarnations of the Solar Gods; the latter, of the lunar Devas. This was the great battle between Good and Evil, between white and black magic, for the supremacy of the divine forces, or of the lower terrestrial or cosmic powers. . . . “Manas [mind] is dual—lunar in the lower, solar in its upper portion,” says a commentary. That is to say, it is attracted in its higher aspect towards Buddhi, and in its lower descends into, and listens to the voice of its animal soul full of selfish and sensual desires; and herein is contained the mystery of an adept’s as of a profane man’s life, as also that of the post-mortem separation of the divine from the animal man. The Ramayana—every line of which has to be read esoterically—discloses in magnificent symbolism and allegory the tribulations of both man and soul. (Secret Doctrine, 2:495-96)

Hence, from a theosophical perspective, the Ramayana relates both the events of transition from one major period of human evolution (“Atlantean”) to the current one (“Aryan”), and also the inner battle of “good” vs. “evil” which takes place in the mind and soul of every person. Much more is said on both these counts in The Secret Doctrine.


Translations

The Ramayan of Valmiki, Translated into English Verse by Ralph T. H. Griffith

The Ramayana, Translated into English Prose by M. N. Dutt

Valmiki Ramayana, Translated by Desiraju Hanumanta Rao, K. M. K. Murthy et al


Selected Articles, Commentaries, etc.