Rama, an avatar of the Protector Vishnu, is a favorite hero among Hindu deities. He is the symbol of morality and truth. He embodies all qualities of the ideal king, husband and son. Rama is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. He took birth to vanquish the demon forces of his era. The Sanskrit poet Valmiki has immortalised Rama’s deeds in the Hindu epic Ramayana.
Rama is believed to have lived in the Treta Yuga. He was not deified until the 11th century AD. It was Tulsidas’ “Ramcharitmanas” that popularised Rama among Hindus. This work also propelled the formation of numerous devotional groups for Rama.
Rama is often depicted standing with a bow in the left hand and an arrow in the right. He sports a quiver of arrows on his back. Rama’s picture usually also depicts Sita, his wife, brother Lakshmana and Hanuman, the legendary monkey God. Rama’s robes are princely and he sports a “tilak” or red mark on his forehead. Similar to Vishnu and Krishna, Rama also is depicted as having a bluish complexion.
Comparison with Krishna
While Krishna’s image is playful, given his dalliances and shenanigans among the gopis and others, Rama is depicted as the archetype of virtue and righteousness. Both these Gods are extremely popular among Hindu worshippers.
When Hindu friends meet, they greet each other with “Ram! Ram!”. At death also, Rama is invoked by the chant “Ram Naam Satya Hai!”. Though Rama’s popularity is unquestionable, Krisha is worshipped in more shrines in India.