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Ramayana is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India which narrates the struggle of the divine prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. Along with the Mahabharata, it forms the Hindu Itihasa.
The Ramayana is widely acknowledged to be one of the world's great literary masterpieces. In Hindu tradition, the Ramayana is considered to be the Adi-kavya (first poem). It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal husband and the ideal king. The Ramayana was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Its most important moral influence was the importance of virtue, in the life of a citizen and in the ideals of the formation of a state or of a functioning society.
Like Mahabharata, Ramayana presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and ethical elements. The characters Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Hanuman, and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of the South Asian nations of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the South-East Asian countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia.