Ramayana is a sacred epic about the life of Lord Rama.

Can anyone explain the meaning/etymology of the word "Ramayana?"

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3 Answers 3


The literal meaning of Ramayana is 'The journey of Lord Rama'.

Word Ramayana is comprised of words Ram + Ayanam by Sanskrit Sandhi rules. Ayanam is a Sanskrit word which means

A path; A journey; Travel.

Iya / Aya > Ayana > Ayanam depicts a body motion, generally of coming towards, but not necessarily always.

In Hindi, Aya is derived from Ayanam refers specifically

To come

In Marathi language, ya is referred to as 'to come' or 'to go' depending on context.

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    In a "subtle sense".. it is the journey(past, present and future) of sita-rama...prakriti-purusha....and centred in the Absolute truth. Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 7:59

I think of it this way:

Ramayana = Ram + ayana

Here 'ayana' could be one of two thing:

  1. coming - Story of Ram's Coming/Arrival
  2. path/walking - the Path/walk/journey of Ram

Reference: http://sanskritdictionary.com/?q=ayana

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    Yes, Ayana - Approaching or belonging to.
    – Pandya
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 15:26

Monier-Williams explains the word as 'goings of Rāma and Sītā.'

n. (Ramāyaṇa) Name of Vālmīki's celebrated poem, describing the "goings" [ayana] of Rāma and Sītā

(it contains about 24000 verses in 7 books called Kāṇḍas, viz. 1. Bāla-kāṇḍa or Ādi-kāṇḍa; 2. Ayodhyā-kāṇḍa; 3. Araṇya-kāṇḍa; 4. Kiṣ-kindhyā-kāṇḍa; 5. Sundara-kāṇḍa-; 6. Yuddha-kāṇḍa; 7. Uttara-kāṇḍa; part of the 1st book and the 7th are thought to be comparatively modern additions; the latter gives the history of Rāma and Sītā after their re-union and installation as king and queen of Ayodhyā, afterwards dramatized by Bhava-bhūti in the Uttara-rāma-caritra; Rāma's character, as described in the Rāmāyaṇa, is that of a perfect man, who bears suffering and self-denial with superhuman patience; the author, Vālmīki, was probably a Brāhman connected with the royal family of Ayodhyā; and although there are three recensions of the poem, all of them go back to a lost original recension, the ground work of which, contained in books 2-6, in spite of many amplifications and interpolations, may be traced back to one man, and does not, like the Mahābhārata, represent the production of different epochs and minds)

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