Rāma, whose epic tale has manifested in diverse tellings, attracting audiences throughout the world, is the seventh avatāra of Viṣṇu. Avatāra, literally meaning “descent,” is the willful manifestation of a deity on earth for a specific purpose that is enacted through līlā. William Sax defines līlā as a world created by the deity, in which the deity enters “in a spirit of play.”1 Rāma avatāra is known as the māryadā purūṣottama, or one who is the “perfect man,” and a deity whose divine līlā expresses propriety of dharma in all actions. In distinction to Kṛṣṇa avatāra, whose words as opposed to actions are followed by devotees. Rāma avatāra leads by example. This emphasis on right action2 has been particularly important in diasporic communities such as Trinidad where Rāma is the best
known and perhaps the most beloved deity.
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