Rama and Hanuman fighting Ravana, an album painting on paper from Tamil Nadu, ca 1820.

Ramavataram, popularly referred to as Kamba Ramayanam, is a Tamil epic that was written by the Tamil poet Kambar during the 12th century. Based on Valmiki's Ramayana (which is in Sanskrit), the story describes the life of King Rama of Ayodhya. However, Ramavatharam is different from the Sanskrit original in many aspects - both in spiritual concepts and in the specifics of the storyline.[1] This historic work is considered by both Tamil scholars and the general public as one of the greatest literary works in Tamil literature.[2]

Kambar wrote this epic with the patronage of Thiruvennai Nallur Sadayappa Vallal, a Pannai kula chieftain.[3] In gratitude to his patron, Kamban references his name once in every 1,000 verses.


The book is divided into six chapters, called Kandam in Tamil. The Kandams are further divided into 123 sections called Padalam (படலம்) in Tamil. These 123 sections contain approximately 12,000 verses of the epic.[4]

  • Bala Kandam (Chapter: Childhood)
  • Ayodhya Kandam (Chapter: Ayodhya)
  • Aranya Kandam (Chapter: Forest)
  • Kishkindha Kandam (Chapter: Kishkindha)
  • Sundara Kandam (Chapter: Beautiful )
  • Yuddha Kandam (Chapter: War)
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