The Valmiki Ramayana was Tulsidas's inspiration. It is an epic that is broad in scope and provides guidance for all the stages of one?s life?incidentally, ayana means journey (of life). Human life, in all its facets and fancies, twists and turns, ups and downs, is on display in the Ramayana.
People of different spiritual states derive different light and meaning from the text in accordance with their need and understanding. Ordinary human life can be sublimated and bhakti cultivated through a study of the Ramayana. The Ramayana of Valmiki includes characters as they are and as they ought to be. Rama, Sita, Kausalya, Bharata, Hanumana, Janaka, and others are ideal characters. Dasharatha, Kaikeyi, Lakshmana, Shatrughna, Sugriva, and others have been presented as beings with mixed qualities. Ravana, Kumbhakarna, and other rakshasas are portrayed as personifications of abominable qualities.
Rama plays the role of an ideal son, disciple, brother, master, husband, friend, and king. Subject to human emotions and weaknesses, Rama is a supernal god in human form?but he is also a human who has ascended to be an adorable god.
Rama?s bow and arrow symbolize a force that guarantees peace and justice. Rama?s is the ideal of ?aggressive goodness? as opposed to ?weak and passive goodness?. Rama does not, however, kill or destroy; he rather offers salvation to those he slays in battle. This is technically called uddhara.There are many other versions of the Ramayana: Adhyatma Ramayana, Vasishtha Ramayana, Ananda Ramayana, Agastya Ramayana, Kamba Ramayana (Tamil), Krittivasa Ramayana (Bengali), and Ezuttachan?s Adhyatma Ramayana (Malayalam), among others. Although these differ in disposition, flavour, emphasis, amount of details, and length of each kanda (canto), they all describe the life of Rama and are inspired by the Valmiki Ramayana.
When Swamiji was at Ramnad, he said in the course of a conversation that Shri Rama was the Paramatman and that Sita was the Jivatman, and each man?s or woman?s body was the Lanka (Cey?lon). The Jivatman which was enclosed in the body, or captured in the island of Lanka, always desired to be in affinity with the Paramatman, or Shri Rama. But the Rakshasas would not allow it, and Rakshasas represented certain traits of character. For instance, Vibhishana represented Sattva Guna; Ravana, Rajas; and Kumbhakarna, Tamas. These Gunas keep back Sita, or Jivatman, which is in the body, or Lanka, from joining Paramatman, or Rama. Sita, thus imprisoned and trying to unite with her Lord, receives a visit from Hanuman, the Guru or divine teacher, who shows her the Lord?s ring, which is Brahma-Jnana, the supreme wisdom that destroys all illusions; and thus Sita finds the way to be one with Shri Rama, or, in other words, the Jivatman finds itself one with the Paramatman