aapadaam apahartaaram daataaram sarvasaMpadaam.h .
lokaabhiraamam shriiraamam bhuuyo bhuuyo namaamyaham.h ..
" I bow again and again to Sree Rama who removes (all) obstacles and grants all wealth and pleases all. "
Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is an epic poem of India which narrates the journey of Virtue to annihilate vice.
This epic poem Ramayana is a smriti which is translated as "from memory". Given the antiquity of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, there have been some interjected verses. Sometimes these verses can be contradicting. However, scholars, grammarians, historians have put lot of effort to standardize the original text, by verifying various manuscripts available from various parts of India, thus trying to stabilize and save the text from further contradictions. An example of this effort is the critical edition of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana. This site aims to study various versions of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana and arrive at a version of Ramayana that is most relevant to modern times.
Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is composed of verses called Sloka, in Sanskrit language, which is an ancient language from India and a complex meter called Anustup. These verses are grouped into individual chapters called Sargas, wherein a specific event or intent is told. These chapters or sargas are grouped into books called Kaandas where Kaanda means the inter-node stem of sugar cane, or also a particular phase of the story or an event in the course of story telling.
Thus the structure of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is arranged into six Kaandas or Books, and they are:
While stabilizing the original text of Ramayana, historians surmised that portions of two Books [Kaandas], namely Book I, Bala Kaanda and Book VII, Uttara Ramayana (not listed above) are later additions - "The first and the last Books of the Ramayana are later additions. The bulk, consisting of Books II--VI, represents Rama as an ideal hero. In Books I and VII, however Rama is made an avatara or incarnation of Vishnu, and the epic poem is transformed into a Vaishnava text. The reference to the Greeks, Parthians, and Sakas show that these Books cannot be earlier than the second century B.C......"[ The cultural Heritage of India, Vol. IV, The Religions, The Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture ].
However Book I, Balakanda is considered to be an original version except for some injected stories. Story starts from the fifth chapter of Book I, and tradition demands it to be read with the others. This stipulation is not obligatory to Uttara Kaanda, a later kaanda, wherein Sita's expulsion to forest takes place. Theologists worship Sri Rama as a God incarnate, philosophers make him the philosophical Absolute, while at the same time, materialists, condemning the above, appreciate the lyrical values of Ramayana, but as a great devotee-singer said "Whoever calls you in whatever way, you are that One".