This story is part of a series of Rama Stories, read to students as they prepared to put on a production of the Ramayana for parents. The Ramayana play was part of a cultural unit of study that included both Bali and India.
Just before dawn, on the day after Rama’s exile from the palace, the boatman Pranam offered his daily prayers to the river.
He gathered his supplies and was just about to climb into his small boat when he heard soft footsteps nearby. As he turned he could not believe his eyes. Emerging from the nearby forest he saw Prince Rama and his beautiful wife Sita walking towards him. They were dressed simply and although their feet were bare, the forest floor did not seem to trouble them.
“We require passage across the river. Can you help us?” Rama asked Pranam.
“Of course my Lord, it would be my honour to take you both anywhere you would like to go,” Pranam said, wondering if he was actually still asleep and if this was all a dream.
As Rama helped Sita into the boat he noticed the boatman’s hands were shaking slightly. He glanced at Sita to see if she had noticed.
“Is something wrong?” Sita asked Pranam softly.
“My Lady, you are a Princess and my Lord Rama is the future King. How can I take you in my small boat? Surely I am unworthy of such a task?”
Sita looked across at Rama and they both smiled at Pranam.
“Please do not be worried my friend,” Rama said. “As you can see I’m no longer a Prince. I’m dressed the same as you. Besides, I don’t know how to sail a boat, but you do. We need your help,” Rama said touching the man’s shoulder.
The boatman looked up into Rama’s eyes and saw sincerity shining there. All nervousness left him as his heart swelled with the kindness of Rama’s words.
When they reached the other side of the river Rama helped Sita out of the boat and then turned to Pranam, “Thank you for helping us today. May you live a long and happy life.”
Pranam did live a long and happy life. Every time he helped travellers cross the river he remembered Rama’s kind words and they filled his heart.
Kindness is like the river, he thought. It flows on forever – regardless if you’re a king or a simple boatman – its effect is just the same.
Download the story to read to your class: rama-and-the-boatman-by-sarah-parker
Related lesson resources: ramayana-readers-theatre-adaptation-by-sarah-parker