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Stories Then and Now: Gods, Heroes, and Avatars (lesson)

Map of Southeast Asia

Map of Southeast Asia

Map of India

Map of India

Map of Southeast Asia
Map of India

Students trace the movement of Hinduism, and one of its primary stories, the Story of Rama (The Ramayana), from India to Bali, Indonesia; discuss how stories change and are reinterpreted according to time and place; and make comparisons between characters in the Story of Rama and the film series Star Wars.

30 minutes
Resource Type: 
Keyword Results: 

Standards (California Department of Education): English Language Arts/Literary Analysis: 3.2, 3.3, 4.3; History/Social Science: 3.2.1, 3.4.2, 6.5.7; Visual/Performing Arts/Historical Cultural Context: 3.3.4, 4.3.1, 5.4.2, 6.3.2

Worksheet: Student Worksheet: Heroes and Antiheroes (see downloads above): Heroes and Anti-Heroes; website access.


  1. Use a map to show the movement of Hinduism. What do you think might happen to stories and ideas when they travel so far away? Explain how storytelling and stories in art help to spread ideas, and also become unique and take on new meaning in contemporary culture.
  2. Brainstorm or search online for other contemporary references to the Story of Rama (Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, Rama (video game)). Share.
  3. The Story of Rama inspired another epic that students will likely know, Star Wars. Distribute Student Worksheet: Heroes and Antiheroes. In groups, pairs, or as a whole class, brainstorm the qualities of the characters in Star Wars. For a summary of Star Wars, visit: Complete.
  4. Discuss the comparisons that students made between Star Wars and the Story of Rama. Did anything surprise you during this activity?