Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is an epic poem of India which narrates the journey of Virtue to annihilate vice. Sri Rama is the Hero and aayana His journey. We in India believe that Sri Rama lived in Treta Yug, millennia BC and we are presently concerned with what Srimad Valmiki Ramayana tells us, rather than when it was told.
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:
1. Bala Kanda
2. Ayodhya Kanda
3. Aranya Kanda
4. Kishkindha Kanda
5. Sundara Kanda
6. Yuddha Kanda