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Lord Rama: Fact or Fiction

Friday, 12 April 2019 / Published in Articles, Nandanandana das / 11,389 views

By Sri Nandanandana das (Stephen Knapp)

As of late, in the year 2007, the idea of whether Lord Rama exists or not has been called into question, by no less than some of the politicians in India. So it is a wonder how such persons can be accepted as leaders of the people of India who should be concerned with preserving and protecting the culture of the country. Obviously, they are neither concerned nor aware of the depths of information that can be found in support of the traditions for which India is especially known. Or, they are really attempting to dismantle or destroy the authority of the timeless nature of the civilization of the country.

In regard to Lord Rama, the point about ancient history is that the farther you go back in time, the fewer references you can use that actually refer to the incident in history. There may be many commentaries, but few quotations to the actual events.

However, when it comes to the Ramayana and the history of Lord Rama, there have been numerous authors who have accepted the Ramayana as a history of ancient events. For example, the first Governor General of India, Sri Rajaji, wrote on the Ramayana and called it a history, as also did the English Indologist Sir William Jones. Various other western authors have made a study of the culture and history of the Ramayana, such as Philip Lutgendorf in his book Rama’s Story in Shiva’s City, California University; Joe Burkhalter Flueckiger and Laurie Sears in The Boundaries of Traditional Ramayana and Mahabharata Performances in South and Southeast Asia, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; W. L. Smith on Ramayan Traditions in Eastern India, University of Stockholm, and others.

There are also numerous places that are indicated as the locations where various events happened in reference to the pastimes of Lord Rama and Sita. Thus, they are accepted as historical sites. I have personally visited many of these places, such as Ramesvaram, Nasik, Hampi, and others where there are particular locations and sites that are related to the events that took place in the life and adventures of Lord Rama. Many people accept these sites as the locations for the events described in the Ramayana. So how can this be unless there are not some reality behind it?

However, why is there not more archaeological evidence that points towards Rama’s existence? Because such an effort has not been made in India and systematic excavations have never been carried out, says historian Nandita Krishnan. She says that to doubt the existence of Rama is to doubt all literature. There is little archaeological or epigraphic evidence for either Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed, who are known only from the Bible and Koran respectively. Does it mean they did not exist? If Rama performs miracles such as liberating Ahalya, the Biblical story of Jesus walking on water or the Koranic tale of Mohammed flying to heaven on a horse are equally miraculous. Such stories reinforce divinity.

She also describes in summary what areas the events of Lord Rama’s life took place. She explains: “The Ramayana is geographically very correct. Every site on Rama’s route is still identifiable and has continuing traditions or temples to commemorate Rama’s visit. Around 1000 BC or earlier, no writer had the means to travel around the country inventing a story, fitting it into local folklore and building temples for greater credibility.

“In 1975 the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) unearthed fourteen pillar bases of kasauti stone with Hindu motifs near the mosque at Ayodhya; reports of the excavations are available with the ASI. Rama was born in Ayodhya and married in Mithila, now in Nepal. Not far from Mithila is Sitamarhi, where Sita was found in a furrow, still revered as the Janaki kund constructed by her father Janaka. Rama and Sita left Mithila for Ayodhya via Lumbini. In 249 BC, Ashoka erected a pillar in Lumbini with an inscription referring to the visits by both Rama and Buddha to Lumbini. Ashoka was much nearer in time to Rama and would be well aware of his facts.

“Rama, Lakshmana and Sita left Ayodhya and went to Sringaverapura – modern Sringverpur in Uttar Pradesh – where they crossed the River Ganga. They lived on Chitrakoot hill where Bharata and Shatrughna met them and the brothers performed the last rites for their father. Thereafter, the three wandered through Dandakaranya in Central India, described as a land of Rakshasas, obviously tribes inimical to the brothers’ habitation of their land. Tribals are still found in these forests. The trio reached Nasik, on the River Godavari, which throbs with sites and events of Rama’s sojourn, such as Tapovan where they lived, Ramkund where Rama and Sita used to bathe, Lakshmankund, Lakshmana’s bathing area, and several caves in the area associated with their lives in the forest.

“Rama then moved to Panchavati near Bhadrachalam (AP), where Ravana abducted Sita. The dying Jatayu told them of the abduction, so they left in search of Sita. Kishkinda, near Hampi, where Rama first met Sugriva and Hanuman, is a major Ramayana site, where every rock and river is associated with Rama. Anjanadri, near Hospet, was the birthplace of Hanuman (Anjaneya); Sugriva lived in Rishyamukha on the banks of the Pampa (Tungabhadra); Sabari probably also lived in a hermitage there. Rama and the Vanara army left Kishkinda to reach Rameshwaram, where the Vanaras built a bridge to Lanka from Dhanushkodi on Rameshwaram Island to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. While parts of the bridge – known as Adam’s Bridge – are still visible, NASA’s satellite has photographed an underwater man-made bridge of shoals in the Palk Straits, connecting Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar. On his return from Sri Lanka, Rama worshiped Shiva at Rameshwaram, where Sita prepared a Linga out of sand. It is still one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism.

“Sri Lanka also has relics of the Ramayana. There are several caves, such as Ravana Ella Falls, where Ravana is believed to have hidden Sita to prevent Rama from finding her. The Sitai Amman Temple at Numara Eliya is situated near the ashokavana where Ravana once kept her prisoner.

“All the places visited by Rama still retain memories of his visit, as if it happened yesterday. Time, in India, is relative. Some places have commemorative temples; others commemorate the visit in local folklore. But all agree that Rama was going from or to Ayodhya. Why doubt connections when literature, archaeology and local tradition meet? Why doubt the connection between Adam’s Bridge and Rama, when nobody else in Indian history has claimed its construction? Why doubt that Rama traveled through Dandakaranya or Kishkinda, where local non-Vedic tribes still narrate tales of Rama? Why doubt that he was born in and ruled over Ayodhya?

“Rama’s memory lives on because of his extraordinary life and his reign, which was obviously a period of great peace and prosperity, making Ramarajya a reference point. People only remember the very good or the very bad. Leftist historians have chosen to rubbish archaeology, literature and local tradition.”

Nandita Krishnan also adds that “Nobody believed that Homer’s Iliad was a true story till Troy was discovered after extensive archaeology. Unfortunately, the sites of the Ramayana and Mahabharata have now been built over many times and it may never be possible to excavate extensively either at Ayodhya or Mathura.”

To further verify this aspect of the history of Lord Rama, Pushkar Bhatnagar concludes that geographical evidence for the epics is abundant. There still exist many places like Rameshwaram, Kishkindha, Kurukshetra, Hastinapura, etc. where the visits of Rama and Krishna are a basic part of local folklore.

Lack of archaeological evidence is no excuse for denying the existence of history, sums up Bhatnagar. “If the buildings of that time over 7000 years ago do not exist today, can we just infer that civilizations and personalities of that time also did not exist?”

In literature, we have the Ramayana and other texts such as the Puranas which also relate and verify the history and existence of Lord Rama. People from many other regions of the world have also accepted the Ramayana as worthy of attention, devotion, and historical evidence. For example, we can see the affects of the Ramayana tradition in many countries who have adapted their own form of the Ramayana and worship of Lord Rama, especially in the countries of Southeast Asia. These include Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia (Capuchia), Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Other areas can also be found where the influence of the history of Lord Rama is in affect, such as the continent of Africa was once known as Kushadvipa for having been ruled by Kush, one of Lord Rama’s sons.

The other fact is that many millions of people feel the reciprocation from Lord Rama whenever they engage in devotion to Him, or read the Ramayana, or hear the Ramayana in a katha, or watch a television show or movie about Him, or go to one of the temples dedicated to Him. This cannot be denied or neglected. Just because we have insensitive politicians who cannot perceive this reciprocation does not mean that we all are so spiritually undeveloped. This dedication and reciprocation has spread throughout the world.

There have also been astronomers who have identified the approximate time of the Ramayana by the descriptions of the stars and constellations as given in the Ramayana, or even in the Bhagavata Purana and other texts. Pushkar Bhatnagar, author of the book Dating the Era of Lord Rama, claims that there is a significant amount of information available to prove that Rama was a historical personality. He says, “Valmiki, who wrote the Ramayana, was a contemporary of Rama. While narrating the events of the epic, he has mentioned the position of the planets at several places.” He explains that by using recent planetary software, it has been possible to verify that these planetary positions actually took place precisely as specified in the Ramayana. These were not just stray events, but the entire sequence of the planetary positions as described by Valmiki at various stages of Rama’s life can be verified today as having taken place.

Bhatnagar goes on to explain: “This information is significant, since these configurations do not repeat for lakhs of years and cannot be manipulated or imagined so accurately, without the help of sophisticated software. The inference that one can draw is that someone was present there to witness the actual happening of these configurations, which got recorded in the story of Rama.”

Bhatnagar provides the following quote from the Ramayana: “Rama was born on the Navami tithi of Shukla Paksha of Chaitra masa (9th day of the increasing phase of the moon in the lunar month of Chaitra). At that time, the nakshatra was Punarvasu, and Sun, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus were in Aries, Capricorn, Libra, Cancer and Pisces respectively. Lagna was Cancer and Jupiter & Moon were shining together. — Ramayana 1.18.8,9

The conditions can be summarized as follows, according to Bhatnagar:
1. Sun in Aries
2. Saturn in Libra
3. Jupiter in Cancer
4. Venus in Pisces
5. Mars in Capricorn
6. Lunar month of Chaitra
7. 9th day after New Moon (Navami Tithi, Shukla Paksh)
8. Moon near Punarvasu Nakshatra (Pollux star in Gemini constellation)
9. Cancer as Lagna (Cancer constellation rising in the east)
10. Jupiter above the horizon

According to the Planetarium software, it provides the following date: Sri Rama Navami – 10th January 5114 BCE – Birth Day of Rama, Observation at 12.30 p.m.

Bhatnagar continues: “By using a powerful planetarium software, I found that the planetary positions mentioned in Ramayana for the date of birth of Lord Ram had occurred in the sky at around 12.30 p.m. of 10th January 5114 BC. It was the ninth day of the Shukla Paksh of Chaitra month too. Moving forward, after 25 years of the birth of Lord Ram, the position of planets in the sky tallies with their description in Ramayana. Again, on the amavasya (new moon) of the 10th month of the 13th year of exile the solar eclipse had indeed occurred and the particular arrangement of planets in the sky was visible. ( Date comes to 7th October, 5077 BC). Even the occurrence of subsequent two eclipses also tally with the respective description in Valmiki Ramayana. (Date of Hanuman’s meeting Sita at Lanka was 12th September, 5076 BC). In this manner the entire sequence of the planetary positions gets verified and all the dates can be precisely determined.”

Although this provides verification of the existence for Lord Rama according to calculations as given in the Ramayana, some people feel the timing for the day and year of His birth may be different than what the planetarium software indicates. For example, Vedic astrologer Nartaka Gopala devi dasi points out that “Regarding the calculation of Lord Rama’s birth as 10th of January 5114 BCE – Birth Day of Rama, Observation at 12.30 PM, there are 2 reasons why this cannot be correct. His rising sign, or lagna, is Cancer. That places Aries in the tenth house, and He has the Sun in Aries. The placement of the Sun in any birth chart will tell the time of day of the birth. Sun in the tenth house means birth at noontime (approx. 11 AM to 2 PM). There are no exceptions to this. (Lord Krishna appeared at midnight, the Sun is in Leo, 4th house for Taurus rising. Birth at 6 PM means 7th house Sun. Birth at sunrise means 1st house Sun.) Also, in Lord Rama’s chart the Sun is in Aries, and the dates for Sun in Aries are fixed, which means the same each year on April 14th to May 13th. So how did the January 10 date come up? These two Jyotish corrections are common sense that any Vedic astrologer would immediately see.” So there may be a difference in what the planetarium software suggests. This also corroborates why we who follow the Vedic calendar celebrate Lord Rama’s appearance in April-May each year. So the traditional date appears accurate.

Furthermore, some people feel that the appearance of Lord Rama took place many thousands or even millions of years earlier, in the Treta-yuga. For example, the Bhagavata Purana clearly states that Lord Rama became king during Treta yuga (Bhag. 9.10.51). We have been in Kali-yuga for 5000 years. Before this was Dvapara-yuga which lasts 864,000 years. Before that was Treta-yuga, which lasts over 1,200,000 years. Thus, according to this, the existence of Lord Rama had to have been many thousands of years ago. And if Lord Rama appeared in one of the previous Treta-yugas, it would certainly indicate that Lord Rama appeared several million years ago. And this is exactly what is corroborated in the Vayu Purana.

In the Vayu Purana (70.47-48) [published by Motilal Banarsidass] there is a description of the length of Ravana’s life. It explains that when Ravana’s merit of penance began to decline, he met Lord Rama, the son of Dasarath, in a battle wherein Ravana and his followers were killed in the 24th Tretayuga. The Roman transliteration of the verse is:

tretayuge chaturvinshe ravanastapasah kshayat
ramam dasharathim prapya saganah kshayamiyavan

There are 1000 Treta-yugas in one day of Brahma, and it is calculated that we are presently in the 28th cycle of the four yugas (called divya-yugas, which is a cycle of the four yugas, Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, and then Kali-yuga) of Vaivasvata Manu, who is the seventh Manu in the series of 14 Manu rulers who exist in one kalpa or day of Brahma. Each Manu is considered to live for 71 such divya-yuga cycles. So, without getting too complicated about things, from the 24th Treta-yuga to the present age of this Kali-yuga, there is obviously a difference of millions of years when Lord Rama manifested here on earth. Of course, few people may believe this unless they are already familiar with the vast lengths of time that the Vedic literature deals with.

Nonetheless, maybe there is further reason why we should accept that Lord Rama appeared millions of years ago. In the Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara-Kanda (or Book 5), Chapter 4, verse 27, [Gita Press, Gorakhpur, India] it explains that when Hanuman first approached Ravana’s palace, he saw the doorways surrounded by horses and chariots, palanquins and aerial cars, beautiful horses and elephants, nay, with four-tusked elephants decked with jewels resembling masses of white clouds.

Elsewhere in the Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara-Kanda (or Book 5), Chapter 27, verses12, an ogress named Trijata has a dream of Lord Rama, which she describes to the other demoniac ogresses upon awakening. In that dream she sees Rama, scion of Raghu, united again with Sita. Sri Rama was mounted on a huge elephant, closely resembling a hill, with four tusks.

The question is how could there be a mention of the elephants with four tusks unless Valmiki and the people of his era were familiar with such creatures? A quick search on the Encarta Encyclopedia will let us know that these four-tusked elephants were known as Mastodontoidea, which are said to have evolved around 38 million years ago and became extinct about 15 million years ago when the shaggy and two tusked Mastodons increased in population. Now there’s something to think about, eh? So this would mean that the specific planetary configuration that is described in the Ramayana, and is verified by Pushkar Bhatnagar, may have indeed happened, but at a time millions of years prior to merely 10,000 years ago.

In this way, as we go through the evidence, we can see how Lord Rama was an actual historic personality, as described in the Ramayana and in other Puranic texts. Nonetheless, there will always be those for whom no matter what you present for verification, it will not be enough. Some just won’t believe it. Some will, some won’t, so what, let’s move on. But many in the world already accept the authority of the Ramayana and other Vedic texts for the verification of the existence of Lord Rama.

Jaya Sri Rama!

Sri Rama-Navami
The Personality of Lord Rama

20 Responses to “Lord Rama: Fact or Fiction”

  1. This article has several problems.

    First of all you cannot rely on retro astronomy going back into dates of great antiquity. The earliest known recorded astronomical observations were from the 8th century BC done by the Mesopotamians and used by Ptolemy in his Almagest. You cannot extrapolate great distances in time because of the perturbations of the planets and thus the so-called astronomical “constants” have to be recalibrated every 50-100 years in order to have any semblance of accuracy. Thus to think that you can extrapolate from observation made in the 8th century BC to 5114 BC and expect to get anything accurate severely stretches credulity. Just like if you were to sail from New York to London and your bearing is off by even half a degree the farther out you go the more you are off course and you will not reach your destination.

    2 Why even entertain such late dates as 5114 BC, which is in the end of Dvapara yuga when the sastras clearly state that Lord Rama flourished at the end of Treta Yuga. It is totally redundant and serves no purpose but to challenge the authenticity of the sastra.

    3 You state:

    “Also, in Lord Rama’s chart the Sun is in Aries, and the dates for Sun in Aries are fixed, which means the same each year on April 14th to May 13th. So how did the January 10 date come up? These two Jyotish corrections are common sense that any Vedic astrologer would immediately see.” So there may be a difference in what the planetarium software suggests. This also corroborates why we who follow the Vedic calendar celebrate Lord Rama’s appearance in April-May each year. So the traditional date appears accurate.”

    Considering that today March 28, 2015 is Ramanavami your statement above has some problems because this is clearly not in April-May as you mention above. In the Vedic calendar Lord Rama appeared on the navami tithi, shukla paksha (waxing moon) , of Caitramasa. Caitramasa is the first month of the Vedic calendar and it starts on the day after amavasya (new moon) when the Sun is in Mina (Pisces). Now depending in which degree the Sun happened to be when the amavasya took place then the Sun could still be in Mina by the time of the Navami tithi. The Sun moves 1 deg/day and a tithi is the length of time for the Moon to move 12 degrees from the Sun. So if the amavasaya took place when the Sun was greater than say 22 deg of Mina then the Sun would indeed be in Mesha when Rama Navami occurs. But if the amavasaya occurred before 21 deg of Mina it would be impossible for the Sun to be in Mesha on Ramanavami. Today is an example, the Sun is at 13 degrees of Mina, quite far from Mesha.

    4 You wrote:

    “where the Vanaras built a bridge to Lanka from Dhanushkodi on Rameshwaram Island to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. While parts of the bridge – known as Adam’s Bridge – are still visible, NASA’s satellite has photographed an underwater man-made bridge of shoals in the Palk Straits, connecting Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar. On his return from Sri Lanka, Rama worshiped Shiva at Rameshwaram, where Sita prepared a Linga out of sand. It is still one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism. “

    This statement has two problems nowhere in Valmiki Ramayana is it mentioned about Rama worshiping Siva at Rameshvarama, either going to or returning from Lanka. Especially on the return journey they flew directly to Ayodhya in the Pushpa Vimana. We only accept the “mula-Ramayana” of Valmiki as pramana not others. Or, statements in the Puranas about Rama but reject made up stories by poets of recent vintage.

    Secondly “Sri Lanka” is not the real Lanka of Ramayana. I will deal with this in a separate article as it deserves its own space.

  2. Last year I wrote the following comment:

    “Secondly “Sri Lanka” is not the real Lanka of Ramayana. I will deal with this in a separate article as it deserves its own space.”

    I have now done so and it can be read here:

    http://shyamasundaradasa.com/jyotish/resources/articles/non-jyotish_articles/lanka.html

  3. Mahesh rathi says :

    a very well researched, thoughful article by shri nandanandana das.

    There is a book hisory of rama published by sri sri ravi shankar book division wherin it has been shown how mismatch between the Gregorian calendar and our hindu calendar results in a difffrence 74 days over 5000 years..so thats why 10 january 5114 bce was chaitra shukla navami.

    Shyamsunder dass who loves to debate on this topic should first read that book and then comment why he finds astro science software wrong.

    Nandanandana dass article is so good for debates that i would love to copy it in Hindi and send it to all hindu parliamentarians ,who could then debate properly on tv .

    The least Modi govt should be doing is to announce proper historical excavations, carbon dating at all places from sitamarhi, to tapokund in nasik to kishnakand near humpi, to dandarkarnya forests, chitrakoot , panchvati, sri lanka caves. Etc.

  4. Mahesh says: “Shyamsunder dass who loves to debate on this topic should first read that book and then comment why he finds astro science software wrong.”

    Unless you know the principles at work then you cannot understand my comment, which is based on 40 years in the field of astrology/astronomy and of being the first to publish professional grade astrology software back in the 1980s and authoring the Vaisnava calendar program in 1984. You have to first understand why bija samskara of “astronomical constants” must be done no matter what system you use. You have to know how the ephemerides that are used in these programs are created.

    In Varaha Mihira’s “Brhata Jataka” he sates in the very distant past Mercury and Venus were observed to elongate 90° (or more) from each other, something that is impossible today. This indicates that you simply cannot extrapolate planetary positions far beyond periods of observation because things do happen that cause perturbations to planetary motion.

    Even now motion of our own earth is being affected by climate change on the earth

    http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/09/scientists-just-figured-out-whats-causing-earth-to-wobble.html

    and it was also affected in the past during ice ages when there was lot of weight at poles and less at the equator.

    The basic point is that such software are based on the (false) assumption that planetary motion is a closed system not affected by any external variables, that is just plain wrong.

    The solar system is not contained in a “sand box” isolated from the rest of the universe and thus never subjected to change by external forces. Like the change that now makes it impossible for Mercury and Venus to elongate to 90 degrees from each other.

    continued…

  5. part 2

    Next we take that Shabdha Brahma as final conclusive evidence regarding appearance of various avataras and it is distinctly stated in Sastra when Lord Rama appeared and that is toward the end of Treta yuga. Treta yuga ended 869,000 years ago. That is what followers of Vedic culture accept.

    So why do they want to move Rama’s date to 5114 BC? Because according to atheistic theory of Darwinian evolution humans didn’t exist 900,000 years ago, it would be impossible for Rama to appear then. So in order to seem “modern” people who have no shraddha and do not actually accept that shabdha brahma is supreme and perfect knowledge instead try to accommodate the statements of sastra to be subservient to the atheistic Darwinian theory of evolution. Basically they are saying that while the Ramayana is true about Rama existing it is wrong about when He lived. This is an offensive mentality.

    You also have another major problem. Unlike Krsna Whose lila was only visible for 125 years, Lord Rama’s pastimes lasted 36,000 years. I don’t have time to search for that exact quote but here are some others at my finger tips about His pastimes.

    “The intelligent, powerful king, vanquishing (his enemies), will rule (over the earth) along with her for eleven thousand years. Blessed is that queen Janaki, and blessed is he, named Rama, who having approached each other, will gladly enjoy.”

    Padma Purana 5.57.11

    And

    “After mother Sita entered the earth, Lord Ramacandra observed complete celibacy and performed an uninterrupted Agnihotra-yajna for thirteen thousand years.”

    Srimad Bhagavatam 9.11.18

    So according to these two sources they were married for 11,000 years and after Sita entered back into the earth Rama conducted yajna for 13,000 years. Thus just these two items cover 24,000 years out of His whole life.

    Now if according the materialists Lord Rama appeared in 5114 BC and it is now 2016 AD then that means only 7130 years has past leaving about 29,000 years of His lila to go, or if we just take 24,000 years from the citations above then there still remains at least 17,000 years of His lilas remaining. But according to sastra Lord Rama left this world taking everyone back to Godhead with Him except for 5 persons whom He told to stay.

    continued …

  6. Part 3

    So someone is wrong, either the sastras are wrong or the materialistic accommodationists.

    The accomodationists will say something like “these are exaggerations, or mistakes were made in transmission — they were only married for (supply the number) not 11,000 years, and Rama only did yajna for (supply the number) not 13,000 years and in this way it all fits neatly into our time frame (procrustean bed). After all we don’t want people to think we are “literalist” religious fanatics who actually believe in the words of Guru, Sadhu and Satra. People will laugh at us if we tell them that sastra are true and they are wrong.” You can see where this will lead to. If sastra is wrong on the major details then where else are they wrong and soon trust in sastra gets completely destroyed.

    However I put my trust in sastras authored by perfected being like Srila Vysadeva not defective mental speculators and their software.

    The fourth offense against the Holy Name is:

    4) To blaspheme the Vedic literature or literature in pursuance of the Vedic version.

    So to claim that sastra is wrong and to propagate a different view if greatly offensive.

    We have complete and implicit trust in the words of the sastra but do not place such trust in astronomical software which is created by men who are subject to the four defects of imperfect senses, capacity to make mistakes, being in illusion and having a cheating mentality.

    Yours in the service of my guru maharaja Srila Prabhupada and Lord Rama.

    Shyamasundara Dasa ACBSP

  7. Sri Nandanandana Prabhu wrote:
    ““where the Vanaras built a bridge to Lanka from Dhanushkodi on Rameshwaram Island to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. While parts of the bridge – known as Adam’s Bridge – are still visible, NASA’s satellite has photographed an underwater man-made bridge of shoals in the Palk Straits, connecting Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar. On his return from Sri Lanka, Rama worshiped Shiva at Rameshwaram, where Sita prepared a Linga out of sand. It is still one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism. “

    Two other problems with this.

    1 The bridge was made of floating stones. So how is it that they sunk to the bottom of the sea?

    2 According to the Ramayana the bridge was not only 100 yojanas long but t was also 10 yojanas wide. That means the bridge was 77 miles wide, whereas modern “Sri Lanka” erstwhile Ceylon is less than 62 miles from India. So the bridge should be wider that the distance between India and Ceylon. But that is not what the Nasa imaging shows.

    For relavant quotes see http://shyamasundaradasa.com/jyotish/resources/articles/non-jyotish_articles/lanka.html

  8. In the article the author states:

    “The conditions can be summarized as follows, according to Bhatnagar:
    1. Sun in Aries
    2. Saturn in Libra
    3. Jupiter in Cancer
    4. Venus in Pisces
    5. Mars in Capricorn
    6. Lunar month of Chaitra
    7. 9th day after New Moon (Navami Tithi, Shukla Paksh)
    8. Moon near Punarvasu Nakshatra (Pollux star in Gemini constellation)
    9. Cancer as Lagna (Cancer constellation rising in the east)
    10. Jupiter above the horizon

    According to the Planetarium software, it provides the following date: Sri Rama Navami – 10th January 5114 BCE – Birth Day of Rama, Observation at 12.30 p.m.”

    Besides the fact that using such software is invalid when extrapolating far outside its dataset it would be impossible for the Sun to be in Aries on January 10. On January 10 the Sun would be at approximately the 26° of Sagittarius. Sagittarius is 5 signs before Aries. So this must be a typographical error.

  9. Sitalatma Das says :

    For what it’s worth – in Valmiki Ramayana, on the way back from Lanka, Lord Rama shows Sita various war related locations and says the following:

    etat kukṣau samudrasya skandhāvāraniveśanam
    atra pūrvaṃ mahādevaḥ prasādamakarotprabhuḥ

    “See this island, located in the middle of the ocean, where my troops were stationed. At this place, the lord Shiva formerly bestowed his grace on me.” Yuddha Kanda, 123.19

    According to translations given on this site installation of Shiva Lingam is mentioned in Skanda, Shiva, and Linga Puranas but with variations of what exactly happened:
    https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/10945/did-lord-rama-really-worship-lord-shiva

    This doesn’t settle the argument but these quotes exist and should be taken into consideration.

    • Dear Sitalatma Prabhu,

      Hare Krsna. Thank you for this important reference. I am on my second reading of Valmiki Ramayana and just started the Uttrakandha again. I do not recall the incident that is mentioned in this verse of Rama wordhiping Siva in a previous portion of the Sundara or Yudha kandha. I will have to double check. But consider Prabhupada’s answer when he was directly asked the following:

      Giriraja: A question was raised about Lord Rama worshiping Siva.

      Prabhupada: Hmm?

      Giriraja: At one of the programs, somebody raised the question that we cited that Lord Siva is worshiping Krsna, that he is a Vaisnava. So that person replied that Lord Rama also worshiped Siva. So he wanted to know the explanation.

      Prabhupada: Hmm?

      Lokanatha: You explained yesterday.

      Prabhupada: Sometimes Krsna is chastised by Mother Yasoda. So how is that? The Supreme Personality of Godhead is being chastised by Mother Yasoda?

      Giriraja: He likes to be chastised. It’s part of the relationship.

      Prabhupada: Similarly, He likes to worship His devotee. Sometimes the father takes the child on his shoulder. Does it mean the child is more important than the father? They say the Valmiki Ramayana, there is no such incidence as Ramacandra worships Siva. It is later on, interpretation. But even if He does so, what is the wrong here?

      Harikesa: That later-on Ramayana has caused some havoc.

      Prabhupada: Hmm?

      Harikesa: That later-on interpretation has caused a disturbance?

      Prabhupada: Yes, the Saivaites, they want to make Lord Siva the exalted, Supreme Person. In South India there is a good propaganda for this. That is always going on.

      Lokanatha: When Lord Siva says in Puranas that mukti-pradapah sarvesam visnu [indistinct]…

      Prabhupada: Hmm?

      Lokanatha: Purana, the same Lord Siva says there is no other liberated besides Visnu.

      continued

    • part 2

      Devotee: …engagement, one devotee commented that the reason that Lord Rama worshiped Lord Siva was because He wanted to kill Ravana and Ravana was a devotee of Siva, so Lord Rama worshiped Siva in that respect.

      Prabhupada: Hmm? What is that?

      Harikesa: He said because Lord Siva was, ah, excuse me, Ravana was a devotee of Lord Siva, that in order that Lord Ramacandra could kill Ravana, He worshiped Siva.

      Kirtanananda: He wanted to take permission of him, so they say.

      Harikesa: Oh, permission.

      Kirtanananda: They wanted to take… Rama wanted to take permission from Siva…

      Prabhupada: So Siva is so rascal that he gave permission? That means they are trying to prove Siva is a rascal. [devotees laugh] Because he gave permission to kill his devotee. Then what is the use of his…, of one becoming Siva’s devotee? If such a rascal that one can take his permission to kill his devotee, so what is the use of becoming a devotee of such a rascal? Huh?

      Harikesa: He protected Banasura.

      continued

    • part 3

      Prabhupada: Huh? What is that? That means that proving that Siva is a rascal. He gave permission to kill his devotee. Then what is the use? Then nobody should become Siva’s devotee. That is the conclusion. Because he gives permission to somebody else to kill his devotee. They are trying to prove Lord Siva is a rascal. What do you think? Huh? If I want your permission, “Please give me your permission, I shall kill your son,” and if you say, “Yes, I give my permission,” then are you not a rascal? By this example they are making Lord Siva a rascal, that he has no common sense even.
      Indian man: [Hindi]

      Prabhupada: No, if this proposition is there, that Lord Siva gives permission for killing his devotee, then who will become his devotee? Huh? Is it not?

      Devotee: Yes.

      Prabhupada: No sane man will become his devotee. How they manufacture foolish statements, just see. Any commonsense man will immediately say, “Then Siva is a rascal; he cannot give protection to his devotee.” What do you think? Huh?

      Kirtanananda: Of course, Srila Prabhupada, does one have to give protection to their devotee if they break the law? Just like if you have a child, and if he murders someone, isn’t he supposed to be punished? So if someone goes against the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even if he’s your devotee, shouldn’t Siva concur?

      continued

    • part 4

      Prabhupada: No, no. That is another thing. This proposal, that because Lord Ramacandra approached Lord Siva to kill Ravana, and he gave permission, although Ravana was his great devotee. Then what is the use of becoming devotee of Lord Siva? He gives permission. Huh? Is that very reasonable proposal? If I ask your permission that I shall kill your son, will you give permission? No. Then? So if Lord Siva gives permission to Lord Ramacandra, “Yes, You can kill Ravana,” then what is the use of becoming his devotee?

      Harikesa: I think Dr. Patel would say that it’s not fair, you have fired the opposition.

      Prabhupada: Eh?

      Harikesa: It’s not fair. You have completely destroyed the opposition. [Prabhupada laughs] There is no question of fight.

      Prabhupada: The actual fact is that Lord Siva did not give permission, but he did not go to protect Ravana, because he knew that it was impossible to give him protection. That is summarized in Bengali, rakhe krsna mare ke, mare krsna rakhe ke. If Krsna kills somebody, wants to kill somebody, nobody can give him protection. That is the conclusion. And if Krsna protects somebody, nobody can kill him. Just like Prahlada Maharaja. Huh? He was protected by Lord Nrsimha-deva. Who can kill?

      continued

    • part 5

      Kirtanananda: Why did Lord Siva try to protect Banasura?

      Prabhupada: Huh?

      Kirtanananda: Didn’t Lord Siva try to protect Banasura?

      Prabhupada: Yes. You must try. When your son is in danger, you must try. That is natural. That is not uncommon. You can save or not save, that is different thing. But it is you duty, if somebody is under your protection, you must try to save him, even at the risk of your life. That is real protector.

      Lokanatha: Do you have plans, Srila Prabhupada, to comment on Ramayana in future?

      Prabhupada: Hmm? First of all finish my Bhagavatam, then we shall talk of other things.

      Indian man: Lord Brahma took away the cows and the cowherd boys that Krsna was playing with. At that time Krsna expanded Himself just to [indistinct] knowing for about a year or so that these cows are all Krsna expansions, but the gopis were so much [indistinct] towards Krsna formerly. Now he started…, he doubted that gopis are not [indistinct] with Krsna because these cowherds and, ah, they are part and parcel of Krsna only, so he was not… That is what one…

      >>> Ref. VedaBase => Morning Walk — December 23, 1975, Bombay

    • Dear Sitalatma,

      Hare Krsna.

      My main point is that there are also many other problems in this article such as placing Lord Rama less than 8000 years ago when it was a minimum of 900,000 years ago, and according to some 14 million years ago. And then there is the problem that Ceylon is not Lanka. Etc etc

      Again thank you for those references.

      dasa dasa anu dasa
      Shyamasundara Dasa
      krsne matirastu

  10. Sitalatma Das says :

    Dear Shyamasundara Prabhu

    Please accept by humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    What we can learn from the conversation you presented is that even if there is a quote somewhere with an implication that Lord Rama received Siva’s blessing before the battle we can’t draw the conclusion that Lord Rama actually worshiped him.

    Valmiki described preparations to crossing the ocean in great detail but he didn’t mention any Siva worship. Instead we have this one verse from after the war was over. I quoted it from this site: http://valmikiramayan.net/utf8/yuddha/sarga123/yuddharoman123.htm, where it’s verse 19. It also appears in this translation: https://archive.org/stream/ramayana03vlgoog#page/n426/mode/2up, at the bottom of the first page, but is totally missing here: http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/1_sanskr/2_epic/ramayana/ram_06_u.htm, where it should appear between 6.111.012c and 6.111.013a.

    It’s probably a later interpolation. It could also be the case with random Puranic verses which disagree even with each other, let alone with our basic philosophy.

    Your servant
    Sitalatma das

  11. Sitalatma Das says :

    I’ve found some background information on these differences which could be of interest to readers.

    There are more than 2,500 known manuscripts of Valmiki’s Ramayana, University of Baroda got access to over 200 of them and they formed the basis of Critical Edition, which took 25 years to complete. They divided these manuscripts into three major families of Ramayana – Bengali, Southern, and North-Western, and six major recensions. Some recensions give a number of chapters and verses in the book but they are all longer than declared length. Also, while they all tell the same story, about a third of each recension is unique to itself.

    Critical Edition is academics’ choice of verses which can be called original and not interpolations. The reference to worshiping Lord Siva above exists in Southern recension but was cut from Critical Edition.

    However, Critical Edition is only 19,000 verses long instead of 24,000 expected. It’s not like 5,000 slokas are literally missing because editors have nearly 50,000 total unique verses in all recensions to choose from but they rejected most of them as interpolations.

    Should we trust academics’ judgment here? Realistically, we are not likely to see devotee scholars re-doing critical edition of Ramayana in our lifetimes so this is as good as we are going to get. They published the first volume in 1960 and the last in 1975 but Srila Prabhupada was a sannyasi busy with preaching work during these years and so most likely wasn’t even aware of its existence. Would he accepted it like he accepted then published Srimad Bhagavatam with commentaries of previous acaryas he translated from? Or would he had stuck with some version of Ramayana favored by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, for example?

    • Dear Sitalamtma Prabhu. You wrote:

      "Valmiki described preparations to crossing the ocean in great detail but he didn’t mention any Siva worship. Instead we have this one verse from after the war was over."

      Exactly. Of course Valmiki didn't describe every little detail but considering how much of big deal some people make of this incident it is no longer a "little detail" so we expect some description to come before this remark is made. Unless there are several other points made by Rama that are also not previoulsy described.

      The verse you quote is also found in the Gita Press edition that I have.

      The first site you mention states the following:

      "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 ]."

      This is bogus because there are several instances in the chapters that they say are bona fide where Rama is described as an avatara of Visnu, for example when Garuda arrives to release Rama and Laksmana from Indrajitas sarpa astra. Rama, acting as a human pretends He doesn't know who Garuda is and asks "who are you?" Garuda explains who he is and that Rama is his master etc. So there is no doubt as to who Rama is. But these atheists try to change things.

      Nilakantha Suri who wrote a commentary on the Ramayana also wrote the "Mantra Ramayana." It is the Ramayana based on Rg vedic mantras indicating that Rama is indeed Visnutattva.

      http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/articles/rig_vedic_ramayana/rig_vedic_ramayana-1.htm

      continued

    • part 2
      Regarding “critical editions” they reflect the bias of the editors. The BORI “critical edition” of the Mahabharata ignores Madhvacarya’s work on the same.

      The whole concept of “critical edition” is inherently flawed. Consider for the sake of argument that one of the copies of the Baroda edition was actually Valmiki’s original work. But the editors just consider it another edition like the rest. In making the critical edition they compare all manuscripts with each other and edit according to their bias and in the end come up with something that is different from all the editions that they were working from, including the original. So they would never arrive at the original by this method. Only a Mahabhagavat guided by Paramatma could not only detect which was the real edition, Paramatma could dictate the Ramayana anew to the pure devotee.

      Also consider that in his “Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya,” Madhvacarya states that the Mula Ramayana had 100 crore (1 billion) verses and that because of corruption many verses have been lost. So that suggests that the Baroda “critical edition” is an example of a corrupt text because they removed a further 5000 slokas. This is what happens when you get academonic scholars involved with sastra.

      continued

  12. Sitalatma Das says :

    As far as I understand, valmikiramayan.net presents the Southern recension, though they don't speak of themselves in those terms. I don't know why they chose that quote from Ramakrishna Mission about Rama not being Vishnu but they didn't follow it and included the 1st Kanda anyway. My guess is that it's simply because Bala Khanda is present in their recension while Uttara Khanda isn't.

    I am not aware of a verse by verse translation of Baroda's Critical Edition but at least we can look at Sanskrit transliterations. Garuda's speech before Rama and Lakshmana in Critical Edition has one less verse than in Southern recension, but in both versions Garuda seems to leave only clues to his eternal relationship with the Lord, whom he addresses as a friend, and in Southern recension he promises to disclose the nature of this relationship after Rama slays Ravana and rescues Sita. This promise is what Critical Edition decided to cut.

    This brings me to an earlier point – if Critical Edition was done by devotees we'd probably make different decisions on which verses to keep and which verses to dismiss as interpolations. In any case, it's better to learn these things from the guru – then we won't get swayed even if there are apparent contradictions between different versions of shastra which were brought about over thousands of years by unknown people whose spiritual standing is unclear. And, of course, we should be skeptical of any theories based on these differences even if they eventually become "one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism."

    Btw, in both Southern recension and in Critical edition Sita and Rama only fly over the place and in Southern recension Rama mentions that he worshiped Shiva there earlier. There's neither the landing nor the story of Sita building Shiva Lingam out of sand.

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