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The Ramayana has seven long sections called kandas. The first section, the Bala-Kanda (pages 2-19), tells of Prince Rama's birth, his youthful adventures, and his marriage to the Princess Sita. Bala refers to "childhood" or "early" events.




Scientific Dating of Ramayan Era The beginning of the Holocene (post last ice age) is now universally accepted to be around 12000 BP. Consequently the civilizations of the world naturally and simultaneously started developing near the rivers which initially started flowing due to the melting of glaciers near the Equator e.g. South India, Sri Lanka and Africa. When populations multiplied, these river waters became insufficient. Therefore some people started travelling from south to north. Such northward migration continued for several centuries and finally when these people from south India reached the banks of Himalayan Rivers, they got climatic conditions conducive to long term development of civilization on the banks of these rivers providing security of water, food and shelter for a very long time. Thousands of years later, when some of these Himalayan Rivers became non-perennial or started drying up, some of these people started moving towards Central Asia and Europe. As per ecologists this ecological cycle has been repeating itself and will get repeated after every ice age and during the beginnings of all Holocene cycles. Therefore the history of growth of civilization in the world is not 4 to 5 thousand years old but it is more than 10,000 years old.

So far history of the world, particularly of Indian subcontinent, is based on linguistic guesswork and religious beliefs/hearsay. However, during last 30-40 years, several new scientific tools and techniques have been developed, which are capable to determining the dates of any ancient events in scientific and precise manner. For example:

1. Computer aided extraction of planetary references from ancient books. 2. Planetarium softwares for astronomical dating of such references 3. Satellite based Remote Sensing techniques 4. Underwater explorations and Geospatial Technologies 5. Radiocarbon dating, Thermo Luminescence dating methods 6. Human Genome studies, Biological and Cultural Anthropology 7. Palaeobotanical, Palaeozoological and Palaeoclimatic studies 8. Geographic and Geological research tools.

Multi-disciplinary scientific research reports, prepared during last three- four decades by making use of such scientific tools and techniques, were used for dating the events narrated in Valmiki Ramayan and resuts were amazing! Once the astronomical dating was determined around 7000 BP, it appeared that almost all research reports were corroborating such conclusions and opening before us the pages of our true history; shifting many events from the domain of mythology to the realm of realty.

The story of Shri Ram‘s life was first narrated by Maharishi Valmiki in the ‘Ramayan’ which was written after Shri Ram was crowned as the king of Ayodhya, Maharishi Valmiki had a great sense of astronomy as he has made sequential astronomical references on important dates related to the life of Shri Ram indicating the location of planets vis-à-vis the zodiac constellations and other visible stars (nakshatras). Needless to add that similar position of planets and nakshatras vis-à-vis zodiac constellations and the equinoxes is not repeated in 25690 years. By entering the precise details of the planetary configuration of the important events in the life of Shri Ram as given in the Valmiki Ramayan in the software named ‘Planetarium Gold’ corresponding exact dates of these events according to English calendar can be known.

Sh. Pushkar Bhatnagar of Indian Revenue Service had acquired from USA the software named ‘Planetarium Gold’ (of Fogware Publishing) which is used to predict the solar/lunar eclipses and distance and location of other planets from earth by the scientists and astronomers. He entered the relevant detail about the planetary positions vis-à-vis zodiac constellations narrated by Maharishi Valmiki and obtained very interesting and convincing results, which almost determine the important dates starting from the birth of Shri Ram to the date of his coming back to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Sh. Pushkar Bhatnagar has given very authentic and convincing details of these dates in his book titled ‘Dating the Era of Lord Ram’ published by Rupa and Co'.

'The story of Shri Ram's life was first narrated by Maharishi Valmiki in the Ramayana, which was written after Shri Ram was crowned as the king of Ayodhya. Maharishi Valmiki was a great astronomer as he has made sequential astronomical references on important dates related to the life of Shri Ram indicating the location of planets vis-a-vis zodiac

This data, was fed into the software. The results indicated that this was exactly the location of planets/stars in the noon of January 10, 5114 BC. Thus Shri Ram was born on January 10, 5114 BC (7121 years back). As per the Indian calendar it was the ninth day of Shukla Paksha in Chaitra Month. On the basis of planetary configurations described in various other chapters of Valmiki’s Ramayan, the date on which Ravana was killed works out to be 4th December 5076 BC and Shri Rama completed 14 years of exile on 2nd January, 5075 BC and that day was also Navami of Shukla Paksha in Chaitra month. Thus Shri Rama had come back to Ayodhya when he was 39 years old (5114 – 5075). Such sequential matching of important dates in the life of Lord Rama narrated in Valmiki’s Ramayan with astronomical dating done through planetary configurations cannot be a mere coincidence. It speaks volumes about the historicity of the era of Lord Rama! From Sita's version in Sundhara kanda we know that Rama went on Vanavas in his 25th year. 25+ 14 years in exile = 39. He ascended the throne on his 39th year. If he is to have ruled for 11,000 years, then according to Ahoreva samvatsar, it comes to 31 years. Add 31 years to 39 when he ascended the throne. That means he ruled till his 70th year!

Brahma addressed Rama as Lord Vishnu and told him to return to his original place in the heaven along with his brothers. Then Vishnu entered Heaven in his own form, with his brothers, and all the gods bowed down to him and rejoiced. Then Vishnu told to the grandsire to give appropriate place to those people who had followed him, renouncing their self for him. Then Brahma appointed places in the heavens for them who came after Rama, and the monkeys and bears assumed their godly forms, after the likeness of those who had begotten them. Thus all beings assembled, entering the waters of Sarayu, and attained the heavenly state, and Brahma and the gods returned to their own abode.

Thus, with the renunciation of the material world by Rama and his brothers along with thousands of bears and monkeys and rakshasas, ends the Ramayana, revered by the Lord Brahma and made by the great sage Valmiki. There is a saying that the one who does not have a son shall attain a son by reading even a single verse of the Ramayana. Another belief is that, all sins are washed away from those who read or hear it read. The one who recites the epic of Ramayana should have rich gifts of cows and gold and shall live long, and shall be honoured, with his sons and grandsons, in this world and in Heaven.

Geological and Oceanography Reports According to Geological Survey of India report named ‘Project Rameshwaram’, this bridge was capable of being used as land route between India and Sri Lanka 7,000 to 10,000 years back. As per the report of Department of Earth Sciences the existence of Mesolithic and Microlithic tools and of human fossils on both sides of Rama Sethu indicated existence of man-made structures. As per estimate made by the inter-government panel on climate change (NASA, Global Change Master Directory) the rise in the sea level during the last 7000 years has been about 2.8 metres which roughly corresponds to 9.3 feet.’ The remains of Rama Sethu are found submerged nearly at a depth of 9-10 feet. Thus, obviously this bridge was capable of being used as land route 7000 years back. The Essence From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Bengal to Gujarat, everywhere people believe in the reality of Shri Rama’s existence, particularly in the tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and the North East. Most of the festivals celebrated in these tribal areas revolve around the events in the life of Shri Rama and Shri Krishna. The events and places related to the life of Shri Rama and Sita are true cultural and social heritage of every Indian irrespective of caste and creed and therefore it is common heritage. After all, Shri Rama belonged to the period when Prophet Mohammed or Jesus Christ were not born and Muslim or Christian faiths were unknown to the world. India was also known as Bharat (means—land of knowledge) and Aryavarta (where Aryans live). During Rama Rajya, the evils of caste system based on birth were non-existent. In fact, Maharishi Valmiki is stated to be of Shudra class (Scheduled Caste) still Sita lived with him as his adopted daughter after she was banished from Ayodhya and Shri Rama’s children Luv and Kusha grew in his ashram as his disciples. We need to feel proud of the fact that Maharishi Valmiki was perhaps the first great astronomer and that his study of planetary configurations has stood the test of times. Even the latest computer softwares have corroborated his astronomical calculations, which prove that he did not commit any error. Shabari is stated to be belonging to Bheel tribe and the army of Shri Rama, which succeeded in defeating Ravana was also formed by various tribals from Central and South India. The facts, events and all other details relating to the life of Shri Rama are the common heritage of all the Indians. The scientific details narrated about to indicate that Shri Rama was actually born 7000 years back. Hence, discovering the details relating to Shri Rama’s life would be lot more difficult as destruction caused by floods, earthquakes and invasions etc. would be far greater. But should that stop our quest for learning more and more about our cultural heritage? As Indians, let us all take pride in the fact that Indian civilisation is the most ancient civilisation surviving on planet earth and it is certainly more than 10,000 years old. Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, is a popular deity worshipped in the Hindu religion. Each year, many devout pilgrims trace his journey through India, halting at each of the holy sites along the way. The poem is not seen as just a literary monument, but serves as an integral part of Hinduism, and is held in such reverence that the mere reading or hearing of it, or certain passages of it, is believed by Hindus to free them from sin and bless the reader or listener. According to Hindu (particularly the Vaishnava) tradition, Rama is an incarnation (Avatar) of the God Vishnu. The main purpose of this incarnation is to demonstrate the righteous path (dharma) for all living creatures on earth.

The Story of the Ramayana Briefly So, just to let you know what you are in for, here is a very brief summary of the Ramayana, the adventures of lord Rama. Rama is the son of King Daśaratha, but he is also an incarnation of the god Vishnu, born in human form to do battle with the demon lord Ravana. Ravana had obtained divine protection against other demons, and even against the gods - but because he scorned the world of animals and men, he had not asked for protection from them. Therefore, Vishnu incarnated as a human being in order to put a stop to Ravana. King Daśaratha has three other sons besides Rama. There is Lakshmana, who is devoted to Rama. There is also Bharata, the son of Daśaratha's pretty young wife Kaikeyi, and finally there is Śatrughna, who is as devoted to Bharata as Lakshmana is to Rama. When Daśaratha grows old, he decides to name Rama as his successor. Queen Kaikeyi, however, is outraged. She manages to compel Daśaratha to name their son Bharata as his successor instead, and to send Rama into exile in the forest. Rama agrees to go into exile, and he is accompanied by his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana. When their exile is nearly over, Sita is abducted by the evil Ravana who carries her off to Lanka city (on the island of Sri Lanka). Rama and Lakshmana follow in pursuit, and they are aided by the monkey lord, Hanuman, who is perfectly devoted to Rama. After many difficulties and dangers, Rama finally confronts Ravana and defeats him in battle. What happens after that is a matter of some dispute in the different versions of the Ramayana. Did Rama accept Sita back into his household? Or did he send her away because she had been in the possession of another male? You will see different versions of the ending in the two different editions of the Ramayana that you will read for this class.

Ramayana is one of the best literary works in the world. We will try to get some perspective on that, here. Narration Style of Ramayana The narration style of Ramayana is simple, powerful and enduring. The same style is used even today in most of the TV serials. Understanding the style of TV Serials helps you understand the style of Ramayana. TV serials have number of episodes and Ramayana has number of sargas, with the main difference that Ramayana has a soul, a purpose, a beginning, a body and an ending that is complelling, unllike many TV serials, which simply drag the story forever. Not even a single Sarga is redundant and every one of them has its place in its contribution to the theme of the larger story. Each sarga can be enjoyed independently by itself. Unlike in the case of TV Serials, the length of each Sarga varies, like in the case of 'acts' of a drama. The story moves only a little bit in each sarga, just as is the case with the TV serials. However, each sarga contains dialogues that are rich, enjoyable, memorable and striking. As in the case of TV serials, a dialogue in Ramayana also is a sequence of few monologues rather than quick back and forth exchanges of short sentences. Each character in Ramayana waits for the other character to complete his or her monologue rather than interrupt in the middle. (Notice that, in real life, we talk over each other, especially when we violently agree or disagree.) For example, the character of Khara lashes at the character of Rama extensively in multiple slokas. But the character of Rama does not interrupt until the character of Khara is done and then lashes back at the character of Khara. Same is true with the conversations between Rama and Vali, Rama and Sita, Rama and Ravana, Hanuman and Ravana, Ravana and Sita and so on. This style is not 'realistic' in the strict sense, but very artistic and enhances the dramatic element, which we enjoy even without knowing. In Ramayana, the author does not use his own words to describe the thought processes of the characters. The author presents the thought processes as monologues that the character speaks to himself or herself. For example, Hanuman faces many situations in Lanka that call for him to make critical decisions all by himself. The decision making process is presented as Hanuman talking to himself.Valmiki does not take sides with any character. He does not add any commentary or judgment to interpret the decisions of the characters or the turn of the events. He does not justify or denounce any character. The characters speak for themselves and events unfold by themselves. It is for the reader to make sense of the characters and events. Valmiki presents each character with equal empathy and power. So much so, that even the characters that are obviously at the wrong end of 'Dharma', make very convincing arguments towards their position, just like we all do, regardless of the validity of our position. This style has influenced many works in India over centuries and infused a neutral and detached tone in narration. Every character is shown through its own eyes, rather than through the eyes of another character or through the eyes of the author. It is only in the last century and half, that India started seeing literary works that has characters subordinated by the views of the author and became tools in the hands of the author. The author uses his own words only to describe the visual element, i.e., physical environment or movements, the equivalent of what a camera does in the modern TV serials. Valmiki is splendid in his descriptions and paints the visual element in great detail using beautiful and rich language. The detail is as vivid as one would expect in screen-plays of the modern times. Language of Ramayana The language of Ramayana is the simplest and sweetest compared to, perhaps, any other work in Sanskrit. Each sloka exudes poetry and seems to be chiseled all by itself. In contrast, the focus of Vyasa in Mahabharata is on the delivery of content, rather than on the formation of individual sloka. In Mahabharata, most of the slokas feel like prose wrapped in meter. In Ramayana, each sloka is an artistic expression by itself. It exudes poetic beauty both in the expression and in the language. It is worth learning the language of Sanskrit, just for the purpose of enjoying the beauty of Ramayana. Ramayana or Ramayan or .. ? People wonder whether 'Ramayana' or 'Ramayan' is the right way of saying it ! The answer is, it depends on the language. It is Ramayana in Sanskrit and Kannada. It is Ramayan in Hindi. It is Ramayanam in Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. All are right. The difference in the ending can be seen in many other words that are common across these languages, or adapted into these languages from Sanskrit. Another popular example is the word Raga. It is Raga in Sanskrit and Kannada, Rag in Hindi, Ragam in Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. All of them are equally right.