When we were children our noted film maker Mr. Ramanand Sagar launched his opus magnum Ramayana on Indian television and during those days color Television was a novelty in every household and, though under strict government control, the televisions had a limited number of channels. This teleserial was aired in the evening prime time slot and we clearly remember that we would not shift anywhere during that hour and would watch Ramayana with rapt attention. As a child I remember reading the unabridged Ramayana and it had taken me about a month to finish that epic. By the time I had reached the last chapters I had forgotten the intricate details of the earlier chapters.
Every Indian either living in India or anywhere else in this world knows about Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In India it is every fathers dream to have a son like Rama every brothers dream to have a brother like Lakshman, every wife’s dream to have a husband like Rama. This epic or the Legend has a profound effect in the Indian psyche. The other great epic is Mahabharata,( about which I have written in my earlier article titled “Dwarka and Mahabharata” ) where there is a mention about Ramayana. Mahabharata was an event that had occurred about 5300 years BC which means about 7000years before present. Therefore Ramayana is an event which precedes Mahabharata and that would also mean that Ramayana is 7000 years before present.
Rich in its descriptions and poetic language, it consists of seven books or Kandas and 24,000 couplets and has been translated into many languages. The seven “kandas” of Ramayana are: “Bal Kanda”, the boyhood section; “Ayodhya Kanda”, Rama’s life in Ayodhya, until his banishment; “Aranya Kanda”, Rama’s life in the forest and Sita’s abduction by Ravana; “Kishkindha Kanda”, Rama’s stay at Kishkindha, the capital of his monkey ally, Sugriva; “Sundara Kanda”, Rama’s passage to Sri Lanka; “Yuddha Kanda” or “Lanka Kanda”, Rama’s battle with Ravana, the recovery of Sita, and return to Ayodhya; and “Uttara Kanda”, the section narrating Rama’s life in Ayodhya as king, the birth of his two sons, Sita’s test of innocence and return to her mother, and Rama’s demise or “jala samadhi”. The Ramayana tells of the birth and education of RAMA, (q.v.), a prince and the seventh incarnation of the god VISHNU, (q.v.), and recounts his winning of the hand of Sita in marriage. Displaced as rightful heir to his father’s throne, Rama goes into exile, accompanied by Sita and by his brother Lakshmana. Sita is carried off by the demon king Ravana. With the aid of the monkey general Hanuman and an army of monkeys and bears, Rama, after a long search, slays Ravana and rescues Sita. Rama regains his throne and rules wisely. In the probable addition, Sita is accused in rumors of adultery during her captivity. Although innocent, she bears Rama’s twin sons in exile, sheltered by the hermit Valmiki, said to be the author of the poem. After many years Rama and Sita are reunited.
The first thing that sets us thinking about the legend ,not being a legend but could be a true story is the fact that Ravana abducts sita and takes her in an aerial vehicle called the pushpak rath. Question is if we all say that this was a figment of Valmiki’s imagination then how did Valmiki imagine a flying object which could transport humans over great distance? Imagining something which you have never seen before is impossible, and cannot happen. Let us say that you are told to imagine a very ferocious and blood thirsty beast then we would probably put a face of a fire emanating dragon, as we have seen visuals of a dragon, then we would probably put a body of a tyrannosaurus as we know and have seen tyrannosaurus. In short we have seen everything and we have taken parts of those to create a new thing. So Puspak rath was a type of an aerial vehicle and its mention in the epic, makes the epic somewhat of a reality.
The second thing that comes to my mind is the very fact that the monkey soldiers had to built a bridge to connect the southern India with Lanka ( In Ramayana Sri Lanka was known as Lanka ) which means Sri Lanka was separated from the Indian subcontinent. Dr Glen Milne of Durham University is one of the world’s leading expert in the cutting edge science of “inundation mapping”. They use a very powerful computer program to calculate the complex variables to produce accurate models of ancient shorelines at a chosen date and a chosen locality. He has done a fantastic work on the Indian shoreline from 21300 years ago to 4800 years BC. One can see the comparative pictures in the book titled Underworld by Graham Hancock. Sri Lanka was attached with the Indian subcontinent till 10600 years before present. It completely separated from the Indian subcontinent by 4800 years BC. We know that Mahabharata was an event some 5300 BC ie 7000 Before present and Ramayana precedes Mahabharata therefore Ramayana could have occurred before 7000 years before present. Also to make a land bridge between India and Sri Lanka ( between Gulf of Mannar and Palk Straight ) was a daunting task as the length was 48 Km The Encyclopedia Britannica says it was once the world’s largest tombolo ? a sandbar connecting an island to another island or the mainland ? The existence of the bridge obviously cannot be denied! However to what extent there was manual intervention in connecting the gaps between the shoals, islands and rocks is a subject for detailed marine archaeological and geological research. This kind of research has never been carried out nor has any team been constituted so far. However, there is enough evidence about the existence as well as the use of this bridge in ancient Indian history, literature and travelogues etc.
Maharishi Valmiki has recorded in his Ramayan- (Yuudh Kand, sarg 22 and shlokas 45-73) that Shri Rama’ s army constructed a bridge over the sea between Rameswaram and Sri Lanka. Valmiki has narrated in detail that originally Shri Rama’s army camped in Kodikarai but found that place unsuitable for constructing the bridge. Therefore, the entire army was shifted to Rameswaram. Research was carried out by Shri Ram for three days to find out a suitable location in the sea for constructing the land route so that the army could cross over to Sri Lanka. Finally, the suitable location was identified. Shri Nal was a famous shilpakar, who had the expertise similar to that of Vishwakarma in constructing the bridges, was requested to construct the bridge. ( 6/22/45).
After carrying out the survey, Nal declared that a bridge can indeed be constructed. The armymen of Shri Ram utilized various tools and implements for uprooting trees like Taar, coconut, mango, ashoka, bakul etc., and with the help of various yantras transported these trees, stones, and rocks to the seashore. Shilpakar Nal directed the armymen to stand with long ropes/chains on either side and filled the space in between with creepers, trees, stones and rocks and bound them together. The construction of Ramsetu was completed in five days by connecting the existing land route consisting of islands, rocks and shoals. This bridge was being used as land route between India and Sri Lanka for thousands of years, though sometimes part of it was submerged under the seawater. King Asoka’ s son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra had used this bridge to go to Sri Lanka more than 2,300 years back.
The ancient Indians had an accurate method of time measurement. They regularly and systematically recorded the `tithis’, days marked according to the phases of the Moon, the months, the seasons, solstices, equinoxes and the positions of astrologically relevant luminaries like the Sun, the Jupiter, the Venus, and so on. In other words, the timings of events were recorded in the astronomical format. To convert this coded information on heavenly positions into a simple calendrical timeline, all that is needed is a database of ephemeris. Sage Valmiki, the celebrated composer of the Ramayana records the birth of Rama in Uttarayana (the Divine Half-year), in the Chaitra month, in the bright fortnight, on the ninth day, in the Punarvasu nakshatra, on a Monday, and under Karka lagna. Valmiki further details the birth with various planetary positions in the zodiac : Sun in Mesha at 10 deg., Mars in Capricorn at 28 degree, Jupiter in Cancer at 5 deg., Venus in Pisces at 27 deg. and Saturn in Libra at 20 deg. These starry configurations are so unique that they have occurred only once so far in measurable history and this helps us to fix the important date, the birthday of Rama, as the 4th of December, 7323 BC. Due to the slow yet continuous precession of the Earth, Rama’s birthday anniversary, celebrated as Ram Navami, has since shifted by about four months over a period of about 9300 years.
Valmiki further has beautifully described the sky (Ayodhya 41/10), when Rama left for forest exile. He states, “Crux (Trishankhu), Mars, Jupiter and Mercury have cornered the Moon. Vaishakha and Milky Way are shining in the sky”. Crux is on line with Hasta (Corvus) on the southern side. On the eastern side of Hasta, there are Chitra, Swati and Vishakha. As seen earlier, Mars was at 303 deg. in Dhanishta. Calculations show that Jupiter was in Poorvashadha at 251 deg. Pushya was at the western horizon with the setting Moon. On the southern side, from the west to the east, all the other planets were situated. So poetically Valmiki describes the sketch as if the Moon was cornered by the planets. The description of the sky, 17 years after the birth-date of Rama, is perfect astronomically. By doing such astronomical calculations backwards following are the dates of few events from the Ramayana:
Rama’s Birth Date 4th December 7323 B.C
Rama-Seeta Married 7th April 7307 B.C
Rama Exiled 29th November 7306 B.C.
Hanuman enters Lanka 1st September 7292 B.C
Hanuman meets Seeta 2nd September 7292 B.C.
Seetu (Bridge) built 26-30th Oct. 7292 B.C on the ocean
The War begins 3rd November 7292 B.C
Kumbhakarna is killed 7th November 7292 B.C.
Ravana is killed by Rama 15th November 7292 B.C.
Rama returns to Ayodhya 6th December 7272 B.C.
Thus Ramayana was not just a mere legend but a historical document of an highly civilized, scientifically oriented, (the people mentioned had the capacity to do research carry out mega projects and had all the advanced war equipments ) civilization that existed some 9000 years before present and if that be so then here was a civilization which preceded all known civilization of the world. Though Epic mentioned Bows and Arrows, do they remind us of hand-held or shoulder fired missiles? Perhaps, yes. The Epic narrates arrows that could chase, change path and direction and always close in on the enemy. The modern weapons are aiming precisely at this. A reminder of heat-tracing missiles? Naga Paanam (Naga meaning snake and Paanam meaning weapon) which could kill a person if remedial course is not administered immediately. We are now reminded of some of the chemical weapons used now. Paasa Paanam (Passa meaning that which could tie and Paanam meaning weapon). These were used to immobilize people temporarily. Immediately our mind goes to stun grenades. These are some of the weapons that were used in the war between Rama and Ravana.