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Chronological Layers of The Ramayana

Updated on June 25, 2012
Ravana the Demon God
Ravana the Demon God

Findings by J.L Brockington (1984)


Careful analysis of language, style and content led him to identify five distinct chronological and cultural stages in the development of the Epic Ramayana.

Basically it is an epic about the victory of good over evil. Revolving around the life and times of protagonist Rama, the ruler of Ayodhya and his battle with Ravana, the Demon King of Lanka, the Epic involves a vivid array of characters, places, cultures and there references to the Hindu Mythology.

Here is the briefed analysis of the stages



Stage I


The epic started as an oral composition during the 5th and 4th Centuries B.C. It emphasized on the heroic elements and its geographical horizons were limited. The material and social culture depicted here were simple and the religious values were similar to those of the Vedas and the Puranas.


Stage II [3rd Century BC to 1st Century AD]


This stage marked a shift from the heroic to the aesthetic elements. Geographical awareness of the text was expanded into the Lower Ganges Valley.

There were more social and economic references like

· The chastity of Women


· Descriptions of cities and trade suggested an increase in class stratification and women subordination


· Emphasis was laid in the power of the king


· Elaborate warfare was depicted



The whole story was now imbued with a religious significance.



Lord Brahma
Lord Brahma
Lord Indra
Lord Indra

Stage III [1st -3rd Century AD]


Urbanization had spread to new areas now and division of society into four Varnas or castes was emphasized

The four Varna were

· Kshatriyas : The Warrior Clan and the Ruler Class


· Brahmans: The Priest and Preacher Class


· Vaisyas: The Working Class


· Shudras: The Low lives or the outcastes


The king was exalted as a protector of people and preserver of social order. Subordination of women increased.

Vedic Gods like Brahma and Indra were important but Vishnu and Shiva had appeared on the scene and were exalted.

Books I and VII were added to the Epic during this period.


Lord Vishnu
Lord Vishnu
Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva
The Sati Ritual
The Sati Ritual

Stage IV [4th- 12th Century AD]


Religious and aesthetic emphasis increased. Pre-eminence of the Brahmans was emphasized along with the low position of the Shudras.

References were made to the inauspiciousness of widows and practice of Sati (Self-immolation ritual of widows). These reflected increased subordination of women.

Vishnu and Shiva emerged as supreme Gods in a religious milieu marked by temple and idol worship and tough pilgrimage.



Stage V witnessed the strengthening og the trends in Stage IV from 12th Century AD onwards.



Differences in Opinion



Brockington presents a transformation of a heroic epic to religious epic. However, Pollock (1952-91) argues that the Ramayana was about the divinity of Rama right from stage I.

The sole problem with literary sources is that when analyzed, different Historians come up with different opinions and reaching a uniform conclusion becomes difficult. But then these sources provide us with facts about the rich heritage which existed across the timelines of world history.






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    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Very interesting...amazing what is uncovered once history is looked at closely. Voted up and then some. :)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      my goodness I enjoy reading your hubs they're so diverse.. and the topics you cover vast.. voted up and interesting my friend :)

    • BeyondMax profile image

      BeyondMax 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Fascinating, very interesting history!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Rahul...I am always appreciative of hubs that provide me with "mini-educations"....which present a topic I have no prior familiarity with....I am so open and willing to learn. We should never stop increasing our knowledge!

      I will admit to you, my friend.....that the term "sub-ordination of women," makes me bristle and cringe.....ALOT......but I'll let it slide this time!! LOL

      UP++

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 4 years ago from New York City

      Your info here is heavenly in its teaching of historical reference of the Indian derivatives of there ancient to modern caste systems, and I like how you go into great depth with your intensely researched details.

      Nice job with this hub here Rahul, you show you have a deeper understanding of the subject and I can only imagine the future of your hubs as well that you will be releasing soon from your mental capacity for grasping thought concepts and word forms. Awesome!

      I learned a great deal about India in school and this info is definitely of great relevance even to the school text information I had absorbed many years back.

      I recently seen a documentary on the Hulu network about ancient India and Yogi's or how Yoga got its start there, and I will get the related link to share with you on facebook as soon as I relocate it.

      Voted up and out!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Interesting, Rahul. I knew nothing of Hindu mythology. It's always nice to learn about other cultures, especially since I now have friends all over the world!

      Your mind fascinates me, my brother. You are all over the place and I mean that as a compliment! You are multi-faceted and so well spoken. I love everything you write!

      Thanx for the education on this topic. Perhaps you'll share more?

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing this fascinating article.

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thanks Terrye!!

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thanks Frank! You are too kind to me

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      THanks Max! Believe me... there is a lot more to it

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      It is so nice to hear such a thing from a learned woman like you Effer.. thank you for appreciating my simple efforts

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Mike! I am humbled by your utterly kind comment. Thank you

      The Whole Realm of Indian History is a mixed bag..... it is influenced by a mixture of worldwide traditions, religions and cultures... the more you delve into it .. the more you will be fascinated

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      I will surely share more Shauna! It gives me immense pleasure when wonderful people like you come forward to share and discuss simple work such as mine.

      Thank you for your kindness

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      THank you Martin for taking out the time... :)

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 4 years ago from Hampton, GA

      Interesting hub, man. :)

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thanks Aubrey! I am glad you liked it

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      stessily 4 years ago

      Rahul, You've done an excellent job of distilling the essence of very complex scholarship. The Ramayana constitutes an amazing journey through spirituality, culture, philosophy, history, and so much more. Along the way it's fascinating to discern regional differences as well.

      Beautiful distillation. All votes + sharing.

      Appreciatively, Stessily

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Hi Stessi! I am glad you found my work worth a look! The Ramayana indeed is a sublime classic which like fine wine ferments through... the ages...\

      Thank you

    • radhikasree profile image

      Radhika Sreekanth 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Women subordination has always been a pellucid picturization in Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. But Seetha and Draupadi didn't fall short during their trials, their minds were more stronger than men.

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      You are right Radhika... the character sketches of Seeta and Draupadi depict the sect of those enlightened women who stood for a certain level of equality...

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Very interesting hub, rahul. Until today the human race has the same caste system, although all individuals has the freedom to prove themselves in any caste - The Kshatriyas, the Brahmans, the Vaisyas, the Shudras.

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 3 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      You are right Martie..... the vernacular system has been a part of the human history for a long time... going through changes and re-inventions through time and tide...

    • Rich11 profile image

      Richa 2 years ago

      you are really very talented, Rahul Great hub

    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 2 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Hi Rich11... Thank you for your precious feedback... Do visit my blogging sites for more of my work

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