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Ramayana: A story behind story!

Updated on June 28, 2015

Mystery of Lord Rama!

Rama is hero of ancient epic Ramayana and is worshipped by the masses as seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Valmiki is credited with authorship of Ramayana. The Ramayana suggests Valmiki being contemporary of Rama. Seeta, wife of Rama, had secured shelter at his hermitage of Valmiki when Rama had abandoned her doubting her character.

It seems that story of Rama has evolved in at least four phases. In the earliest period, before 8th century BC, it was just a heroic ballad detailing war between Rama and Ravana.

In second phase it was turned to a small epic “Paulatsya Vadh” (killing of Ravana) in which too war was the major subject.

Third phase consisted composition of second to sixth parts of the Ramayana in which the most of the story was shaped, right from exile of Rama till his victory over Ravana. This body of the epic shows Rama mostly in human form.

In fourth phase, that might have been sometime between second to fourth century AD, first and last parts were composed and annexed to the original body of Ramayana. These two parts portray Rama in divine form.

This makes it impossible to determine whether Rama was a historical figure or not. In all probabilities Rama seems to be a fictional personality the way he is portrayed in the present epic. Still the epic has its historical role in present Hindu religion. Rama is revered by most of the Hindus for his ideal character and divine qualities.

However Ramayana has been a subject of criticism as well as debate over construction and the character of Rama that has many contradictions and humanly flaws. Even purpose of interpolations and additions to original body of Ramayana has given ways for many speculations. Let us discuss some of them from new angle:

Was Valmiki contemporary to Rama?

First part of Ramayana, Balkanda, narrates us a story how Valmiki was inspired to compose this epic. The story goes like this:

“When Seer Narada visited hermitage of Valmiki, Valmiki asked him a question: ‘O greate sage Narada, who is most virtuous, valiant, religious, truthful and able to cause terror in the hearts of the Gods when angry on this earth?’ Narada answered, ‘The virtues you have mentioned are hard to find in any single person. However there is Rama of Ikshvaku clan who is an ideal person.’ Valmiki requested to Narada to narrate deeds of Rama. Narada happily did so and later Valmiki composed Ramayana in lyrical form.”

The beginning of the story itself is baffling. It shows Valmiki did not know Rama at all! Had it been the case there wouldn’t be any need to ask recite biography of Rama.

Ramayana in later parts makes him an active character in Rama story, being patron of Seeta and her twin boy’s. Thus making him contemporary to Rama!

This makes one speculate that either story is false. And yes, not only one, but both the stories are created in later times by incorporating new two parts (first and last part) to original 5 parts of Ramayana. Linguists and scholars in majority have accepted this addition.

The latter addition was done with following secret purposes:

1. To adorn Rama with divinity that hardly can be found in main body of original five parts.

2. To make him born from semen (Payas) of Vedic Seer Rishyashringa, thus suggesting biological father of Rama was a Vedic Brahmin.

3. To propagate supremacy of the patriarchal social order where women treated secondary to male counterpart. Seeta was abandoned only on a doubt over her purity expressed by an ordinary citizen. Chastity of the women should be beyond doubt or could be expelled by husband was the message this story delivered.

4. In first part, Rama is shown protecting fire sacrifices conducted by Vedic seers from destructive Asura’s and Raksasa’s, thus making Rama savior of Vedic religion.

5. The story of Shambuka, a shudra, appears in last part in which Rama is shown assassinating him just because he was conducting Tapa , a Vedic ritual reserved only for the Vedic people. The story was created to prohibit Shudra’s from practicing any Vedic ritual.

6. Through Ramayana it was attempted to establish that Vedic culture extended to southern parts of India because of the advent of Rama.

There are many other points in the whole story that can be discussed on similar grounds.

However it makes clear Ramayana was used solely to elevate Vedic’s to ultimate conquerors over Non Vedic people through the epic. This also was to establish protection of Vedic rituals was a divine duty and thus of all other ordinary people.

Valmiki couldn’t have been contemporary of Rama looking at the various phases Ramayana has undergone through the centuries.

If looked carefully we can clearly see the main purpose of Ramayana is to show cultural conflict of those times between Vedic’s and non-Vedic Shaivait people.

Ramayana as a tool helped Vedic people to play a great psychological warfare showing victory of Vedic over Non-Vedic at the hands of Divine. And this worked out well!

Some ancient obscure Rama of ballads was so cleverly used to play a divine role in epic to successfully spread moral supremacy of the Vedic religion is a thing highly hard to achieve otherwise!

If we carefully study the story of Ramayana there is actually nothing special about it. In a way it is one liner. How exiled prince frees his abducted wife from the custody of enemy. That’s it!

But the overall portrayal goes in such a clever manner that it makes one overlook lacunae’s forcing one believe Rama, an incarnation of the Lord and all his deeds morally correct!

Where was Ravana’s Lanka?

It is faith of Hindu’s that present Sri Lanka and Ravana’s Lanka are one and the same. Setu Samudram project is stalled by Hindu activists by raising serious objection that Government will be destroying the man-made ancient heritage, the bridge, built by Lord Rama and his monkey aides, if project started!

But the main question needs to address is where was Ravana’s Lanka, if at all it existed?

Unbiased scholars have given due thought to this question in recent past. I too have my little contribution to support their theory that can be put down as under:

1. If studied Ramayana carefully, a startling truth appears that Lanka of Ravana was not present Sri Lanka, as the course of Rama’s entire travel by every count does not cross over 450 kilometers from his capital to so called Lanka.

Present Sri Lanka is thousands of miles apart from Ayodhya.

2. According to Sardar Madhavrao Kibe, Lanka must have been situated in the Vindhya mountain ranges somewhere in Chattisgarh region. He has meticulously compiled the scattered references left in Ramayana itself to make his theory.

3. According to Dr. H. D. Sankalia, a famous archeologist, too support Mr. Kibe stating Lanka was in Vindya mountain ranges. He also states that Lanka was not an island, but a land beyond some lake.

4. There is no mention anywhere of sea-shore in Ramayana while describing Lanka. Also Lanka is not called an island anywhere in Ramayana. There also is no mention of Rameshvaram anywhere at all.

5. There still are tribes in Chattisgarh region those identify them as descendents of Ravana and worship him.

6. The trees mentioned in the epic are only found in Vindhya region and not in southern India at all!

Considering above points present Sri Lanka could not be Lanka of Ramayana. The myths have been created to achieve major but hidden objectives those are explained above.

So Ramayana, no matter how sacred it is labeled, the story has base of certain socio-religious objective downplayed but so obvious! The objective so far has been a tremendous success. Through Rama a culture was forced and preached that never ever was a part of majority of the people. People fell for the ideal character that so innocently was being presented before them…they overlooked what was being preached and stressed through him and his story!

The cultural war was fought by Vedic’s through this epic to achieve superiority over non-Vedic, i.e. Shaivait people, real Hindu’s.

Here let us not forget Ravana is shown as a great devotee of Lord Shiva who was killed at the hands of, protector of fire sacrifice of Vedic’s, Rama!

Fact is Ramayana heavily corrupted Hindu minds through superficially innocent story! Vedic religion got attached to Shaivait religion keeping Vedic supremacy intact!

Not that all religious wars are fought on battlegrounds or in preaching rooms…just write a wonderful epic like Ramayana and you have won them!

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    • saatyaki profile image

      Saatyaki So Seshendra Sharma 19 months ago from Hyderabad : India

      Greetings

      Please read this book to know the secrets hidden in the Ramayana

      Shodasi : Secrets of the Ramayana

      Author : Seshendra Sharma

      for reviews and other details :

      www.facebook.com/shodasi/

      Thanks / Regards

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      shashi bharti 21 months ago

      Thanks Sanjay ji

      ITS right thing that ramayan is full of myth....It only promote casteism I.e.shudra are seen as inferior but brahaman are seen as superior.......

      Ramayan and manusmriti dahan divas is organised by us on 21st march

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      amey 2 years ago

      We Indians are so religious right from our birth the dosages of false faith is given to us, in that blindness we accept whatever dogma, god character without rationalizing it. The truth is all epics are nothing but to corrupt our mind with un authentic, unreal beliefs it is nothing but to dominate superior races n so called high cast people to establish their supremecy over all. Ravana is symbol of courage who implement equity among masses, he was great king, brother, son a devotee, n aspiring hope for all those who were down trodden.he never ill treat anyone he was a good father n husband who unlike other never give up his wife when she needed him most, he never ruled his kingdoms by listening others narrow minded thinkers, he was modern in his thinking unlike others so called god who cut the nose n ear of a women who wish to offer a proposal of love. He was great warrior who never killed his enemy by tricky way like other god who killed enemy by hiding behind tree.

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      Tarak_Eswar 2 years ago

      I Know it is 85% concept story Great information Firs king of India Shiva His real wife Ganga Both are Dravidas ,and Parvathi is second wife She is arya group.Ramayana & Mahabharatham Arya peoples concet story That time Dravida people nobady Educated.thats whay some hidden real story still going on . Ravana Is Great person very intelligent.

      He Dont have 10 heads He have 10 brains his one head.

      He Maked chess Game Jai ho Dhravidas .

      ThankQ all

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      V R Murthy 2 years ago

      Ramayana was not epic, it was ancient History aprox. 1.73 million years BC. If you believe Darwin's evolution theory, you can understand Rama and Vanaras belong to Homo Eructus period. Also Ref. to NASA's satellite image of Ram Sethu and its dating. It corresponds to that period. Ramayana describes 1. Moral characteristics ( how we should live) 2. Geography ( Ref Sugriva's briefing Vanaras while sending to search Sita ) 3. Civil Engineering ( Ref details of Survey, Planning, Material planning & mobilisation, Construction). Recently NASA recorded the sound emitted by Sun and identified it as OM which Hindu science was teaching since several thousands of years. Modern science started accepting now. Similarly, very soon whole world will realise greatness of Ramayana. Several scholars have been working on astronomical dating of Ramayana. Please do not read it like a story but study it as Ancient Hindu Science then you too can understand it's greatness.

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      Murali 2 years ago

      You are so naïve. With superficial knowledge you have drawn so many conclusion. To me you are still in nursery. You need to get a PhD before you can criticise the epic with complete understanding of the Sri. Ramayanam. To me your pot is semi baked and it can not hold any water in it. You need to get baked more before can start analysing critically. I Can answer all your doubts but it is out of scope as it takes volumes to clear all your silly doubts.

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      SUnil Shirurkar 2 years ago

      वैदिक संस्कृती, तुमच्या म्हणण्यातील हिंदू संस्कृती, हिंदू नववर्ष म्हणजे शालिवाहन शक, चैत्र गुढीपाडवा या विषयी मला काही प्रश्न आहेत तरी तुम्हीच त्या प्रश्नांचे उत्तर द्याल अशी अपेक्षा आहे.

      १) तुम्ही म्हणता त्या तुमच्या म्हणण्यातल्या हिंदूंची उत्पत्ती कोठे झाली? भारतात झाली की अजून दुसरीकडे झाली किंवा जगातील कोणत्या भागात झाली

      २) चैत्र गुढी पाडव्याला सुरु होणारे नववर्ष मुळचे कोणाचे वैदिकांचे की तुम्ही म्हणता त्या हिंदूंचे?

      ३) दर पौर्णीमेला सुरु होणारा महिना अमावश्येला संपतो, हे कोणी ठरवले, शालिवाहन राजाने किंवा त्याच्या मंत्री मंडळाने कि यापूर्वीच हा ते ठरवले गेले?

      ३) गुढीपाडव्यापासून सुरु होणारे सर्व महिने म्हणजे जसे चैत्र, वैशाख वेगेरे वेगेरे मूळ कोणी चालू केले म्हणजे शालिवाहन राजाने की त्याअगोदर अस्तिवात होते?

      ४) तुमच्या म्हणण्याप्रमाणे गुढीपाडव्याचा भगवान श्रीरामाचा काहीच संबध नसेल तर रामनवमी नेहमी दर गुढीपाडव्यापासून नवमीला का असते? की कोणी शालिवाहन शकानुसार समायोजित(adjust) केली आहे

      ५) तुमच्या संशोधनानुसार रामनवमी केव्हापासून अस्तिवात आहे आणि ती कोणत्या काळापासून साजरी केली जाते? रामनवमी आणि बाकीचे सर्व तिथीनुसार येणारे सण हे शालिवाहन राजाने सुरु केलेले आहेत काय? किंवा ते कोणत्या काळापासून चालू केले गेले?

      ५) चैत्र गुढीपाडवा या दिवशी वैदिक पंचांगानुसार कलियुगाचे सुद्धा नवीन वर्ष सुरु होते ते वैदिकांनी या दिवशी समायोजित केले आहे काय की कलियुग शालिवाहन या राजाने सुरु केले की शालिवाहन शकाच्या अगोदरपासून हे कलियुग अस्तिवात होते?

      पण उत्तर भेटण्याऐवेजी मला ब्लॉक करून टाकल

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      vijayraj tn 2 years ago

      your doing a good work

      thanks for the article

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      Trinity 2 years ago

      It's a joy to find somneoe who can think like that

    • profile image

      Erwin 2 years ago

      Kshiraj TelangApril 17, 2010 - 17:49 Hey Sanjay! You have made my day through your rseopnse! You should have seen me the day when I saw gheehappy for the first time! It is true that there are many great artists that we should all 'worship' but then you have made me proud in a unique way! Thank you for being an inspiration and keep up doing amazing stuffs!

    • profile image

      Vyacheslav 2 years ago

      Also, Rama Sita were both heavily ieclunnfed by their dharma, which allowed them to accept their fate/misfortunes regardless if they felt it to be just or not.

    • profile image

      Ross 3 years ago

      a sophisticated plane like pushpaka vimanam, a flying machine in an era where fuel was gasoline. where are the blue prints and why the blue prints were not mentioned anywhcre.. if they existed why did u need a bridge. why God in its glory could not get some of those. all this mention of rameswaram and other places, our history books were silent on the history of rama. nobody seems to know him, until narada again a man who could travel to heaven and earth (fantasy?) tell us about it. are we supposed to blindly follow it because its our religion or are we supposed to reason it and see if there is any truth about it. monkeys, big birds, missile like arrows, flying machines, and an sophicated kingdom more sophisticated kingdom than ours existing in 5000 Bc and still the historical books don't mention it and archaeological findings are absent.

    • parwatisingari profile image

      parwatisingari 3 years ago from India

      Manish Dixit,Tualsi Ramayan is not an authority, its purpose was to unify the non muslims of the Akbar period. The Mughal period saw the rewriting of Ramayana in Brijbhasha too.

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      Manish Dixit 3 years ago

      Beta, before u wrote this why didn't you ready shri Ramcharitmanas (other books your real dad also can not read)as many as time to understand it first. In Ramayan it is (Rameshwaram) is mentioned by tulsidas.

      And dear son, Ramcharitmanas is bhashanibadhmatimanjulmatnoti. Matlab tum nahi samajh paoge qki tum kuchh nahi jante ho Ramcharitmanas k bare me. Abhi tumhe ye sikhne ki jarurat hai

    • parwatisingari profile image

      parwatisingari 4 years ago from India

      sanjay, there is no Lakshman Rekha in Valmiki Ramayana either.

      However at the end of sundarkand, there is a description of the seashore where Sampati lies wounded,

      As for Valmiki being samakaleena with Rama I do not know but I tell myself, that like the Trigata of a drama, where the sutradhara personalizes the story the author has personalized it. This raises fewer questions in me. I could be wrong.

      I enjoy reading your blogs.

      By the way would you be game for a ramayana conference?

    • sanjay-sonawani profile image
      Author

      Sanjay Sonawani 4 years ago from Pune, India.

      Thanks Sidkemp and lamberdar for encouraging comments.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      This is a fascinating history of how the Ramayana developed. You call it fiction, but others would call it folk tale and myth. Fiction is written by one person and known not to be true at the writing. Folk tale and myth build up over centuries, with each author or adaptor adding what they see as true or valuable in layers. We see the same in the Jewish and Christian bibles, in Greek and Roman myths. and in religious tales from all over the world.

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      Lamberdar 4 years ago from Toronto

      Dear Sanjay ji,

      Here is more information on this topic from an earlier blog,

      "A comment on the Uttarakanda or Uttara Ramayana" ...

      https://hubpages.com/literature/comment_on_UttaraR...

      Lamberdar

    • sanjay-sonawani profile image
      Author

      Sanjay Sonawani 4 years ago from Pune, India.

      Thanks Mahavir ji!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 4 years ago from Pune, India

      Great information which reveals many things which are unknown to people. Thanks for sharing it.