Srimad Ramayana is an epic poem composed by the sage Valmiki. It tells the story of Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and their struggle against the demon king Ravana. The epic is revered by millions of people around the world and is considered a masterpiece of Indian literature. However, there is a debate among scholars about the age of Srimad Ramayana. Some scholars believe that it is a work of fiction, while others argue that it is based on historical events. In this article, we will explore the evidence supporting the different theories and try to understand the age of Srimad Ramayana.
The Western Scholars’ Theory
Many Western scholars and Indian scholars with a Western mindset have tried to fix the age of Srimad Ramayana to approximately the 5th to 4th century BC. They base their theory on linguistic evidence and the similarities between the story of Rama and the ancient Greek epic, The Iliad. The scholars who support this theory believe that Srimad Ramayana is a work of fiction, created by Valmiki to convey his spiritual and moral message.
The Evidence from Srimad Ramayana
If we study Srimad Ramayana in depth, we can find clues that point to a different age for the epic. One of the most significant clues comes from the description of Lanka, the kingdom ruled by Ravana. When Hanuman, Lord Rama’s loyal servant, enters Lanka in search of Sita, Valmiki describes what he saw:
“The inner city was equal to paradise, rendered noisy by neighing of horses and tinkling of ornaments, by chariots, vehicles, and aerial-cars and decorated by auspicious elephants and horses and great elephants with four tusks and by birds and animals in heat.” (Sundara Kanda 4th Sarga 26 – 28 Slokas)
This description is significant because it mentions elephants with four tusks. According to modern anthropologists, elephants with four tusks existed 12-1.6 million years ago. The Gomphotheriidae were a diverse taxonomic family of extinct elephant-like animals (proboscideans). Referred to as gomphotheres, they were widespread in North America during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, 12-1.6 million years ago. Some lived in parts of Eurasia, Beringia and, following the Great American Interchange, South America.
Gomphotheres differed from elephants in their tooth structure, particularly the chewing surfaces on the molar teeth. Most had four tusks, and their retracted facial and nasal bones prompt palaeontologists to believe that gomphotheres had elephant-like trunks.
Therefore, we can infer that Srimad Ramayana occurred 16 lakh or 1.6 million years ago and not during the 5th to 4th century BC, as the scholars made us believe.
The Linguistic Evidence
Linguistic evidence is also significant in determining the age of Srimad Ramayana. The language used in the epic is Sanskrit, which is an ancient language dating back to the second millennium BCE. However, the Sanskrit used in Srimad Ramayana is different from the Sanskrit used in other ancient texts like the Vedas. This difference suggests that Srimad Ramayana was composed at a later date.
The Astronomical Evidence
Another piece of evidence that supports the theory that Srimad Ramayana is based on historical events is the astronomical evidence. The epic contains detailed descriptions of celestial events like eclipses, which can be used to determine the precise date of the events described. In recent years, scholars have used computer simulations to study the astronomical events described in Srimad Ramayana and have concluded that they match the events that would have occurred around 5000 BCE.
In conclusion, the age of Srimad Ramayana is a topic of debate among scholars. While some scholars believe that it is a work of fiction created by Valmiki to convey his spiritual and moral message, others argue that it is based on historical events. The evidence from the epic itself suggests that it occurred 1.6 million years ago, while linguistic and astronomical evidence suggests that it occurred around 5000 BCE. Therefore, we can conclude that Srimad Ramayana is based on historical events and occurred around 5000 BCE.
As we continue to study and analyze Srimad Ramayana, we will undoubtedly discover more clues that will help us understand its age and significance. Regardless of its age, the epic remains a timeless masterpiece that continues to inspire millions of people around the world.