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Lord Rama : Fact or Fiction

Post Author: Swami Gaurangapada    Date: 2008-01-10 09:59:45
Lord Rama : Fact or Fiction
By Nandanandana dasa prabhu (Stephen Knapp)

As of late, in the year 2007, the idea of whether Lord Rama exists or
not has been called into question, by no less than some of the
politicians in India. So it is a wonder how such persons can be
accepted as leaders of the people of India who should be concerned
with preserving and protecting the culture of the country. Obviously,
they are neither concerned nor aware of the depths of information that
can be found in support of the traditions for which India is
especially known. Or, they are really attempting to dismantle or
destroy the authority of the timeless nature of the civilization of
the country.

In regard to Lord Rama, the point about ancient history is that the
farther you go back in time, the fewer references you can use that
actually refer to the incident in history. There may be many
commentaries, but few quotations to the actual events.

However, when it comes to the Ramayana and the history of Lord Rama,
there have been numerous authors who have accepted the Ramayana as a
history of ancient events. For example, the first Governor General of
India, Sri Rajaji, wrote on the Ramayana and called it a history, as
also did the English Indologist Sir William Jones. Various other
western authors have made a study of the culture and history of the
Ramayana, such as Philip Lutgendorf in his book Rama's Story in
Shiva's City, California University; Joe Burkhalter Flueckiger and
Laurie Sears in The Boundaries of Traditional Ramayana and Mahabharata
Performances in South and Southeast Asia, University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor; W. L. Smith on Ramayan Traditions in Eastern India, University
of Stockholm, and others.

There are also numerous places that are indicated as the locations
where various events happened in reference to the pastimes of Lord
Rama and Sita. Thus, they are accepted as historical sites. I have
personally visited many of these places, such as Ramesvaram, Nasik,
Hampi, and others where there are particular locations and sites that
are related to the events that took place in the life and adventures
of Lord Rama. Many people accept these sites as the locations for the
events described in the Ramayana. So how can this be unless there are
not some reality behind it?

However, why is there not more archaeological evidence that points
towards Rama's existence? Because such an effort has not been made in
India and systematic excavations have never been carried out, says
historian Nandita Krishnan. She says that to doubt the existence of
Rama is to doubt all literature. There is little archaeological or
epigraphic evidence for either Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed, who
are known only from the Bible and Koran respectively. Does it mean
they did not exist? If Rama performs miracles such as liberating
Ahalya, the Biblical story of Jesus walking on water or the Koranic
tale of Mohammed flying to heaven on a horse are equally miraculous.
Such stories reinforce divinity.

She also describes in summary what areas the events of Lord Rama's
life took place. She explains: "The Ramayana is geographically very
correct. Every site on Rama's route is still identifiable and has
continuing traditions or temples to commemorate Rama's visit. Around
1000 BC or earlier, no writer had the means to travel around the
country inventing a story, fitting it into local folklore and building
temples for greater credibility.

"In 1975 the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) unearthed fourteen
pillar bases of kasauti stone with Hindu motifs near the mosque at
Ayodhya; reports of the excavations are available with the ASI. Rama
was born in Ayodhya and married in Mithila, now in Nepal. Not far from
Mithila is Sitamarhi, where Sita was found in a furrow, still revered
as the Janaki kund constructed by her father Janaka. Rama and Sita
left Mithila for Ayodhya via Lumbini. In 249 BC, Ashoka erected a
pillar in Lumbini with an inscription referring to the visits by both
Rama and Buddha to Lumbini. Ashoka was much nearer in time to Rama and
would be well aware of his facts.

"Rama, Lakshmana and Sita left Ayodhya and went to Sringaverapura -
modern Sringverpur in Uttar Pradesh - where they crossed the River
Ganga. They lived on Chitrakoot hill where Bharata and Shatrughna met
them and the brothers performed the last rites for their father.
Thereafter, the three wandered through Dandakaranya in Central India,
described as a land of Rakshasas, obviously tribes inimical to the
brothers' habitation of their land. Tribals are still found in these
forests. The trio reached Nasik, on the River Godavari, which throbs
with sites and events of Rama's sojourn, such as Tapovan where they
lived, Ramkund where Rama and Sita used to bathe, Lakshmankund,
Lakshmana's bathing area, and several caves in the area associated
with their lives in the forest.

"Rama then moved to Panchavati near Bhadrachalam (AP), where Ravana
abducted Sita. The dying Jatayu told them of the abduction, so they
left in search of Sita. Kishkinda, near Hampi, where Rama first met
Sugriva and Hanuman, is a major Ramayana site, where every rock and
river is associated with Rama. Anjanadri, near Hospet, was the
birthplace of Hanuman (Anjaneya); Sugriva lived in Rishyamukha on the
banks of the Pampa (Tungabhadra); Sabari probably also lived in a
hermitage there. Rama and the Vanara army left Kishkinda to reach
Rameshwaram, where the Vanaras built a bridge to Lanka from
Dhanushkodi on Rameshwaram Island to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. While
parts of the bridge - known as Adam's Bridge - are still visible,
NASA's satellite has photographed an underwater man-made bridge of
shoals in the Palk Straits, connecting Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar. On
his return from Sri Lanka, Rama worshiped Shiva at Rameshwaram, where
Sita prepared a Linga out of sand. It is still one of the most sacred
sites of Hinduism.

"Sri Lanka also has relics of the Ramayana. There are several caves,
such as Ravana Ella Falls, where Ravana is believed to have hidden
Sita to prevent Rama from finding her. The Sitai Amman Temple at
Numara Eliya is situated near the ashokavana where Ravana once kept
her prisoner.

"All the places visited by Rama still retain memories of his visit, as
if it happened yesterday. Time, in India, is relative. Some places
have commemorative temples; others commemorate the visit in local
folklore. But all agree that Rama was going from or to Ayodhya. Why
doubt connections when literature, archaeology and local tradition
meet? Why doubt the connection between Adam's Bridge and Rama, when
nobody else in Indian history has claimed its construction? Why doubt
that Rama traveled through Dandakaranya or Kishkinda, where local non-
Vedic tribes still narrate tales of Rama? Why doubt that he was born
in and ruled over Ayodhya?

"Rama's memory lives on because of his extraordinary life and his
reign, which was obviously a period of great peace and prosperity,
making Ramarajya a reference point. People only remember the very good
or the very bad. Leftist historians have chosen to rubbish
archaeology, literature and local tradition."

Nandita Krishnan also adds that "Nobody believed that Homer's Iliad
was a true story till Troy was discovered after extensive archaeology.
Unfortunately, the sites of the Ramayana and Mahabharata have now been
built over many times and it may never be possible to excavate
extensively either at Ayodhya or Mathura."

To further verify this aspect of the history of Lord Rama, Pushkar
Bhatnagar concludes that geographical evidence for the epics is
abundant. There still exist many places like Rameshwaram, Kishkindha,
Kurukshetra, Hastinapura, etc. where the visits of Rama and Krishna
are a basic part of local folklore.

Lack of archaeological evidence is no excuse for denying the existence
of history, sums up Bhatnagar. "If the buildings of that time over
7000 years ago do not exist today, can we just infer that
civilizations and personalities of that time also did not exist?"

In literature, we have the Ramayana and other texts such as the
Puranas which also relate and verify the history and existence of Lord
Rama. People from many other regions of the world have also accepted
the Ramayana as worthy of attention, devotion, and historical
evidence. For example, we can see the affects of the Ramayana
tradition in many countries who have adapted their own form of the
Ramayana and worship of Lord Rama, especially in the countries of
Southeast Asia. These include Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia (Capuchia),
Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Other
areas can also be found where the influence of the history of Lord
Rama is in affect, such as the continent of Africa was once known as
Kushadvipa for having been ruled by Kush, one of Lord Rama's sons.

The other fact is that many millions of people feel the reciprocation
from Lord Rama whenever they engage in devotion to Him, or read the
Ramayana, or hear the Ramayana in a katha, or watch a television show
or movie about Him, or go to one of the temples dedicated to Him. This
cannot be denied or neglected. Just because we have insensitive
politicians who cannot perceive this reciprocation does not mean that
we all are so spiritually undeveloped. This dedication and
reciprocation has spread throughout the world.

There have also been astronomers who have identified the approximate
time of the Ramayana by the descriptions of the stars and
constellations as given in the Ramayana, or even in the Bhagavata
Purana and other texts. Pushkar Bhatnagar, author of the book Dating
the Era of Lord Rama, claims that there is a significant amount of
information available to prove that Rama was a historical personality.
He says, "Valmiki, who wrote the Ramayana, was a contemporary of Rama.
While narrating the events of the epic, he has mentioned the position
of the planets at several places." He explains that by using recent
planetary software, it has been possible to verify that these
planetary positions actually took place precisely as specified in the
Ramayana. These were not just stray events, but the entire sequence of
the planetary positions as described by Valmiki at various stages of
Rama's life can be verified today as having taken place.

Bhatnagar goes on to explain: "This information is significant, since
these configurations do not repeat for lakhs of years and cannot be
manipulated or imagined so accurately, without the help of
sophisticated software. The inference that one can draw is that
someone was present there to witness the actual happening of these
configurations, which got recorded in the story of Rama."

Bhatnagar provides the following quote from the Ramayana: "Rama was
born on the Navami tithi of Shukla Paksha of Chaitra masa (9th day of
the increasing phase of the moon in the lunar month of Chaitra). At
that time, the nakshatra was Punarvasu, and Sun, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter
and Venus were in Aries, Capricorn, Libra, Cancer and Pisces
respectively. Lagna was Cancer and Jupiter & Moon were shining
together. -- Ramayana 1.18.8,9

The conditions can be summarized as follows, according to Bhatnagar:
1. Sun in Aries
2. Saturn in Libra
3. Jupiter in Cancer
4. Venus in Pisces
5. Mars in Capricorn
6. Lunar month of Chaitra
7. 9th day after New Moon (Navami Tithi, Shukla Paksh)
8. Moon near Punarvasu Nakshatra (Pollux star in Gemini constellation)
9. Cancer as Lagna (Cancer constellation rising in the east)
10. Jupiter above the horizon

According to the Planetarium software, it provides the following date:
Sri Rama Navami - 10th January 5114 BCE - Birth Day of Rama,
Observation at 12.30 p.m.

Bhatnagar continues: "By using a powerful planetarium software, I
found that the planetary positions mentioned in Ramayana for the date
of birth of Lord Ram had occurred in the sky at around 12.30 p.m. of
10th January 5114 BC. It was the ninth day of the Shukla Paksh of
Chaitra month too. Moving forward, after 25 years of the birth of Lord
Ram, the position of planets in the sky tallies with their description
in Ramayana. Again, on the amavasya (new moon) of the 10th month of
the 13th year of exile the solar eclipse had indeed occurred and the
particular arrangement of planets in the sky was visible. ( Date comes
to 7th October, 5077 BC). Even the occurrence of subsequent two
eclipses also tally with the respective description in Valmiki
Ramayana. (Date of Hanuman's meeting Sita at Lanka was 12th September,
5076 BC). In this manner the entire sequence of the planetary
positions gets verified and all the dates can be precisely

Although this provides verification of the existence for Lord Rama
according to calculations as given in the Ramayana, some people feel
the timing for the day and year of His birth may be different than
what the planetarium software indicates. For example, Vedic astrologer
Nartaka Gopala devi dasi points out that "Regarding the calculation of
Lord Rama's birth as 10th of January 5114 BCE - Birth Day of Rama,
Observation at 12.30 PM, there are 2 reasons why this cannot be
correct. His rising sign, or lagna, is Cancer. That places Aries in
the tenth house, and He has the Sun in Aries. The placement of the Sun
in any birth chart will tell the time of day of the birth. Sun in the
tenth house means birth at noontime (approx. 11 AM to 2 PM). There are
no exceptions to this. (Lord Krishna appeared at midnight, the Sun is
in Leo, 4th house for Taurus rising. Birth at 6 PM means 7th house
Sun. Birth at sunrise means 1st house Sun.) Also, in Lord Rama's chart
the Sun is in Aries, and the dates for Sun in Aries are fixed, which
means the same each year on April 14th to May 13th. So how did the
January 10 date come up? These two Jyotish corrections are common
sense that any Vedic astrologer would immediately see." So there may
be a difference in what the planetarium software suggests. This also
corroborates why we who follow the Vedic calendar celebrate Lord
Rama's appearance in April-May each year. So the traditional date
appears accurate.

Furthermore, some people feel that the appearance of Lord Rama took
place many thousands or even millions of years earlier, in the Treta-
yuga. For example, the Bhagavata Purana clearly states that Lord Rama
became king during Treta yuga (Bhag. 9.10.51). We have been in Kali-
yuga for 5000 years. Before this was Dvapara-yuga which lasts 864,000
years. Before that was Treta-yuga, which lasts over 1,200,000 years.
Thus, according to this, the existence of Lord Rama had to have been
many thousands of years ago. And if Lord Rama appeared in one of the
previous Treta-yugas, it would certainly indicate that Lord Rama
appeared several million years ago. And this is exactly what is
corroborated in the Vayu Purana.

In the Vayu Purana (70.47-48) [published by Motilal Banarsidass] there
is a description of the length of Ravana's life. It explains that when
Ravana's merit of penance began to decline, he met Lord Rama, the son
of Dasarath, in a battle wherein Ravana and his followers were killed
in the 24th Tretayuga. The Roman transliteration of the verse is:

tretayuge chaturvinshe ravanastapasah kshayat
ramam dasharathim prapya saganah kshayamiyavan

There are 1000 Treta-yugas in one day of Brahma, and it is calculated
that we are presently in the 28th cycle of the four yugas (called
divya-yugas, which is a cycle of the four yugas, Satya-yuga, Treta-
yuga, Dvapara-yuga, and then Kali-yuga) of Vaivasvata Manu, who is the
seventh Manu in the series of 14 Manu rulers who exist in one kalpa or
day of Brahma. Each Manu is considered to live for 71 such divya-yuga
cycles. So, without getting too complicated about things, from the
24th Treta-yuga to the present age of this Kali-yuga, there is
obviously a difference of millions of years when Lord Rama manifested
here on earth. Of course, few people may believe this unless they are
already familiar with the vast lengths of time that the Vedic
literature deals with.

Nonetheless, maybe there is further reason why we should accept that
Lord Rama appeared millions of years ago. In the Valmiki Ramayana,
Sundara-Kanda (or Book 5), Chapter 4, verse 27, [Gita Press,
Gorakhpur, India] it explains that when Hanuman first approached
Ravana's palace, he saw the doorways surrounded by horses and
chariots, palanquins and aerial cars, beautiful horses and elephants,
nay, with four-tusked elephants decked with jewels resembling masses
of white clouds.

Elsewhere in the Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara-Kanda (or Book 5), Chapter
27, verses12, an ogress named Trijata has a dream of Lord Rama, which
she describes to the other demoniac ogresses upon awakening. In that
dream she sees Rama, scion of Raghu, united again with Sita. Sri Rama
was mounted on a huge elephant, closely resembling a hill, with four

The question is how could there be a mention of the elephants with
four tusks unless Valmiki and the people of his era were familiar with
such creatures? A quick search on the Encarta Encyclopedia will let us
know that these four-tusked elephants were known as Mastodontoidea,
which are said to have evolved around 38 million years ago and became
extinct about 15 million years ago when the shaggy and two tusked
Mastodons increased in population. Now there's something to think
about, eh? So this would mean that the specific planetary
configuration that is described in the Ramayana, and is verified by
Pushkar Bhatnagar, may have indeed happened, but at a time millions of
years prior to merely 10,000 years ago.

In this way, as we go through the evidence, we can see how Lord Rama
was an actual historic personality, as described in the Ramayana and
in other Puranic texts. Nonetheless, there will always be those for
whom no matter what you present for verification, it will not be
enough. Some just won't believe it. Some will, some won't, so what,
let's move on. But many in the world already accept the authority of
the Ramayana and other Vedic texts for the verification of the
existence of Lord Rama.

Jaya Sri Rama!

Post Author: Damodara Svarupa Dasa    Date: 2008-01-10 16:02:39
Nityananda, Gauranga, Hare Krishna!

Has there been any (extensive) scientific research into the lives and whereabouts of Their Lordships and Their followers? I don't mean hagiographies or relics either, but the ‘dry and scientific facts?of the lives of Sri Nityananda and Sri Caitanya Maha Prabhu?

The Caitanya Bhagavata is about 500 years old. Who has/where is the original book by Sri Vrindavan Thakura dasa? How can one be sure it is the authentic book?

Please, do shed some light on this topic as well.

Your servant,
Damodara Svarupa dasa

Post Author: Swami Gaurangapada    Date: 2008-01-12 13:19:59
Nityaananda! Gauraanga! Hare Krishna! The original handwritten manuscript of Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata can be found in Denuda, the village of Shrila Vrindavana Dasa Thakura, around 30-60 minutes from Mamagachi. For a list of the memorial items from Lord Gauranga's time, please read this. For a detailed historical and chronological listing of the pastimes during that period, please check this. In the history books in India schools, Lord Gauraanga is described as a great saint who was mad for love of God.

I agree with you that even more historical research is required so that we can establish Lords Nityaananda Gauraanga as the true Supreme Lords of Kali Yuga not just as a vague history or fiction. Atheistic people can brush aside Lord Krishna as mythology because they want proof from 5000 years ago but they can't brush aside Lords Nityaananda Gauraanga so easily as everyone has to accept that They have walked on this planet.

Daaso'smi, Swami Gaurangapada.

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