Valmiki's Ramayana - Prayers

A new novel and challenging presentation of the original Ramayana of Valmiki

tranliteration

9 January

I have preferred to retain the term 'vanara' instead of adopting the translation 'monkey'; it may mean a member of a forest tribe, especially when we remember that the offspring had the form and the prowess of their divine parents.

11 January

The weapons: 'bana', which is usually translated into 'arrow', sounds very much like 'bomb' or a missile; even today the word 'bana' is used in South India to refer to fireworks which are projected into space to explode there.
'Dhanus' which is taken to mean 'bow' may be something like a cannon.
There were two types of weapons: the gastra and astra. Sastra was a mechanical device; astra was an astral device.

14 January

In the light of modern knowledge of military hardware this chapter which mentions very many types of what were obviously missiles, nuclear and non-nuclear ought to be closely studied.

15 January

The demons in this chapter may be symbolic representations of tornadoes, thunderstorms, etc., and the missiles, the measures taken to deal with them.

17 January

The poet combines in this chapter history, allegory, and a moral lesson.

18 January

The story of Ganga may merely be a highly poetic way of describing the natural phenomena.
The story of Uma reveals that the population problem is also a recurrent one.

19 January

Does this story imply that there was a volcanic eruption in the Himalayas?

20 January

Even pollution is not a modern problem!

21 January

The digging of the earth into tunnels refers to the 'moving' away of the continents - the continental drift.
The elephants that look like mountains are supposed to support the earth. Possibly, they are mountains that look like elephants.
And, if you visualise the earth suspended in space, the mountains 'stuck' to the sides of the earth seem to carry the earth.

28 January

The cow Sabala reminds us of the Trojan horse. Kambojas may be Cambodians; Yavanas have been identified as Javanese or maybe Chinese or Japanese; and Barbaras - there was an invasion of Europe by them.
Visvamitra getting the missile secrets from lord Siva reminds us of modern espionage tactics.
Vasistha's staff reminds us of the staff of Moses.

29 January

'Brahmana' may not refer just to one born as a brahmana - the caste.
Sages other than Vasistha - who were also brahmanas by birth - fled.
Brahmana, therefore, is a knower of the absolute.
The missiles that are mentioned in this chapter are those that Visvamitra gave to Rama.

31 January

An extraordinary story of space travel, creation of satellites, etc.

1 February

Perhaps there is a lesson here: when the ruler neglects his duty, there is loss of wealth, and there is also loss of human life.

21 February

The Gospel of Rama commences here.

22 February

The words 'krtanta' and 'daiva' mean a lot more than just fate, providence, the fruits of past action, etc.
Krtanta means the logical development of one's own action.
Daiva means divine play - in this case Kaikeyi had to do what she did because that is what the gods wanted.

23 February

Rama and Valmiki are fond of using the words 'dharmah sanatanah' while clinching an ethical issue.
Hinduisms is indigenously known as sanatana dharma.

25 February

Rama repeats the words 'duhkham ato vanam - the forest dreadful' nearly in every verse. An effective persuasion technique.

10 March

The text gives detailed descriptions of the ceremony performed. The description does seem to involve animal sacrifice, though some commentators have given the words a vegetarian meaning.
Considering what was said in the last verse of chapter 52, it is probable that meat was invoivel both in ritual and diet in the case of members of the royal family and warriors.

20 March

Cruelty as well as compassion to animals are also age-old.

21 March

The list of 'sins' mentioned is interesting: the widespread prevalence of these sins is the direct cause of our ills today.
A religious person maintains the sacred fire in his house, as a reminder that that is the end. He offers food into it daily, and ultimately the whole body, which also fed on that food, is consigned to the fire.

10 April

Man's action influences the atmosphere: the fire, the air and soma - which is not only the moon, but the nitrogenous element in the atmosphere which nourishes the plants.

27 April

The juxtaposition of the contrasting descriptions of Rama and Surpanakha is a thrilling piece of poetry.

1 May

The demons with the possible exception of Khara had non-ballistic weapons, and Rama had the most sophisticated of ballistic weapons. 'Bows and arrows' do not fit in at all.

2 May

This chapter mentions the use of gold and diamond in the manufacture of missiles. The original text uses a pun in the description of the conquest of these three heroes.
Mahakapala means a 'Great Skull' - whose skull is shattered.
Pramathin is one who overpowers - he is overpowered.
Sthulaksa is 'eye hole' - and he is shot through the eye holes.

3 May

Visnu's weapon is said to be 'cakra' which literally mean 'revolver'. Perhaps even then it had a magazine of six chambers!

4 May

Noble truths are often uttered by demons.
Even the 'mace' was a ballistic weapon. It burns ...
Killing of fourteen thousand people in an hour and a half is difficult with bow and arrow, but possible with nuclear power.

23 May

Rama's viraha - expression of sorrow - is graphic, highly poetic and full of srngara-rasa - love.
I have not done full justice to it, nor have I done justice to the descriptions of the seasons in this section.

27 May

Aeroplane pilots used to be scared of vultures in the early days of flying.
The description of the knife fixed 'to the bow' is clear enough to indicate the bayonet.
The storm and the cloud left behind indicate jet-propelled craft.

28 May

Once I saw in a medical college museum a monster of the same description as of Kabandha - it was only a foetus.

8 June

'One piece of cloth' is specified in the text - does a monkey have to wear clothes?

11 June

There is surely a lot of exaggeration in the shooting story.

16 June

One of the synonyms for vanara in the text is 'vanacarinah' which literally means 'one who moves about in the forest.'

19 June

The verse quoted at the head of this page is most sublime. No translation is adequate. For 'niyati' is untranslatable. It is 'that which keeps the world going'. If this is borne in mind, every time this passage is read, it will reveal a new light. There is a suggestion of an immutable law, unalterable destiny, free-will within bounds, etc.

27 June

In the description of 'other tribes' words occur which can surely be translated into 'bears' etc. But they could also be the names of tribes of people - like nagas of the modern Nagaland, who are not 'snakes', as the word naga means.

1 July

Someone could, without reference to modern geography, draw a map based on these descriptions. Many of our established notions might be shaken up!

12 July

The popular idea is that they were all monkeys who could leap over the ocean. But it should be remembered that tradition has it that Jambavan was a bear: 'leaping' in his case is surely irrelevant.
'Crossing' therefore was by other means.

13 July

Powers to make one's body big and small are acquired by yogis.
Warriors love to be glorified, and often they indulge in using expressions as Hanuman does.
The only word that puzzles is 'langulam' which is translated into 'tail': it might even refer to the 'tail' of the cloth worn around the waist which athletes usually tighten before diving, etc.

15 July

The eyes emitting fire and light, a flying object leaving a trail behind, looking like a tail), etc., suggest a jet-propelled rocket or plane. Of course even now we use the expression, "Mr. So-and-so flew from India to America", when we mean he took a plane.

16 July

This, again, may be a picturesque description: as you fly over the ocean, a land-mass or a hill seems to 'rise from the ocean' over the horizon!

17 July

This is a nice interlude, or a story with a moral, or it may be a poetic description of Hanuman flying through the eye of a cyclone.

18 July

The phenomenon described in this section may be some kind of a radar tracking station, or some sort of ground-to-air missile system mounted on a ship - or, it may just be a tough air pocket.
The description of the sky as the path of musicians proves the existence of radio.
T he appearance of aircraft is interesting.

20 July

Hanuman assuming a midget figure of the size of a cat may well be true: yogis are able to perform this miracle. Or it may merely mean: 'the darkness that fell over the city made him inconspicuous and he entered the city softly like a cat'.

28 July

'Dasagriva' etc. are often taken as descriptions of Ravana, and he is assumed to have had ten heads.
They might have been mere pet names.
Brahmaraksasa may not be the ghost of a brahmana-killer, as popular belief has it, but a brahmana who is a friend of demons.

4 August

The physiognomical characteristics of the best among men are described in this chapter.

9 August

Hanuman's soliloquy on the inevitability of violence, and Sita's clever reply to the demonesses may raise questions in our mind.
We should remember: 'Right action - dharma - is appropriate action, not action according to an inflexible pattern.

10 August

The destruction of the monument reminds us of Samson's exploits.
Incidentally, it is not impossible to believe that such strong vanaras existed who were a lot more powerful than others.
In the description of all these exploits there surely is poetic exaggeration; modern expressions are not free from such hyperbole - 'skyscraper' is one of them.
Chaitya in the text may not be a shrine but just a monument.

12 August

The description of the aircraft is beautiful.
Of course, it says that the craft had eight horses; don't we use the expression 'horse-power' in the same context?
The craft was gold-plated in such a way that it became bullet-proof; so only the engines were vulnerable.

13 August

Garuda is the name adopted by Indonesian Airlines today. It could have been a similar name in those days. Tiger-like engines: planes do have names like 'tiger moth'.

16 August

Hanuman's tail causes a problem here. It might have been the tail of the waist-cloth. Or, it may be an allusion to: Hanuman got into his plane and dropped incendiary bombs on the city - which with the jet-trail might well give the impression that drops of fire fall from a tail.
The demi-gods announcing the destruction of Lanka and safety of Sita was a news broadcast. The whole thing could be a poetic way of painting a simple bombing expedition.

18 August

Hanuman's narrative indicates that he said to Ravana that Rama had entered into a military alliance with Sugriva, and in accordance with the terms of the agreement, Rama had to kill Vali. This was done. But Rama's statesmanship acquired Vali's equally powerful son
Angada as an ally - and so he had Angada installed as prince regent.

25 August

Some of the names of the heroes occur in other scriptures. They do not necessarily refer to the same person.

26 August

In Chapter 10, the omens are given in great detail and are worth studying.

27 August

Sita did not ask for a year's time: Ravana fixed it. Yet, to a confused mind the distinction between fact and fancy is blurred.

29 August

Rama's words are highly inspiring.
Vibhisana must have flown in and sought 'landing permission' from Sugriva. Radio communication is indicated.

30 August

Rama's statesmanship is brought out in this chapter.
Suka is the name of a demon here: not to be confused with the sage-author of the Bhagavatam.

31 August

These two chapters are worth very close investigation.
They point to the possibility of altering the geography of the earth by the use of nuclear missiles.
There is no doubt that the description relates to a nuclear explosion.
Geologists tell us that a great cataclysm turned land into sea and sea into land.
Scholars versed in ancient Dravidian lore also tell us that a sudden 'flood' destroyed a once flourishing Dravidian empire - identified as Gondwana.
Without in any way questioning the legendary interpretations, I suggest other points of view.

1 September

Nuclear power was used to build a bridge across the ocean.
Devas - beings of light - television crew - and gandharvas - celestial musicians - radio newscasters - were watching the work.

2 September

Espionage, counter-espionage, fifth column activities and even betrayals and political asylum - all these modern incidents of war are of ancient origin.

3 September

This dialogue indicates that they even had gadgets like binoculars.
Some scholars declare that there have been interpolations in the text. I feel that verses suggesting the vanaras were quadrupeds are such interpolations by those who were firm in their conviction that they were beasts.

8 September

Opposition was permitted even in those days.
The statement that Rama was Visnu occurs explicitly for the first time here.
Spontaneous cross-breeding as portending global change is interesting.

9 September

Rama's 'intelligence system' was highly efficient, because of the courage with which he granted asylum to the defector Vibhisana and his four men.

10 September

Ravana had only one head and two arms.
Dasagriva - ten-necked - was a pet name, even as Sugriva - lovely necked - was.

12 September

The words in the text which are usually translated into 'rocks', 'nail', 'teeth' etc., might have been the names of powerful weapons.
However, the assumption that the demons had sophisticated weapons, while in the other army only Rama, Laksmana and Vibhisana had them, provides the moral that if you are on the side of Lord Rama, you can win a battle even against the most powerful enemy.

13 September

Indrajit had some sort of guided missile, filled with poison gas.

14 September

'Magic eye' was radar; modern science also uses the words 'magic eye.
The astras which Rama had were unmistakably nuclear and sound terrible.

15 September

Some Muslims believe that Jesus was similarly revived after the crucifixion.
Garuda might have been a real friend, a 'flying doctor'.

16 September

What are here described as 'chariots' were the ancient counterparts of the modern 'tanks'; words translated into 'rocks', 'mountain-peaks', 'trees', etc., were powerful mortars fired by cannons, as large and as heavy as mountain peaks.

18 September

Even the accidental bombing of the ground forces of one's own army is not new!

22 September

It is good to remember that the text emphasises that Kumhhakarna was considered even then as an abnormal person.
Some legends have it that Vedavati had risen from the mystic fire in Dandaka, and that Sita had disappeared into the earth, that it was Vedavati disguised as Sita who lived in Lanka, and she in turn entered into the fire, when the real Sita emerged, after the great war.

23 September

It is not impossible to believe that Kumbhakarna was in fact a mechanical device, a Trojan horse - and the story of his sleeping and eating habits is coded allusion to its disuse and reinforcement.

28 September

Lance, mallet, mace, iron club, rocks, trees, mountain tops - the description given of their nature suggests that they were some kind of weapons or ballistic missiles which modern science has yet to produce.

30 September

'A chariot which has ten bows' is surely an armoured car with ten gun-turrets.
The idea of neutralising one missile by a more powerful one is interesting.
The Brahma-missile seems to have been a sort of mini atomic bomb or bullet used in individual combats, too, though the bigger variety is also mentioned.

1 October

Indrajit surely surveyed the battlefield from the air, mistook the leaders as dead, and returned to Lanka. Else, he would have killed them.

2 October

'Svayambhuvah vallabhena' in the text suggests nuclear force - born of nature, which could kill millions.
The description of Hanuman's aircraft suggests a swept-wing supersonic plane.
Surely they had a quick antidote to nuclear fall-out.
The 'navel' of the earth was the equator or the polar region.

3 October

Rama's arrows raining fire on the palaces of demons were incendiary rockets.
War-time execution of deserters was known.
This wole page shows that the art of warfare was highly developed then.

5 October

Hanuman's strength could have been derived from certain yoga practices. Even today some adepts in the practice of karate, etc., have great strength.

6 October

Indrajit's aircraft was a supersonic jet. Its 'magic properties' is a figure of speech like our own 'phantom jet'.
The illusory Sita was eiher a 'double' - a ruse adopted in modern wars - or a mechanical but lifelike device.

15 October

Some of the dreadful missiles contained many others.

16 October

The trident, the missiles that became snakes, etc., could well be weapons unknown yet to science; or they could also be magical weapons like the 'rod of Moses'.

17 October

Even bribery and corruption are ancient.

18 October

Omens may be superstition; yet, they generate a certain strength by freeing one from inhibitions.
Worship of sun may include sun-bathing.

19 October

The drums of the celestials and the glorification of the gods refer to broadcast announcements of the V-R - victory over Ravana - Day.

21 October

The specific mention of brahmanas and also Vedic rites proves that the demons were not a class of beings distinct from human, but that it was their behaviour that was diabolical.

5 November

Pancagni Tapas is: to sit on burning sands with fire on four sides.
The Kumbhakarna story here contradicts the earlier version.
Some authors have declared that the whole section 'Uttara Kandani' is an interpolation, an unworthy addition.
Several of the stories in this section contradict the earlier ones.

19 November

This story explains why Vali could not be trusted by Rama; he was Ravana's friend. And, it also justifies Vali's claim that he could easily have asked Ravana to restore Sita to Rama.
This whole section provides the background for the incidents of the previous sections.

29 November

Suggestive of 'test-tube' babies.

30 November

Yadu was a demon; lord Krishna was born in the Yadu clan.
The descendants need not share their fore-father's nature.

25 December

The text suggests that the scriptures and the mantras went in human form, i.e. scholars and pandits.
In Chapter III.14.15 are several names of creatures with their creation.
In Chapter VII.25 are names of some of the foremost among rituals.
In Chapter III.25, VI.44.45, and elsewhere the names of missiles are given.
In Chapter VI.74 are found names of wonderful herbs - these are worth studying: surely those who are interested will refer to the original sanskrit and with a good dictionary work out their significance.
In Chapter IV.40 and the few following ones are the names of places, rivers, mountains, which are worth investigation.

26 December

There is a sort of foot-note in the last chapter which says that Ayodhya remained deserted till Rsabha became its ruler, when it regained its glory.

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