Valmiki's Ramayana - Prayers

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

Preface

Before we begin with the text, a few remarks concerning the history and the geography of Ramayana may not be out of place.

In the book Towards Aquarius, Vera W. Reid has the following to say about the dates: "The Ramayana, which made Rama's name immortal, was written in its present form in the fourth century BC. Yet, there is no doubt that it was an Indian epic, orally taught and transmitted hundreds - perhaps thousands - of years earlier. Thus it contains valuable records of religious and social life in periods for which no historical records are available. It also suggests that Rama was an actual and not, as at first thought, a mythical character. For, in this poem the planetary positions, as they are said to have been at the time of his birth, are given in detail. This constitutes the first personal horoscope in existence, and establishes the fact that the person for whom it was made was born sometime prior to 3102 BC. - probably somewhere about 5.000 BC."

It might have been an Indian epic, but there is little doubt that the present India is not where Rama lived. The fact that there is a place called Ayodhya in present-day India is no proof that Rama was an Indian. There is a Bethlehem in a dozen countries of the world.

Surely, the geography of the Earth was very different seven or ten thousand years ago. And scientists have various theories concerning the drifting continents, tidal waves, a great flood, etc. I even venture to suggest that such cataclysms were brought about by a great war, in which very powerful nuclear weapons were rather freely used. I am convinced that at least the Lanka on which the great war took place was submerged in the great flood that followed the abuse of nuclear weapons. The present Sri Lanka was certainly not the Lanka of Ramayana. I have often felt that southern Africa answers the description of Lanka to some extent. Maybe the Dandaka forest was an African jungle. And, the ocean that was crossed was some big lake like the present lake Victoria, which could have also been turned into land by underwater nuclear testing and its consequent volcanic eruptions. Pursuing this line of thought, one would surmise that Rama's kingdom was somewhere in the present-day Middle East. Incidentally, Hazor, in Israel contains the ruins of twenty-one cities one on top of the other. Parasurama - who challenged Rama soon after Rama's wedding - is said to have destroyed the Ksatriyas twenty-one times.

The fact that Ramayana is in Sanskrit is no justification to claim that it is Indian. Sanskrit came to India along with the Aryans, who migrated from the Arctic Circle via central and west Asia to India. The Ramayana might indeed be part of the history of the Aryans during this migratory period.

The weapons used were undoubtedly nuclear; if not something worse that modern science has yet to discover. It is interesting to see that the weapons were fashioned by 'sages', but not used by them. The scientist-academician today similarly fashions the missiles which the men of the armed forces use.

'Demons' were not special superhuman or subhuman beings. I feel that the word 'demon' has no greater significance than the word 'enemy' in a war. Each side of the combat calls the other 'enemy'.

A close study of the text itself encourages us to think that Rama's forces were not comprised of monkeys, bears and such other creatures, but that such words denote the names of certain hill tribes. It is possible that certain stories that lend support to their subhuman nature, were interpolations by a later witty poet, who indulged in harmless fun and pun, to make the story more interesting.

I have invariably taken 'flying' to mean, using an aircraft - on the analogy of our own times, when we often say: "Mr X flew to Japan." The descriptions suggest several types of such craft in use then.

Ramayana is undoubtedly pre-history. Why should we study it? The study of history has not proved beneficial, for every student of history finds a lot in it to strengthen his bias. However, when the Ramayana is studied as a scripture, a different feeling is experienced. Since the racial or regional characteristics of the characters are masked, we 'see' in the scripture a mirror in which our own heart and mind are reflected. Rama then becomes the Divine in our own heart, Sita is symbolic of any great passion - our faith, ideology, etc., and Ravana is the aggregate of the ten senses. One may derive from this what wisdom one is equipped to derive!

 

Swami Venkatesananda

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