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Dr Satish Prakash What is the age of Shri Raam And the Ramayana?

The exact date of composition of the Ramayana cannot be easily ascertained, obviously because of the remote antiquity of the text (Griffith, p. iii), and also because arguments bearing on the subject are rather inconclusive.   Many scholars have resorted to baseless conjecture in approximating the date.   The German scholar Schlegel estimates that this first epic poem must have been written in the 11th century BC, whereas Jacobi points to any time between the 8th and 6th centuries BC, and Keith the 4th century BC (Naagendra, p. 196).   Imagine one scholar suggesting the 11th, and another the 4th century BC – 700 years!  

Swami Jagdishwarananda Saraswati, of the Arya Samaj, has done extensive research on the Raamaayana and is more substantial in his claims.   The Swami rightly contends that only post-Raamaayana literature can give the most reliable clues about the Age of the Ramayana, and so he quotes the Vaayu Puraan as follows:

Tretaa Yuge chatur-vinshe 

Raavanas tapasah kshayaat

Raamam daasharathim praapya 

Saganah kshayam eeyavaan.        (70:48) 

In the 24th Tretaa Yuga, Raavan, having met Raam in battle, was destroyed with all his troops. 

 

The above verse proves that Shri Raam had lived in the 24th Tretaa Yuga belonging to the current Vaivaswata Manwantara.   We are now living in the 28th Kali Yuga of the Vaivaswata Manwantara.   Based on this definitive piece of evidence, we can determine the age of the Ramayana.    First, we need to clarify certain terminologies that the Indian Book of Astronomy, called Soorya-siddhaanta, uses to calculate the age of the universe.

One cycle of cosmic creation is called a kalpa, the actual age of the universe.

The age of the universe is measured in manwantaras.   

Fourteen manwantaras make up one kalpa.  

Each manwantara is divided into 71 Mahaa Yugas (Super Ages).   

Each Mahaa Yuga lasts for 4,320,000 years.

Also, one Mahaa Yuga is divided into four yugas (Ages) – Sat, Tretaa, Dwaapar, and Kali.   

 

Sat Yuga is 1,728,000 years, or four times the length of Kali.    

Tretaa is 1,296,000 years old, three times Kali.   

Dwaapar is 864,000, two times Kali.   

Kali is 432,000 years.   

We are currently in the Kali Age of the 28th Mahaa Yuga of the 7th Manwantara. This current Kali Age began in 3102 BC.   As is stated in the Vaayu Puraan, Shri Raam lived in the Tretaa Age of the 24th Mahaa Yuga of this current 7th Manwantara. Four Mahaa Yugas  (each lasting 4,320,000) have passed from the 24th Tretaa to the 28th Tretaa. The Age of the Raamaayana (in 1994) can be calculated as follows:

 4,320,000 X 4 ““““= 17,280,000 years

 Dwaapar years = 00,864,000 years

 Kali Yuga years = 00,005,096 years

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 Total Years         = 18,149,096 years

More than 18 million years old!!!   People in these modern times will certainly react with tremendous skepticism to the idea that the Ramayana is more than 18,000,000 years old.     However, we can gradually remove this feeling of doubt when we consider that:   

* Other than the evidence quoted above from the Vaayu Puraan, there is no other authentic evidence so far regarding the exact date of Raam and Ramayana.   P.N. Oak (History, p.189) gives the opinion that the Ramayana is at least 1,000,000 years old.   In support of this contention, he says that when Hanumaan entered Lanka for the first time, he saw elephants with four tusks, (Sundara Kaanda 4:28) and scientist-historians say that this elephant-specie last lived one million years ago.   

* Contrary to what Semitic Religions say, Modern Science posits that the universe lasts for millions of years.  Sooryasiddhaanta says that it lasts for 4,320 million years.   The idea of eighteen million years ago is not at all fantastic when measured against this span of 4,320 million years.

 

Ralph T. H. Griffith, an accepted authority on Sanskrit works, advises that “we are ignorant of the date of the poem”, but “I maintain that….the remote antiquity of the poem may, with all confidence, be inferred” (p. iv).   He provides many reasons to support his belief that the poem indeed belongs to remote antiquity.

 

DR SATISH PRAKASH