By Saroj Bala
The beginning of the Holocene (post last ice age) is now universally accepted to be around 12000 BP. Consequently the civilizations of the world naturally and simultaneously started developing near the rivers which initially started flowing due to the melting of glaciers near the Equator e.g. South India, Sri Lanka and Africa. When populations multiplied, these river waters became insufficient. Therefore some people started travelling from south to north. Such northward migration continued for several centuries and finally when these people from south India reached the banks of Himalayan Rivers, they got climatic conditions conducive to long term development of civilization on the banks of these rivers providing security of water, food and shelter for a very long time. Thousands of years later, when some of these Himalayan Rivers became non-perennial or started drying up, some of these people started moving towards Central Asia and Europe. As per ecologists this ecological cycle has been repeating itself and will get repeated after every ice age and during the beginnings of all Holocene cycles. Therefore the history of growth of civilization in the world is not 4 to 5 thousand years old but it is more than 10,000 years old.
So far history of the world, particularly of Indian subcontinent, is based on linguistic guesswork and religious beliefs/hearsay. However, during last 30-40 years, several new scientific tools and techniques have been developed, which are capable to determining the dates of any ancient events in scientific and precise manner. For example:
- Computer aided extraction of planetary references from ancient books.
- Planetarium softwares for astronomical dating of such references
- Satellite based Remote Sensing techniques
- Underwater explorations and Geospatial Technologies
- Radiocarbon dating, Thermo Luminescence dating methods
- Human Genome studies, Biological and Cultural Anthropology
- Palaeobotanical, Palaeozoological and Palaeoclimatic studies
- Geographic and Geological research tools.
Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas through I-SERVE Delhi Chapter started working on a Research Project titled: Scientific Dating of Ancient Events from Rigveda to Aryabhatia: astronomical dating of planetary references in ancient Sanskrit manuscripts by making use of planetarium software & correlation of such astronomical dates with corroborating archaeological, anthropological, paleobotanical, ecological, geological, oceanographic and remote sensing evidences. Smt. Saroj Bala, an IRS officer of 1972 batch is its chief research co-ordinator.
Very credible conclusions were arrived at in respect of first part of research revealing that indigenous civilisation, also revealed through Vedas and Epics, has been developing in India for last more than 9000 years and that India's contribution to world civilisation and culture is much bigger than what is acknowledged at present.
Intensive and extensive use of multi-disciplinary scientific research reports, prepared during last three- four decades by making use of such scientific tools and techniques, was done for dating the events narrated in Valmiki Ramayan and results were amazing! Once the astronomical dating was determined around 7000 BP, it appeared that almost all research reports were corroborating such conclusions and opening before us the pages of our true history; shifting many events from the domain of mythology to the realm of realty.
The story of Shri Ram‘s life was first narrated by Maharishi Valmiki in the ‘Ramayan’ which was written after Shri Ram was crowned as the king of Ayodhya, Maharishi Valmiki had a great sense of astronomy as he has made sequential astronomical references on important dates related to the life of Shri Ram indicating the location of planets vis-à-vis the zodiac constellations and other visible stars (nakshatras). Needless to add that similar position of planets and nakshatras vis-à-vis zodiac constellations and the equinoxes is not repeated in 25690 years. By entering the precise details of the planetary configuration of the important events in the life of Shri Ram as given in the Valmiki Ramayan in the software named ‘Planetarium Gold’ corresponding exact dates of these events according to English calendar can be known.
Sh. Pushkar Bhatnagar of Indian Revenue Service had acquired from USA the software named ‘Planetarium Gold’ (of Fogware Publishing) which is used to predict the solar/lunar eclipses and distance and location of other planets from earth by the scientists and astronomers. He entered the relevant detail about the planetary positions vis-à-vis zodiac constellations narrated by Maharishi Valmiki and obtained very interesting and convincing results, which almost determine the important dates starting from the birth of Shri Ram to the date of his coming back to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Sh. Pushkar Bhatnagar has given very authentic and convincing details of these dates in his book titled ‘Dating the Era of Lord Ram’ published by Rupa and Co'. some extracts from which are also being summarised in the succeeding paras.
Date of Birth of Lord Ram
Aadikavi Valmiki in 1/18/8-10 of Ramayan has given details that Shri Ram was born on 9th tithi of Chaitra month during day time when the position of different planets vis-à-vis zodiac constellations and nakshatras (visible stars) was as under:
- Sun in Aries
- Saturn in Libra
- Jupiter in Cancer
- Venus in Pisces
- Mars in Capricorn
- Lunar month of Chaitra
- Ninth day after Amavasya
- Lagna as Cancer
- Moon near the star Punar vasu (Pollux) in Gemini Constellation.
- Moon & Jupiter were shining together in Cancer.
This data was entered into the ‘Planetarium Gold’ software, the results indicated that this was exactly the location of planets/stars vis-à-vis zodiac constellations on the 10th of January noon time in the year 5114 BC if viewed from latitude/longitude of Ayodhya (25°N 81°E). Thus Shri Ram was born on 10th January in 5114 BC.
By making use of software to convert solar calendar into lunar calendar, it was found that this date also happened to be the 9th day of Shukla Paksha in ‘Chaitra’ month and the time was around 12 to 1 noontime. This is exactly the time and date when Ramnavmi is celebrated all over India till date (Fig.1).
Date of Exile of Shri Ram
In Valmiki Ramayan it is mentioned in Ayodhya Kaand (2/4/18) that Dashratha wanted to make Shri Ram the king because Sun, Mars and Rahu had surrounded his nakshatra and normally under such planetary positions the king dies or becomes a victim of conspiracies. Zodiac sign of king Dashratha was Pisces and his nakshatra was Rewati. This planetary position was prevailing on the 5th of January 5089 BC and it was on this day that Shri Ram had to leave Ayodhya for 14 years. Thus he was 25 years old at that time (5114-5089) and there are several shlokas in Valmiki Ramayan which indicate that Shri Ram was 25 years old when he left Ayodhya for his 14 years of exile.
Solar Eclipse during War with Khar-Dushan
Ramayan refers to the solar eclipse at the time of war with Khar-Dushan in later half of 13th year of Shri Ram’s stay in the forests. Valmiki has also mentioned that it was Amavasya day and planet Mars was in the middle. When this data was entered, the sky view generated by computer software indicated that there was a solar eclipse on 7th October, 5077 BC (Amavasya day) which could be seen from Panchvati (20° N; 73° E) (Fig. 2). On that date planetary configuration was the same as has been described by Valmiki i.e. Mars was in the middle; on one side were Mercury, Venus and Jupiter and on the other side were Sun, Moon and Saturn.
Other Eclipses mentioned in Ramayan
In Kishkindha kaand there is a reference to solar eclipse (4/15/3) on the day Bali was killed. Software shows a solar eclipse on 3rd April 5076 BC which was the only solar eclipse during the entire year.
In Sunder Kaand there is a reference to lunar eclipse when Hanuman spots Sita in Ashok Vatika (5/19/14, 5/29/7, 5/35/87). Sky view reveals lunar eclipse starting from 4.15 pm on 12th September 5076 BC from Colombo (7°N; 80°E)
All these sequentially fully tally with the description in Ramayan.
Other Important Dates
Only six of the twelve constellations remain above the horizon at the same time. Valmiki Ramayan contains graphic and poetic details of eight constellations during Hanuman’s return journey from Sri Lanka to Sunaabh Hill in the middle of the sea which apparently took about four and a half hours from 6:30 AM to 11 AM. All these details of planets and nakshtras with reference to eight constellations described in Sarga 57 (1, 2, 3) of chapter five tally exactly with the sky view generated by the software for the morning of 14th September 5076 BC from Lanka.
On the basis of planetary configurations described in various other chapters of Valmiki Ramayan, the date on which Ravana was killed works out to be 4th December 5076 BC and Shri Ram completed 14 years of exile on 2nd January, 5075 BC and that day was also Navami of Shukla Paksha in Chaitra month. Thus Shri Ram had come back to Ayodhya when he was 39 years old (5114-5075).
Sequential Details of Places visited by Shri Ram during 14 years of exile: Geographic Evidences
Many researchers, particularly a colleague Dr. Ram Autar, have researched on places visited by Shri Ram during 14 years of exile. They sequentially moved to the places stated as visited by Shri Ram in the Valmiki Ramayan. Starting from Ayodhya, they went right up to Rameshwaram. They found more than 189 (+60 identified later on) places, most of which still have the memorials connected to the events relating to the life of Shri Ram and Sita and also match the description given in Ramayan (see Map).
The locals believe that Shri Ram had actually visited these places. These details have been compiled in his book ‘In the Footsteps of Shri Ram’. These details can be broadly divided into five phases.
First Phase-Gangetic Belt
They went to Tamsa Nadi Tal (Mandah), 20 km from Ayodhya, thereafter crossed Gomti river (Point no. 2 to 7 of map 1) and reached on the banks of Saryu river. After crossing the boundary of Kosal Desh, they entered Shringaverapura (Srigraur) which was kingdom of Nishadraj Guh and is famous for Kewat taking them across Ganga in his boat (20 km from Allahabad).
After crossing Yamuna near Sangam they reached Chitrakoot on Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Madhya Pradesh (MP) borders – memorials here include Valmiki Ashram, Mandavya Ashram, Bharat Koop etc which still exist. After Bharat Milap they left Chitrakoot and went to Atri Ashram located in Satana in MP.
Second Phase in Dandak Van
Along with Laxman and Sita, Shri Ram extensively travelled through this land of rivulets, water bodies and dense forests in and around MP and Chhattisgarh. They roamed around in Dandak Aranya area and visited Sharbhang and Sutikshan Muni ashrams in Satna. Thereafter, they visited several Rishi ashrams in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh area, along Narmada and Mahanadi rivers for 10 years, and then came back to Sutikshan ashram. Several memorials in Panna, Raipur, Bastar and Jagdalpur still exist which include Mandavya ashram, Shringi ashram, Ram Laxman Mandir and Koti Maheshwar etc.
After crossing many rivers, lakes, hills and forests they went to Agastya ashram in Nasik. As per Valmiki, weapons made in Agnishala were given to Shri Ram by Agastya Muni in this ashram.
Third Phase along Godavari
Shri Ram, Laxman and Sita travelled along Godavari, From Agastya ashram they went to stay in Panchavati – a place with 5 Vatavriksha located on the banks of Godavari in Nasik. This place is famous for Surpanakha episode and war with Khar and Dushan. There are memorials at the place where Mareech was stated as killed; these include Mrigvyadheshwar and Baneshwar. In fact, Nasik area is full of memorials, e.g. Sita Sarovar, Ram Kund and Triambakeshwar and Janasthan etc. After this incident, Sita was abducted by Ravana, who also killed Jatayu relating to which memorial ‘Sar vatiratha’ in Taked Village, 56 km from Nasik, is still preserved.
Fourth Phase along Tungbhadra and Kaveri
Shri Ram and Laxman extensively travelled through these areas in search of Sita. After meeting Jatayu and Kabandh they moved towards south to reach Rishyamook Parbat. On the way they visited Shabari ashram in Pampasarovar area which is now known as Sureban in Belgaon and is still famous for Ber trees. After crossing forests of Sandalwood, many gardens and water bodies, they went towards Rishyamook. Here they met Hanuman and Sugreev, and were shown Sita’s ornaments. Shri Ram killed Bali in this area. Rishyamook and Kishkindha are located in Hampi, Bellary District of Karnataka.
Ram with his sena marched towards the sea. After crossing Malay Parbat, Chandan forests, many rivers and ponds they went along Kaveri River. After crossing Trishirapalli, Thanjavur and Ramanathapuram, they reached Rameshwaram. Almost all the details of travel narrated in all these five phases in Valmiki Ramayan tally with the existing geographic locations and memorials preserved.
Places in Sri Lanka
The location and physical features of areas, covered under Ravana falls, Ravana caves and Ashok Vatika in and around Nuwara Elya Hills in Sri Lanka, will persuade anyone to believe that Valmiki, the author of Ramayan, was fully familiar with all these places. Vibhishan palace is also located almost at the same place as is described in Ramayan.
Most of these places have similar geographic features, flora, fauna and memorials as have been described in Ramayan. If Valmiki had not visited/known about these places, how could he give such precise details in Ramayan which was composed as biography of Shri Ram when he was coronated as the King of Ayodhya in 5075 BC (1/4/1, 2). Originally it was passed on through shruti smriti tradition for hundreds of years but was available in text form by around 1000 BC. References of Ram’s story are available in:
- Kautilya’s Arthasastra of 4th century BC.
- Buddhist literature in the form of ‘Dasharatha Jaraka’ ascribable to 3rd century BC.
- Terracotta figures of Ram ascribable to 2nd century BC excavated from Kaushambi.
- Stone panels excavated at Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh of 3rd century AD showing Ram-Bharat milap at Chitrakoot.
- Terracotta panels of 4th century AD excavated from Nachara Khera in Haryana.
- ‘Janaki Haran’, a poetic composition of Kumaradasa of Sri Lanka who lived in 7th century AD.
There are hundreds of other evidences found not only from India but from countries like Sri Lanka, Tibet, Thailand, Malayasia, Combodia and Indonesia. In Nepal oldest manuscript of Valmiki Ramayan written in 1041 AD in Newari script is still preserved, probably the oldest preserved manuscript of the world.
During visit to Rameshwaram, author got an extra-ordinary opportunity to observe the depth at which Ramsethu was found submerged under the sea which measured 9.5 feet on the fisherman’s oar. Author had also seen small portion as shown in figure 8 indicating contribution of human hand with marked boundaries and stone filling seen through the mask used for snorkeling.
Ram’s Bridge – its satellite image and oceanographic evidences:
Ram-sena first camped in Koddikarai but after surveying the sea area, the location was found unsuitable for constructing the bridge. Therefore, Shri Ram shifted the entire army to Rameshwaram. In Yuddh Kand, sarg 22 (shlokas 45-73) Valmiki has given graphic details of Lord Ram carrying out research and exploration to identify a suitable location for construction of the bridge. After identifying the location, he requested Sugriva to search for an expert Shilpakar who could construct such a bridge. Sugriva recommended the name of Nal, a famous shilpakar, who had the expertise similar to that of Vishwakarma in constructing the bridge. Accordingly Nal was called; he concurred that bridge could indeed to constructed at the location identified by Shri Ram. The construction of this bridge was completed under the supervision of Nal in five days by filling up of the gaps in the existing natural chain of land route consisting of islands, rocks and shoals (6/22/68-73).
The armymen of Lord Ram utilized various tools and implements for uprooting trees like saal, taar, coconut, mango, ashoka, arjun, bakul and bilva etc (6/22/47). With the help of various yantras they transported these stones, trees, creepers, and boulders to the seashore (2/22/60). Shilpakar Nal directed the armymen to stand with long ropes on either side and got the bridge constructed in five days by binding such transported materials together. Even the use of measuring tools has been described (6/22/65).
A few years back, NASA had put pictures on internet of this bridge, the ruins of which are found submerged in Palk Strait between Rameshwaram (Dhanush Koti) and Mannar (Thalaimannar). The bridge is composed of a series of islands, rocks, and shoals and it is stated to be 30 kilometers long. It is found exactly at the location narrated in Valmiki Ramayan. See NASA picture of this Bridge (Fig. 10).
Sea Level Curve
The use of this bridge as land route between India and Sri Lanka depended on the fluctuations in sea level for thousands of years as it was sometimes above the sea level and was at other times submerged under the seawater. Dr. Rajiv Nigam, Scientist-G and Head of Palaeoclimate Project, Geological Oceanography Division, National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, in his paper on “Sea level Fluctuations during last 15000 years and their Impact on Human Settlements”, explained that between 7000 – 7200 BP the water level was about three meters below the present level. Incidentally, the astronomical dating of the Ram era has been placed around 7100 BP (DoB 10th Jan, 5114 BC) and Ramsethu is found submerged at about three meters depth at present, implying thereby that in 5100 BC this Sethu was above the sea level and could be used as a land route between Rameshwaram and Sri Lanka. Thus even fluctuations in sea levels corroborate references to Ramsethu in Ramayan.
Report by Department of Earth Sciences
According to Dr. Badrinarayan, former Director of Geological Survey of India, under whom geological aspects of the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) were studied, “Ramsethu is a natural formation, the top portion of which appears to be man-made” because in between marine sands, there is assemblage of corals, sandstones and boulders etc. The report also revealed that on both sides of the Bridge there are some raised Teriformations that supported a rich assemblage of mesolithic – microlithic tools indicating the presence of strong human habitation and activity in these areas as early as 8000 to 9000 BP and as recent as 4000 BP”
Other Interesting facts
All attempts to create shipping route by completing the Sethu Samudram project have so far failed. Shri Subramnian Swamy summarized the report dated January 23, 2007 published in the Asian Age stating that “the Dredging Corporation of India’s (DCI) dredger imported from Holland had broken into two and sunk into the sea when it began work on the Ram Setu. The DCI crane that went to pick up the dredger pieces also broke and sank. The Russian engineer consultant who went to inspect the mishap broke his leg.” As a result all efforts made on behalf of the Government so far to destroy remains of Ram Setu have failed and consequently Sethusamudram Shipping Canal could not become a reality.
Sri Lankan government wanted to construct a land route over this submerged bridge whereas Government of India wanted to blast it for shipping i.e. Sethusamudaram project. Shri Jaisurya, Energy Minister of Sri Lanka had proposed construction of land route between India and Sri Lanka on this submerged Ramsethu. There are several multi-nationals offering to construct the bridge under BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) scheme. Can one imagine the number of people from India who will walk over this reconstructed Ram Sethu every year and the kind of profit the builder as well as Indian and Sri Lankan Government would be able to earn!
Ancestors of Shri Ram: Co-relation of genealogy with genetic studies
Indian history has recorded that Shri Ram belonged to Surya Vansh and he was the 64th ruler of this dynasty. Most of the names and other relevant particulars of previous 63 kings are listed in ‘Ayodhya Ka Itihas’ written about eighty years back by Rai Bahadur Sita Ram. In fact most of the names of these ancestors of Lord Ram have been listed in Valmiki Ramayan itself as narrated by Vashistha Muni to Raja Janak. (1/70 and 71). (all listed below in table 1).
Almost all the major Genome studies carried out so far have revealed an amazing correlation of this genealogy with the genetic profile of humans settled in north, south, east and west of India since the Holocene (about 11000 years BP) to the present. Almost all the important studies in palaeo- anthropology, including those carried out by Kenneth A. R. Kennedy and Cavalli-Sfroza, have concluded that genetic profile of people of the Indian subcontinent has remained the same for last more than 55000 years and that for last 11000 years this profile is of culturally developing people who had started speaking a structured language and were taking cooked food.
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Bengal to Gujarat, everywhere people of India believe in the reality of Shri Ram’s existence and most of our festivals revolve around the events related to the life of Shri Ram. The events and places referred to in Ramayan represent our most ancient heritage, which has developed and got enriched subsequently during the eras of Lord Krishna, Mahatma Buddha, Mahavir Jain, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammed and Guru Nanak Dev.
The story of Shri Ram, when appreciated in its true perspective, would emerge as the biggest unifying factor for India and it establishes many ideals which we need to emulate today. He remains unparalleled as an ideal son, an ideal brother, an ideal warrior and an ideal king; that is why he is described as Maryada Purushottam Ram! He was a nationalist par excellence who left his kingdom to help the small kings located all over India to save their kingdoms from being usurped by wicked King Ravana of Sri Lanka and his relatives and devils like Khar, Dushan and Maarich representing him in India.
Shri Ram moved from place to place to spread the message of unity by showing very high level of respect for the people from backward tribes and those considered untouchable. He embraced Guh Nishad who belonged to a lower caste; he gave a strong message against untouchability by eating with great affection jootha berries of Bhilni (Shabri). He sent his wife and children to be brought up and educated by Maharishi Valmiki who is stated to be Shudra but was a great scholar in the ancient world. Shri Ram tried and succeeded in establishing victory of good over evil. He helped rishis and munis in living a life of honor. He got the kingdoms of small noble kings restored to them and acted as the biggest unifying factor.
The astronomical dating of planetary references given in Valmiki Ramayan with corroborating archaeological, geological, oceanographic, geographic evidences, further supported by genealogical studies duly correlated with genome studies have established with a fair amount of certainty that Shri Ram was actually born more than 7000 year back. Therefore discovering the physical details relating to the life and times of Shri Ram would be much more difficult as destruction caused by floods, droughts, earthquakes, tectonic movements, tsunamis and wars etc is bound to be far greater. But should that stop our quest for learning more and more about our most ancient rich cultural heritage? As Indians, let us all take pride in the fact that Indian civilization is the most ancient civilization surviving on planet earth. It is certainly more than 10,000 years old and has been growing and developing indigenously.
This kind of research creates invaluable public welfare and business opportunities: (i) The research outcomes have the potential of uniting all Indians by bridging the North-South divide which is based on only linguistic guesswork, having no scientific basis. These also raise their self esteem (ii) Focus on harnessing drinkable water underground trapped below dry paleochannels of ancient rivers like Saraswati and Drishadwati can help resolve some of the water-scarcity problems in selected areas of water scarcity (iii) Seminar creates huge potential for promoting tourism e.g. if a transparent tube and an underwater museum are created at the site of submerged Dwarka city, the entire cost can presumably be recovered during the first one year and tourism in India will enter the next generation facilities.(iv). Gene based/ stem cell based research can be promoted based on paaeobotanic and anthropological studies.
There is need to gather, dig out, search, and analyse all the evidences, which would throw more light on ancient Indian civilization and culture. The Government needs to be persuaded to constitute a multidisciplinary team in order to carry out scientific research pertaining to most ancient events narrated in our ancient books and this team should consist of Sanskrit scholars, astronomers, archaeologists, geologists, oceanographers, palaeobotanists, anthropologists, space scientists etc. This team should be asked to rewrite the history of Indian Subcontinent based on purely scientific evidence. There is need for the print and the electronic media to take note of these facts and create atmosphere which would motivate our young and educated youth to carry out research and unearth true facts about ancient Indian civilization and wisdom and would also encourage them to put across the results of their research before the world fearlessly and with a sense of pride.
Talk on Scientific Dating of Ancient Events from 7000 BC to 2000 BC by Saroj Bala, Member Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction, Ministry of Finance - Govt of India & Director - Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas.
Published Date: 3rd July 2012