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Old March 13th, 2018, 02:05 AM   #1

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Was the Ramayana actually set in and around today’s Afghanistan?


Was the Ramayana actually set in and around today’s Afghanistan?

An examination of a book by physicist Rajesh Kochhar debunks the notion that the events of the epic took place in modern-day India.

Was the Ramayana actually set in and around today?s Afghanistan?

Fact, or fable?

Over to you, guys.
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Old March 13th, 2018, 04:35 AM   #2

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I don't get it. If we're going by place references in the text - how do you privilege only the Rivers? It mentions the Deccan frequently. And Lanka. If you're going to assume historicity, then you have to offer a rational for why the river names are accurate, but everything else shifted geography.

Not sure why the reference to the Aryan Invasion theory came up at all tbh. The article really meanders before it gets to its point, which is... well oddly unsubstantiated. At best, under his logic, he could arguably locate Rama's kingdom in Afghanistan, not the entire Ramayana itself. He still has to explain why there's no historical Kosala in the territory, and on what basis the Kosala where it is located in historical records was shifted/misidentified/relocated. Without these, all you have is the claim that since there are also rivers sharing the names of the ones in the Saryu and Saraswati in Afghanistan, it is automatically the location of the Ramayana. That's weak.

And I'm a little dubious of the claims that the Saraswati is excessively prominent in the Ramayana. The Sarayu? Certainly. The Saraswati? So much over the Ganga or Yamuna? Not so sure. Similarly leery about the trinity claims. Shiva is prominently referenced in the Ramayana as I understood it. Don't Rama, Ravana and Hanuman all prominently revere him at various points?
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Old March 13th, 2018, 08:20 AM   #3
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Is there any academic consensus or at least any dominant view- of historians or of philologists or of both about the important events and locations of the Ramayana as described by Valmiki? To evaluate this Afghanistan proposal against that one, if any.

I remember reading that the location of Lanka is not crystal clear- with many scholars thinking it was located in what is today Sri Lanka, some thinking it was located somewhere in ancient (chalcolithic?) Central India (of the time period corresponding to the chalcolithic cultures there around 1000 BC- linguistically corresponds to the ancestors of modern Gondi, likely other central Dravidian languages, and also Munda languages may be), and I read that there was a suggestion by some archaeologists that it was Sonepur (linguistically may correspond to Indo-Aryan as well as Austroasiatic and perhaps some Dravidian too) in modern Odisha when they found some sort of a civilisation there apparently in the time frame purported to be corresponding to that immediately prior to the beginning of the composition of the Ramayana.

I am not well versed with this topic to any significant extent but once when I was interested, I searched the internet and found the following takes, both by philologists:
1. https://www.academia.edu/516826/LANK...EM_OF_LOCATION
This one's by philologist Mahinda Palihawadana
2. The Ramayana chapters in the book "The Sanskrit Epics" by J. L. Brockington.

This one has an extensive philology done by the author of the Ramayana and it does review the theories about the locations and time periods of the Ramayana- like H.D. Sankalia's, etc. and it even deals with some of those ideas in the chapter 8, but I cannot access them. But overall, regarding the time period at least, the author's opinion seems to be (it's quite unclear to me if this is indeed the author's opinion, according to the context of that statement on page 400), as seen by his statement in the book which I'm quoting below partially,

Quote:
Thus, although the events narrated might be placed around 1000 B.C. (or more generally between 1500 and 700 B.C.), the Rāmāyaṇa in its present form must belong between the 3rd century B.C. and ...
(emphasis in bold mine)

The very (likely premature) idea that I got is this: that the original events of the Ramayana may very well have taken place some time around 1000 BC and most likely in Gangetic north India and central India but the memories and not-yet-textual oral traditions of those events made into a full blown epic tradition in the Gangetic India beginning from as many scholars think, 3rd century BC or some time like that. I don't claim that the location of Lanka is clear to me- a conservative position to take is that it was indeed Sri Lanka which was in the minds of the composers of the epic of the Ramayana as Lanka as it was very well known to Indo-Aryans by the time of the Ramayana epic poetry composition, but that the original Lanka may or may not have been this Sri Lanka if the theory that the core events told in the Ramayana date to 1000 BC is correct. In such case, central Indian locations are more plausible for the original Lanka because for one reason they at least had some food gathering or some limited food producing and metallurgical activity at that point in time as opposed to Sri Lanka which was in mesolithic in 1000 BC. The other reason is that indeed a lot of the kind of Ravana (Rakshasas) are noted as found in central India even during the composition of the epic. But anyone can see that most of my thoughts on this matter as articulated in the previous sentence are speculative and therefore should not take them seriously too.

(I read that there exist folk traditions also, majorly in central India, doing something to do with Ravana- some people somewhere thereabouts believing that their location is the birthplace of Ravana and that some Brahmin-or-some group somewhere in Rajasthan claiming they have something to do with Ravana, and more recently or perhaps attached with a true old folk tradition, Gond people claiming that they were descendants of Ravana.)
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Old March 13th, 2018, 10:55 AM   #4

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Originally Posted by historumsi View Post
Is there any academic consensus or at least any dominant view- of historians or of philologists or of both about the important events and locations of the Ramayana as described by Valmiki? To evaluate this Afghanistan proposal against that one, if any.

I remember reading that the location of Lanka is not crystal clear- with many scholars thinking it was located in what is today Sri Lanka, some thinking it was located somewhere in ancient (chalcolithic?) Central India (of the time period corresponding to the chalcolithic cultures there around 1000 BC- linguistically corresponds to the ancestors of modern Gondi, likely other central Dravidian languages, and also Munda languages may be), and I read that there was a suggestion by some archaeologists that it was Sonepur (linguistically may correspond to Indo-Aryan as well as Austroasiatic and perhaps some Dravidian too) in modern Odisha when they found some sort of a civilisation there apparently in the time frame purported to be corresponding to that immediately prior to the beginning of the composition of the Ramayana.

I am not well versed with this topic to any significant extent but once when I was interested, I searched the internet and found the following takes, both by philologists:
1. https://www.academia.edu/516826/LANK...EM_OF_LOCATION
This one's by philologist Mahinda Palihawadana
2. The Ramayana chapters in the book "The Sanskrit Epics" by J. L. Brockington.

This one has an extensive philology done by the author of the Ramayana and it does review the theories about the locations and time periods of the Ramayana- like H.D. Sankalia's, etc. and it even deals with some of those ideas in the chapter 8, but I cannot access them. But overall, regarding the time period at least, the author's opinion seems to be (it's quite unclear to me if this is indeed the author's opinion, according to the context of that statement on page 400), as seen by his statement in the book which I'm quoting below partially,



(emphasis in bold mine)

The very (likely premature) idea that I got is this: that the original events of the Ramayana may very well have taken place some time around 1000 BC and most likely in Gangetic north India and central India but the memories and not-yet-textual oral traditions of those events made into a full blown epic tradition in the Gangetic India beginning from as many scholars think, 3rd century BC or some time like that. I don't claim that the location of Lanka is clear to me- a conservative position to take is that it was indeed Sri Lanka which was in the minds of the composers of the epic of the Ramayana as Lanka as it was very well known to Indo-Aryans by the time of the Ramayana epic poetry composition, but that the original Lanka may or may not have been this Sri Lanka if the theory that the core events told in the Ramayana date to 1000 BC is correct. In such case, central Indian locations are more plausible for the original Lanka because for one reason they at least had some food gathering or some limited food producing and metallurgical activity at that point in time as opposed to Sri Lanka which was in mesolithic in 1000 BC. The other reason is that indeed a lot of the kind of Ravana (Rakshasas) are noted as found in central India even during the composition of the epic. But anyone can see that most of my thoughts on this matter as articulated in the previous sentence are speculative and therefore should not take them seriously too.

(I read that there exist folk traditions also, majorly in central India, doing something to do with Ravana- some people somewhere thereabouts believing that their location is the birthplace of Ravana and that some Brahmin-or-some group somewhere in Rajasthan claiming they have something to do with Ravana, and more recently or perhaps attached with a true old folk tradition, Gond people claiming that they were descendants of Ravana.)
I have been myself somewhat tempted by the idea of locating Lanka, atleast in part, in central India, based on the Ravana and Indrajit worship of certain tribal communities in Madhya Pradesh. The Tribal Museum in Bhopal has some excellent displays on the subject, if you ever get a chance to visit.
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Old March 13th, 2018, 03:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by tornada View Post
I have been myself somewhat tempted by the idea of locating Lanka, atleast in part, in central India, based on the Ravana and Indrajit worship of certain tribal communities in Madhya Pradesh. The Tribal Museum in Bhopal has some excellent displays on the subject, if you ever get a chance to visit.
I somehow doubt all these traditions of people, wherever they are, whether central India or Sri Lanka (leave out the stupid Tamil extremists who stupidly began to claim Ravana for themselves at such a laughably recent point in time from the discussion), claiming they have something to do with Ravana. Is there any idea how long back these traditions go? What is the guarantee that the folklore of Sri Lanka did not get affected by the epic itself and what is the guarantee that the folklore of central India too did not get affected by the epic itself as indeed central India was described as a haven for Rakshasas in the Sanskrit epic? You have any information about any old anthropological studies of Gonds that mention about this seemingly recent practice of Gonds claiming they are descendants of Ravana too?

First of all though, is there any dominant viewpoint on the historicity of the events in the Ramayana? That is, do scholars tend to believe that the abduction of a married Indo-Aryan lady by a non-Indo-Aryan and Indo-Aryan admixed male human (Ravana) took place and he being punished for it, happened? I'm not talking about the archaeological evidence or lack of it- rather beyond that, I'm asking if scholars tend to believe that there is a kernel of very real human truth to the core story of the Ramayana instead of considering what is typically what appears to be described generally in Ramayana- which is that the Rakshasas are mythical-looking human-eating (and shape-shifting too?) monsters (not to say that human-eating could not have existed among non-Indo-Aryan humans in ancient India but still tending to believe it as unlikely) and Vanaras are literal monkeys.

But one thing seems to be clear- whatever be the historicity, the internal logic of the epic as well as its earliest author Valmiki with regards to the locations involved, is very much clear- with Ayodhya being today's Ayodhya, Kosala being historical Kosala, etc. This accurate reconstruction of what is going on in the mind of the author, irrespective of the historicity, is what I think is most important to philologists like Mahinda Palihawadana whom I cited earlier and he writes that the mind of Valmiki may very well have accepted and presented the location of Lanka as Sri Lanka- based on what according to him are the most important bases to arrive at this- the use of the word sAgara, 'ocean' overwhelmingly, the mention of Sahya and Malaya being located between Kishkindha and Lanka, etc. He tends to consider all the passages with the mention of distances as secondary to things like above, which are the most important for him.

What I very long-windedly tried to say above was that it is not even clear where this Afghanistan proposal is coming from, at all. What basis does it even have?

(Also, speculatively, if the Ramayana was indeed historical and the true Lanka and the poet's Lanka both were Sri Lanka, then does it mean that the events of Ramayana were actually talking about the ur-Sinhalese and the mesolithic populations of Sri Lanka they encountered beginning from Indo-Aryan colonisation of Sri Lanka (beginning 6th century BC?)? But if there is any basis to the 1000 BC number as being the date of happenings of the Ramayana, then would not archaeological evidence be against Sri Lanka being true Lanka, as Indo-Aryans (all non-indigenous-Sri Lankans of the time) were probably not there in Sri Lanka at such an early period?)
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Old March 13th, 2018, 04:56 PM   #6

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(Also, speculatively, if the Ramayana was indeed historical and the true Lanka and the poet's Lanka both were Sri Lanka, then does it mean that the events of Ramayana were actually talking about the ur-Sinhalese and the mesolithic populations of Sri Lanka they encountered beginning from Indo-Aryan colonisation of Sri Lanka (beginning 6th century BC?)? But if there is any basis to the 1000 BC number as being the date of happenings of the Ramayana, then would not archaeological evidence be against Sri Lanka being true Lanka, as Indo-Aryans (all non-indigenous-Sri Lankans of the time) were probably not there in Sri Lanka at such an early period?)
Yeah, both Mahavamsa & Dipavamsa did describe the Sinhala as descendants of settlers, led by Prince Vijaya (son of Sinhabahu & Sinhasivali), who came to the island in 543 BC from Simhapura, somewhere in India.

Unless the arrival actually happened much earlier, but the date was somehow modified to kind of very approximately coincide with the estimated time of Siddharta Gautama, perhaps for some mysterious religion-related motives?
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Old March 13th, 2018, 05:43 PM   #7
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Unfortunately, this "assertion" is more politics than history. Nothing more. This joke website will always publish anti Hindu articles because that is their reader base. Somehow always bring up British colonization and Aryan invasion as if anyone with half a brain can't see through their intentions.
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Old March 13th, 2018, 06:33 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by historumsi View Post
Is there any academic consensus or at least any dominant view- of historians or of philologists or of both about the important events and locations of the Ramayana as described by Valmiki? To evaluate this Afghanistan proposal against that one, if any.

I remember reading that the location of Lanka is not crystal clear- with many scholars thinking it was located in what is today Sri Lanka, some thinking it was located somewhere in ancient (chalcolithic?) Central India (of the time period corresponding to the chalcolithic cultures there around 1000 BC- linguistically corresponds to the ancestors of modern Gondi, likely other central Dravidian languages, and also Munda languages may be), and I read that there was a suggestion by some archaeologists that it was Sonepur (linguistically may correspond to Indo-Aryan as well as Austroasiatic and perhaps some Dravidian too) in modern Odisha when they found some sort of a civilisation there apparently in the time frame purported to be corresponding to that immediately prior to the beginning of the composition of the Ramayana.

I am not well versed with this topic to any significant extent but once when I was interested, I searched the internet and found the following takes, both by philologists:
1. https://www.academia.edu/516826/LANK...EM_OF_LOCATION
This one's by philologist Mahinda Palihawadana
2. The Ramayana chapters in the book "The Sanskrit Epics" by J. L. Brockington.

This one has an extensive philology done by the author of the Ramayana and it does review the theories about the locations and time periods of the Ramayana- like H.D. Sankalia's, etc. and it even deals with some of those ideas in the chapter 8, but I cannot access them. But overall, regarding the time period at least, the author's opinion seems to be (it's quite unclear to me if this is indeed the author's opinion, according to the context of that statement on page 400), as seen by his statement in the book which I'm quoting below partially,



(emphasis in bold mine)

The very (likely premature) idea that I got is this: that the original events of the Ramayana may very well have taken place some time around 1000 BC and most likely in Gangetic north India and central India but the memories and not-yet-textual oral traditions of those events made into a full blown epic tradition in the Gangetic India beginning from as many scholars think, 3rd century BC or some time like that. I don't claim that the location of Lanka is clear to me- a conservative position to take is that it was indeed Sri Lanka which was in the minds of the composers of the epic of the Ramayana as Lanka as it was very well known to Indo-Aryans by the time of the Ramayana epic poetry composition, but that the original Lanka may or may not have been this Sri Lanka if the theory that the core events told in the Ramayana date to 1000 BC is correct. In such case, central Indian locations are more plausible for the original Lanka because for one reason they at least had some food gathering or some limited food producing and metallurgical activity at that point in time as opposed to Sri Lanka which was in mesolithic in 1000 BC. The other reason is that indeed a lot of the kind of Ravana (Rakshasas) are noted as found in central India even during the composition of the epic. But anyone can see that most of my thoughts on this matter as articulated in the previous sentence are speculative and therefore should not take them seriously too.

(I read that there exist folk traditions also, majorly in central India, doing something to do with Ravana- some people somewhere thereabouts believing that their location is the birthplace of Ravana and that some Brahmin-or-some group somewhere in Rajasthan claiming they have something to do with Ravana, and more recently or perhaps attached with a true old folk tradition, Gond people claiming that they were descendants of Ravana.)
FYI, even according to the story, Ravana was not from Lanka, but only conquered Lanka from his half brother KubEra.
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Old March 13th, 2018, 06:55 PM   #9

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Academia.edu is like blogs. Anyone can put whatever one wants on internet. However, Sage Valmiki placed the locations very correctly - whether it was Dandakaranya or Kishkindha or Lanka. By his time scholars had very clear idea of Indian geography. Moreover, the language is modern Panini Sanskrit. So, I think the composition is not old, though the story IS. That I say because Alexander's historians found a 'Garden of Rama' (Rambaghia)* near Gwadar, Baluchistan, and the mud volcanoes known as 'Rama Koopas' (Rama's wells)*. It was a story well-defused so far away even as early as in 300 BC. It is a retold old indigenous folk tale presented in Sanskrit by Valmiki, just like the Mahabharata by Sage VedaVyasa, after Aryanizing Rama an Krishna as Suryavamshi and Chandravamshi kshatriyas. Does RigVeda mention Suryavamsha and Chandravamsha?
* Alexander Cunningham "Ancient Geography of India".

Last edited by Aupmanyav; March 13th, 2018 at 07:40 PM.
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Old March 13th, 2018, 07:09 PM   #10
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Yeah, both Mahavamsa & Dipavamsa did describe the Sinhala as descendants of settlers, led by Prince Vijaya (son of Sinhabahu & Sinhasivali), who came to the island in 543 BC from Simhapura, somewhere in India.

Unless the arrival actually happened much earlier, but the date was somehow modified to kind of very approximately coincide with the estimated time of Siddharta Gautama, perhaps for some mysterious religion-related motives?
This business is one more conundrum. The early Indo-Aryan ethos of Sri Lanka seems to have been entirely Buddhist yet the Ramayana is thoroughly Brahmanical. It can also be seen that the Buddhist and the Jain versions do not treat the character of Rama as completely respectfully as the Valmiki version does and even go ahead and praise the character of Ravana a lot (the Jain version) (though Valmiki praises Ravana too, it's mostly about his military strength, etc.). In your above post, are you referring to this and suggesting that the original Indo-Aryan migration to Sri Lanka happened much earlier and was of Vedic Indo-Aryans and that the later dominant Buddhist Indo-Aryans rewrote the history of the island to make it look like the Buddhists came to Sri Lanka first?
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