It is a privilege to be invited to inscribe a 'Foreword' to the monumental work of Sri. D.K.Hari and Smt. D.K. Hema Hari of Bharath Gyan on 'Historical Rama'. Ramayana is a beautiful and majestic story of great values and noble deeds. It is a representative chronicle of man's ageless and supreme struggle to preserve all that is beautiful and precious in human life. The story of Rama has been told again and again ever since the great chronicler Valmiki recorded his own contemporary eye witness account.
Jawahar Lal Nehru in his 'Autobiography' said that in the great festive days of Dussehra and Ramlila when tableaus and processions re-enacted the old story of Ramchandra and his conquest of Lanka, crowds were attracted to Bharadwaja's Ashram where there was once a primitive University. Nehru re-calls that on those days endless stream of visitors went to their house from dawn to dusk. The Bhardwaja's ashram was close to the Nehru home.
Again in his 'Discovery of India', he says that in Ramayana, facts and fiction are so interwoven together as to be inseparable and this "amalgam becomes an imagined history". Nehru quotes Goethe who "condemned those who said that the old Roman stories heroism, of Lucretia and others were spurious and false. Anything that was essentially spurious could only be observed and untruthful and never beautiful and inspiring and that if the Romans were great enough to invent things like that, we at least should be great enough to believe them. Nehru also refers to Michelet, the French Historian who with special reference to Ramayana said
Whoever has done or willed too much let him drink from this deep cup a long drought of life, of youth..... Everything is narrow in the West-Greece is small and I stifle; Judea is dry and I pant. Let me look towards lofty Asia, and the profound East for a little while. There lies my great poem as vast as the Indian ocean, blessed, gilded with the sun, the book of divine harmony wherein there is no dissonance. A serene peace reigns there and in the midst of conflict an infinite sweetness, a boundless fraternity, which spreads over all living things as ocean (without bottom or bound) of love, of pity of clemency.
What is splendorous beyond man's imaginative capacity cannot be fictional.
Story of Ram a is the splendid example. In his celebrated "Lectures on the Ramayana" V.S.Srinivasa Sastry observes;
It is no act of impiety to study the Ramayana as an epic poem concerning human beings'. It is an act, on the other hand, which gives to Valmiki his own due, establishes him as a man who held in his mind - assuming that he was the one that wrote the story - a clear, fully Jormed, full-blooded conception of men and women of superior ability and superior value, of superior moral stature. I would exhort you all to read the poem from this point of view.
You must read the story as a human story, lived among human beings by a human being, and, then, Oh, what rich treasures there are of wisdom in it.
Of course, sentimentalists felt a sense of hurt when their God was treated as a mere mortal. But then, it needed only a mortal to vanquish Ravana as he had the divine boon of protection from Gods and Demons and all others, except mere mortals. The Lord descending to a earth to extinguish a great evil, had, had to ironically act as and really believe himself to be, only an ordinary mortal, like everyone else. That is why Rama himself declared Atmanam manusbam manye. These are all intriguing and inscrutable ways of the divine beyond the grasp of ordinary mortals.
Now to the theme of this book; Sri. D.K. Hari and Smt. D.K. Hema Hari have presented us with a massive compilation of evidence, historical, archaeological, chronology of coincidences of stellar and astronomical combinations in the major events of Rama's life and, of course, the large volume of literature in different languages repeatedly lending confirmation to historicity. The genealogical record, both of the ancestry and posterity, are overwhelmingly against any likelihood of mere imagined and concocted version. The cumulative effect of this precious evidence, amenable to cross verification, would vindicate the Book's theme.
But, we live in an age of irreverence, of cynicism and distrust which are, at least in part, manifestations of a disillusionment, characteristic of the times. The existence or non-existence of God can not be established by any length of arguments. The agnostic and the atheist are as much part of the Hindu inheritance. Heterodoxy, Charvakas, the Lokayatas are all very much part of our civilization. Valmiki himself refers to J abali Rishi who counsels Rama against the foolishness of wallowing in sentimental renunciation of the pleasures of kingship. There can be endless argument about these matters; but there can be no argument against Faith. This work lends great credence to the faith of the faithful.
In recent times, there have been many a question raised on the Historicity of Rama. These came into limelight due to issues that were taken to the court regarding some of the aspects connected with Rama.
Rama, while is a divinity of millions of Hindus allover the world, has also been believed through the ages to be a historic King of India who ruled from Ayodhya. Rama is an instance where the divide between the earthly and the divine is hardly existent. It is seamlessly merged with one another, at times fixed on the real life, historical existence of Rama and at other times, transcending into the subtler realms of divinity and faith.
In the last 300 years, Rama was dismissed as a mythical figure, dismissing the ancient, traditional history of India. Ever since then, the issue of the acceptance of Rama as one of the most influential, historical king of this land, has been one of the questions in front of young India.
Two of the recent happenings in the last couple of decades, have provided just the right opportunity for analyzing and understanding the historicity of Rama.
One is the debate over Rama Setu or the Adam's Bridge, the structure in the sea which connects India and Sri Lanka. The debate has risen in the context of plans and efforts to break this bridge to create a shorter shipping route around India.
This bridge is believed by majority of the Indians, to be a man made bridge built during the period of Rama. Hence the demand from a majority of the public that this relic from the period of Rama should not be destroyed, as it would their hurt religious sentiments.
The debate therefore entered into the realm of discussing "whether this structure called Adam's bridge is a natural formation or is it a man made construction?", in which, different sections of the population of India, have taken different stands, ranging from pure faith to pure economics.
In this raging public debate, people have taken stances which are either black or white. This has left little option for a rational approach to understanding the historicity of Ram a, since only if Rama is historical, can the bridge also be manmade.
Through this effort, we look at Rama and the Rama Setu, Adam's Bridge from a rational, scientific and logical perspective to try and understand historicity of Rama.
The other debate is over a particular piece of land in Ayodhya, called through ages as Ram Janmasthan or the birthplace of Rama.
This debate has risen in the context of whether this particular land should be handed over to Hindus to build a temple for Rama or to the Muslims, since there was a Mosque on this land since mid 1500s.
At the bottom of the debate is also an underlying question on the historicity of Rama since only if Rama is historical, could there be a birthplace for Rama.
Is Rama historical? Also is Ayodhya of today that birthplace of Rama?
This is a vast topic by itself, deserving a separate discussion, in a much broader light. Hence, we have kept Ayodhya and its history, out of the purview of this book and have discussed it using a wholistic approach, in our separate title, Ayodhya - War and Peace.
In the last decade or so, the scientific advancements that have taken place, have helped scientific historians, revisit the text for historical proofs.
Literature and local legends have continued to keep alive the image of Rama as a popular legendary hero, a righteous man, a noble King, a God.
The historicity of Rama manifests with the ability to date Rama and the Rama Setu, to around 5100 BEC, i.e., 7100 years ago, and the conviction of the same grows with an integrated holistic approach that combines traditional data and scientific validations along with a new technique of dating, Archaeo Astronomy.
This approach integrates scientific corroborating evidences In the form of,
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