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Jahnava Nitai Das

Dating of the Ramayana

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Here are some posts on the topic of the dating of Lord Rama's incarnation that I posted to another forum some time back. I thought I would post them here in case anyone wanted to discuss this topic:

 

 

>Which caturyuga does the Ramayana place

>the story?

 

From Prabhupada's purport to Bhagavad Gita 4.1:

 

treta-yugadau ca tato vivasvan manave dadau

manus ca loka-bhrty-artham sutayeksvakave dadau

iksvakuna ca kathito vyapya lokan avasthitah

 

"In the beginning of the Treta-yuga [millennium] this science of the relationship with the Supreme was delivered by Vivasvan to Manu. Manu, being the father of mankind, gave it to his son Maharaja Iksvaku, the king of this earth planet and forefather of the Raghu dynasty in which Lord Ramacandra appeared."

 

"...At the present moment we have just passed through five thousand years

of the Kali-yuga, which lasts 432,000 years. Before this there was the

Dvapara-yuga (800,000 years), and before that there was Treta-yuga

(1,200,000 years). Thus, some 2,005,000 years ago, Manu spoke the

Bhagavad-gita to his disciple and son Maharaja Ikshvaku, the king of this

planet earth."

 

Since Rama is a descendent of Ikshvaku, this statement indicates that Ramachandra appeared in the previous Treta Yuga (roughly 2 million years ago). This does not mean there wasn't a Rama avatara in prior treta-yugas. There is a rama avatara in every treta-yuga.

 

 

 

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Another:

 

 

> I'm actually suggesting it

> [Rama's avatara] took

> place much earlier than that

> [in the 24th chatur-yuga], and

> that Srila Prabhupada's statements

> in this case need to be appreciated

> in the context of overall Bhagavatam

> chronology rather than at face value.

 

But the flaw with this is that the Bhagavatam is not concerned much with chronology. Many different events are described as a single event, without any care to mention that this style is being used. It is only the commentaries that tell us when such usage occurs. We actually do not know what details of each avatar actually took place in what yuga. The fact that the Mahabharata and Bhagavatama have completely different versions of the recent (Kurukshetra era) history proves this. Two books, which are commonly believed to be describing a single event, are actually describing different occurences of the same pattern. Just see the death of Parikshit according to the two texts. There is no similarity, yet they are both being described as though they just occured. The Puranas don't care about chronology. Their aim is to provide evidence for the shruti.

 

 

 

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> I would also like to know the context of

> this statement in Laghu...

 

I tried finding a suitable version of Laghu bhagavatamrita, but all I could come across at the moment was an English only translation (no sanskrit), probably by Kushakratha. Anyway, I will post some of the translations there. All verses are from chapter three.

 

A couple points that are interesting with this translation. One is that chronology is not very consistent, which is traditional with Puranic texts. Another is that since these verses that are being referred and quoted within Laghu Bhagavatamrita are coming from various Puranas, they say contradictory things.

 

In regards to the Varaha Avatara:

 

"16 In the beginning of the kalpa no one had been born yet, even from Manu. Where, then, was the Pracetas' son Daksha? Where was Diti? Where was Diti's son?"

 

Simple question. Since Hiranyaksha was a son of Diti, and Diti was yet to be born, how did Varaha kill Hiranyaksha in the begining of the kalpa? Chronology was not the first priority:

 

"17 In answer to Vidura's question, Maitreya Muni described Lord Varaha's pastimes at two different times as if they had happened at the same time."

 

Also:

 

"10 In this, the first kalpa, He appeared twice. To rescue the earth he appeared during the Svayambhuva-manvantara from Brahma's nostril, and during the Caksusa-manvantara He appeared from the water."

 

A problem arises in that some acharyas state this incarnation appeared on the first day of Brahma's life, others say it occurred in the present day of Brahma. Both Kalpas bear the same name, since the kalpas are cyclical like the days in a month. But then things become more mixed up, because the names given to these kalpas are just nicknames, and the same nickname is used to refer to multiple kalpas based on the events that occured within the kalpa. Names such as padma-kalpa, varaha-kalpa, sveta-kalpa, etc., are used to refer to a number of different kalpas simultaneously. Chronology becomes meaningless.

 

I would like to see the sanskrit for this particular verse. Based on the English words "In this, the first kalpa..." a few things can be meant. If it is stating that both Varaha avataras occurred in the First Kalpa, then we are in a situation where we in this Kalpa also have a Diti, Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada, Bali, Ravana, Ramachandra etc. Everyone is tied together by being related, or having met the other personality. What happens to the chronology? If you push Hiranyaksha back to the first Kalpa, then Ramachandra ends up there too by having interacted through the chain of Personalities. Nothing wrong with that, since Ramachandra performs His lila ultiple times. But in the process, the conception of chronology is completely lost.

 

It is also possible that one of the two varaha avataras occured in the first Kalpa, and the fighting with Hiranyaksha occurred in the present Kalpa. Since they are both the "First Kalpa" of the particular parardha (half of the universes life)

it wouldn't be so odd to describe them together. But again, chronology isn't given much importance.

 

"62. These thirteen lila-avataras, from the Four Kumaras to Maharaja

Prthu, all appeared during the reign of the first (Svayambhuva) Manu.

Lord Varaha and Lord Matsya, however, appeared again during the reign of

Caksusa Manu."

 

Again the chronology is not being made clearly. Now the multiple

appearances of Varaha and Matsya are described together with

incarnations from this Kalpa. One may ask, "Since all these

incarnations appear every Kalpa anyway, why does it matter?" Because the

Varaha Avatara description is given as particularly occuring in the

First Kalpa. Why mention the particular Kalpa, if it occurs every Kalpa?

Then why club it together with other avataras which occurred either in

this Kalpa, or in every Kalpa? Because chronology has no importance.

 

"36. In this way there is a hint of Lord Matsya's appearance during the

reigns of the other Manus. In this way from Visnu-dharmottara Purana it

is understood that Lord Matsya appears fourteen times."

 

The Bhagavatam describes two matsya avataras, but here it is mentioned

there are 14 matsyas in the Kalpa. Also Matsya is described as a

Kalpa-avatara. Why is there this repeated inconsistency, of saying they

appear once in the Kalpa, and then listing numerous incarnations that

occured within that Kalpa?

 

"1. Now, primarily following Srimad-Bhagavatam, I will write whatever I

know of the lila-avataras (pastime incarnations)."

 

I think this is an answer to a lot of the questions. Laghu

bhagavatamrita is written based primarily on the descriptions found

within Srimad Bhagavatam. For this reason it sometimes gives limiting

figures or descriptions. It describes Varaha as coming from the first

kalpa, even though Varaha is a kalpa avatara, or a regular visitor.

 

"65. Lord Nrsimha appeared before the churning of the milk-ocean in the

reign of the sixth (Caksusa) Manu. He appeared before the appearance of

Lord Kurma in the reign of the sixth Manu."

 

Nrismha appeared prior to Kurma, in the sixth Manvantara - or roughly

halfway into the Kalpa. But below is another inconsistancy:

 

"67 In the Padma Purana it is said that on the demigods' request He

lifted the earth. In another scripture also it is said that He appeared

in the beginning of the Kalpa and lifted the earth."

 

Here it says he appeared in the beginning of the Kalpa. Different

puranas describe different events occuring in different periods.

 

"76 Fair-complexioned Lord Parasurama appeared as the son of Renuka-devi

and Jamadagni. Some say He appeared during the 17th catur-yuga, and

others say He appeared during the 22nd catur-yuga."

 

This is the syle of Laghubhagavatamrita. If we are looking for a

definitive answer to anything, you won't find it here. It is more of a

cut and paste from various Puranas, which themselves don't care much

about chronology. The main concern is the topic, being the description

of the Lord's incarnations.

 

It is not hard to reconcile if we accept that certain avataras occur

repeatedly in the Chatur yugas. In our available texts we either have

descriptions of one particular occurence of an incarnation, or a couple of

occurences described. It would be unreasonable to expect every occurence

to be described. The fact that Vishnu Purana was written in the previous

Chatur-yuga, but contains stories similar to the present chatur-yuga

seems to indicate that these events occured many times. Also the fact

that the Bhagavatam differs completely from the Mahabharata in various

descriptions shows they are describing two separate events. This is

called yuga-bheda, the difference in lilas based on the yuga it is

performed in.

 

Regarding Rama's incarnation:

 

"78 Splendid as a new blade of durva grass, and accompanied by Sumitra's

two sons and by Bharata, He appeared in the Treta-yuga of the 24th

catur-yuga as the son of Kausalya and Dasaratha."

 

This indicates the description of rama-avatara found in the Bhagavatam

(if it is indeed a single description and not a composite one) is from

the 24th chatur-yuga. This does not necessarily compare to that of

Valmiki ramayana or other Puranas (though it may).

 

As there were multiple matsyas, multiple varahas, and multiple

parashuramas, there were also multiple ramachandras. Simply on the basis

that they were kalpa-avataras does not indicate that they actually only

come once in a kalpa (1,000 chatur-yugas).

 

"84 In the scriptures it is said that Apantaratama Muni became

Dvaipayana Vyasa. Is Vyasa a jiva who attained sayujya-mukti, or is He

an amsa-avatara of Lord Visnu? Some say He is an avesa-avatara."

 

More classic Laghubhagavatamrita. No definitive answer.

 

"96. These 25 avataras are called kalpa-avataras because for the most

part they appear once in each kalpa."

 

Is this actually true? Not really, at least not in a strict sense. Vyasa, a "kalpa-avatara" appears every chatur-yuga. Kalki, another kalpa-avatara, also appears in every chatur-yuga. Buddha at least appears in many chatur-yugas if not in all. Already Matsya and Varaha have been shown to appear multiple times in the kalpa.

 

My contention is still that Ramachandra appears in every Treta-yuga, and

that Manu instructed his son roughly 2,005,000 years ago in the science

of Bhagavad Gita (and thus Ramachandra appeared in the previous Treta-yuga).

 

 

[Note: I forgot to include my favorite verse from Laghubhagavatamrita:

 

"11-2 Lord Varaha, the best of tusked beasts, appears to kill Hiranyaksa and rescue the earth. Sometimes Varaha is a wild animal of the forest and sometimes He is a domestic animal."

 

I am trying to imagine the domestic boar varaha. That would be an interesting story for the Bhagavatam.]

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[Note: I forgot to include my favorite verse from Laghubhagavatamrita:

 

"11-2 Lord Varaha, the best of tusked beasts, appears to kill Hiranyaksa and rescue the earth. Sometimes Varaha is a wild animal of the forest and sometimes He is a domestic animal."

 

I am trying to imagine the domestic boar varaha. That would be an interesting story for the Bhagavatam.]

 

 

Whoaa!Can you imagine the yard one need.

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