- By Saurabh Kwatra
Placing the Ramayana in the historical context is yet an unfinished task, as witnessed by endless debates among archaeologists, historians and literary pundits. The present analysis is a modest attempt to use astronomy, astrology and the science of time together in elevating the status of Ramayana from an epic to a chronological reality. Astonishingly, the ancient Indians had an accurate method of time easurement. They regularly and systematically recorded the `tithis', days marked according to the phases of the Moon, the months, the seasons, solstices, equinoxes and the positions of astrologically relevant luminaries like the Sun, the Jupiter, the Venus, and so on. In other words, the timings of events were recorded in the astronomical format. To convert this coded information on heavenly positions into a simple calendrical timeline, all that is needed is a database of ephemeris. Sage Valmiki, the celebrated composer of the Ramayana records the birth of Rama in Uttarayana (the Divine Half-year), in the Chaitra month, in the bright fortnight, on the ninth day, in the Punarvasu nakshatra, on a Monday, and under Karka lagna. Valmiki further details the birth with various planetary positions in the zodiac : Sun in Mesha at 10 deg., Mars in Capricorn at 28 degree, Jupiter in Cancer at 5 deg., Venus in Pisces at 27 deg. and Saturn in Libra at 20 deg. These starry configurations are so unique that they have occurred only once so far in measurable history and this helps us to fix the important date, the birthday of Rama, as the 4th of December, 7323 BC. Due to the slow yet continuous precession of the Earth, Rama's birthday anniversary, celebrated as Ram Navami, has since shifted by about four months over a period of about 9300 years. Valmiki has also beautifully described the sky at the moment when Rama left Ayodhya on his 14-year exile. He states, "Crux (Trishanku), Mars, Jupiter and Mercury have cornered the Moon. Vaishakha and Milky Way are shining in the sky". Using this additional input, astronomical rules help us to fix Rama's exile to a time when he turned 17 years of age. Another event, Hanuman's return from Lanka after discovering Sita (in Sunderkanda , one of the most evocative chapters of Ramayana) can be similarly pinpointed as occurring on a Pushya Poornima. Using the above techniques, the following pivotal events of the Ramayana can be fixed at the following dates: Rama_s birth: 4th December 7323 BC; Rama's marriage with Sita: 7th April 7307 BC; Rama's exile: 29th November 7306 BC; Hanuman's entry into Lanka : 1st September 7292 BC; Hanuman's meeting with Sita: 2nd September 7292 BC; construction of Setu (bridge): 26-30th Oct. 7292 BC; the beginning of the great war: 3rd November 7292 BC; Kumbhakarna's death: 7th November 7292 BC; Ravana's killing by Rama: 15th November 7292 BC; and Rama's return to Ayodhya: 6th December 7292 BC. The last event, celebrated as Deepawali, should also have advanced by about four months, but strangely the festival of lights now falls in Oct-Nov. each year. Complicated explanations have been put forth by many researchers to explain this anomaly, but I find none of them satisfactory. Astrological interpretations of Rama's birth chart provide us further insights. In fact, the matching and the mapping between his natal chart and the course of his life is so precise that it can be used as a case study in support of the science of astrology itself! The natal chart of Ramachandra indicates a yogic Rajayoga, a rare planetary pattern, wherein the native rises to be a King in the materialistic sense even while renouncing all worldly pleasures. It is an established fact that Rama, during his reign over the kingdom of Ayodhya lived a simple hermit's life. Mars being exalted in the 7th house of marriage indicates a bold and courageous spouse, but at the same time this made her sharp-tongued. It is this latter maleficent effect of Mars that led Lakshmana to leave Sita alone in the cottage in search of Rama. Venus' exalted position in the 9th house of travel and destiny gives a public life with spouse. Sita followed Rama during his exile, while in contrast, Lakshmana left his consort behind in Ayodhya. The Jupiter-Moon conjunction in Cancer forms the well-known Gajakesari yoga; it blesses the native with simplicity, honesty and religiosity and confers fame due to these qualities. Sun, the significator of soul in deep exaltation (in Aries) in the 10th house of karma suggests that Rama was a higher, perhaps a dual soul: he was the King of Ayodhya, and the Divine Incarnate of Lord Vishnu simultaneously.