Introduction: The Ramayana and Mahabharatha are the two epics and they are the history of two great and ideal families. According to mythology Rama lived in Treta Yuga and Krishna and Pandavas lived at the end of Dvaparayuga. It is told that the Kaliyuga started on the next day of SriKrishna’s fall. There are lots of evidences we can show that these legends lived, ruled and guided India and Indian citizen.
Foreign Scholars: Prof. Jacobi and Macdonell said that the Ramayana’s story originated from the story mentioned in the Rig Veda. The story of Indra’s battle with Vritra was mentioned in the Vedas and this idea was taken while composing Ramayana.
But we don’t believe in it. When two people think the same idea and it doesn’t mean that the second one has followed the idea of the first one. Moreover, we consider this as History. No doubt, no argument and no second thought in it. Dr.R.C.Majumdar raised the issue of Aryan’s invasion over non-Aryans. The same thing is echoed by the Tamilians. There are strong evidences available in the Ramayana itself that Ravana was not a Dravidian and Brahmanic Practices influenced him. Reference sundara kandam.
The Epics: The path of Rama is called Ramayana. Among these two Epics Ramayana was the earlier. Ramayana was composed with Anushtub metre whereas in Mahabharatha Upajaathi, Vamsastha metres are used. Further, in Mahabharatha contains words such as ----- UVACHA etc., while introducing speeches, which may be survivals of prose narratives connecting old epic songs. Such words are totally absent in Ramayana. Ramayana was work of a single poet with a single connected story and a uniform style while the Mahabharatha is a collection of many works with the base of Pandava and Kaurava stories.
The First poem (Adi Kavyam): It is said that the Ramayana was first poem (Kavyam) in Sanskrit Literature. Though there were many texts are available before the Ramayana period right from Vedas, Ramayana is considered as Adi Kavyam. Because this was first work which is other than teachings and instructions. The works composed before Ramayana were either teachings or instructions by the teachers or prayers.
The Origin of Ramayana: Story of Ramayana is very famous among Hindus. But in short this was advised by the Creator Brahma and instructed by Sage Narada to Valmiki, who was a hunter named Ratnakara and turned as a Sage by his severe penance, the result of Rama Nama Mahima (greatness of the name Rama). The first Sarga (Chapter) of Ramayana is the conversation between Sage Valmiki, the author of Ramayana and Sage Narada. Narada instructed the story of Rama in short and Sage Valmiki composed the same in a book form. This first Sarga is well known as Samkshepa Ramayanam (Ramayana in brief). We can understand that this work was composed at the period of Rama, because the verses of Ramayana were taught to his twin sons Lava and Kusa and they both sang Ramayana on the streets of Ayodhya and also in front of Rama during the performance of Ashwamedha Yajna. So that this is considered as one of the Epic. Though Sage Vyasa, author of Mahabharatha composed Srimad Bhagavatam, which describes the story of Krishna is not considered as the Epic. Sri Krishna is the main source of Mahabharatha. This way we maintain the tradition.
Date of Ramayana: According to the traditional Hindus Ramayana was composed during Treta Yuga. The researchers do not agree with this. They put forth their arguments with their opinion and at last we understand that the Ramayana was composed during 1000 BC. In Ramayana very less number of names of rulers and kingdoms were mentioned, whereas, in Mahabharatha vast names of kingdoms and kings and their issues were mentioned. In Ramayana no ruler or kingdom of south India was mentioned except Kishkinda and Sri Lanka. But in Mahabharatha some names of south Indian rulers, particularly the Pandiya King of Madurai was mentioned. References available that Chitrangatha, who was married to Arjuna, during his Tirtha Yatra (holy visit) was the princess of Pandiya Kingdom and this king took part in the great Mahabharatha war.
Development of Ramayana: All Hindus believe that the author of Ramayana was Sage Valmiki and there is no doubt. Prof. Jacobi, after careful study of the work came to the following conclusion that Ramayana originally consisted of only 5 Kandas from Ayodhya Kanda to Yuddha Kanda (2 to 7). And others are later editions based on the following arguments:
1) The logical conclusion is the Coronation of Rama. So it ends with Yuddha Kanda and usual recitation also stops with this.
2) In Balakanda(1) and in Uttara Kanda (8) Rama was described as the incornation of God.*** while in other five kandas he was described only as human being.
3) In 1st & 8th there are many stories of Sages Rishyasrnga, Viswamitra and the story of the Ganges are available and they don’t have any connection with the main plot.
4) In the Samkshepa Ramayanam, which was narrated by Sage Narada to Sage Valmiki, the author, starts only from the plot of Ayodhya Kanda.
5) There was no detail of wives of Rama’s brothers during the Coronation ceremony of Rama. Urmila was well known by everyone as wife of Lakshmana, whereas it was told to Surpanaka, Ravana’s sister by Rama in the forest that Lakshmana was unmarried.
Prof. Jacobi and A.A. Macdonell told one important noteworthy point was that there were some Sargas are composed before Ayodhya Khanda and which was enlarged with inclusions of many Sargas and named as Bala Khanda.
*** here I would like to say that there was noteworthy work on Rama called “Amanushya Stavam” which describes that Rama was incarnation of Lord Sriman Narayana and shown his celestial power often. For example, Siva Dhanur Bhangam (breaking the Bow of Lord Siva), Srabhanga Moksham, Sabari Moksham,(Salvation to Sages Sarabhanga and Sabari) Ahalya Sapa Vimochanam, Samudra taranam (crossing the ocean), Vibhishana Saranaagathi (surrender of Vibhishana) etc.
Treasure of Culture: Ramayana is the treasure of Culture and our civilization. There are so many incidents in Ramayana, which are noteworthy and must be highlighted.
1) Rama & his brothers always respected his elders and parents.
2) There was a tradition maintained that the youngsters never crossed the words of the elders.
3) The king was the representative of the subjects and to be liked by the citizen.
4) People were truthful and were afraid of bad impression.
5) Youngsters always saluted the elders everyday.
6) Wicked people were given chances to change their nature.
Like this we can say so many qualities of Ramayana.
Ramayana in outside India: When I was doing M.Phil in Sanskrit in the Pondicherry Central University I read a book on this title. In that book it is mentioned that the Ramayana was spread in Asian countries like China, Japan, Barma, Cambodia, Thailand, Bali, Indonesia and other countries through Buddhism. Dasaratha Jathaka is a part of Jataka Tales in which Ramayana was written. Even today in the traditional dances of Bali and Thai we can notice that the ramayana’s influence is there.
Ramayana is resource of Sanskrit Literature: The Sanskrit Dramas and poems (Kavyas) were composed from 1 BC. Bhasa, the father Sanskrit Dramas, Pravarasena, Bhatti, Kalidasa, Bhavabhuthi, King Bhojaraj and other poets had written dramas and poems based the theme Ramayana.