Dec 09, 2023
Dec 09, 2023
Legendary Tales - A Fantasy or Reality
Continuing from Previous Page
Recapitulating threads from the previous part, the legends and fables have a significant place and value in the life of people for many reasons; the most important one being their rendition of universal and timeless themes about the society, culture and religion. As the mode of their deliverance is through narratives and storytelling, so in that way they portray the human experiences through different ages, places and times, universal ethics and values, deriving moral lessons and teachings in many cases, so also the human perceptions and experiences about these things and a documented account of bygone civilizations and cultures in so far as what kind of societies existed and how people lived. Many of such legendary tales in all parts of the world also depict gods, deities, demi-gods, and other super natural characters and events.
Also, the views and perceptions about the myths and legends often vary with some people totally subscribing to the hearsay or recorded version of the narrative of the characters and events as it appears in the ancient literature comprising of scriptures, epics and other historical records including their inbuild supernatural component while many doubters, sceptics and cynics outrightly deny and treat them fictional without elements of truth or sustainability. It is likely that some extrapolations, including supernatural elements and components, are made by enthused and interested people during the course of time in the life of famous people, events, practices, rites or natural phenomenon; and these extrapolations and exaggerations tend to render plausible things unplausible. Therefore, in this part the author proposes to evaluate and discuss myths and legends from the angle of being real or mere fantasy with suitable illustrations.
Finer Distinction between Myths and Legends
Fables and legends were described with examples and illustrations in the previous part and there is yet another jargon used for this genre of tales called myth. A myth is a traditional tale, mostly concerning certain entity, hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of facts or a natural explanation, often with supernatural elements like deities or demigods or even bizarre creatures like demons and ghosts. In mythical stories, one often encounters heroes, both men and divine, in fierce conflicts and battles with the evil forces with the former prevailing upon the latter establishing both corporeal and moral victory for good. Many such mythological tales are found in ancient Greek and Roman literature as well besides Puranas and Epics of the ancient literature of Hindu civilization in Bharatvarsha (India).
In common parlance, people tend to mix up legends and myths and loosely use the same jargon to describe both genre of literature. However, in stricter sense myths and legends do not fall on the same footings; instead, but, there is fine distinction between the two. While legends are so often based on characters and events that indeed existed but possibly due to interpolations and distortion of facts with time, they become exaggerated to the point that the real people or events assume a larger than life dimension making it unbelievable by many people. On the other hand, a myth is fictional and not based on actual characters and events though it appears so due to the plot, storyline and events. The classical examples of mythology from the West are the tales of Luke Skywalker, Batman or Phantom, who are legendary protagonists with super natural powers to fight supernatural forces and evils. Similarly, folktales of Arabian Nights “Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp”, “Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor” and “Baital Pachisi” of Indian origin also fall in the same genre.
Unlike fables, which are simple short stories, though often within frame, depicting animal characters or a mix of human and animal characters deriving moral lesson at the end, the legendary and mythical tales are often created at much larger canvas with many characters and events. The traditional legendary tales are often characterized with extraordinary beings with extraordinary challenges with the protagonists to think creative with strategic planning, and face great challenges and tasks to defeat evil thereby providing readers a sense of justice, satisfaction and moral victory of good in the natural world. Needless to say they serve much more purpose than mere stories in material, moral and spiritual sense, and probably this is the reason why people in all parts of the world and irrespective of their age, love to read the literature depicting the stories of supernatural strength in the face of adversity and tend to follow or even adore such heroes, fictional or real.
Legendary Tales: Common Civilizational Attributes
In Matsya Purana and elsewhere in ancient Hindu literature, there is mention of a great deluge, which had once threatened the existence of life on the earth. The legendary tale is linked with the dashavtar (10 incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, Matsya (fish) being the first one, when He appeared in the form of a fish to save the world from destruction. The legend goes that one-day King Vaivasvata Manu of the ancient times and a devotee of Lord Vishnu encountered a tiny fish begging him to save from other predator fish. Heeding his request, Manu initially put the small fish in a jar, where it soon outgrew; then he put it in a pond where again it grew to an enormous size making the it difficult for the pond water to sustain it there. The fish kept on growing in size phenomenally and the king had to finally release it in the ocean. At that juncture the fish revealed its true identity to Manu and told him about the imminent deluge which was about to destroy the life on earth.
Before disappearing in the ocean, the Matsya instructed Manu to build an ark (boat) to deposit samples of all medicinal herbs, all the varieties of seeds, animals, and the seven legendary sages. Accordingly, Manu immediately started working on the Ark as per specifications directed by the Matsya and took shelter in the boat along with seeds of all life on earth and sages in nick of the time. Soon the entire earth was flooded with enormous storm and rains for many days, the Matsya reappeared and directed Manu to fasten the ark to him with the legendary serpent Vasuki used as rope. The fish sailed through the turbulent waters for days and finally the ark along with its occupants was tied with the highest mountain peak. King Manu was selected by Lord Vishnu to restart life because supposedly he was the only most kind and moral man left on the earth at the time. When the storms subsided and the water retreated, Manu became the progenitor of life again on the earth.
Some Indian scholars and historians have estimated this great flood to have occurred on the earth in 11,200 BCE during Vaivasvata Manu’s kingdom. This Manu was the son of Vivasan and grandson of Kasahyapa with his kingdom supposedly located in the present day Saurashtra close to the Girnar hills. Such scholars suggest that the incessant heavy rains and melting glacier water might have been the cause of the deluge in the southern region of Sapta-Sindhu, According to their estimates, a large part of Kashmir valley was possibly a huge glacial lake named Satisar and a massive earthquake around the same time might have opened up water to flow down and cause great flood in erstwhile Madra, Salva, Sindh and Gujarat regions. While the narrative of the great deluge holds good, the concept of Matsyavtar appears to be part of mythology with subsequent interpolations and a matter of people’s faith.
(2) Noah’s Ark
The tale of Noah's Ark is narrated in the Genesis flood narrative (Genesis chapters 6–9) whereby God spares Noah, his family, the world's sample animals from a world-engulfing flood. The Book of Genesis is actually the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament that inter alia include an account of the creation of the world, the early history of humanity, origin and ancestors of the Jewish people. The story goes that during Noah’s time, people had turned wicked and supposedly only Noah and his family comprised of good and kind people, who were listening to God. This made God unhappy and He asked Noah to build an ark i.e. a big boat warning that a great deluge was about to come which would destroy everything. Hence Noah followed God's instructions and built a huge boat and secured his wife, three sons and their wives, and pairs of all creatures of the earth to accommodate on his ark in nick of the time.
Now it rained for forty days and forty nights and the earth was soon covered with water; even after the rain stopped, the water level continued to rise for another 150 days. Noah and his floating ark remained anchored in the legendary mountain range of Ararat and during the seventh month, God created a big wind which started quickly evaporating the water and slowly the earth dried out. Initially, Noah sent the raven then dove to recce for the liveable land, after initial hurdles the latter (dove) was succeeded in the mission of locating dry land. In all, Noah and others had to live on the ark for 1 year, 1 month, and 27 days; finally, Noah prayed to God and thanked Him for keeping them alive and safe; then he, his family and animals moved out of the ark to start up life on earth over again.
(3) Safina Nuh
It is of common knowledge that the Christianity, Islam and Judaism are called Abrahamic religions because they have Abraham (or Abram) as the common patriarch. In Judaism, Abraham is the founding father of the covenant of the pieces, an event in which God revealed himself to him to covenant with him, whereby Abraham and his descendants would inherit the Land of Israel. In Christianity, Abraham is believed to be the prototype of all adherents, and in Islam he is seen as a link in the chain of prophets, which begins with Adam and culminates in Muhammad. The story of Genesis is repeated, with variations, in the Quran, where the ark story appears as “Safina Nuá¸¥”. Nuh ibn Lumik ibn Mutushalkh alias Noah of Mesopotamia is recognized as one of the prophets and apostle of God in Islam. In somewhat similar narrative, people had become depraved and sinner; hence Allah sent Nuh to preach and advise people to live good and pure lives by abandoning idolatry and worshipping only God. When people failed to mend their ways, the event of Nuh building an ark on the dictate of Allah and deluge took place.
(4) Evaluation and Synchronization
In the aforesaid legendary tales of the world’s most dominant religions, it would appear that theology has certain commonalities in the concept and course of events. Here all of them appear to suggest that the earth was destroyed at least once in the ancient past and life was recreated by God under the patronage of the chosen good and kind king, apostle or prophet. While the Abrahamic religions have visualised a formless God or Allah who communicates with subjects through prophets and apostles, the Hinduism and other Indic religions too visualize an all pervasive and infinite Brahman (unmanifested God) with His manifested forms such as Lord Vishnu or Lord Shiva, Who can even incarnate or change form for the universal good and punish evil doers. All such legends often fall short of normal logic and rationale; also, while Hinduism permits debates and dissent with adequate tolerance, other religions being dogmatic seldom allow any reasoning or debate or even simply put any dissension under the blasphemy.
All the above legendary tales are categorized as part of the mythology. Ordinarily, the religion and worship of God as also associated legends fall are matters of faith and should not be questioned. The foregoing tales have a reference to the intervention of God in different ways but with the same motive i.e. the people had become depraved and sinners, hence God decided to destroy and recreate life. In Hinduism, God does not dictate or make mandatory for people to mandatorily follow or worship to him; instead, the central theme or focus is on liberation of soul, which is feasible by knowing or realizing the nature of the God (Brahman) and soul (Self), and the process is expedited through the advice of sages or guru and acquiring the knowledge (Jnan) from scriptures i.e. Vedas and Upanishads. In the Western Abrahamic religions, the God has dictated dos and don'ts through prophets and apostles to its adherents and even punishment for those who do not obey or worship him.
There is another distinct variation too. While Hinduism talks of Sarva Dharmah Sambhava (All religions are the same) and also that the paths may be different but the destination (God) is same. However, Abrahamic religions consider one as the only true religion and Islam even goes to the extent of declaring others as committing kufr (sin) which, in a nutshell, is interpreted as “the denial of truth, which tantamount to sin with the provision of punishment. For instance, worship of idols has been considered as kufr in Islam while the consecrated idols are considered a suitable medium of worship in Hinduism. The entire concept of idol worship has a very logical and rational approach, and be it a temple or household, the devotees follow the practice of energizing idols in a ritual traditionally known as ‘Prana Pratistha’ before using idols for worship.
The concept of idol worship is essentially comprised of four components, namely Sadhak, Sadhya, Sadhan and Sadhna. Here the Sadhak stands for the devotee, Sadhya for the ultimate Divine (God), Sadhan (idol) is the enabling medium of devotion and Sadhna, relates to devotion to deity. To understand this in a plain and simple term, it is difficult for the ordinary devotee to understand the complex nature of the universal consciousness or Brahman (Formless God). Therefore, while an accomplished and higher-level devotee may not find it difficult to concentrate on the formless God, but it becomes so much easier for the ordinary devotee to offer his prayer (Sadhna) if an energised idol or image is before him symbolized as God (Sadhya).
Now when religions evolved in isolation over a large geographical area with distinct civilizational and cultural values are found to have elements of commonality such referred to in the foregoing legendary tales, it also raises issues for evaluation and synchronization. For instance, as religion the Christianity is only about two thousand years old and Islam is just about one thousand and four hundred years old, but even the Western scholars and Indologists of colonial era and later Marxist Indian historiographers reckon Hinduism at least about 3,500 to 4,000 years old vintage while the Indian traditional and literary sources as also available epigraphic evidences suggest a much larger span. For instance, the epic Mahabharata war is estimated to have occurred 5200 years ago, the age of Ramayana around 7700 years and The Great Flood (deluge) in Vaivasvata Manu’s kingdom about 13200 years old vintage.
Going by the Hindu traditional and literary accounts, the great flood occurred on the earth in 11,200 BCE in Manu’s time. In the context of tales like Noah’s Ark, though such stories have been in circulation for thousands of years, the understanding of the cultural and historical events leading to Biblical text started crystallizing much later and some even ascribe the process around the nineteenth century. It was around 1872, when the Englishman George Smith discovered a Mesopotamian flood saga, written on a cuneiform tablet, which seems to be a clear precursor to the Noah story. Few people know that cuneiform was one of the earliest systems of writing, invented by Sumerians in ancient Mesopotamia. Hence it is not unlikely that the Noah story in Genesis was inspired by the Mesopotamian saga. Thus, though similar occurrence has been reported in different religions in different span of time with different characters and story plot but the underlying theme i.e. great deluge due to human beings’ depravity and evil deeds remains same. Notwithstanding, such legends are more of the subject of faith, and cannot be validated by any available means and are best classified as part of mythology.
Legendary Tales from Ramayana
India’s two all-time great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are priceless gifts to the mankind globally; of which, the Ramayana is the diligently documented historical account of the life of Sri Ramchandra of Ikshvaku dynasty as also an iconic symbol of Hindu culture and faith, while the Mahabharata an epic treaty of the life and conflicts of two prominent dynasties, Kuru and Yadava, of the Dwapara Yuga, the greatest epic world war and the Bhagavad Gita Gyan (knowledge) delivered by chief protagonist Shree Krishna to Pandava Prince Arjuna in the battle field of Kurushetra. Incidentally, the Gita is still considered the most reliable and valuable treaty on Dharma (righteous duty), Karma (action) and the real objective of the human life.
Sri Ram is popularly known as Maryada Purushottam because during his lifetime, he set paradigms of universal ethics and morality as an ideal ruler, ideal citizen, ideal son, ideal husband, ideal brother, and so on. His influence and impact on Indian society had been so impeccable that even the founder of the modern India, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (nicknamed Mahatma Gandhi) had visualized Ram Rajya (Ram’s Rule) in India on independence in August 1947. At the same time several myths and legends are associated with Sri Ram’s life; in the following paragraphs, an attempt has been made to validate some of such legendary events.
(1) Valmiki’s Curse
Rishi Valmiki is the author of the most revered Hindu epic Ramayana; he is also honoured as the Adi Kavi, who wrote it in Sanskrit in the post-Vedic period. In fact, there is a fascinating legend about this sage himself how he composed the first Sanskrit verse by a sheer accident. The story goes that one day, Valmiki witnessed a hunter shooting down a male bird with an arrow shot. Unable to bear the loss of the death and separation of the male partner, the female bird also died of sorrow and pain. Witnessing this tragic incident, the sage was driven by grief and rage and he cursed the hunter, which unconsciously came out in a poetic metre. Later in the day, he decided to write the story of Lord Ram in the same metre supposedly inspired by gods and that is how the epic poem Ramayana fructified.
Questions have been constantly raised by the colonial era scholars and Indologists from West and Indian historians under the deep influence of the Marxism or left-leaning ideology on the authenticity of Ramayana. Some of them have even questioned the very existence of Sage Valmiki and Lord Ram, the latest being a long drawn legal battle in the Supreme Court based on a concocted report of such historians prepared at the behest of a Muslim religious body. Here the author has used the term concocted because the report thus prepared could not stand the legal scrutiny in the court. Some Indian scholars systematically working on the chronology of India from the legendary King Manu to Medieval era Indian history have established two lineages of Valmiki, from the Bhrigu and Kashyapa, respectively. The Skanda Purana and Adhyatma Ramayana suggest that Valmiki was born to Brahmin parents but brought up by Kiratas. He turned a robber in youth but later became a rishi inspired by the great sages of time.
In the ancient puranic and epic literature, the name of Valmiki appears at several places. For instance, in Mahabharata Udyog Parva, Valmiki is referred to as descendant of Garuda, son of Kashyapa’s wife Vinata and a devotee of Vishnu, while Drona Parva mentions a Valmiki of Bhrigu gotra. Scholars have derived that Valmiki-I belonged to Bhrigu gotra, who finds a mention in the Bhagavata, Matsya and Vishnu Puranas and Satapatha Brahmana as well, while Valmiki-II of Kashyapa lineage finding references in Skanda Purana and Adhyatma Ramayana is actually Valmiki-II, who was contemporary of Sri Ram in the Treta Yuga and wrote Ramayana. Some Puranas also speculate Valmiki as being a certain Vyasa who lived through Dvapara Yuga (Mahabharat Period) but there is no authentic traditional or literary evidence to support this contention. Also, it is beyond imagination that a person would live so long; hence this can be ignored as speculative concept.
(2) Birth of Sri Ram and Janmbhumi
Followers and devotees of Sri Ram believe that he was born and brought up in Ayodhya, which was also his kingdom during the Ram-Rajya. It is widely believed that Mir Baqi, a general of the Islamic invader Babur, demolished the Ram Janmbhumi temple in Ayodhya at the latter’s orders and erected a Masjid at the same spot in 1528-29. In one of the world’s longest legal battle in the recent times for the ownership of the land believed to be the birth place of Sri Ram, Muslim parties, through their counsels, pleaded that neither there is any public record, much less any record of unimpeachable authority showing that the premises in dispute is the place of birth of Sri Ram, nor there is any historical or judicial record to testify it. It was also pleaded that Hindu books as well as the writing of Hindu scholars themselves make it doubtful whether Sri Ram is indeed a historical personality. Similar claims were also made regarding the existence of any temple on the land where the dilapidated and disputed structure of Babri Masjid existed till early December 1992.
Apart from the archaeological evidences from the site and sacred inscriptions of ancient vintage, the Hindu parties presented citations from the scriptures and sacred writings, which are of much older vintage than the supposed year of mosque construction (1528) or even the origin of Islam. Some of these writings pinpointed the exact location of the Janmasthan of Sri Ram at Ayodhya. The Skanda Purana, Vaisnavakhanda, Ayodhya Mahatmya is one such specific record while citations from the Valmiki Ramayana, Sri Ramcharit Manas by Tulsidas, Rudrayamala and Srimad Narashingha Puranam were also presented, wherein the birth of Sri Ram at Ayodhya is documented, and the event is celebrated on Chaitra Navami, Shukla Paksha every year as per Hindu calendar. Of these, the epic Valmiki Ramayana dates back to the millennia before the Christ era (BC); even the world’s greatest epic Mahabharta too is of much older vintage than the Christ era. Specific verses of the Ayodhya Mahatmya of Skanda Purana (Verses 18 to 25, Adhyay X, page 292-293) give the geographical location of the birthplace.
Contrary to misconception and mischievous propaganda by some, the ancient Indian literature of Puranas and Epics genre is not the fiction but a historical account of the society, culture and traditions through the time span. Normally, a Purana would have five characteristics of cosmogony describing the concept of the primary creation of the universe, chronological description of secondary creations through the cycle of birth-life-death, genealogy of kings, rishis, gods, demi-gods, and so on, Manvantaras defining the cyclic age in Hindu cosmology., and legends of kings and people including solar and lunar dynasties. Due to various reasons and constraints including periodical updation and interpolations over a long period, it is likely that some inconsistencies and exaggeration crept in the text but the characters and events of these historical books cannot be outrightly rejected or doubted as was systematically done during the colonial period and later by leftist historians and scholars under the active patronage of the government with ill-conceived concept of secular for the decades after independence.
The most period of the last millennium was extremely unfavourable for the Hindu culture and traditions to flourish with almost 550 years of Islamic rule followed by nearly 200 years of combined rule of the East India Company and British Empire. During this period, thousands of Hindu temple, monuments, inscriptions, manuscripts, Sanskrit and other Indian languages were systematically desecrated, destroyed and belittled. Notwithstanding this onslaught, Indian culture and traditions have survived. The timeline and lineage of the ancient Indian history appears mythical or fictional because many modern age historians have learnt and tend to rely only on the Christian chronology of the world. Many Western (secularist?) historians as also Indian leftists put almost blind faith on the notion that the history after Christ is more factual and before it is mostly mythical. The author proposes to take up this issue in a separate part to show how this approach has distorted not only the history of Hindu civilization but also other old civilizations like Greek and Roman in the world.
Traditionally, Indian Puranas have followed the timeline of Chaturyuga cycle for recording the chronological history of the ancient India which was arguably further revised in the post-Vedic and post-Ramayana eras to achieve more accurate astronomical calculations. According to these computations, the estimated period of the Treta Yuga falls between 6777 and 5577 BCE and the age of Ramayana between 5677 and 5577 BCE. The Mahabharata, Adi Parva mentions that Sri Ram flourished towards the last century of Treta Yuga. In the Ramayana, Valmiki has given details of the birth of Sri Ram and his three brothers, namely Bharat, Lakshman and Shatrughn. According to him, Sri Ram was born on the ninth tithi (day) of the twelth month i.e. Chaitra, Punarvasu Nakshatra, Karkata lagna as per Magha Shukladi calendar. While any supernatural descriptions need further evaluation for systemic correlation and correction as subsequent interpolation but the birth and life of Sri Ram cannot be doubted or denied.
(3) Ram Setu
The Ram Setu alias Adam’s Bridge connects Pamban Island near Rameshwaram in South India and Mannar Island of Sri Lanka. According to Valmiki’s Ramayana, the aforesaid bridge was got constructed by Sri Ram in Treta Yuga by his vaner sena (army of apes) to rescue his wife Sita, who was captive under King Ravana of Lanka. Sri Ram along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman was living life of an ascetic and forest dweller mandated for fourteen years, when the Rakshasa King Ravana of Lanka (now Sri Lanka) abducted Sita to avenge Sri Ram and Lakshman for cutting off the nose of Shurpanakha, Ravana’s sister, who had earlier threatened to kill Sita if Ram did not agree to marry her. To reach Lanka, Sri Ram needed a bridge to cross sea, which was constructed by the army of vanaras under the engineering supervision of Nila and Nala duo. Following which, the great war was fought between the armies of Sri Ram and Ravana in Lanka for thirteen days that concluded after the death of the latter and release of Sita.
The Ram Setu is about 30 miles (48 Km) long comprised of a chain of limestone shoals, between Pamban Island, near Rameswaram, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. Geological evidences indeed suggest that this bridge was a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka. Certain historical accounts even suggest that the bridge was completely above sea level and passable on foot until a cyclone damaged it in 1480 but now it is submerged yet it’s very shallow rarely exceeding one meter with certain dry patches. For the last many years, this has been in news and controversy due to the Sethusamudram shipping canal project.
The project committee in 1956 had strongly recommended to the Union Government of India to use land passages rather than cutting Ram Setu for navigation purpose citing many advantages of land passage. However, the Congress Government approved the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project in 2005, which aimed to create a ship channel across the Palk Strait by dredging the shallow ocean floor near Dhanushkodi. This was likely to save considerable voyage time but the project would involve dredging through the Ram Setu and obvious damage to the existing alignment. Consequently, several political parties, Hindu organizations and people opposed the project on religious ground as the existing structure (Ram Setu) is the causeway described in Ramayana, and some others also opposed it for the economic and environmental reasons.
In a public interest litigation, the Congress government gave an affidavit in the Supreme Court that there was no historical proof of the bridge being constructed by Sri Ram. In fact, in the past, certain leaders of the same political party, and leftist historians and intellectuals have questioned the very existence of Ram or his birth in Ayodhya. In 2007, the then union minister of state Kapil Sibal argued that there was no scientific evidence to prove that Ram Setu is man-made. On the other hand, an overwhelming Hindu population in India and elsewhere, including the founder of the modern India, Mahatma Gandhi had strong belief in Sri Ram and his legacies. For such people, Ram Setu represents a cultural heritage with monumental values worth preservation to remind glory of the ancient India.
Recently in December 2017, the spotlight was back on the 'Ram Setu' being a reality, when the Discovery Science Channel in the United States pointed out that such a structure may actually exist outside of mythology. Citing images from a Nasa satellite, the channel claimed that investigators have found a 30-miles-long line of rocks between India and Sri Lanka. In fact, the renowned geologist Dr Alan Lester believed that the stones were brought from afar and set atop the sandbar island chain which again points towards the Hindu legend of Lord Rama placing a bridge connecting India to Sri Lanka at the location. The ‘string of pearl’ as one of the investigators put it, connects Dhanushkodi in India with Mannar Island in Sri Lanka. Another geologist Erin Argyilan said that the stones in the image are sitting on a sandbar which is usually a common feature in shallow waters.
Using available technologies, the scientists measured the age of the structure and upheld that the sand below is about 4,000 years old, while the rocks on top are approximately 7,000 years old. They suggested that the rocks were laid by humans or some superhuman power, and the sand settled under the rocks later on. These findings broadly conform with the Ramayana age suggested between 5677 and 5577 BCE in the earlier paragraphs. This also indirectly supports the historical chronology of India that suggests the Hindu civilization with Vedic period being more than ten thousand years old, the Ramayana period more than seven thousand years old and the Mahabharata war fought nearly 5200 years ago. As against this, the western scholars and Indologist erroneously try to restrict the total age of Hindu civilization merely to 3,500 - 4,000 years with many flawed logic and missing gaps.
The biggest fallacy about the record keeping of timeline and events of the ancient history is that the current genre of historians have learnt to rely only on the Christian chronology of the world. It is generally held that the history after Christ is more factual and reality based while history before is more mythical or fantasy based. Consequently, there is hardly any genuine history beyond 2000 BCE in the modern books while the traditional literature of Hindu Puranas and Epics or even Greek and Roman classics present genealogical and the chronological history of many more thousand years before 2000 BCE. For instance, the city of Atlantis was submerged in sea around 10200 BCE as recorded by Plato that suggests that the Greek civilization flourished well before that time. Similarly, ancient Indian historical traditions have been recorded in the Vedic corpus, Epics and Puranas (Itihasa texts), Buddhist and Jain literature, Sanskrit and Prakrit poetic literature, inscriptions, Vamsavalis, monastic chronicles, traditional legends, and so on. It is unfair on the part of the historians of the aforesaid genre to summarily dismiss or ignore these facts.
It is, however, agreed that many discrepancies, inconsistencies and gaps are found as also interpolations and exaggerations too have been made at different points of time making the ancient historical literature and associated legends to appear unreliable and fictional in many cases. For instance, the tales of Matsyavtar or Noah's Ark have certain in-built supernatural components which may not stand the normal human logic and rationale; for instance, none in the modern age has experienced God interacting and giving direct instructions to mortals. However, when we make similar attempt to evaluate life events of Sri Ram, we find many such events stand to normal logic, and are also vindicated by traditional evidences and scientific data as in the case of Ram Setu or Ram Janmbhumi. Rightly so, the tales of the former category are part of mythology while legendary characters and events of Ramayana period or Mahabharata war are undoubtedly real account of the ancient Indian history perhaps with some interpolations and exaggerations here and there; the same may be true in other cases such as the Greek and Roman civilizations.
Continued to Next Page
Image of Matsya Avtar from the web, other images (c) istock.com
More by : Dr. Jaipal Singh