Date of Ramayana from Literary Sources

In this article, I will explore the topic of the Date of Ramayana from Literary Sources. Based on research, the date of Ramayana events can be said to be 1671 BC.

But before going to the dating, we will first address the vexed question of the relative chronology of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Which was earlier? 

Traditionally, all Hindus known that Ramayana is older than Mahabharata. But many American indologists, who seem to know more about Hindusim than Hindus, claim that Ramayana happened after Mahabharata. That is clearly wrong, as I will show below.

Ramayana events happened before Mahabharata
  • Mahabharata has a summary of Ramayana, while Ramayana makes no reference to Mahabharata
  • Ramayana characters are referenced in Mahabharata, but not vice-versa
  • Shri Krishna is worshipped in the Mahabharata but not in Ramayana
  • Ramayana does not mention Krishna, Pandavas or Kauravas
  • Ramayana reveals a higher stage of moral life which characterizes a great nation while Mahabharata witnesses the demoralized days of ancinet Hindus
  • In Ramayana, Kshatriya-monarch Vishvamitra became a Brahmin by dint of merit, whereas during Mahabharata time caste system had become rigid
  • No mention of castes such as gopa (milkmen) which is associated with Shri Krishna is found in Ramayana
  • Practices like polyandry (Draupadi marrying 5 men), Sati (Madri, the seocnd wife of Pandu committed Sati), mass drunken-ness (which lead to the extinction of Yadava race) are not seen in Ramayana
Hence Ramayana is definitely from an earlier age than Mahabharata.

Now that we have established the relative chronology of Ramayan and Mahabharata, let us go ahead with the study on antiquity of Ramayana.

Antiquity and Date of Ramayana
In Ramayan we find the description of 3 dynasties:
  • Solar Dynasty of Rama
  • Lunar Dyansty of Janak of Mithila
  • The Kaushika Dynasty of Kusha. Sage Vishwamitra belonged to this family.
As per Vishnu Purana, Padma Purana and Kalidasa, following is the genealogy of Rama.
  1. Lava and Kusha
  2. Atithi
  3. Nishadh
  4. Nala
  5. Nabha
  6. Pundarika
  7. Khem Dhanwa
  8. Devanika
  9. Ahina
  10. Paripatra or Rupa
  11. Puru or Bala
  12. Paripatra or Sthala
  13. Dala or Vajra-nabha
  14. Sagana
  15. Uktha or Byusitashva
  16. Vajranabha or Vidhriti
  17. Hiranyabha
  18. Byushitashva
  19. Vishwa Saha
  20. Hiranyabha or Putra
  21. Pushya or Pushpa
  22. Dhruva Sandhi
  23. Sudarshana
  24. Agnivarna
  25. Sighra
  26. Maru
  27. Prasu Sruta
  28. Sugandi
  29. Amarsha
  30. Mahashvan
  31. Visrutashvam
  32. Brihad Vala
The 32nd King after Rama was Brihad-Bala who sided with kauravas during the Mahabharat War. He took an active part in the war and was one of the 7 heroes who fought with Abhimanyu and was killed by him.

Thus Mahabharata War took place 32 generations after Rama's time.

As discussed earlier, Date of Mahabharata War from Literary Sources based on relative chronology of kings and philosophers is 1053 BC.

Assuming an average reign of 19 years per king, Ramayana events can be dated to 1671 BC.

  • Note on the antiquity of the ramayana, Nobin Chandra Das, 1899
  • Political History of Ancient India, H C Raychaudhuri
  • Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World, Volume 1 By Ganga Ram Garg
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  1. Thanks for another informative post. Strange that some would argue that Ramayana came after Mahabharata!

    1. Thanks a lot. There are quite a few academicians / Indologist who believe that.

      Their logic goes something like this:
      a. Ramayana knows entire North-South India
      b. Mahabharata knows only Delhi/ Haryana (Kurukshetra) - references to other places north or south or east India are, according to them, interpolations and later additions
      c. They know, because Max Muller had told them, that the(archaeologically invisible and genetically untraceable) Aryans had come from West to East.
      Hence Ramayana cannot have been earlier. Mahabharat must be earlier, and those parts which do not support the thesis are interpolations/ later additions.

      The above is my general summary of their scholarship which is full preconceived colonial notions, circular reasoning and string disregard disregard for facts not fitting their hypothesis.

  2. I salute you for the research that goes in each post and such amazing depth and information shared :)

  3. It is worth taking note of dates of Ramayana from itself too. If Ramayana is just 3600 yrs from now, how recent the Mahabharat is!!!

    1. Thank you very much for your comment.

      This date of 1650 BCE is based entirely on matching various events and people like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Upanishads, Puranas etc - and is based on research of many scholars (given in reference). That's why I said "based on literary evidence".

      What date do you support?

      However, as you correctly said there are other dates as well based on astronomy.


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