Due to the repeat telecast of Rāmanand Sagar’s Rāmāyaṇa on DD National TV Channel, many Hindus have again taken an interest in the epic. Unlike the 80’s when discussions happened only at home or the popular square, today we are able to discuss it widely with everyone through digital media. As a side effect, the topic of Uttarakāṇḍa has risen again in every forum, whether it is an interpolation or not. The topic has been trending for several days on social media platforms such as Facebook. On one hand, we may feel glad that many Dhārmika intellectuals have supported Uttarakāṇḍa as authentic. But, on the other hand, it needs a detailed presentation of facts based on evidence coupled with reasoning since many youngsters couldn’t accept it as the work of Vālmīki.
In such a scenario, it is quite natural for a Dhārmika to contribute one’s learnings acquired from the traditional teachers to this grand ‘Yajña (sacrifice)’ i.e., the noble cause of protecting the legacy of great sage Vālmīki!
A very learned and scholarly friend of the author by name, Shri Venkata Sriram ji had explained the roots of this controversy. He said the earliest culprits who raised controversies over Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa were three viz., Prof. Weber, Prof. Lasen and Prof. Keith. They argued that the language of Mahābhārata is crude whereas the language of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa is polished. Therefore, their argument was that Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa was composed much later than Mahābhārata. They alleged that the source text of Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa was Rāmopākhyāna narrative of Mahābhārata. Since Rāmopākhyāna of Mahābhārata doesn’t talk about Uttarakāṇḍa, they argued that Vālmīki wouldn’t have composed Uttarakāṇḍa and it must have been some other author’s work.
Those seeds of doubt they had sown have become huge trees today and every modern-day scholar calls Uttarakāṇḍa is an interpolation.
Our traditional scholars like Shri Karapatri Swami from Uttar Pradesh and Shri Gunturu Sheshadri Sharma Ji from Andhra Pradesh have already refuted them with valid points. However, from time to time new reasoning questioning the authenticity of Uttarakāṇḍa a keeps coming, and therefore traditional scholars should keep settling the allegations with reasoning and evidence.
Whatever claims against the authenticity of Uttarakāṇḍa have been experienced by the author are being taken up here for analysis and a rebuttal attempted. Apart from it, this work also intends to build a strong case to support the validity of Uttarakāṇḍa.
The Objections of Pūrvapakṣa, Their Refutation, and Establishment of The Siddhānta
The pūrvapakṣa wouldn’t be mentioned by names here, because it is not just a single person or two, but several people have been claiming these points. Moreover, some of the points championed against Uttarakāṇḍa happen to be from the friends of the author on social media platforms. Therefore, they would be termed, ‘Pūrvapakṣīn’ and kept impersonal throughout the rebuttal.
OBJECTION A. The Phalaśruti at the end of Yuddhakāṇḍa
The Pūrvapakṣīn alleges that the Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki begins with Bālakāṇḍa, then culminates in Yuddhakāṇḍa without any possibility of Uttarakāṇḍa being Vālmīki’s composition because he had already mentioned a ‘Phalaśruti’ at the end of Yuddhakāṇḍa.
Their objection is that when a ‘Phalaśruti’ has been added, marking the end of Rāmāyaṇa, then how would it be possible to begin another Kāṇḍa right after that.
RESPONSE A. Existence of Phalaśruti at the end of Yuddhakāṇḍa
Well, Phalaśruti doesn’t necessarily mark the ending of the work; that’s just a popular myth or misconception. In our scriptures, every chapter has some of the other benefits of reciting or listening. In some places, the Phalaśruti is made ‘explicit’ and in other places, it is ‘concealed’. In Mahābhārata for example, we have several variations of Phalaśruti visible.
- Phalaśruti exists at the end of Nalopākhyāna, which tells the benefits of reading that ‘Chapter’
- Phalaśruti exists after the ‘Karṇa Parva’, which tells the greatness of reciting that ‘Parva’
- Phalaśruti exists after the ‘Svargārohaṇa Parva’, which tells the greatness of reciting entire ‘Mahābhārata’.
Since the Phalaśruti after the ‘Svargārohaṇa Parva’ talks about benefits of reciting entire Mahābhārata, does that mean Mahābhārata ended there itself? No, we have a ‘Harivaṃśa Parva’ beginning thereafter which is called ‘Khila Parva (Appendix)’. And there is a separate Phalaśruti (benefit) of reciting ‘Harivaṃśa Parva’ altogether. It is an independent Parva which can be read separately and hence sometimes called as ‘Harivaṃśa Purāṇa’.
Similarly, Vālmīki had authored the first six Kāṇḍa-s as the main text and the seventh one as an ‘Appendix’. Therefore, he ended the main group of six Kāṇḍa-s with a Phalaśruti and then began the appendix Kāṇḍa i.e., ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’.
Now, another question may arise – Why did Vālmīki author Rāmāyaṇa as a group of six Kāṇḍa-s together with a Phalaśruti at the end of the sixth one, and then separately write the seventh Kāṇḍa as though it is an addition or appendix? Why couldn’t he write Rāmāyaṇa straight in seven Kāṇḍa-s with a Phalaśruti directly at the end?
That was because the Rāmāyaṇa was seen in two phases – By the time Vālmīki started writing Rāmāyaṇa, all the major events had already happened, long back, in the past. After killing Rāvaṇa, Rāma was ruling Ayodhyā, and thousands of years had already passed. Vālmīki was given a divine sight by lord Brahmā as a boon saying he would be able to see the events of the past exactly as they happened. So, by the time he started writing Rāmāyaṇa, it was contemporary to the events of Uttarakāṇḍa going on in Rāma’s kingdom.
He started writing Rāmāyaṇa by the divine boon, recollecting the ‘past’ events and wrote it in ‘six Kāṇḍa-s’. Since that was a ‘Tale of the Past’, it was the ‘Pūrva-Rāmāyaṇa’ (if we may call it that for the sake of discussion), where ‘Pūrva’ means ‘past’. This ‘Pūrva-Rāmāyaṇa’ was written in six books, hence at the end of this history of the ‘past’, he found it logically reasonable to put a ‘Phalaśruti’, bookmarking the ending of events that were of the past. Then what comes ‘next’ or ‘after’ to this ‘Pūrva-Rāmāyaṇa, is the ‘Uttara-Rāmāyaṇa’, where ‘Uttara’ in Saṃskṛtaṃ means, ‘next’, or ‘after’. Therefore, he began authoring the ‘subsequent’ events afresh and gave another (and final) ‘Phalaśruti’ at the end of this seventh book.
Therefore, at the end of Yuddhakāṇḍa, in ‘summary’ it was noted, ‘thereafter people lived in harmony under Rāma’s rule and Rāma completed a hundred Aśvamedha Yajña-s’ etc. And those events are elaborated in the ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’.
Now, let’s see Rāmāyaṇa from mysticism point of view and understand how in this way also the existence of Phalaśruti after the sixth Kāṇḍa makes sense. Let’s look at the Vedāntic purport of the insertion of Phalaśruti at the end of Yuddhakāṇḍa! Rāmāyaṇa is, apart from being an ‘Aitihāsika grantha (historical text)’, it is also a Vedāntic and Yogic text! Let’s briefly understand the mystic meaning of Rāmāyaṇa first:
- ŚrīRāma is the ‘Ātman (the self)’. Sītā is the ‘Jīva (individual self)’ which is not different from the ‘Ātman’ hence Sītā and Rāma are united. They both reside in the ‘Puraṃ (city) called ‘Ayodhyā (the impregnable)’ which is located in the ‘North’
- There is a downward journey that they take
- The golden deer captivates the ‘Manas (mind)’ of the ‘Jīva’ and thus the Jīva falls into ‘Moha (attraction)’ towards that object due to the action initiated by the ‘Rajoguṇa’ viz. Rāvaṇa! When such a ‘Vikāra (disturbance)’ arises in the mind, the ‘Jīva’ gets carried by the ‘Rajasika’ quality (Rāvaṇa) away from its oneness with the ‘self’ and thus that ‘Jīva’ gets trapped into another impregnable city of ‘ignorance‘ called ‘Lankā’, which is surrounded from all sides by the ‘Ocean of Samsāra’.
- Now, the ‘Jīva’ constantly weeps and wants to be freed from this Ocean of ‘Samsāra’ and wants to get united with her ‘Rāma (the supreme being, who is not distinct from herself)’.
- When that pain of separation and longing for Rāma reaches the peak, then the Rāma sends a ‘Guru’ to enlighten the ‘Jīva’. That ‘Guru’ is Hanumān
- This ‘Guru’ Hanumān doesn’t plunge into the ‘Ocean of Samsara’ because he is a ‘Jñānī’. He takes the aerial path which is traversed by ‘Siddha-s’ and he destroying all obstacles meets the ‘Jīva’
- This ‘Guru’ teaches the ‘Jīva’ the ‘Svarūpalakṣaṇa’ of Rāma, and that is what is describing Rāma’s features from head to toe. And thus the ‘Jīva’ gains enlightenment and the captured city of ignorance is burnt by the ‘Guru’. That is ‘Lankā dahanaṃ’
- At this juncture, the ‘Sattva’ quality viz. ‘Vibhīṣaṇa’ takes refuge in Rāma and then Rāma kills the ‘Tamas’ quality viz. Kuṃbhakarṇa a and after slaying other evil forces finally slays the ‘Rajas’ quality viz. Rāvaṇa
- And then the Jīva is united with Rāma and takes the journey back to ‘Ayodhyā’ via the aerial path sitting in the ‘Puṣpaka Vimānaṃ’ which is nothing but ‘Haṃsa’ of ‘Yoga’ path.
- They thus remain united, seated on the same throne in ‘Ayodhyā’ which is ‘Jīva-ātmaikya-bhāva’
This achievement of the state of ‘Jīva-ātmaikya-bhāva’ is itself a great achievement, a success. This is the ‘Advaitic brāhmī-sthiti’. At this juncture fructification of the ‘Vedāntic milestone’ of Rāmāyaṇa has occurred, therefore, here Vālmīki had inserted a ‘Phalaśruti’.
Does that mean the life of that ‘Jīva’ ended? No. Even at the ‘Vedāntic’ level there is more story to be told about the life of that ‘Jñānī Jīva’. Even at the ‘Aitihāsika (historical)’ level, there is more story left to be told. Sītā and Rāma returned to their kingdom after slaying Rāvaṇa when Rāma was around forty years of age. What happened next in his life? That story still needs to be told. Hence the ‘Kāṇḍa’ which covers the latter (‘Uttara’) part of their lives is nothing but ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’!
Hence as seen, be it at the ‘Vedāntic’ level of understanding, or at the ‘Aitihāsika (historical)’ level of understanding, the presence of ‘Phalaśruti’ was to celebrate an achievement of a great milestone and does not indicate the ending of the story.
OBJECTION B. Difference in Literary Style of Writing
The Pūrvapakṣīn observes that the literary style of writing is the same across the first six Kāṇḍa-s whereas the poetry style is different in Uttarakāṇḍa.
This objection is not new, several scholars have raised this objection in the past too.
RESPONSE B. Difference in literary Style of Writing
One possible explanation could be that the ‘Antara dṛṣṭi’ and ‘bāhya dṛṣṭi’ have some difference. By the time sage Vālmīki started composing Rāmāyaṇa, already Śrī Rāma’s killing of Rāvaṇa etc. had got completed, and Rāma was ruling Ayodhyā. So, the first ‘six Kāṇḍa’s are events of the ‘past’ which Vālmīki had not witnessed in person. Nārada advises Vālmīki to write the story and Lord Brahmā blesses him with a spiritual vision giving a boon that he would be able to see everything that had already happened exactly and as clearly as though they are happening in front of him. Thus, Vālmīki had ‘seen’ those events in meditation and composed the verses inwards in his heart. These were composed in his solitude. Therefore, they have one type of style.
Now, the Uttarakāṇḍa events were happening contemporary to Vālmīki’s life right in front of him. He might have been receiving news of the major events or deeds performed by the king (Rāma) on a periodic basis like who are all sages who visited Rāma and counselled him on what topics, how was Rāma ensuring the upholding of righteousness in his kingdom etc. Not only that, Vālmīki himself was very much a character in those events (of Uttarakāṇḍa) playing a key role – He gave refuge to Sīta in his hermitage, Sīta delivered her twins there, he did their Samskārā-s, and it is he again who gave those two kids (Lava and Kuśa) education also. So, while writing the events of the Uttarakāṇḍa, some intricate details were understood moving his vision inwards, and outwards for those majority of events which happened right in front of his eyes. Therefore, it is highly possible that Vālmīki didn’t compose the Uttarakāṇḍa entirely keeping his vision inwards in solitude. When an author switches his vision inwards and outwards naturally the style of the composition would differ.
The verses which one would ‘receive’ through ‘antaḥ sphuraṇa’ in meditation with divine sight would surely be superior than those which one would ‘compose’ with external earthly sight (or a combination of external and internal vision). That explains the difference in the two literary styles.
OBJECTION C. Contrasting Events and their Rebuttal
The Pūrvapakṣīn notes a list of contrasting events between Uttarakāṇḍa and the previous set of six Kāṇḍa-s and based on which they conclude that Uttarakāṇḍa is interpolation. The list of contradictions as per their claims are numbered below and a refutation with reasoning and evidences is presented right after each point.
Objection C. (1). The killing of an Emissary
The Pūrvapakṣīn claims that when Rāvaṇa orders to kill Hanumān in Lankā, Vibhīṣaṇa says that killing of a messenger had never been heard before. Yet in Uttarakāṇḍa Rāvaṇa kills a messenger of Kubera and that event had taken place before Hanumān arrived at Lankā. Hence the Pūrvapakṣīn considers it a contradiction and thereby Uttarakāṇḍa a candidate of suspicion.
Response (C.1). Killing of emissary
Actually, this objection by the ‘Pūrvapakṣin’ arises out of a ‘misinterpretation’ of the text. We’ll see that shortly. The ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ mentions that Kubera’s ‘Dūta (emissary)’ was slain by Rāvaṇa. Rāvaṇa was educated in all scriptures, yet he had slain an emissary while in no scripture emissary is allowed to be slain. But Rāvaṇa was Rāvaṇa, when did he follow scriptural injunctions properly? Since he had the habit of slaying the messenger, even in the Sundarakāṇḍa he orders for the killing of Hanumān.
“तस्य तत् वचनम् श्रुत्वा वानरस्य महात्मनः |
आज्ञापयत् वधम् तस्य रावणः क्रोध मूर्चितः ||” (VR 5:52:1)
“Hearing those words of the high-souled Hanuma, Rāvaṇa duly excited with anger, ordered for the killing of Hanuma.”
Vibhīśaṇa doesn’t agree to such an action and tries to pacify Rāvaṇa. But Rāvaṇa was enraged at his good words too and replied:
“न पापानाम् वधे पापम् विद्यते शत्रुसूदन |
तस्मादेनम् वधिष्यामि वानरम् पापचारिणम् ||” (VR 5:52:11)
“O Vibhīṣaṇa, the annihilator of enemies! There is no sin, even if the sinners are killed. So, I shall kill this monkey, who performed sins.”
So, it is evident that for Rāvaṇa it was normal to kill envoys even if Śāstra-s denounced that act. Hence out of his compulsive disorder, he was bent upon getting Hanumān slain. If really such a messenger killing never happened before in his court, Rāvaṇa’s tongue wouldn’t have been that loose to order killing of a ‘Dūta’. If any ghastly act is done for the first time, the hands would shake, second time onwards they wouldn’t. Since Rāvaṇa was so effortlessly bent upon killing a ‘Dūta (Hanumān)’, it is indicative of the fact that he had done such an act before.
Now, let’s come to the crucial point. The ‘Sundarakāṇḍa’ verse that has been misinterpreted by the ‘Pūrvapakṣin’.
“वैरूप्याम् अन्गेषु कश अभिघातो |
मौण्ड्यम् तथा लक्ष्मण सम्निपातः |
एतान् हि दूते प्रवदन्ति दण्डान् |
वधः तु दूतस्य न नः श्रुतो अपि ||” (VR 5:52:15)
“Mutilation of limbs, flogging, shaving of the head, and deforming limbs etc. these punishments have been prescribed for an emissary. Never has killing of an emissary been heard”.
Here Vibhīṣaṇa is NOT talking about the killing of envoy or punishments “within” Lankā’s court done in the past. He is talking about the general ‘Daṇḍanīti Śāstra’ with respect to an emissary. All Vibhīṣaṇa a said was – “There are punishments to envoys heard but the killing hasn’t been heard”. Here ‘heard’ doesn’t mean about Lankā. It means about the teachings that are heard from Śruti-s and Śāstra-s. In this verse one may refer to the various commentators such as Maheshvara Tirtha, Nagesha Bhatta, etc., all of them also have explained this verse to be talking about a collection or list of punishments permissible by scriptures, but in no scripture, the killing of a ‘Dūta’ is mentioned. This verse in no way is talking about the Lankā court’s historical deeds.
So, this objection stands simply ruled out.
Objection C. (2). Indemnity from defeat in the hands of a list of beings
In ‘Araṇyakāṇḍa’, Rāvaṇa was introduced as an undefeated warrior who couldn’t be defeated by God’s, divine beings, sages or any other being. But in Uttarakāṇḍa, we see Rāvaṇa being defeated by Vāli, and Kārtaviryārjuna. There is no mention of these warriors defeating Rāvaṇa in the first six books of Rāmāyaṇa.
Response (C.2). Indemnity from defeat in the hands of a list of beings
This objection is very vague and generic. It is made without listing the names of beings against whom Rāvaṇa was bulwark! Here is the actual list of beings who couldn’t have defeated Rāvaṇa.
“देव गन्धर्व भूतानाम् ऋषीणाम् च महात्मनाम् |
अजेयम् समरे घोरम् व्यात्त आननम् इव अन्तकम् ||” (VR 3:32:6)
“Invincible to gods, gandharvas, all living beings, great sages and seers, he was like Yama, lord of death with wide open jaws”.
Here “all living beings” seem to have been misinterpreted by challenger (Pūrvapakṣin) as indemnity against all living beings. Such a deduction is erroneous. If that was so, then Rāvaṇa could not have been killed by Rama, since Rama was in the human form.
The actual list of ‘all beings’ includes – “birds”, “reptiles”, “devils” etc. creatures. Humans and Vānara-s are excluded. For this reason, Garuḍa or Jaṭāyu couldn’t defeat Rāvaṇa (protection against birds),
Takṣaka’s wife was snatched by Rāvaṇa and molested. Takṣaka couldn’t win over him (protection against reptiles, snakes), Piśāca-s etc. again come under the ‘other beings’ who wouldn’t be able to defeat him.
“देव दानव गधर्व पिशाच पतग उरगैः |
अभयम् यस्य संग्रामे मृत्युतो मानुषाद् ऋते ||” (VR 3:32:18)
“Whereby, to whom there is an indemnity against death in war at the hand of gods, demons, gandharva-s, devils, birds, or reptiles, excepting humans, and Shuurpanakha saw such an unimperilled Rāvaṇa”.
The phrase, “Except humans”, needs to be noted! And the list also doesn’t include Vānara-s. Therefore, Rāvaṇa was defeatable if a human was powerful enough, and likewise, he was defeatable if a vānara was powerful enough. That is why he got crushed under the might of Kartaviryārjuna, Vāli and finally Rāma. With the first two, he made a friendship and saved his life, while Rāma came to terminate him and he did that.
This is exactly in sync with the Nandi’s curse in Uttarakāṇḍa. Nandi cursed Rāvaṇa that he would be defeated by Monkey faced ones (because at that time Nandi was with a Vānara face and Rāvaṇa mocked him). Therefore, Vāli defeating Rāvaṇa is in sync with the curse. There is no indication in the first six Kāṇḍa-s that Rāvaṇa was invincible against humans and monkeys and therefore Kartaviryārjuna and Vāli defeating him are not contradictions.
Here one may raise a question that if the verse says, “mānuṣād ṛte (excepting humans)”, but doesn’t mention Vānara-s, how can we deduce that Rāvaṇa didn’t have indemnity against Vānara-s? Well, scriptures do not mention everything in one place, our texts are like jigsaw puzzle with pieces scattered all around. We have to carefully arrange the pieces correctly to get the big picture. Yes, this verse doesn’t name ‘Vānara-s’, but that is revealed in the ‘Yuddhakāṇḍa’ in the words of ‘Hanumān’ as cited below.
“देव दानव गन्धर्वा यक्षाश् च सह राक्षसैह् |
अवध्यत्वात् त्वया भग्ना वानरेभ्यस् तु ते भयम् ||” (VR 6:59:55)
“You have obtained the boon of invulnerability to the celestials, demons, celestial musicians, ogres and semi-divine beings. But monkeys are a danger to you”.
It is clear now that humans, as well as Vānara-s, could defeat Rāvaṇa. Thus, this objection also stands refuted.
Objection C. (3). Contradicting Defeat of Indra
It is clearly mentioned in Sundarakāṇḍa that Rāvaṇa himself defeated Indra and 33 other Gods. His victories over Yama, Varuṇa, Kubera was mentioned explicitly. But in Uttarakāṇḍa, Rāvaṇa was shown being dominated by Indra before Meghnāda came to the rescue. He couldn’t defeat Yama properly as well.
Response (C.3). Regarding Rāvaṇa singly defeating Indra without the help of Meghanāda
This point is worth ignoring if we look at the details here. If Rāvaṇa alone conquered Indra, then the very name of Meghanāda as “Indrajit” stands useless. In the first six Kāṇḍa-s, Meghanāda was referred mostly as Indrajit and his name’s meaning is elaborated in the Uttarakāṇḍa. So, we must correlate this as – Rāvaṇa conquered Indra with the help of his son.
Yama cannot be defeated by anyone. His ‘Kāladaṇḍa (Yamadaṇḍa)’ is invincible and incapable of being baffled. Yama was about to use it, but due to Brahmā’s intervention abandoned that thought and accepted defeat.
Basically, Rāvaṇa’s so-called victories against the deities are mostly the ‘biscuits’ thrown by the deities at him respecting Brahmā’s boons. So, there is no real over-powering of Gods by Rāvaṇa.
Objection C. (4). The omission of usage of Pāśupata in first six Kāṇḍa-s
The six books of Rāmāyaṇa don’t quote Rāvaṇa having Pāśupata yet Rāvaṇa uses this ‘Astra’ in Uttarakāṇḍa. Yuddhakāṇḍa mentions Rāvaṇa having defeated the Nivātakavaca-s before learning illusions from them, yet in Uttarakāṇḍa it shows Rāvaṇa and Nivātakavaca-s having a treaty. Even Maṇḍodarī mentioned in Yuddhakāṇḍa how Rāvaṇa dominated Nivātakavaca-s even after Brahma’s boon upon them.
Response (C.4). Omission of the use of Pāśupata in first six Kāṇḍa-s
The Pūrvapakṣīn’s claim is that the Pāśupata weapon mentioned in ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ does not find a mention in the first six Kāṇḍa-s.
Well, the omission of something in one place is NOT indicative of interpolation if mentioned elsewhere (a bit confusing? Please read slowly). This objection doesn’t need any brainstorming. Still, let us try to see some possibilities.
On second thought — The Rāma-Rāvaṇa war is not just restricted to the verses that describe it in the text. We never know, Rāvaṇa might have fired that Pāśupata and Rāma might have neutralized it with his Pāśupata.
Coming to the second part of the Pūrvapakṣīn’s claim about Rāvaṇa having defeated the Nivātakavaca-s before learning illusions from them in Yuddhakāṇḍa, yet Uttarakāṇḍa showing Rāvaṇa and Nivātakavaca-s having a treaty. Well, this is again a misinterpretation.
The Yuddhakāṇḍa mentions about Nivātakavaca-s as follows:
“हन्तारं दानवेन्द्राणाम् यक्षाणां च सहस्रशः|
निवातकवचानां च संग्रहीतारमाहवे ||” (VR 6:111:53)
“He was the killer of the lords of demons and Yakshas the supernatural beings in thousands. He was drawing to himself, the demons called Nivātakavaca-s, in battles.”
This verse doesn’t mean he defeated. It is vaguely indicating how he was matching the Nivātakavaca-s. Uttarakāṇḍa says that Nivātakavaca-s had a boon that they wouldn’t get defeated in battle/slain and Rāvaṇa had a Pāśupata which could kill them. So, if Rāvaṇa uses that weapon they would be dead, and Brahma’s boon would go in vain. So, here if we see Rāvaṇa had an upper hand. Brahma intervenes in time and asks both of them to shake hands and be friends. Then Nivātakavaca-s teach him magical warfare.
The mere omission of information in one place does not make mention in another interpolation. It could simply be an omission. that’s it.
Objection C. (5). Hanumān’s vulnerability depiction and differences in boons
In Kiṣkindākāṇḍa, Indra attacked Hanumān with his Vajra yet the child Vānara wasn’t injured. But Uttarakāṇḍa shows Indra killing baby Hanumān with his Vajra before Brahma revived him. In Kiṣkindākāṇḍa, only Brahma and Indra grant Hanumān a boon while in Uttarakāṇḍa all the Gods including Śiva grant him boons.
Response (C.5). Hanumān’s vulnerability depiction and differences in boons
This is simply a childish claim. The Uttarakāṇḍa verses need to be understood in the sense that Hanumān became ‘unconscious’ while hit by the vajra, but he wasn’t ‘dead’. It is like what Mahābhārata says, “Bhīṣma was slain”, as soon as he fell down, but we see him living until the end of the war on a bed of arrows. In Saṃskṛtaṃ, contextually the words get different meanings. So, this is actually not a contradiction at all. Just an attempt to cherry-pick.
As far as differences in the list boons given to Hanumān, again omission in one Kāṇḍa doesn’t mean the mention of it in another Kāṇḍa is an interpolation. If that was so, Bhīṣma’s list of teachers mentioned in ‘Ādi Parva’ was limited (4 or so), in ‘Śānti Parva’ that list includes Indra, Sanatkumāra, Mārkaṇḍeya, etc… That doesn’t mean they are not his teachers.
We need to take both these stories as ‘complementing’ each other rather than ‘contradicting’ each other. The conclusion should be that Hanumān had boons even from Śiva.
Objection C. (6). Rāvaṇa defeating Kṣatriya-s of Earth
Ministers of Rāvaṇa were glorifying Rāvaṇa in Yuddhakāṇḍa as to how Rāvaṇa defeated Kṣatriya-s on earth whose valor was equal to Indra. Yet in Uttarakāṇḍa, we see Kartaviryārjuna defeating him.
Response (C.6). Rāvaṇa defeating Kṣatriya-s on earth
These are the verses that the ‘Pūrvapakṣīn’ talks about:
“क्षत्रियैर् बहुभिर् वीरैः शक्र तुल्य पराक्रमैः |
आसीद् वसुमती पूर्णा महद्भिर् इव पादपैः || 16
तेषाम् वीर्य गुण उत्साहैर् न समो राघवो रणे |
प्रसह्य ते त्वया राजन् हताः परम दुर्जयाः ||” (VR 6:7:16-17)
“The earth was filled, like with big trees, with many warriors who were strong with a courage equal to that Devendra. Oh, King! Rama was not equal to them in combat, by their valour excellence and energy. Those warriors, who were difficult to be overcome in battle, were overpowered and killed by you”.
First of all, in any analysis, we must know the context of the discussion and should have the knowledge of the chapter completely. Just a random statement or a verse quoted out of context would lead us to erroneous conclusions the way the ‘Pūrvapakṣīn’ has ended up, with an invalid inference. Here the context was that the battle was about to begin and Rāvaṇa a had summoned a meeting with all his ministers. In that meeting to boost the morale of their king as well as to assure him of his victory, the victorious deeds of the past were recounted as a eulogy. This is valid even today – When a child has fears about upcoming exams, parents and teachers would encourage him to recount how well he had performed in the past. Nobody would recount cases where the child had failed a subject in the past. We have to understand this in this context of ministers glorifying Rāvaṇa.
When the courtiers sing eulogies to their Kings, their praises would cover ‘generics’ not ‘specifics’. If they praise saying, “O thou of mighty prowess who singly hath defeated all the lords of the earth except Karteviryārjuna and Vāli”, it would rather infuriate the King than pleasing him. No one would want to hear about their defeats, everyone would like to hear glories of success and achievements.
Therefore, the eulogies of the ministers not making a mention of his fight with Kartaviryārjuna or with Vāli, doesn’t tantamount to concluding that his defeats at their hands (as described in ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’) were interpolations!
Rāvaṇa didn’t do ‘digvijaya’ on the entire earth! Though he had traveled on the Earth challenging some Kings, among whom some fought with him and got defeated or slain while others accepted his superiority without even having a fight. It was in one such expedition Rāvaṇa had defeated ‘Anāraṇya’, the king of ‘Ikṣvāku’ dynasty, who pronounced a curse upon him. That doesn’t indicate all the lords of Earth were subjugated by him. Basically, Rāvaṇa had no fear of death from humans as he thought of them to be petty weaklings. He was proud that he was immune to gods and demons, and no fear of getting killed by them. He didn’t consider humans as a threat at all. Even if he defeated Kṣatriya-s, that list should not be considered to be of the entire Earth.
In general, the mighty kings would conquer a few kings, yet get glorified as conquerors of the Earth. But only when a ‘Rājasūya’ type of sacrifices, the Kings go to win over all the directions. In Mahābhārata, Yudhiṣṭhira alone achieved such a feat with the help of his brothers. He conquered all the lords of Earth of all directions and he alone became ‘Saṁrāṭ’ of the entire ‘Bhāratavarṣa’. Mahābhārata calls Pāṇḍu as well as Karṇa as having done ‘digvijaya’. But they didn’t actually conquer all the lords of earth, rather conquered a significant portion to be proclaimed as conquerors of Earth.
Eulogy of Rāvaṇa’s ministers has to be understood in this sense only. Rāvaṇa always had a single-minded obsession to conquer the abodes of the various types of celestials but didn’t have that much obsession to defeat Kings of the earth, considering them as mere humans. He had spent a vast portion of his life traveling from one celestial abode to another defeating the Lords of those abodes. He defeated Indra, Yama, Varuṇa, Nāga-s, etc.
Let’s see some evidence from Rāmāyaṇa to understand Rāvaṇa’s interests and obsessions.
In the Bālakāṇḍa after the ‘Putrakāmēṣṭhi’ rite of Daśaratha, all the deities assembled and headed by Brahmā brainstorm about the atrocities of Rāvaṇa. There we see them mentioning how he was hateful (dvēṣṭi) of the deities and troubling them. So, he hated the Gods, not humans in general.
“उद्वेजयति लोकांस्त्रीनुच्छ्रितान् द्वेष्टि दुर्मतिः |
शक्रं त्रिदशराजानं प्रधर्षयितुमिच्छति || ” (VR 1:15:8)
“That malevolent Ravana is tormenting all the three worlds, hating the functionary deities of cosmos, and always desires to assail Indra, the king of all the functionary deities of the universe”.
Next, they list all those categories of beings who were tormented constantly by Rāvaṇa. Here we see that he was tormenting primarily the celestial classes of beings and among the earthly mortals the list includes ‘R̥ṣī-s (sages)’ and ‘Brāhmaṇā-s’ only; there is no mention of ‘Kṣatriya-s (kings)’. Whatever complaints the deities shared with Brahmā in this chapter, none of those verses talked about Kings of the Earth.
“ऋषीन् यक्षान् सगन्धर्वानसुरान् ब्राह्मणांस्तथा |
अतिक्रामति दुर्धर्षो वरदानेन मोहितः ||” (VR 1:15:9)
“That invincible one is further self-conceited by the boons you have accorded, and he is overbearingly torturing the sages, celestial beings like yaksha-s, gandharva-s, asura-s, and like that even the Brahmana-s”.
Here one may ask a question, “If Rāvaṇa was of a very low opinion of human beings and hence Kṣatriya-s never posed him a threat, then how could sages and Brāhmaṇā-s be a threat?” The answer is – through Vedic sacrifices it is these sages and Brāhmaṇā-s who constantly offer libations to the deities via fire. Through the oblations thus offered the deities gain strength and splendor. Therefore, these Brāhmaṇā-s being the source of the strength of the deities whom Rāvaṇa hated, he tormented them by spoiling their sacrifices. And those sages who were seated in the heavenly abodes, he overthrew them down (vide, VR 1:15:23).
In the same chapter when the deities request Brahmā to find out a way to eliminate Rāvaṇa, Brahmā thinks and tells them that his elimination can be done only by humans. Here Brahmā stresses how Rāvaṇa a had skipped humans from the list of threats while seeking boons and says he skipped them because of his disrespect for humans (i.e., looking down upon humans as weak mortals).
“नाकीर्तयदवज्ञानात्तद्रक्षो मानुषांस्तदा |
तस्मात् स मानुषाद्वध्यो मृत्युर्नान्योऽस्य विद्यते ||” (VR 1:15:14)
“That demon did not express about humans then with his disrespect to them, and evidently his death does not occur otherwise.” So said Brahma to gods”.
This verse should be enough to understand the psychology of Rāvaṇa, and thus it shouldn’t be difficult to understand that he didn’t win over every human King. Thus, it is totally safe to consider that Kartaviryārjuna defeated Rāvaṇa, and that chapter of ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ is not an interpolation.
If there were a case where Yuddhakāṇḍa mentioned Rāvaṇa as defeating Kartaviryārjuna, then Uttarakāṇḍa’s claim would have stood refuted. But that is not so. Yuddhakāṇḍa talked in “generic” and Uttarakāṇḍa talked in “specifics”. The Uttarakāṇḍa gains more points. Hence this claim is also ruled out.
Objection C. (7). Sīta’s banishment
The Rāma who fought all odds to gain Sīta back in the six books, the same Rāma who couldn’t live a moment without Sīta banishes the same Sīta due to the allegations of citizens in his country in Uttarakāṇḍa. This doesn’t make sense at all, even in Yuddhakāṇḍa Rāma never asks Sīta to conduct ‘agniparīkṣa (fire ordeal)’, it is Sīta herself who volunteers to do so to prove to the world her chastity.
Response (C.7). Sīta’s banishment
The objection arising out of the interpretation is the Pūrvapakṣīn’s personal understanding of ‘dharma’, which is obviously incorrect. It may not make sense today. But the ‘dharma’ is deeper than what modern youngsters think it is! Rāmāyaṇa is NOT a “Love story”. The ‘rāja dharma’ is above all personal relationships and love.
Until Yuddhakāṇḍa, Rāma was an exiled king, a loving husband (for Sīta), a great friend (of Sugrīva) and a kingmaker (for Vibhīṣaṇa, and Sugrīva). But Rāma’s position post Yuddhakāṇḍa was totally different. Though he was still the same Rāma, he was a ‘King’. What type of king? He was a king of that Ikśvāku dynasty which always had illustrious rulers. Ikśvāku dynasty never aberrated from dharma. A king’s life is not a cakewalk. King has no personal life in an absolute sense. His life is bound by the welfare of his kingdom. His people are his foremost priority than his family or personal relationships. ‘Rājadharma’ ranks above personal affection for the loved ones. To uphold his word, Harīṣcandra, an ancestor of Rāma had even sold his wife and son. It’s not like he didn’t love her and didn’t have affection for his son. Rāma comes in the lineage of such legendary kings who upheld the ‘rājadharma’ than any personal interests.
In the Sīta ‘agniparīkṣa’ episode, the witnesses were Vānara-s, Devata-s, and Sages. After coming back to Ayodhyā, Rāma and Sīta lived happily for around 10,000 years together. As per the Yuddhakāṇḍa’s last chapter, even the citizens lived for thousands of years having thousands of progenies. So, we may assume that by then even if people of Ayodhyā didn’t die, they must have become older by ten generations. We cannot expect the same level of reverence that existed in the generation that witnessed pre and post- Yuddhakāṇḍa events to be present in the younger generation born much later. So, it is quite natural that people hearing about the Sīta abduction story might have developed some doubts about her chastity and Rāma’s character.
Unlike the TV serials which showed that a single washerman had alleged a doubt on Sīta, as per Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, entire Ayodhyā was suffering from that doubt. Gossips were heard in every nook and corner of the kingdom. People were even so insensitive, that they were concerned for their own wives and said if such cases arise in their families, they would have to follow Rāma since the world follows the path shown by the leader.
“अस्माकं अपि दारेषु सहनीयं भविष्यति ।
यथा हि कुरुते राजा प्रजा तं अनुवर्तते ||” (VR 7:42:19)“We shall now have to countenance the same state of affairs regarding our own wives, since, what a king does, his subjects follow!”.
Therefore, Rāma being the king was responsible to righteously judge and settle that case to the satisfaction of the complainants. It is like, even today if someone files a complaint on one’s own beloved ‘dhārmika’ brother, police would first arrest that person simply on the grounds of “suspicion”. There is no verdict at this stage; whether one’s brother was guilty or not is a different matter, but when a case is filed, arrest is done on grounds of suspicion. The same is the case even with Rāma. Not just one person but the majority of Ayodhyā was gossiping about Sīta’s character. So, what should “Rāma-the-KING” do? First and foremost, he should separate the disputed person, until the trial and judgment happen, and the case gets settled.
Would we today worship Rāma if he had killed all those citizens throwing allegations at Sīta, “How dare you cast doubts on my wife?” That would have been tyranny. We worship Rāma because he followed his ‘dharma’ to the ‘dot’, always.
On another note, the day before the banishment, Sīta and Rāma were sitting and passing time in a beautiful garden. Sīta was already pregnant. She put a wish in front of Rāma saying, “O Lord! Palaces do not give me much happiness; I love to see forests and sages’ hermitages. I want to reside in sagely atmosphere for some time”. Rāma promised to fulfill her wish because a pregnant wife’s wishes must always be fulfilled.
Meanwhile, look at fate, the next day Rāma hears about the entire kingdom gossiping about Sīta’s character. So, in one shot he fulfilled both ‘rājadharma’ as well as ‘pati dharma’ by asking Lakṣmaṇa to drop Sīta in a forest nearby sages’ hermitage.
When Lakṣmaṇa unable to control his tears cries while leaving Sīta there in the forest, Sīta asks for the reason and he tells her everything that was happening in the city of Ayodhyā. Noteworthy point is that Sīta doesn’t say Rāma did any unrighteous act with that step of the banishment of Sīta. She understood the ‘rājadharma’ of Rāma, but today’s ignorant people think Rāma couldn’t have taken such a decision. If Rāma couldn’t have taken such a step and punished the people instead, we wouldn’t be having Rāma in our Pūjā room. Rāma is ‘dharma’ and ‘dharma’ is Rāma. Our personal inabilities to understand dharma cannot be instructing Rāma to what to do and what not to do. Period!
Moreover, Sīta and Rāma were NOT made to stay united forever. Lord Viṣṇu had two curses of separation from wife which he utilized in Rāmāvatāra.
- Once sage Nārada cursed him to feel the pain of separation from wife
- Sage Bhṛgu also cursed him to get separated from his wife
One period of separation he underwent during Sīta ‘abduction’, second with her ‘banishment’.
But in between, they spent around 10,000 years together. The banishment was an event that eventually led them back to their abode ‘Vaikuṇṭha’.
Objection C. (8). Śaṃbuka vadha
Yuddhakāṇḍa, talked about how people lived in peace and prosperity during the 10,000 years of Rāma’s rule. Yet the killing of Śaṃbuka, the anger of citizens, tells a different story in Uttarakāṇḍa.
Response (C.8). Śaṃbuka Vadha
A lot of people raise controversy over the killing of ‘Śaṃbuka’ by Rāma, and as usual, just because they find this story unpleasant, they call the entire Uttarakāṇḍa an interpolation.
Well, Uttarakāṇḍa is as genuine as any other Kāṇḍa. Uttarakāṇḍa’s events are mentioned even in Purāṇa-s. ‘Śaṃbuka vadha’ is referenced even in Mahābhārata.
“श्रूयते शम्बुके शूद्रे हते ब्राह्मणदारकः।
जीवितो धर्ममासाद्य रामात्सत्यपराक्रमात्॥” (MBH 12-152-67)
“It is heard that a Sudra named Samvuka having been slain and righteousness having been upheld by Rāma of true prowess, a (dead) Brahmana child was restored to life.”
It is there in Padma-Purāṇa as well. The ‘Śaṃbuka vadha’ is part of Uttarakāṇḍa. If that is not authentic Kāṇḍa how come it is referenced in Mahābhārata and Purāṇa-s too?
‘Śaṃbuka vadha’ is thus proven to have cross-references and hence authentic.
Objection C. (9). Manuscripts found in West Bengal dating to 6th Century BCE didn’t have Uttarakāṇḍa
In some findings, a manuscript of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa was found where it was observed that it had only six Kāṇḍa-s, and Uttarakāṇḍa was missing. This manuscript was dated to be of 6 century BCE, hence being the oldest it confirms that Uttarakāṇḍa is a later interpolation not authored by Vālmīki!
Response (C.9). Manuscript without Uttarakāṇḍa
Well, the Uttarakāṇḍa being absent in that manuscript may be true, but the subsequent conclusion that ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ is an interpolation is just a ‘speculation’ by the ‘Pūrvapakṣīn’. Missing cantos cannot be foolproof evidence to derive any conclusions out of it.
Let us consider an example – Assume that the owner of that manuscript had given his entire manuscript to a disciple entrusting the responsibility to make further hand-written copies of it for safe preservation of the contents from atmospheric conditions such as moisture or anything else. Let’s assume that the disciple had completed copying the original manuscript until the first six Kāṇḍa-s and was about to begin his work on the seventh one. Meanwhile, the Guru asked him to return the manuscript files keeping only those portions where the work is not yet completed. Following his advice let’s say the disciple and returned the first six Kāṇḍa-s to his preceptor. Now, unfortunately, the next day the disciple’s hut caught fire and he lost all his valuable belongings including the seventh Kāṇḍa and he also died in that fire. Now, this preceptor would have had a Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa manuscript comprising only of six Kāṇḍa-s.
One may ask, “Could such a scenario have happened in real?” — Might or might not have happened. But then, “Is there a ‘possibility’ of such a thing to have happened?” — Certainly yes!
Here also just like the ‘Pūrvapakṣīn’, some speculations were there, but one certainly cannot dismiss the possibility of this speculation to be true. Therefore, one cannot simply take this case of “oldest manuscript without Uttarakāṇḍa”, to be a sure shot proof of interpolation.
Now, the ‘Baroda Institute’ has brought out a ‘Critical Edition (CE)’ of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. They had collected various manuscripts of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa from all over the country and prepared this CE. Interestingly, their Rāmāyaṇa CE had not discarded the ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’.
Further, the ancient poets and sages such as ‘Mahākavi Kālidāsa’ had not discarded ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ events from their works.
Therefore, just a missing portion from an old manuscript cannot be a convincing and powerful reason to discard Uttarakāṇḍa.
This brings us to the end of rebuttals to various points that the author had come across. Now, let us additionally touch upon some more evidence in favor of Uttarakāṇḍa.
Additional evidence in support of Uttarakāṇḍa’s authenticity
In the previous sections, it has been shown how the so-called contradictions actually do not hold any water. The Pūrvapakṣin has in most cases misinterpreted the actual verses and has confused himself as well as confused many of his followers. All those points have been duly clarified by quoting actual verses.
Now, let’s look at some interesting stuff which again testifies the authenticity of ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’
I. Whatever questions the first six Kāṇḍa-s raise ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ answers:
This is a no brainer that any story that one tells should be complete from all angles. One needn’t elaborate on the lives of every citizen of the kingdom, but prominent characters must be portrayed in detail. The Mahābhārata, for example, gives detailed information about every prominent character. If we discard ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ calling it as not a work of sage Vālmīki, then we must agree that Vālmīki would make a very bad author. We cannot prostrate before him praising him as ‘Ādikavi’. Further, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa being an ‘Itihāsa (meaning, ‘History’)’, it cannot conclude story saying, “And thereafter Sītā and Rāma lived happily”. For all historical texts, the author must tell how those born characters departed as well. If it were a ‘Purāṇa’ tale, it would have been alright to give such a conclusion which we find at the end of the sixth ‘kāṇḍa’. It would make a bad historical text to have gaps such as — bad closure of the protagonists’ lives, missing information about other prominent characters etc. Therefore, ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ must belong to Vālmīki alone!
Let’s further understand the reasons why Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa sans ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ would be a very poor work.
Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa’s first six ‘Kāṇḍa-s’ have brought many prominent characters into the story but we wouldn’t know the histories of several of them, both among protagonists as well as antagonists. In general, whatever ‘Praśna-s (Questions)’ the first six Kāṇḍa-s raise in our minds, the answers to all of them are given by the ‘seventh’ Kāṇḍa. ‘Uttara’ means answer, hence true to its name, the ‘Uttarakāṇḍa a’ gives answers to all our queries. Therefore, it is futile to handicap the great epic by denying Vālmīki’s authorship of the seventh canto. Let’s see ten significant instances.
I (1). What are the significant feats of Śatrughna?
We would know from birth to adulthood, and beyond, the life history of Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā alone if we read the first six ‘Kāṇḍa-s’. Bharata was discussed in brief but that itself was emotionally powerful to be etched in our hearts firmly. We do not get to hear about any major events or feats of Śatrughna, the brother of Rāma! “What were the feats of Śatrughna?”
The Uttarakāṇḍa gives the ‘answer’ narrating Śatrughna’s feats including a heroic deed of killing a mighty demon named Lavaṇāsura.
I (2). For what reason the sage Viśrava with Kēkasī fathered two demoniac sons and one virtuous son?
In the first six ‘Kāṇḍa-s’ we aren’t informed about the life of the prime antagonist viz. Rāvaṇa. We wouldn’t know how could a sage, Viśrava the grandson of lord Brahmā give birth to such a son who would eventually become the tormentor of the worlds! It is mind-boggling to observe that the same father and same mother gave birth to three sons and of whom the first two became demoniac whereas the third son inherited the pious nature of his father. How could such a thing happen? This question is not answered if we turn pages of the first six Kāṇḍa-s.
This history is ‘answered’ in the Uttarakāṇḍa! In the ninth chapter of Uttarakāṇḍa is the detail – when Kēkasī approached Viśrava seeking children, he told her that the time when she expressed that desire for sons was a terrible time, hence she would give birth to demoniac children. But when she requested him saying she was seeking children of pious nature, Viśrava blesses her saying she would bear the third son who would be worthy of Viśrava’s lineage. This is the reason why Rāvaṇa and Kuṁbhakarṇa were born ‘Rākṣasa-s’ whereas Vibhīṣaṇa had the nature of a Brāhmaṇa.
I (3). How did Daśagrīva gain the name Rāvaṇa, meaning one of terrible cry?
It would be funny to note that despite Rāvaṇa being the prime antagonist of this epic, we do not even get to know why the Daśagrīva gained the name ‘Rāvaṇa’ in the first six ‘Kāṇḍa-s’. The reason why Daśagrīva was famed as ‘Rāvaṇa’ has an interesting story revealed in the sixteenth chapter of Uttarakāṇḍa – When Daśagrīva attempts to lift the Kailāśa mountain on his shoulders, by lord Śiva’s action he gets crushed under the mountain. Unable to bear the pain he gives out a terrible screeching sound that resounds all around. Lord Śiva named him as ‘Rāvaṇa’ due to that sound!
I (4). Why was Mēghanāda called Indrajit?
We wouldn’t know why Mēghanāda was termed ‘Indrajit’ throughout the first six ‘Kāṇḍa-s’. The back story behind gaining that title viz. ‘Indrajit’ exists in chapter thirty of Uttarakāṇḍa.
I (5). How could Mēghanāda, a mere mortal defeats the mighty lord Indra?
Today people misunderstand Indra as a weak God who runs away from every demon who attacks his abode. But Indra is the very personification of might. Every superior warrior in our scriptures is often compared with Indra. Indra’s might should never be underestimated. We see a human being viz. Mēghanāda was able to conquer the legendary Indra. There should be some reason behind such a feat. The ‘Uttara (answer)’ cannot be obtained without taking refuge into Uttarakāṇḍa! There was a curse due to which Indra was destined to get subjugated by a petty mortal, and this detail exists only in chapter thirty of Uttarakāṇḍa.
I (6). Why could Hanumān not kill Vāli despite being a loyal friend of Sugrīva?
We know that Hanumān was immensely powerful. Being a loyal friend of Sugrīva, he could have slain Vāli without shedding a sweat; but then why did Hanumān not do that to delight his friend? Of course, the readers would know the answer from the chapter sixty of ‘Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa’ where it is revealed that Hanumān had forgotten about his actual strength and on being reminded about his superheroic deeds of the past by Jāmbavān, he got his memory restored and he swelled with might. But then one may be in two minds given the fact that in ‘Yuddhakāṇḍa (Chapter 59)’, Rāvaṇa strikes with his hand on the chest of Hanumān on two occasions and both the times Hanumān faints for a few seconds (of course when Hanumān strikes back even Rāvaṇa faints).
If Rāvaṇa was powerful enough to make Hanumān himself lose his consciousness for a while, it is natural for someone to consider that Vāli, who defeated Rāvaṇa, would be superior to Hanumān in strength. So, who is stronger between Vāli and Hanumān? The first six Kāṇḍa-s leave us puzzled about this, while the seventh Kāṇḍa comes to our rescue and gives us the opinion of Vālmīki. Through the words of sage Agastya, sage Vālmīki informs us that Hanumān was indeed more powerful than Vāli or Rāvaṇa. The answer lies in the chapter thirty-five of Uttarakāṇḍa which details about the curse which made Hanumān lose the memory of his high prowess!
I (7). Who was ‘Anāraṇya’, the king of ‘Ikṣvāku’ dynasty and why did he curse Rāvaṇa?
In chapter sixty of the Yuddhakāṇḍa, Rāvaṇa himself reveals the various curses that he had obtained from various persons in the past. He mentions about a king of the Ikṣvāku dynasty by name ‘Anāraṇya’ who had cursed Rāvaṇa that a person born in his own Ikṣvāku dynasty would slay Rāvaṇa.
“विदितम् मानुषम् मन्ये रामं दशरथात्मजम् |
इक्ष्वाकुकुलजातेन अनर्ण्येन यत् पुरा || 8
उत्पत्स्यति हि मद्वंशे पुरुषो राक्षसाधम |
यस्त्वाम् सपुत्रम् सामात्यम् सबलम् साश्वसारथिम् || 9
निहनिष्यति सम्ग्रामे त्वाम् कुलाधम दुर्मते |” (VR 6:60:8-10a)
“Rama the son of Dasaratha is the man I think of whom Anaranya born of Ikshvaku dynasty formerly spoke, saying: ‘O, the worst of demons, the worst of your race and the wretched one! In my race will be born a man who will slay you in battle with your sons, ministers, army, horses, and charioteer”.
This is intriguing as we do not know the reason behind such a curse. Chapter nineteen of Uttarakāṇḍa gives the complete story of how Rāvaṇa defeated king Anāraṇya and who on his dying moments cursed Rāvaṇa that his terminator would be born in Ikṣvāku lineage.
I (8). Who was Vēdavatī, and why did she curse Rāvaṇa?
In chapter sixty of Yuddhakāṇḍa, Rāvaṇa reveals that he was cursed by Vēdavatī on an earlier occasion and that same Vēdavatī has now incarnated as Sītā. There is no elaboration of this story in the first six Kāṇḍa-s. The question gets answered only in chapter seventeen of Uttarakāṇḍa.
I (9). What was the curse on Rāvaṇa in connection with Rambhā?
In chapter thirteen of Yuddhakāṇḍa, Rāvaṇa tells us that he had raped an ‘Apsarā’ by name Punjikasthalā due to which lord Brahmā cursed him saying that next time if he ever enjoys any woman who is unwilling to mate with him, his head would burst into a hundred pieces.
But then in chapter sixty of Yuddhakāṇḍa along with Punjikasthalā, Rāvaṇa mentions the name of Rambhā also and recollects the curse pronounced upon him. Since the story of Punjikasthalā is detailed in chapter thirteen, we know about that. What was the story of the curse in connection with Rambhā?
Chapter twenty-six of Uttarakāṇḍa tells us that Rāvaṇa had raped Rambhā, the fiancée of Nalakūbara whose relationship to Rāvaṇa was that of a son. Therefore, Rambhā would be a daughter-in-law to Rāvaṇa, but didn’t give heed to such relationships he ravished Rambhā and in turn, Nalakūbara curses him saying if he ever enjoys any woman who is unwilling to mate with him, his head would burst into seven pieces (curse is same in both cases, just that the number of pieces of the head differs).
Now, here is a catch. Only one of these stories could be true. Because if we assume Rāvaṇa earned this curse when he raped Punjikasthalā then the rape of Rambhā becomes impossible as the course would be led to his heads getting burst. Likewise, if we assume that the rape of Rambhā happened first then the rape of Punjikasthalā is out of the question. Which story is true and what is the secret hidden here? We need to keep in mind that curses on him by the damsels were revealed by Rāvaṇa himself in the Yuddhakāṇḍa. So, Rambhā’s story cannot be dismissed as ‘interpolated’ just because it exists in detailed form in Uttarakāṇḍa, when a reference to that story is made in Yuddhakāṇḍa itself. We need to intelligently decode the mystery.
Further, this story of violation of Rambhā has a cross-reference in Mahābhārata. This again tells us that the Uttarakāṇḍa story of the curse by Nalakūbara is not false!
“मा च ते भूद्भयं भीरु रावणाल्लोकगर्हितात्।
नलकूबरशापेन रक्षिता ह्यसि नन्दिनि ॥ 60
शप्तो ह्येष पुरा पापो वधूं रम्भां परामृशन्।
न शक्रोत्यवशां नारीमुपैतुमजितेन्द्रियः ॥” (MBH 3:281:60-61)
“And, O timid lady, entertain thou no fear on account of Ravana, who is censured by the whole world, for, O daughter, thou art safe from him on account of Nalakuvera’s curse. Indeed, this wretch had been cursed before for his having violated his daughter-in-law, Rambha. This lustful wretch is not able to violate any woman by force”.
Since Rāvaṇa was alive without getting his head broken into pieces, it means, either one of the stories could be true and another a concoction by Rāvaṇa himself. If we think carefully, the story of Punjikasthalā seems to be a bluff. Reason being that, Rāvaṇa who was a person of such a stature that the very Gods had to accept defeat in his hands, to such a Rāvaṇa, it would have been insulting to accept being cursed by a mere weakling Nalakūbara. Therefore, it looks like he cooked up the story of ravishing Punjikasthalā where he gets cursed by Lord Brahmā, whom he felt a higher authority than himself and thus he could save his face narrating about this curse to others.
Questions related to the curse in connection with Rambhā as briefly referenced in Yuddhakāṇḍa is answered in the chapter twenty-six of Uttarakāṇḍa!
I (10). Why was it required for the deities to incarnate as Vānara-s to assist Rāma?
Well, to assist Rāma in his mission of de-burdening the Earth from the Rākṣasa-s whose leader was Rāvaṇa, the celestials had incarnated on Earth majorly in the form of Vānara-s. Just like Mahābhārata, why couldn’t they incarnate as humans instead? Again, it is only the ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ that becomes our refuge!
The answer lies in Nandi’s curse. The great devotee of Śiva viz. Nandi many times remains monkey-faced with a human body. When Rāvaṇa landed on Kailāśa, he beheld Nandi with a monkeyface and laughed mockingly. In response to such insult, Nandi cursed him saying, “Monkeys like unto myself in form, endued with prodigious strength, shall be born to destroy thee and thy race!” To fulfill this curse, the celestials had to incarnate as Vānara-s! This is found in chapter sixteen of Uttarakāṇḍa!
II. The 24,000 verses checkmark and Gāyatrī encoding
Well, the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa itself tells us in the Bālakāṇḍa that this epic was composed in 24,000 verses in SEVEN Kāṇḍa-s as stated in the verse here. Then why do we have doubts? If we remove the Uttarakāṇḍa, the resultant text of six Kāṇḍa-s wouldn’t add up to 24,000 verses.
Secondly, why 24,000 verses? Vālmīki composed the Rāmāyaṇa by beginning the first letter of every bunch of thousand verses with a letter of Gāyatrī mantra. We know the Vedic Gāyatrī mantra has 24 syllables, and thus Rāmāyaṇa has 24,000 verses. If we discard Uttarakāṇḍa as interpolation, then the Gāyatrī encoding will break. This proves Uttarakāṇḍa is authentic!
“चतुर्विंशत्सहस्त्राणि श्लोकानामुक्तवानृषिः |
तथा सर्गशतान् पञ्च षट् काण्डानि तथोत्तरम् ||” (VR 1:4:2)
“Sage Vālmīki composed the Rāmāyaṇam in twenty-four thousand verses consisting of five hundred cantos in six kāṇḍas and also Uttarakāṇḍa.”.
Let’s look at the verse below, it clearly talks about Vālmīki composing Rāma’s later acts in Uttarakāṇḍa. This verse taken from Bālakāṇḍa exists even in the “Critical Edition” of Rāmāyaṇa.
“अनागतं च यत्किञ्चिद्रामास्य वसुधातले |
तच्चकारोत्तरे काव्ये वाल्मीकिर्भगवानृषिः ||” (VR 1:3:39) #ThisExistsinCEAlso
“Divine sage Vālmīki composed events yet to happen on this earth in the history of Rāma in Uttarakāṇḍa.”
III. Bālakāṇḍa testimony of banishment of Sīta
Now, let’s see references to Uttarakāṇḍa from the Bālakāṇḍa itself. Sīta’s banishment is clearly mentioned in Bālakāṇḍa itself, that would form a part of the Uttarakāṇḍa. The verse given below is found in the CE too.
“प्रेषणं वायुपुत्रस्य भरतेन समागमम् |
रामाभिषेकाभ्युदयं सर्वसैन्यविसर्जनम् |
स्वराष्ट्ररञ्जनं चैव वैदेह्याश्च विसर्जनम् ||” (VR 1:3:38) #ThisExistsinCEAlso“
(He described) Rāma’s return to Ayodhyā, the reunion with Bharata, the festive occasion of Rāma’s coronation disbanding the entire forces, keeping his subjects happy and banishing Sīta (in the forest).”.
The traditional commentators such as Maheshvara Tirtha, Govindaraja et al have also considered the above verses as talking about the Uttarakāṇḍa events and there is no difference in opinions anywhere.
So, would people choose to call the Bālakāṇḍa also as interpolated for supporting the Uttarakāṇḍa to be valid? That’s why I have stressed upon the “Critical Edition” retaining those verses.
IV. Bālakāṇḍa laying seeds of Uttarakāṇḍa through Lava-Kuśa
Bālakāṇḍa’s chapter four itself starts with the Lava and Kuśa singing Rāmāyaṇa ballad as learned in Vālmīki’s hermitage. Now if Uttarakāṇḍa didn’t happen, then it wouldn’t bring clarity as to why Lava-Kuśa were in the sage’s hermitage. Hence, Uttarakāṇḍa events are correct.
Rāmāyaṇa has an excellent screenplay like our modern-day films – it begins with a current tale (Lava-Kuśa narrating Rāmāyaṇa) and takes us into a flashback (actual Rāmāyaṇa tales of the past), and brings us back to present again in Uttarakāṇḍa. Who could do such an excellent screenplay or direction than the Ādikavi himself?
Here Rāma doesn’t refer to Lava-Kuśa as his sons, he believes them to be “hermits” who have “kingly features”. In the very same 4th chapter of Bālakāṇḍa, Lava-Kuśa is trained by Vālmīki to recite the ballad and they are sent to recite it all over the state. They reach Rāma’s kingdom and recite it in front of him. Rāma praising them says the following words to Lakṣmaṇa (again please note that this verse exists in CE also).
“इमौ मुनी पार्थिवलक्षणान्वितौ
कुशीलवौ चैव महातपस्विनौ |
ममापि तद् भूतिकरं प्रचक्षते
महानुभावं चरितं निबोधत ||” (VR 1:4:35) #ThisExistsinCEAlso
“These two saint-like Kuśa and Lava, who also possess kingly features, but they are great hermits… this narration is endowing good fortune to me also, listen to that great efficacious legend [of Seetha…]” [So said Rāma to those courtiers.]”
Why didn’t he directly say, these two “sons of mine”? – It is a point to ponder. It is food for thought!
Rāma becomes disturbed on remembering Sīta, and the Ballad which was glorifying Sīta’s tale (sītayāh caritaṃ mahat) brought tranquility to his mind. why would this happen if Rāma had not abandoned her as per the Uttarakāṇḍa tale? Again, one may please note that this verse exists in CE also.
“ततस्तु तौ रामवचःप्रचोदितावगायतां मार्गविधानसम्पदा |
स चापि रामः परिषद्गतः शनैर्बुभूषया सक्तमना बभूव ||” (VR 1:4:36) #ThisExistsinCEAlso
“Then those two singers, motivated by Rāma’s words, sang the ballad in maarga system, for they are well versed in it, then even Rāma, who is also in the congregation, again to pacify his mind, [for the story of Seetha puts his mind to turmoil,] became interested at heart [to continue listening Seetha’s story…]”
V. Why Rāmopākhyāna of Mahābhārata didn’t include Sīta’s banishment?
Firstly, the Rāmāyaṇa is NOT a tale with a happy ending. Rāmāyaṇa is a ‘mokṣa śāstra’ which takes us to extreme ‘Vairājña (dispassion)’ on the world via the path of ‘grief’. And then when such extreme grief occurs which gets transformed into Vairājña, our hearts remain immersed only on Rāma and NOT in this world.
Pāṇḍava-s were already in deep sorrow having lost their kingdom, for having got banished unrighteously, and even having their wife abducted by Jayadratha (whom they rescued and got her back though), etc., Therefore telling them Rāmāyaṇa was to boost their morale, to give an example of how in the past even Rāma was exiled and finally got his kingdom back. The narration of Uttarakāṇḍa would have defeated the very purpose of telling Rāmopākhyāna to them.
Secondly, we have seen that the reference of Śaṃbuka is there in Mahābhārata. So, that makes it clear that Uttarakāṇḍa was authentic.
Thirdly, the sage Jaimini who was a disciple of Vyāsa, also wrote a short Mahābhārata especially the ‘Aśvamedha Parva’. There he references Uttarakāṇḍa’s Lava-Kuśa fighting with Rāma while comparing Arjuna and his son Babhruvāhana who were fighting for Aśvamedha horse. That again makes the Uttarakāṇḍa authentic!
Fourthly, the story of Rāvaṇa violating his daughter-in-law viz. Rambhā and consequently getting cursed by her fiancé Nalakūbara is actually from Uttarakāṇḍa of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. This story has a cross-reference in Mahābhārata as seen earlier.
All these tell us that Uttarakāṇḍa events do have cross-references in Mahābhārata as well as Purāṇa-s. Just because Sīta’s banishment is not narrated in Mahābhārata, that doesn’t make the Uttarakāṇḍa of Rāmāyaṇa an interpolation. Such conclusions arise only out of inadequate readings of the scriptures.
In short – It is simply not possible to do away with ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’!
VI. The ‘pāṭḥa vidhi’ followed by devotees often culminates with Yuddhakāṇḍa
Well, some people had claimed in the past that if ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ was authentic, then why do devotees in their household recite Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa only till ‘Yuddhakāṇḍa’? And why do even the traditional scholars give discourses only till ‘Yuddhakāṇḍa’ and finish it there? Their argument was that because of a certain ‘pāṭḥa vidhi’ followed by devotees, which generally excludes ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’, is evidence that the book is an interpolation.
Well, that is not so! In Andhra Pradesh, we have excellent traditional scholars who have given discourses on the Uttarakāṇḍa also.
There is no ‘pāṭha vidhi’ prescribed by Vālmīki saying, “One should recite Rāmāyaṇa only till the Yuddhakāṇḍa and close it there!”. The ‘Pūrva Rāmāyaṇa’ had a ‘logical closure’ at the end of Yuddhakāṇḍa, hence a ‘Phalaśruti’ was included there. It doesn’t say there is no further Kāṇḍa-s to it. People usually stop reading Rāmāyaṇa at ‘Yuddhakāṇḍa’ itself. That is just simply one ‘pāṭha vidhi’ followed by them.
Similarly, among devotees, there is another ‘pāṭha vidhi’ followed which is – “just to recite ‘Sundarakāṇḍa’”, and learned people say, “Sundarakāṇḍa pārāyaṇa itself is enough”. Does that make us conclude Sundarakāṇḍa alone is authentic Kāṇḍa and not others? Certainly not! That is the ‘greatness’ of that Kāṇḍa which needs to be understood from such a statement.
Similarly, the procedure to do ‘pārāyaṇa’ till Yuddhakāṇḍa is ‘yet another procedure’ only; but not the conclusion.
In fact, “UttaraKāṇḍa” alone can be recited separately, hence it alone has earned a name “Uttara-Rāmāyaṇa”, no other Kāṇḍa is called “Rāmāyaṇa”, they are ‘Kāṇḍa-s’ only. Only the Uttarakāṇḍa is termed “Uttara Rāmāyaṇa” which also confers high benefits on the reciters.
So, just based on the ‘popularity’ of the ‘pāṭha vidhi’ adopted by the multitude in Kaliyuga, we cannot consider that as a ‘prescription’ of Vālmīki. It is just a procedure followed by different people.
Hence, by all means, Uttarakāṇḍa is also a valid ‘Kāṇḍa’ to be included in Rāmāyaṇa.
Before we close, I would like to quote my scholarly friend Shri Nithin Sridhar Ji, who says, “Even if we assume that Uttarakāṇḍa was indeed written at a later stage, even then, the very back that commentary tradition has commented upon and that all manuscript evidence has it, plus the critical edition which reconstructs the oldest approximate version possible from manuscript evidence, even they have Uttarakāṇḍa. So, whether Vālmīki wrote it or not, as an Itihāsa, Uttarakāṇḍa is a pramāṇa as much as the other Kāṇḍa-s”. His advice is correct — For the ‘Āstika-s’ whether Uttarakāṇḍa is authentic or interpolated, wouldn’t matter; and for the skeptics, any number of supporting evidence would always be insufficient. Somewhere we’ll have to break this tug of war. Therefore, as Āstika-s we need to take what our Ācārya-s taught us and continue our Sādhanā!
VII. External blog by other Dhārmika writers
Here is an excellent blog where the author Sri Varun Pandey has refuted many more claims of the Pūrvapakṣa and established beautifully the Uttarakāṇḍa’s authenticity. This is a MUST READ and is strongly recommend.
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