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Re: Fact or fiction?

From: Mohan Sagar (
Date: Mon Jan 19 1998 - 19:40:03 PST

Sri Dileepan writes:

> If we had the time and place wrong, surely that 
> should not be a big deal.  But, does it matter 
> whether Lord Rama actually made this promise
> or not?  In other words, did Lord Rama really 
> exist in this earth, or was He really a fictional 
> hero elevated to divine status by later day saints 
> who felt ennobled by the story.
I read an interesting historical/anthropological study in college, written
by one Prof. D. Raghavan, (once again, I cannot remember the title of the
work) that seems to indicate that Rama indeed was a historical character, a
chieftain of a small but prosperous kingdom centered in Ayodhya,  who
probably lived - from what I can recall reading - anywhere from 800 - 300
BC.  The story of the kidnapping of Sita was probably true, but more than
likely it was the part of a military strategy during the war, and was not
the impetus for the war.  Raghavan also suggests that the war was one of
many Aryan-Dravidian conflicts that took place in India's early history. 
There is now some controversy as to whether such conflicts between the two
races actually took place, but at the time of Raghavan's work, this was
standardly accepted.  

As to the vAnara army,  Raghavan's work suggests that Valmiki may have
actually been referring to local tribal peoples whose religious and
cultural beliefs may have involved identifying themselves in some with way
with animistic deities (this is a common belief among many indigenous
tribes throughout the world.)

So, we can therefore presume that Rama was indeed a real character.  The
question of His being the supreme Lord incarnate is, as the general tone of
our discussion would suggest, a matter of belief.  As SriVaishnavas, we
should believe this, just as true Christians should believe that Jesus, who
undisputably was also a historical character, is the Messiah.