Pondering on Ramayana - Why it is Itihaasa and not History
By Akanksha Damini Joshi
The other night i was reading one of the many Ramayanas that have come to us. It was describing the time of the birth of Rama.
The queens shone like celestials. Kaushalya gave birth to the Eternal Being in the form of a unique child.
Then came the shlokas describing the birth:
"मधुमासे सिते पक्षे नवम्यां कर्कटे शुभे । पुनर्वस्वृक्षसहिते उच्चस्थे ग्रहपञिचके ।।
मेषं पूषणि संप्राप्ते पुष्पवृष्टिसमाकुले । आविरासीज्जगन्नाथः परमात्मा सनातनः ।। "
On the ninth day of the rising moon,
Under the constellation of Punarvasu,
In the auspicious sign of Cancer,
When the five planets
Sun, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus
Were in the ascendant,
Sun was in the sign of Mesha,
Amidst a Shower of Flowers
The Lord of the World
The Eternal Being
Ok. So, I didn't really get the constellations, the signs etc. But what blew me off my feet was the darn #precision!
The rishi-rishinis knew. I mean they had the whole sky mapped out there! I bet if the Mesha fellow was smiling, even that they'd mention!
And yet. And yet. How in the world, for a people who knew the importance of timing, of precision ... How in the world did they never even mention the YEAR? Some TIMELINE respect, hanh?!
Towards the modern #historians, the archeologists, the schol-whatnot-lars ... they should have been kind, empathetic. Spending so much of their own prana - not to mention monies - trying to put Ramayana on the Historical Timeline?! Tch Tch Tch.
Oh they should've been kind! Just write one sholka no, a short one... weave it in no, just simple one, no. Let the modern man's soul rest in peace. Give him a number, a time. Please!
But NO. These rishi-rishini's are ... NOT FAIR. Everything else they got there. The yuga, the month, the moon, the hours, the positions of the stars. Everything. Minus, the year. Grr.
That is how i slept.
And then, in the middle of the night. I woke. Eureka-woke.
There it was, shining like a little jugnu, the #Why of it.
Its quite simple actually.
When you put a year to something it falls into what we could call is the notion of Linear time.
Rama was born in, say, 123456 BC. That year, once gone, become the PAST. For the people hearing of him in 123546 AD, he will be a part of the time that has #gone, chole gaiche, gayab!
Contrast this with the what the rishis weave.
Chitra maas, shulk paksha. The chaitra month, the bright face of the moon, the position of the planets, of the stars. Now, those keep coming. Again, again, again. Eternally, agelessly.
Time, does not move linear from Past-Present-Future. Time is circular. It keeps on moving like a wheel. Sansar. It keeps on repeating. Again and again and again. That repetition is #Itihaas.
Nothing, nobody is every old. or dead. or gone. Everything, everybody is being #recycled. Even the emotional power dramas. Again and again and again and again.
It is a subtle weave of this #SanatanSutra that forms the basis behind this Conscious omission.
History is linear. Itihaas is circular.
In Historical time, body is the final reality. Someone is born, he attains youth, old age, he dies.
In Itihaas, body is transient. Soul, eternal.
There is no birth of the soul. There are incarnations of the body. As this, as that. There are patterns of ego. This and that. Its joy, its sorrow. Its pride, its fall.
The latter makes the basis of what we call History. Rama goes to forest. Rama's wife kidnapped. Rama fights Ravana. Rama comes home. Rama becomes King. History. Small part of Mother Itihaas.
Who Rama is - the eternal being; how this eternal being journeys through all that is happening around him ... Itihaas.
The visit of the Eternal Being we celebrate. Again and again and again. Ever fresh, ever new. Forever, Sanatan.
We don't say How OLD is Rama, or for that matter how OLD are YOU? That is traditionally, not asked, ever. Naturally, bhai! You are eternal! :)
We are all essentially that, no?
Eternal beings. Visiting this life. Traveling through this body.
Might as well make this journey fulfilling. Not just joyous - that passes - but #Ecstatic! Again, again, again.