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I would like to know the opinion of historians on the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. I can accept that they are excessively exaggerated and glorify people as Gods, but are they totally fiction? Do we have corroborative archaeological evidence to say that they are not pure fiction?

If they are real, what is the approximate time of their occurrence? I seem to remember from John Keay's History of India that Mahabharatha could have predated Ramayana. Is this possible and is there a consensus on this?

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Let's please try to focus the answers on the following question: "Do we have corroborative archaeological evidence to say that they are not pure fiction?" If this turns into a bunch of specualtion and opinion then we will have to close the question. –  Steven Drennon Nov 1 '12 at 11:48
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"Do we have corroborative archaeological evidence to say that they are not pure fiction?"—Prove me wrong. –  Samuel Russell Nov 1 '12 at 11:55
    
Agree with @SamuelRussell, this kind of wording cannot be accepted. –  Lohoris Nov 6 '13 at 17:26

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Given that both are thought to date back to the 4th or 5th centuries BCE, and the poetic verse structure strongly implies a long history as an oral tradition before it was committed to writing, this would be very much like asking how true the Iliad is.

The purpose of epic poems is not really to act as a historical document like we think of them today. The purpose is to tell a good story, and perhaps also teach a few lessons. For instance, it is common that they include a hero that is meant to "embody the values of the civilization".

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Doubtless some of the places mentioned in the various Vedic verses exist too. That doesn't really change my point. –  T.E.D. Nov 4 '12 at 2:24
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@DVK - Troy was found, Achilles and Ajax were not. –  RI Swamp Yankee Nov 9 '12 at 13:42
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@DVK Many of the places mentioned in the Harry Potter books also exists. That doesn't change the fact that it's purpose is to tell a good story and teach a few lessons. –  Lennart Regebro Nov 2 '13 at 11:21
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@DVK:Yes, the main event of the Iliad is the siege and destruction of Troy. And yes, there is a city found that is probably Troy, and Troy VIIa was probably destroyed by war. But we do not know by whom, if they were from mainland greece, or even if there was a siege. We sure as heck don't know if anyone called Agamemnon was involved. Claiming that this in any way confirms the Illiad is reducing this epic poem to the statement "There was a city called Troy. It was destroyed in war". That's a pretty unfair reduction of the Illiad. –  Lennart Regebro Nov 2 '13 at 13:56
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Troy, Illiad or whatever epic poems, there are no living cultures based on those epics. The case is different here, India, having the second largest population in the world is following the culture from Ramayana or Mahabharatha for thousands of years. So comparing Ramayana or Mahabharatha with above mentioned epic poems is not sensible at all. –  AskingStory Nov 7 '13 at 16:58

I doubt anyone can tell if its a pure fiction or not. As @T.E.D. mentioned, these stories were recited in the early days and were transferred from one generation to another generation. Since you know the story, you can make a lot of references to the places mentioned to the present Indian cities. There are lot of things in the Vedas, Hinduism and the Indian history that are told to be true but do not have a proof. It is upto you to decide if you actually believe in them or not.

Putting that aside and thinking it from a different perspective, All the Indian mythological stories were trying to teach you the Meaning of Life and your existence in this world.

Also refer to this link

the meaning of life is tied up in the concepts of karma (causal action), sansara (the cycle of birth and rebirth), and moksha (liberation). Existence is conceived as the progression of the ātman (similar to the western concept of a soul) across numerous lifetimes, and its ultimate progression towards liberation from karma.

From what I understand, History is written or recited so that the future generations will not make the same mistakes and will lead a better life :)

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exaggerated stories or pure fiction? I will say exaggerated stories at most, but never a fiction or imagination. Let me give you a strong prove.

Given current technology and resources if you are said to predict the position of planets and moon you will need to go to atleast 6 decimal places to predict accurately to 99.99%. At that times it would have been impossible to predict (very very accurately) position say 100 years in past?

The thing I want to say that all given position have been scientifically verified and also the gap between them.

quotes test--> Astronomical evidences are almost in par with the references quoted in Mahabharatha. Planet positions are very clearly described during a number of events and that corresponds with modern astronomical analysis. Archeological researches though not in full potential have started to show positive results. Moreover thousand and thousands of inter-related stories which I believe is practically impossible to imagine. Geographical descriptions are incredible and cities established by many kings were noted in detail.

In the late 1980s divers of the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, led by leading archaeologist S.R. Rao discovered Krishna’s sunken capital Dwarka, precisely at the place in Gujarat where Krishna mentioned it was located. Palaces, pillars, fort walls, a port, anchors, and various artefacts have been discovered. This is perhaps the first instance in modern Indian history that a historical fact was established through scientific methods. It establishes the fact that Krishna existed. So the Mahabharata was true, and since it mentions incidents from the Ramayana, then doesn’t it prove that Rama also existed?

The wonderful thing about the Ramayana is that when Valmiki wrote the epic, he made it idiot-proof. He packed so much information about the various planetary positions of those days, the geography of the areas mentioned in the epic, the seasonal events, and about the genealogy of various kings that it is virtually a no-brainer to establish the dates on which those events occurred.

Dr Vartak has taken hundreds of illustrated passages from the epic to establish dates. Valmiki records the birth of Rama as Chaitra Shuddha Navami (9th), on Punarvasu Nakshatra and five planets were exalted then; Sun in Mesha up to 10 deg., Mars in Capricorn at 28 deg., Jupiter in Cancer at 5 deg., Venus in Pisces at 27 deg. and Saturn in Libra at 20 deg. (Bala Kanda.18/Shloka 8,9). December 4, 7323 B.C. therefore is the date of birth of Rama, when the four planets exalted. Ramayana occurred over 9300 years ago.

Stars shift position too vis-a-vis the earth so the star field we see in the night sky is not what the ancients saw 9000 years ago. This is called precession and has to be factored into all calculations. The idea is to back up astronomical data with other reference points regarding geography (like how many of those eclipses took place over Ayodhya) and reduce the probability of error.

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None of this makes any sense. You also assume that the astronomical readings are super-exact with no evidence that they are. –  Lennart Regebro Nov 2 '13 at 11:25
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You should link to archaeological research you mentioned –  DVK Nov 2 '13 at 11:56
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If you are not ready to accept the facts, none of them make sense. If you have any doubts, why can't you just google about Dwaraka and get the details of that research? Else just come to India, you can research on this yourself in the state Gujarat... –  AskingStory Nov 5 '13 at 3:58

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