Did Rama rule for 11 000 years?
by Jayasree Saranathan on 03 Oct 2020 2 Comments

One of the intriguing issues of Ramayana is that it says that Rama ruled for 11,000 years. His father Dasaratha also was said to have lived for 60,000 years. Information like this makes the ‘rational’ one dismiss the very history of Rama.


There is nothing irrational or fictional about it if we know some basics of Time computation in olden days. First of all, the basic life term for any man is 100 years and it is the wish of any blessing in Vedic parlance. The blessings given by elders when one prostrates is of Vedic origin (of satya yuga). It is “Shatamaanam bhavathi shataayu: purusha:…” to invoke 100 years of life for the one so blessed. This blessing is repeated in several places in the Upanishads too.


When one performs the daily midday supplication (noon part of Sandhyavandana), the individual prays to the sun when he is in full bloom that he may be blessed to see him for a full life of nearly 100 years. (“PashyEma sharada: shatham… jIvEma sharada: shatham.. etc.) The prayer is for 100 years and this prayer also has its origin in Vedic yuga.


Brahma deva is said to live for 100 years in his time scale. Therefore 100 is the standard year duration for longevity. Since man is at a micro cosmic scale of the Cosmic god Brahma, and though man’s life is shaped by the influence of each of the nine planets which runs into a total period of 120 years, this span is roughly around 100 years only.


When the maximum life span of man is expected to be 100 years, why did they say that Rama lived for 11,000 years? Did Rama live for so many years? No. In Ramayana itself we come across a reference to a maximum life span of 100 years only.


In Sundhara khandam (sargam 34), on seeing that Hanuman has come to redeem her distress, Sita says, “yethi jivantha aanandham naram varshashathadhabhi”. (If only a person were to live for a 100 years, he would sure have ‘aanandham’ sometime even after 100 years.) Here ‘if only a person lives for a 100 years’ makes it clear that the average lifespan of a person in Threta yuga (Sita’s times) was not in 1000s of years- but only to a maximum of 100 years! If so, why the talk of life of thousands of years?


This can be interpreted in two ways – one by the way of Time (Yuga) calculation used in those days and another the philosophical way.


The Yuga calculation


There are 10 types of calculation of time of which the Chatur yuga calculation is one. In Jyothisha sastra, a text is identified by means of Time calculation used. Any Siddhantic text will start from Kalpa. The author of a Siddhanta will have to mention the time of his text in the broader concept of Time starting from Kalpa. This is to say that if you happen to read a text referring to the time of writing counted from Kalpa, then know that what you are reading is a Siddhantic grantha.


Similarly any grantha on Tantra will have references to the Yuga in which it was written or about which (Yuga) the principles are given. Aryabhateeyam is a Tantra grantha, because the author gives the time of writing counted from the beginning of the nearest Yuga, namely Kali yuga. Similarly, any Karana grantha will talk about time starting from the nearest Shaka (Vaikrama or Shalivahana). It is all about the context in which the yugas are discussed.


Again the very term Yuga is used in various ways. In any Vedic ritual, the term Yuga refers to the five-year duration or five-year Yuga and not the chatur yuga.


Each year of this Yuga is given a name as Samvatsara, Parivatsara, Idavatsara, Anuvatsara and Idvatsara. This was the basic classification used in daily life. At the same time the Maha yugas are also used in the context of worship to devas and pitrus. That is on galactic scale and measured in terms of planetary movement. The details of that are given in Siddhanta texts. The basis of that is the solar year.


However, for religious purposes the year was reckoned from Uttarayana, the details of which are found in Rig Vedanga Jyothisha. Jupiter was the basis of that counting. 12 rounds of five years (60 years) make one yuga in Jupiter cycle. Each of the five years is known as a Yuga of Jupiter and 12 Yugas of Jupiter make 60 years named after Prabhava, Vibhava etc., but starting from Vijaya.


Thus we find two types of time-reckoning in the Vedic society in those days - one, solar year based Siddhantic time which incorporate Chatur Maha Yugas counted for a day of Brahma (Kalpa) and another, the Jupiter Yuga of 60 years whose basic unit is five year Yuga for religious austerities.


Today this system of 60 years is used for solar years. In absence of adherence to Vedic way of life we have given up five year Yuga of Jupiter cycle, but use the year names of the Jupiter cycle. We continue to use the two in any religious activity. We start from Siddhantic Kalpa and continue with the year name and Ayana (of five year Yuga) and the subsequent smaller divisions of time.


A basic feature of the five year yuga is that it is a twin - an ascending two and a half years and a descending two and a half years. This is enumerated on the basis of the meeting point of the Sun and the moon once they start from a same point. In two and a half years the Moon goes an extra month. So it is expunged as an Adhika masa by which the next month starts at the same point both in solar and lunar cycle.


The very word Yuga means twin. The five year duration is a Yuga because it has an ascending and descending phase of time as reckoned from the sun and the moon. Even the Siddhantic Yuga is a twin. One may recall the sankalpa mantra stating ‘Kali yuge Pratame Paade’ which refers to the 1st paada of Kali yuga (called Utsarpini) which is the 1st half of Kali Yuga. So there are two padas in Kali Yuga. It must have been so for the other Yugas too (Krita, Treta and Dwapara)


In Jyothisha, even rasis are referred to as Yugma rasis. Yugma is derived from the word, Yuga which means two sided. Anything two sided is a yuga. And time is perceived to be a twin - up and down, ascending and descending. The basic unit of Time is a day. And a day has a day time and an opposite of it, namely night time. Therefore the day and the night forms a Yuga - i.e., Ahoratra is a yuga.


The Ayanas (Uttarayana and Dakshinayana) also constitute a yuga. In this context, there is a padhatiAhoreva samvatsar” It means  - the day-night (Ahoratra) form a year because the year also is a Yuga formed by 2 ayanas with Uttarayana as the day time and Dakshinayana as the night time.


Let me quote the authority for this from Mahabharata. By the 13th day of the Exile period, Bhim told Yudhisthira that 13 days are equal to 13 years for one who is steadfast in his observance of vows of the Vedic life. Since Yudhisthira was leading such life he can be said to have completed 13 years.

[Mahabharata, Vana parva – section 52; http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03052.htm]


Bhim to Yudhisthira:- O Bharata, it is also said by those versed in morality that one day and night is, O great prince, equal unto a full year. The Veda text also, exalted one, is often heard, signifying that a year is equivalent to a day when passed in the observance of certain difficult vows. O thou of unfading glory, if the Vedas are an authority with thee, regard thou the period of a day and something more as the equivalent of thirteen years.

[Mahabharata - 3-49; http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/mbs/mbs03049.htm]


21) tatha bharata dharme?u dharmajñair iha d?syate

ahoratra? maharaja tulya? sa?vatsare?a hi

22)                       tathaiva veda vacana? sruyate nityada vibho

sa?vatsaro maharaja pur?o bhavati k?cchrata?

23)                        yadi veda? prama?a? te divasad urdhvam acyuta

trayodasa sama? kalo jñayata? parini??hita?


Every day a person is born anew with the sunrise. Coming to live to see the next sunrise is like having finished one year and starting another year. That is the import. If we consider the most basic classification of Ahoreva samvatsar, each day is a samvatsar or a year. If we say that Rama ruled for 11,000 years, according to this calculation, he had ruled for 31 years!! (11000 / 360 on the premise that the sun moves at the rate of 1 degree a day).


Look at Rama’s life. From Sita’s version in Sundara kanda we know that Rama went on Vanavasa in his 25th year. 25+ 14 years in exile = 39. He ascended the throne on his 39th year. If he is to have ruled for 11,000 years, then according to Ahoreva samvatsar, it comes to 31 years. Add 31 years to 39 when he ascended the throne. That means he ruled till his 70th year! This is how we have to interpret.


Rama was not alone in terms of 1000s of years of life, even the Pandyan King “Maakeerthi” (who presided over the Assembly where Tol Kappiayam was inaugurated) was praised as having ruled the kingdom for 24,000 years which means he was on throne for 66 to 67 years.


Rama’s father Dasaratha was said to have lived for 60,000 years. This is just beyond any calculation, but this was told to express his old age. Rama was a late child and Dasaratha was very much older when Rama was ready for throne. A phenomenal age was given to Dasaratha to drive home the point that he was already old. If such age is to be taken at face value, then his wives also must have lived for tens of thousands of years, but nowhere it is told so.


Similarly, all the three brothers of Rama were born around the same time and left the world around the same time. If it is true that Rama lived for 11,000 years then his brothers also must have lived for so long. But that is not being told anywhere. Therefore we have to use our discriminatory sense of perception and interpretation while dealing with such intriguing references or passages, impossible to reason out. While interpreting the past we have to bear in mind the age of the earth and age of life for which we have Surya Siddhanta guidance. If we are to take the meaning as we know it at face value in our limited perception, then we will be in for wrong conclusions. Not only that, we will be also making this vast body of knowledge of Vedanta and Vedanga put to ridicule.


Philosophical way of calculation


In Ramayana, Narada tells Valmiki, “raamo raajyam upaasitvaa” - Rama rajyam for 11,000 years. What does this mean?

dasha varSa sahasraaNi dasha varSa shataani ca

raamo raajyam upaasitvaa brahma lokam prayaasyati (1-1-97)


“On reverencing the kingdom for ten thousand years plus another one thousand years, [i.e. for a total of eleven thousand years,] Rama voyages to the abode of Brahma... [1-1-97]


Comment: In rama raajyam upaasitvaa... the word upaasana is not ruling by sceptre but ‘reverentially idolised the kingdom...’ as one would regard or treat his personal god with reverence. Rama thus reverenced his kingdom as a devotee of his subjects and this is the concept of raama raajya.


The commentary above puts the entire issue in a different perspective!!


Rama established Raama rajyam for 10,000 + 1000 years after which He left for His Abode. Raama rajyam stands for Rama’s ideals in different spheres of life and governance. Even at the time of Vaali vadam it is said that since the entire earth was under Ikshvahu hold, Rama was bound to establish its dharma by slaying Vaali. It is well known that the entire land mass was not under Ikshvahu dynasty. This implies that the dharma, the ideals and the value systems which the dynasty stood for, were followed throughout the land mass. In that way, Rama Rajya dharma will live for 11,000 years.


It is often told that Rama’s story will live as long as Himalayas and the Ganga will live. Rama Rajyam or Rama’s memory will be there till Ganga flows. Perhaps Ganga will flow for 11,000 years after Rama’s birth! Today scientists accept that Ganga will vanish one day. We find reference to this in other olden texts too. Rama-Rajya dharma will live as long as Ganga flows in this land.





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