Valmiki Ramayana has two sets of chronological references that lead to two different, mutually contradictory and conflicting, outcomes….
(1) Rama was 25 years old when he left, from Ayodhya, for 14 year long Vanavas
(2) Rama was 17/18 years old when he left, from Ayodhya, for 14 year long Vanavas.
Both sets of references occur within the text of Valmiki Ramayana. Any researcher of Ramayana must make sense out of these two contradictory references and determine which of the two outcomes are correct (and other wrong).
At a minimum, a researcher must determine a most likely scenario between the two.
I am aware of five specific research efforts, where the timing of Rama’s age, when he left for Vanavas, becomes critical. This is because in all five cases, the researchers were trying to determine the timing of Ramayana.
These five research efforts are as follows:
(1) Dr. Padmakar Vishnu Vartak proposed 4 December 7323 BCE (Gregorian) as the day of Rama-Janma
(2) Late Shri Pushkar Bhatnagar proposed 10 January 5115 BCE (Gregorian) as the day of Rama-Janma (Shri Bhatnagar states this date as 10 January 5114 BCE. Keep in mind that some astronomy software would count ‘0’ as a year and others won’t. The issue is only of convention)
(3) Team of 3 researchers with initials ‘SRS’ ( Sabarathnam, Ramdurai & Sundaram) proposed 17 January 10205 BCE (Julian) as the day of Rama-Janma
(4) Nilesh Oak (yours truly) proposed 29 November 12240 BCE (Julian) as the day of Rama-Janma
(5) Shri Prafulla Mendaki proposed 1 January 5090 BCE (Gregorian) as the day of Rama-Janma. (Shri Mendaki states this date as 1 January 5089 BCE…for the same reason as that of Shri Pushkar Bhatnagar, i.e. minor issue with software convention).
While Dr. Vartak and yours truly (Oak), assert that Rama was about 17/18 years old at the time of his leaving for Vanavas, , all other researchers insist that Rama was 25 years old at this time.
However, these researchers (SRS, Bhatnagar, Mendaki) are, characteristically, silent on quoting specific references of Valmiki Ramayana that lead them to their inference/assumption.
Anyone wonders why!?
To be continued….