Do we have original ‘Valmiki Ramayana’ & ‘Vyasa’s Mahabharata’?

Recently, on ‘Itihasa’ thread, Shri Vedveer Arya ji wrote…

Valmiki was the earliest poet who wrote Adi Kavya Ramayanam. He is referred to as Adi Kavi because he wrote a Kavya based on historical subject. Unfortunately, the available Valmiki Ramayana is not the original one because it is stated in Yuddha Kanda that this poetry (Ramayana) was written by Valmiki in ancient times (Puraa idam Valmikina kritam). Seemingly, someone has recomposed and edited the available Ramayana during Gupta period.

My response…

I object to the very method employed in developing conclusions.  This is not a new method. It is been employed by Videshi Indologists and their Indian sepoys for at least last 200+ years.  The method has predetermined and thus specific agenda/goal and the method only focuses on arbitrary and selective evidence that support the agenda/goal set while ignoring and discounting all evidence that would falsify the very agenda/goal.

Thus I responded to this note of Shir Vedveer Arya ji  as follows:

“It is not unusual that the notes of commentators also get copied when next set of manuscripts are generated. We can see evidence of it everywhere, and especially with epics.  No need to jump to the conclusion that what we have is not ‘original’.

In any case ….proof is in the pudding. And Valmiki Ramayana preserves enough proof (all 7 Kandas) to confirm that what we have is indeed original and consistent narration and that leads us to a time interval of at least 10,000 BCE or beyond.

Granted, there are interpolations and transcription, translation, transliteration, transposition errors. This is a trivially true fact of all of our ancient literature (and that of the world).  Fortunately, none of these errors affect our ability to know the core in the –original.”

But there are more serious problems with the claims of Shri Veveer Arya ji.   For example, I was curious to know what made him think that someone recomposed and edited the available Ramayana (Valmiki Ramayana available to us) during Gupta period.  I did not get any response from Shri Vedveer Arya ji but someone else tried to respond that only shifted the goalpost for evidence and led to further digression and the thread came to a standstill.

Shri Vedveer Arya ji did respond with his additional imaginations where he added his thought about the original nature of Vyasa’s Mahabharata we have…

As per my imagination, the authorship of all 24000 slokas of Ramayana cannot be attributed to Valmiki. It is extremely difficult to find out the original slokas of Ramayana. Vyasa wrote entire MB in 8000-10000 slokas. Probably, Valmiki might have written original Ramayana in 4000 or 5000 slokas. Since Itihasa and Purana texts were like encyclopedias, additional information has been incorporated at a later stage. All Purana texts have undergone updation during later Shatavahana and Gupta period which is evident from the Shatavahana kings list given in Puranas. Most probably, Mahabharata and Ramayana were also updated with additional slokas that project Rama and Krishna as incarnations of Vishnu. For ex. Vishvaroopa Darshan in Virat Parva and Rama as Vishnu’s incarnation in Balakanda. There are at least two slokas in Yuddha Kanda which inform us that Valmiki wrote this Kavya in ancient times. Very frequent use of Lit Lakara in many slokas also indicates that a contemporary person may not have written these slokas.

My response….

“Imagination does have a place in formation of a conjecture. However, once that is accomplished, only evidence and that too objectively testable evidence can determine the fate of the conjecture.

That is all that needs to be said about Ramayana
You write, 

“Vyasa wrote entire MB in 8000-10000 slokas”

What is the evidence in support of your conjecture?

In effect, I was saying that such claims have no meaning unless they can be backed by evidence. Vedveer Arya ji responded with the following claims:

In Adi parva, it is mentioned that Vyasa composed Jaya kavya in 8800 slokas. The same was updated by Vaishampayana in 24000 slokas and named it as Bharata.

My response…

This is factually incorrect.  To be fair, Shri Vedveer Arya ji is not the first one to make this factually incorrect claim.  Many western indologists have either deliberately or based on secondary information, have made such factually incorrect claims and they have been picked up by their indian sepoys, and are in wide circulation.  This is so widespread to the extent many well meaning Indic researchers regurgitate it frequently without bothering to check what is said in the original.

However, since the original claim was his, I wanted Vedveer Arya ji to realize the incorrect nature of his claim and thus I wrote…

“Quote the original verse and translation. The context for 8800 is very different. Same is also true for 24000 reference, i.e. a specific context.”

Vedveer Arya ji responded with the following:

there are many versions. महर्षिर भगवान वयासः कृत्वेमां संहितां पुरा शलॊकैश चतुर्भिर भगवान पुत्रम अध्यापयच छुकम II Svargarohana Parva, 5th Chapter, 46. Another Pathabheda : jayo nametihasoyam srotavyo jayamichhata (Svargarohana Parva 5.51).

A Translation of Adi Parva (I could not get the original Verse) “I am (continued Sauti) acquainted with eight thousand and eight hundred verses, and so is Suka, and perhaps Sanjaya. From the mysteriousness of their meaning, O Muni, no one is able, to this day, to penetrate those closely knit difficult slokas. Even the omniscient Ganesa took a moment to consider; while Vyasa, however, continued to compose other verses in great abundance.”. Adi Parva, 1st Adhyaya.

चतुर्विंशतिसाहस्रीं चक्रे भारत संहिताम
उपाख्यानैर विना तावद भारतं परॊच्यते बुधैः
62 ततॊ ऽधयर्धशतं भूयः संक्षेपं कृतवान ऋषिः
अनुक्रमणिम अध्यायं वृत्तान्तानां सपर्वणाम
63 इदं दवैपायनः पूर्वं पुत्रम अध्यापयच छुकम
ततॊ ऽनयेभ्यॊ ऽनुरूपेभ्यः शिष्येभ्यः परददौ परभुः
64 नारदॊ ऽशरावयद देवान असितॊ देवलः पितॄन
गन्धर्वयक्षरक्षांसि शरावयाम आस वै शुकः

2nd Adhyaya gives the complete details of every Parva’s slokas.

My response…

Let’s ignore his digression into Swargarohana parva.  Swargarohana parva repeats, partially, verses from the Adi parva, however they do not include the verses that refer to 8800 and 24000 verses.

Vedveer Arya ji did quote the Mahabharata text reference that refers to 24,000 verses but not the translation of this verse.  He failed to quote the reference that refers to 8800 verses but did quote its translation from somewhere.

We must go into the original verses, their translation and the context in order to understand what these narrations are truly saying.  Let’s do that.

Mahabharata -original

The 8800 verses referred to are referring to intricate verses filled with deep meaning that is not easily accessible to lay reader.

The 24,000 verses referred to is to the version of Mahabharata that is stripped off all portions of ‘Upakhyan’ from the 100k verse long samhita of the Mahabharata text.

But before we could get to the bottom of this confusion, Shri Vedveer Arya ji had moved the goalpost elsewhere.

Now he raised another issue (interesting by itself) but not relevant to the discussion of the length of Mahabharata (8800? 24,000? 100,000?) or the original Mahabharata.

Vedveer Arya writes….

Whatever the number of Slokas written by Vyasa but Vyasa, Vaishampayana and Ugrashravas Sutaputra lived within 100 years from the date of Mahabharata war. It is impossible to imagine that they projected Krishna as incarnation of Vishnu.

My response…

The goalpost has already been moved without resolving his claim of 8800 or 24,000 verses long Mahabharata as the original Mahabharata of Vyasa or Vaishampayana.

So , I wrote…

“so are you ready to drop the argument of Vyasa writing only 8800 verses and Vaishampayan writing only 24,000 verses? If yes. ..we can move to deification of Krishna.”

I will briefly add my response to assertion of Vedveer Arya ji, when he wrote..

It is impossible to imagine that they projected Krishna as incarnation of Vishnu.

My response…

I do not see anything impossible in folks projecting Krishna as incarnation of Vishnu, within 100 years of the Mahabharata war.

To wit,

Shri Satya Sai Baba was considered incarnation of Krishna very much within his lifetime. This is also the case with saintly personalities such as Shri Gajanan Maharaj-Shegaon, Sri Sant Jnaneshwar  and many other.

And let’s not forget the attempt to build temple of Mahatma Gandhi immediately after his death, and the plans were dismantled only when Vinoba Bhave intervened.

Shri Vedveer Arya added a note…

Additions to Itihasa and Purana texts are a fact but there were no mindless interpretations. Internal astronomical evidence must be treated as original. There may be some contradictions due to updation in various ages or scribal errors. Some unscientific statements like the life of thousands of years are also later interpolations. Therefore, every acceptance and rejection of facts must be supported by evidence.

My response…

While I agree with everything that is said in the above note, I should add that it is a trivially true fact that our ancient narratives have numerous errors – interpolation, translation, transcription, transposition, transliteration etc.  This is all true and still, by luck, it allows us to test any claims for any of these errors.  We should neither accept such errors blindly nor should we invoke such arguments, blindly, no matter how desperately we desire it for our new conjecture, theory or speculation.

It is better to leave an issue unsettled rather than settle it, in an immature fashion, in a hurry, by taking recourse to faulty methods of Videshi Indology.  Unscientific, inductive and agenda driven methods of Videshi indologists have destroyed Indic narrative immensely.  Let’s not repeat this nonsense,  no matter how genuine are our intentions to build truthful (as close to the truth as we can, realizing that it will always be a best approximation) narrative of Indic civilization.


4 thoughts on “Do we have original ‘Valmiki Ramayana’ & ‘Vyasa’s Mahabharata’?

  1. I think that Gandhari had cursed Krishna saying that Krishna, being an Avatar of Vishnu whom Gandhari had worshipped, should have prevented the fratricide. As Krishna didn’t do so, Gandhari had cursed that total Yadu Vansha will be annihilated along with Dwaraka.

    That would prove that Krishna was considered as Avatar during his lifetime only.

  2. One more angle of research is to analyse a unique mannerism of author in writing a book. Sanskrit Linguistic experts can easily comment about continuity of the style of naration in Mahabharata and Ramayana. If there is no discontinuity in narration style than it can be taken as single author book

  3. Best Example is the Sanskrit Granth written by Shri Dwaitamata Pravartak Madhvaacharya named Shri Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya. The Basis of writting of this granth is his statement that all the existing Dharma Granthas including Mahabharata have been corrupted hence the so-called truth known only to Madhvacharya came out in the form of the above Granth.

    Ancient people have propogated that the original Granth was Jaya (8000 verses) which was later assembled with additions as Bharat (24000 verses) from which Mahabharata was created with 1,00,000 verses.

    My friend has in his possession 3 manuscripts of full Manusmriti granth, he has learnt Sanskrit and various scripts. When he read these three copies, he found out that there are considerable vast differences in their texts relating to verses, matter, their placements etc.

    Bhandarkar institute is said to have prepared its own critical edition of Mahabharata based on 27 different codices which had differences.

    Vedas are in Cchanda Sahit form but there are enormous instance in various Ruchas where more than 3-4 letters are found to be missing. This is unexplained inspite of having Jataa, Krama and Ghana Pathas.

    Skanda Purana is linked to any Sthala Purana across the whole of India which is solely baseless.

    During the period of Buddhist and Jain dominance, there were considerable interpolations in Satya Dharma’s religious texts for which Aadi Shankaracharya and other Acharyas had to strive hard.

    Allopanishat {Upanishad of Allah} was written by Kanauj Brahmins to please Mughals.

    Just because any text is in Sanskrit and has come down through our ancestors doesn’t give guarantee that the text has been free from interpolations, fabrications and transformations in it through ages.

    – Tarang Deshpande.

  4. 880 verse Mahabharata theory is a defective understanding. People, who interpret that way are illogical and completely lost. Why?

    In Adiparva, Suta Maharshi says this –

    “aShTau shloka sahasrANi aShTau shlokashatAni cha|
    ahaM vedmi shuko vetti saMjayo vetti vA na vA | 1-117
    tachChokakUTamadyApi grathitaM sudRruDhaM mune |
    bhettuM na shakyate.arthasya gUDhatvAtprashritasya cha | 1-118
    sarvaj~no.api gaNesho yatkShaNAmAste vichArayan |
    tAvachchakAra vyAso.api shlokAnanyAn bahUnapi | 1-119”

    “I understand, Shuka Maharshi understands and perhaps Sanjaya may or may not understand eight thousand and eight hundred verses. Because of the hidden and deep meaning inherently being there, O saint, even today others are unable to decipher them. Even the all-knowing Ganesha had to pause a few moments. VedavyAsa composed many other verses also.”

    I do not understand how some so called scholars could commit such big blunder. If the original version consisted of only those 8800 terse verses, which others can not understand completely even today and all other verses available today are interpolations, then that implies that all of us understand only interpolations and none of the original verses! What a disaster! Please see the whole context. OK, let us assume that those somehow missed that basic interpretation. What happened to the very next sentence? – “Vedavyasa composed many other verses also.”

    Also, the critical edition specifically mentions, which is absent in many popular editions – “ekam shatasahasraM tu mAnuSheShu pratiShThitaM” (In the mundane world, one hundred thousand verses were established).

    Itihasas – Ramayana and Mahabharata are in reasonably good shape.

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