Ramayana – an astronomical allegory from the Age of Aries, explained

A popular belief states that Ramayana, one of the most important Sanskrit epics, dates to somewhere between the 7th – 3rd century BC. In this article, we will argue that it is significantly older. The evidence will come from astronomy.

Ramayana is a relic of the astronomical age of Aries. The age of Aries lasted for 2,160 years. During this time the spring equinox took place in the Aries constellation. The age of Aries lasted until (roughly) the year 1AD when Sun entered the Pisces, where it still resides.

Nowadays we have enough evidence that the ancients knew these astronomical cycles. A picture below illustrates how the age of Aries influenced some of the ancient cultures.

Rama – the avatar of the Age of Aries

It will be soon clear that the main protagonist of Ramayana also represents the spring equinox in Aries – the ram. The Indo-European relation between the words Rama and “ram” is therefore not a coincidence.

Rama was probably shaped on an image of an earlier deity, Vedic Agni. Agni means “fire” in Sanskrit, a word that relates to Slavic “oganj”. Moreover, in Slavic, we also have the word “jagnje“, meaning “lamb”.

With its fiery head (Sun) and riding a ram (Aries), Agni is a perfect personification of Aries constellation. The imagery of Rama is somewhat different. He is portrayed as an archer and therefore relates to Orion, one of the few human figures in the sky.

The reason for the shift and the change in imagery from Aries to Orion is as follows. During the Vedic times, Orion represented Shiva, while Agni was the constellation of Aries.

However, the spring Equinox was in Taurus (ie Shiva’s bull Nandi) and Agni was just the next constellation on the Sun’s path, a personification of the months of April / May.

With the equinox shift to Aries, Rama became the new Avatar, hence he took the role of Orion.

Rama kills Tataka – the autumn equinox shifts from Scorpius to Libra

Before the age of Aries, the spring equinox was in Taurus. The Autumn equinox was in Scorpio. Around 2,150BC the equinoxes shifted to Aries and Libra. The old belief system had to be modified to reflects these changes. And this is precisely what we see in the opening stories of Ramayana.

When Rama was fifteen years old, he killed a demon Tataka. This was a gigantic woman with a hideous face in the shape of palm leaves. Her abode was a dark forest located next to a river.

This “river” is an allegory to the Milky Way, which passes right next to the constellation of Scorpius. The “scorpion tail” could easily represent the “palm leaf” head. By slaying this monster, Rama is announcing a shift of the autumn equinox to the constellation of Libra.

On the way to slaying Tataka, Rama sees many wild beasts, particularly lions (constellation Leo). After he kills her, Rama fights with her offspring, a winged demon Maricha (Aquila – the Eagle)… Therefore, the constellations appear in order, proving that the narrative indeed relates to the stars.

Rama breaks the bow of Shiva – the spring equinox shifts from Taurus to Aries

After proving himself as a warrior, Rama sets out to win a competition for the hand of his beloved Sita. Her father proposed a challenge – only a person strong enough to bend and string the legendary bow of Shiva will deserve the hand of his daughter.

Many have attempted to accomplish the challenge and failed. Rama then manages not only to bend the bow – he bends it so hard that it breaks. Impressed, the king gives him a blessing to marry Sita.

The “bow of Shiva” is an allegory for the horns of the Taurus constellation. In the older Vedic myths, Orion was Shiva himself while the Taurus was his bull Nandi. Therefore, this metaphor would have been clear to the contemporaries of Ramayana – Rama is the new Shiva.

The breaking of the horns of Taurus is a clear annunciation of the age of Aries, the ram.

Now, with the spring and the autumn equinox redefined, the star lore of a new age can finally start.

The “bending of the horns” light-motif is actually not exclusive to Ramayana. Upon returning from his voyage, Odysseus defeats the suitors of his wife Penelope, by being the only one capable of bending the bow made of bull’s horns.

So once again we see the theme of marriage and an impossible feat of bending the bow made of horns, which only the main hero can accomplish. However, the bow of Odysseus does not break. He uses it to send an arrow through twelve axes (constellations).

This simply means that the myth of Odysseys is older and dates to the Age of Taurus, when the spring started with the Sun between the horns of the bull, while the autumn equinox was in Aquila, the double axe. Rama is the one who breaks this tradition, quite literally.

The exile of Rama – Sun moves to the Aries

After twelve happy years of marriage with Sita, Rama inherited her father’s kingdom. However, the old queen was not so eager to renounce her privileges (and those of her son Bharatha) so she convinced the old king to banish Rama for fourteen years. Sita and Lakshamana decided to join Rama in his exile.

The “twelve years” probably represent the twelve months, so we are back to the same stars representing the “marriage” theme. Indeed, if we see Rama as Orion, then Sita and Lakshmana are the Gemini, while Taurus now represents the horns of the deer. Here is how it would look in the sky:

Rama and his entourage leave the kingdom on foot, but upon reaching the river Tamasa, Rama ordered for a chariot to be yoked. The next constellation on the Sun’s path is Auriga, the chariot.

From here, they took off to the river Ganges, where Rama’s friend Gangaguha (Perseus) ferried them to the other side of the river. Once again, the allegory is very clear. All we need to do is follow the constellations on the Sun’s path, and the Ramayana imagery unfolds before our eyes.

Finally, after the Sun moves away from Perseus it comes to the constellation of Aries. This is the new “home” of Rama. Aries will mark the spring equinox for the next two thousand years.

Rama and Bharata, Sun and Moon

Soon upon Rama’s arrival to the forest, the Prince Bharata comes and informs him that the old king is dead (long live the king), and asks him to return to his kingdom and rule it. However, Rama refuses this offer, saying that he has to respect the late king’s wish and therefore he will remain in exile for fourteen years.

Bharata then asks for Rama’s sandals, to bring them back to the kingdom as a symbol of his presence. This is an allegory to the following constellation – Pisces.

In a previous example, we already saw that the years of Ramayana in fact represent months. Therefore the “fourteen years” of Rama’s exile represent the fourteen months. The period of the fourteen months is important as this is the period when the solar and the lunar cycle reconnect. Also, this is the real number of the constellations that the Sun will cross during one year (twelve zodiac signs, plus Ophiuchus and Cetus)

In this sense, Rama represents the Sun, and he is “exiled” from the kingdom of the starry sky. Every month he comes out on a background of a different constellation, going through different adventures in the process. Bharatha, the moon, keeps the Sun’s rightful kingdom in the meantime. In fact, the ancient name of India was Bharatha, while “Indu” was one of the Vedic names of the Moon.

A duel with Shurpanakha

Due to the size of the epic, it is impossible to focus on every single episode. However, after we analyze all the key events it will be easy to fill the gaps.

The next important event revolves around the visit of the main villain’s sister, Shurpanakha. She flirts with both Rama and Lakshamana, and rejected by both, attacks Sita. Lakshamana cuts off her nose and her left year and sends her back to Lanka.

The very name of Shurpanakha is a giveaway of her stellar identity. It means: “she whose fingernails are like winnowing fans”.

This means that we are back to Scorpius constellation, which kind of looks like a hand (with claws). For the same reason, this constellation was sometimes seen as a Griffin, or a Harpy (these two words are direct cognates), also famous for their claws.

In terms of the Sarmatian connection with griffins, it is interested to note that the Slavic languages of Balkan preserved the almost literate translation of the Sanskrit name: Oshtrokondza – lit. sharp-clawed.

In this encounter, Shurpanakha loses the left ear, probably the constellation of Corona Australis, while the lost nose could be the Telescopium or even Sagittarius.

The abduction of Sita part 1 – Rama hunts the golden deer

As we keep moving on through the constellations, a few skirmishes follow, over which Rama always takes the victory. The next key event is the Sita’s abduction by the main villain – Ravana.

Ravana brings the demon Maricha to his aid. We have already seen at the beginning of this epic that Maricha represents the constellation of Aquila, the eagle. Indeed, he is a winged demon, but for this occasion, he takes a guise of a beautiful golden deer.

The constellation of Aquilla lies above the Scorpius, and it marked the autumn equinox during the age of Taurus, the previous age. On the circle of Zodiac, the Taurus constellation lies directly across Aquila, and this is the whole point of the shape-shifting allegory.

The narrator is obviously telling us that we should imagine that the horns of Taurus are now the horns of a beautiful deer. Rama, or better to say Orion the hunter, is chasing him.

The abduction of Sita part 2 – Lakshamana intervenes

Eventually, Rama manages to kill Maricha, but upon his dying breath, the demon screams for help, imitating Rama’s voice. This scream alerts Sita and Lakshmana. After some persuasion by Sita, Lakshmana decides to investigate.

Before leaving Sita alone, Lakshamana protects her by drawing a magical circle on the ground around the house. He instructs her not to leave this circle at any cost.

If we start the year with the spring equinox in Aries, the second month would be that of Taurus. This month is represented by Rama chasing and killing the deer.

The third month is the month of Gemini. Once again we see that Lakshamana is related to this constellation. This time he ventures on to rescue Rama, after drawing the magic circle – the Milky Way.

And as these constellations disappear below the horizon as the year advances, we see the fourth constellation coming up – that of Cancer the crab in the modern zodiac. However, ancient cultures usually did not give too much attention to the Cancer constellation. Instead, they were focusing on the much more dominant Hydra, a multi-headed monster. The same is true of Ravana in the epic of Ramayana.

The abduction of Sita part 3 – the multi-headed Ravana

Here are a few representations of the same multi-headed Hydra:

But there is one more reason why I know that Hydra represents Ravana. Namely, by following the order of the months we arrive at the summer solstice, another extremely important astronomical event for the ancients. The two solstices and the two equinoxes form the stellar cross. These four constellations define the most important star-lore of that particular age.

Moreover, the constellations that fall under a 90-degree angle are thought to be enemies, and therefore the archenemy of the Aries simply has to be Cancer / Hydra. For a reference on how this cross looks like please refer to the first picture of this article.

The abduction of Sita part 4 – the flying chariot

Ravana uses trickery to make Sita approach the magic line and kidnaps her. They immediately take-off in his flying chariot. However, a bird Jatayu attacks Ravana. Ravana destroys it by cutting off its wing.

As advised before, we are now in the period of the summer solstice which takes place in Cancer, and the summer sky is not much different even nowadays.

The flying chariot is the constellation Auriga, the chariot. Ravana here takes the role of Perseus, who looks as if he is riding the chariot. In front of him is Andromeda, a constellation named by a girl who was about to be sacrificed to a sea monster when Perseus saves her. These two myths in fact are the same. The only difference is that in Ramayana, Andromeda represents Sita, sitting in front of Ravana in the chariot. And finally, in front of Andromeda is Pegasus, the flying horse.

The bird Jatayu is the constellation of Cygnus, that looks as if flying above them.

As we already saw, the parallels with the Perseus myth are obvious. This is of course not the only example, as this Indo-European myth appears again and again with similar symbols.

For example, Euridice dies of snakebite and goes to the underworld. The “snake” is the Hydra. The point was to explain why are the days getting shorter after the summer solstice.

Orpheus, a musician surrounded by animals, represents the Sun surrounded by the animals of the zodiac. However, during the night, the role of the Sun is transferred to Orion and he travels to the underworld and back to save his beloved. (just like Rama goes after Sita) He then takes her out of the underworld (winter solstice) but turns to looks if she follows, and she goes back to the underworld again (the circle restarts)

The motive of kidnapping is also particularly interesting. In fact, the main narrative of Ramayana is not so much different than that of the Iliad and Odyssey, and this is not a coincidence.

In the Iliad, the Hellen of Troy was not abducted by a flying chariot, but in a boat. However, these are the same constellations – Perseus and Auriga. Even in Ramayana, we have already seen Perseus as the ferryman for Rama.

The search for Sita – Slaying of Kabandha

Upon learning that Ravana kidnapped Sita, Rama and Lakshmana start the search. They first encounter a gigantic mountain that turns into a demon. This demon has no head on his neck, but one eye and a mouth on his belly. After some struggle, Rama and Lakshmana cut off his arms and then slay him.

The constellation of Ursa major had various depictions in the Indo-European world. Usually, it was a bear, a plow or a wagon, depending on the lifestyle of a tribe (forest, agriculture, or nomadic lifestyle).

But sometimes it represented a mountain and not just any mountain. Due to its proximity to the polar star, it was an image of the Axis Mundi, around which the universe rotates.

The notion of a “mountain” is further visible through the cognates Ursa-Bear and ὄρος-mountain in Greek. The Greek word “oros” is actually the same as “hora” in western Slavic languages, or “gora” in the Slavic languages of the east, and Sanskrit.

But even without all of these parallels, it is clear that the strange “head on the body” of Kabandha is visible on the Ursa Major, while the two hands are the staff of Bootes and the constellation of Lynx.

Meeting the king Sugriva

On his dying breath, Kabandha thanks them for killing him and thus removing the curse, and advises them to find the king Sugriva, who might be able to help them.

It is important to note that here the Ursa Major takes the role of Cancer constellation since we have started our journey from the Gemini. This is probably due to the fact that Cancer is not so significantly large in the sky, especially when compared to Ursa Major, which falls under the same angle.

Obviously, the next constellation is Leo, and without any doubt, it represents the king Sugriva – this is the direction that Kabandha is pointing to, and the only direction possible for the Sun to go.

The name Sugriva means “beautiful necked” and this is a clear allusion to the mane of a lion, while the main star of Leo Regulus, is probably the reason for the kingly attributes.

Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanuman

The next person that Rama and Lakshmana will meet is Hanuman, a god in the form of a monkey. Already by following the route of the constellations, we can suppose that he represents constellation on Virgo. And indeed, one of the most famous episodes from Hanuman’s life confirms this idea.

In short, when Hanuman was young, he had mistaken the Sun for fruit and tried to swallow it. The other gods stopped him at the last moment, and in the process, he lost his jaw, which fell to the Earth.

I believe that I understand this myth, and if I am correct it is truly an incredible piece of information from our past. It is not hard to imagine how the shape of Virgo resembles a playful monkey. However, Hanuman “swallowing the Sun” could only represent the period when the summer solstice was in Virgo. After the solstice, the days were shorter, symbolized by Hanuman swallowing the Sun. (for some time).

However, the summer solstice was in Virgo roughly between the seventh and the fifth millennium BC! And for Hanuman/Virgo to reach out for the Sun would mean that the Sun was even further away – closer to Leo, or even in the Leo itself, which brings us to anywhere between 10-6th millennium BC!

Seeing that Hanuman will swallow the Sun Indra hits him with a thunderbolt and he loses his jaw. The jaw falls on the Earth as a ball of fire. This enranges Vayu, the god of wind, who removes the air, and people start suffocating.

It is tempting to imagine that “the jaw” of Hanuman could have been a meteorite that hit the Earth when the spring equinox lied between Leo and Virgo.

Could this story really be a relic of such an ancient memory? A primitive description of the end of the last glacial period? Not too far-fetched, as the recent scientific articles place a similar cataclysmic event precisely in this period.

Anyhow, there is no doubt that Hanuman is Virgo. After all, he is a god of celibacy which is precisely what Virgo (virgin) means. Also, one of his names was Maruti, which sounds similar to Mitra, or Mithra of the Persians, to whose connections with Virgo I have already dedicated an entire article on this website.

Coma Berenices as the Gandhaman mountain

But just to prove a point, here is another image from a later part of a story, when Hanuman flies to the Himalayas to bring the medicinal plants, taking back the whole mountain with him. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that the pose of Hanuman is identical to Virgo, while the shape of the mountain looks exactly like the Coma Berenices constellation.

Corona Borealis as the crown of Sita

In this part of the epic Rama obtains the jewels (anklets) that Sita dropped from a flying chariot in order to mark the way. Obviously, this is the allusion to the constellation Corona Borealis, the northern crown.

The search party for Sita

After Rama helps him defeat his brother Vali and return his wife Ruma, the king Sugriva sends the search party for Sita. One group of monkeys goes North and freezes, the other gets attacked by a tiger (Leo constellation). The third one, together with Hanuman (Virgo), discovers a cave (Crater constellation) and on the other side, they meet Sampati, a wingless bird, and a brother of Jatayu bird, slain by Ravana during the Sita’s abduction.

The constellation Corvus truly looks like a wing of a bird. Here is how that allegory looks in the night sky. On the drawing, note how the ridge looks like the constellation Hydra.

The four key events of the Hanuman saga

What happens next is the story of Hanuman and his adventures on the way of rescuing Sita. As we will see, the four key events determine the four seasons of the year.

Summer – Hanuman flies trough the mouth of Surasa

Upon learning the Sita’s whereabouts, Hanuman assumes a gigantic form (Ophicius) and flies across the vast ocean until he encounters the monster Surasa. This demon has a golden eye and a wide-open jaw. She tells him that everyone needs to try and pass through her mouth. Hanuman agrees, but not before he increases his size to the maximum. As she opens the jaws to swallow him, he reduces his size to the minimum and flies through her mouth without a problem.

Here is how that idea looks on the night sky. Note how the Capricorn looks like a monster with the wide open jaws.

Now, we have to remember that a constellation is best visible on the night sky when it is opposite to the Sun on the zodiac wheel.

In other words, while the Sun is in the Capricorn, we will not really see this constellation. It will be above the horizon only during the daytime. The best time to see it is when the Sun is across, in the Cancer, during the summer solstice.

Around this period, we would witness the Capricorn swallowing the Moon for the whole month. And just as the length of the day has reached its maximum size. After that, the days will get shorter and shorter (Hanuman reduces his size) until finally, the Sun will pass through the mouth of Capricorn, during the winter solstice.

Autumn – Hanuman slays Simhika

And just as our hero finished the adventure with one of the monsters, the new one appears. Again, we see a demon with the wide-open jaws (Pisces), and again Hanuman increasing his size (Pegasus / Andromeda). However, this time Hanuman slays the monster, and it’s blood falls on the Earth as rain (The rainy season in Autumn)

Winter – Hanuman sets Lanka on fire

In the next episode, Hanuman finally reaches Lanka, talks to Sita, and allows himself to get captured. They set his long tail on fire (Hydra) and he uses it to set the whole city on fire. (the days are becoming longer)

Spring – Hanuman meets Sita

One of the most famous episodes of Ramayana depicts Hanuman (Virgo) humbly approaching Sita (Libra) who is sitting under a (palm) tree.

Just by knowing that Rama relates to Aries the Ram – spring equinox, we can deduct that Sita has something to do with the autumn equinox in Libra. And indeed, with very little imagination we can see how this time the Scorpius looks like a tree branch, over the Sita’s head (Libra) while Hanuman (Virgo) approaches from the right.

With all the three constellations we have a perfect match, so there is very little doubt that Sita relates to Libra. Moreover, her name means “furrow” in Sanskrit. According to the myth, she was found in a furrow as a child.

This is a clear allegory to the Milky Way, “the furrow” that runs behind the Scorpius constellation. At the same time, this is another major clue that we are talking about the autumn equinox, and Sita marks the beginning of agricultural work.

Rama Situ – The bridge of Rama, as the Milky Way

After all the negotiation with Ravana fail, Rama decides to fight the war and return Sita. In order to do so, he needs to reach Lanka with his army. The only way is to build a bridge. Mythology connects this Rama’s bridge, or Rama Setu, to Adam’s bridge, a natural (or semi-natural) formation, now underwater, but which once connected Sri Lanka to the mainland.

However, there is no doubt that this is a later contribution to the myth. We already saw that this whole epic is in its essence an astronomical allegory, and this episode is no different. Here is how that popular episode of Ramayana relates to the stars.

The battle of Lanka

What follows next is a battle of epic proportions. It would take too much space to describe each character here. But there are four main parts, each relating to the specific season of the year.

Summer constellations

The first battles happen in the northern part of the sky, and the main villains are:

  1. Khumba and Nikhumba – Aquarius and Capricorn (Khumba means water jug, and the name of Aquarius is Khumbha Rashi)
  2. Kumbhakarna the Giant – constellation Bootes, the shepherd. This is the same shepherd giant (Polyphemus) that Oddyseus slays, Golliath in the Bible.

Autumn constellations

Next, we move to the eastern part of the sky, Indrajit – son of Ravana (Perseus) slays an illusionary Sita (Andromeda) in his flying chariot (Auriga / Pegasus) and wounds Lakshmana (Gemini). We already saw this sky image earlier in the story, when Ravana kidnaps Sita. Now we see it repeat, but this time it is Ravana’s son Indrajit who rides the chariot.

The name “Indrajit” is a play on words, an homage to the Vedic Indra, a god of autumn thunder and the rain.

Spring constellations

In the western part of the sky, Hanuman makes a bridge from his body. This is another reference to the Milky Way. Hanuman (Virgo) lies in the middle of the path between Gemini and Scorpius, the two places where Milky Way touches the Zodiac.

Lakshmana then fights with Indrajit winged demons, and rides on one (Aquila), slaying Indrajit in his chariot on the opposite part of the sky.

Winter (and spring again) constellations

And finally, in the southern part of the sky, Rama, slays Ravana (the Hydra) with a mystical weapon – a golden chakra (The Sun). After that, we have spring again. The earth blossoms as Rama and Sita return to the kingdom of Ayodhya on a flying chariot. (Perseus, Auriga, Andromeda).

Morever, Sita enters the flames of fire in order to prove Rama her chastity. (equinox, Sun and Venus in Aries)

Conclusions

This article is already way longer then I intended, so I will just add a few ending points here:

  • I believe that I proved here, beyond a shadow of any doubt that Ramayana is an astronomical allegory above all.
  • The official dating is probably wrong. It is way older than the 6,7th century BC. A story of Rama breaking the bull’s horns would have the most sense sometime around 2,150BC.
  • Ramayana has numerous parallels with other Indo-European myths of the time, but most notably with the Iliad and Odyssey. These parallels become truly clear only once we reveal the astronomical imagery.
  • Other important parallels exist in relation to the Egyptian mythology and Christianity, but they will be the subject of another article.
  • These parallels should not surprise us if we know that Sanskrit speaking Mittani lived between Syria and Turkey in prehistory,

So what is Ramayana? An ancient epic that preserved the sacred astronomical knowledge from the time when the spring equinox was in Aries. The main protagonist, Rama is exactly the same hero as Odysseus or Jason in his hunt for the golden fleece.

The name Jason is a Greek corruption of Joshua, the first prototype of the Christian Jesus. And Rama the same – A Hindu Jesus, of a previous astronomical age.

And finally, we saw how in the same epic one constellation can have many different characters attributed to it. This can be explained in two ways:

  • Ramayana is a compilation of myths, all relating to the same events, but coming from different cultures.
  • Rama’s coming of age, the exile, the Hanuman saga and the Final battle make four key storylines within the epic. This can be an intentional, elaborate system, which formed a time measure of four years. After that there would be adjustments to the leap year. For the same reason the Greeks had Olympic games, the Hindus Kumbha Mela. Changing the narrative every year until the big festivity would insure that there are no confusions on which year it is.
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