On understanding of “Chaitravana” in Rāmāyaṇa
Toponyms in Rāmāyaṇa
The Vanas-forest names in Rāmāyaṇa
Citraratha, Citrakūṭa, Caitravana, Aśokavana etc
The context is to understand the word Chaitravana in Rāmāyaṇa
There have been articles floating that Chaitra was happening in Vasanta during Rāmāyaṇa times and thus the times were happening during either todays time or around 24000 BCE. The context is taken from Kiṣkindhā kāṇḍa to allude to which was elaborated by Shri Nityanand Mishra in one of his blog accusing date proposed by Shri Nilesh Oak for Rāmāyaṇa as 12209 BCE. There is no question that when Shri Rāma went to Kiṣkindhā they were experiencing, himānte, Shishirante, i.e., the spring season as per the description and this has been stated by Shri Nilesh Oak in his book. Let’s understand the geography near Hampi — at Ṛṣyamūka. In todays time Ṛṣyamūka has phonetically changed to Ṛṣyamu’kh’a, a mountain. This mountain is mentioned in Rāmāyaṇa from where Rāma and Lakṣamaṇa moves towards Pampā lake which is an abode of Sugrīva.
Description of the enchanting environs of Pampā begins from the first canto itself. We are looking for Pampā and will be matching it with today’s Pampā location. Reference to this Pampā sarovara is found in the 73rd, 74th, 75th, cantos of Aranyakāṇda and the 1st, 13th and 27th cantos of Kiṣkindhākāṇda.
tadāgaccha gamiṣyāmi pampāṃ tāṃ priyadarśanām।।3.75.6।।
ṛṣyamūko giriryatra nātidūre prakāśate।
yasminvasati dharmātmā sugrīvoṃ’śumatassutaḥ।।3.75.7।।
nityaṃ vālibhayāttrastaścaturbhissaha vānaraiḥ।
तदागच्छ गमिष्यामि पम्पां तां प्रियदर्शनाम्।।3.75.6।।
ऋष्यमूको गिरिर्यत्र नातिदूरे प्रकाशते।
यस्मिन्वसति धर्मात्मा सुग्रीवोंऽशुमतस्सुतः।।3.75.7।।
नित्यं वालिभयात्त्रस्तश्चतुर्भिस्सह वानरैः।
Come, let us go to Pampa, which is pleasing to look at. Sugriva, the rigteous self, the son of the Sun has been staying for fear of Vali at the shining Rishyamuka, not far from here.
asyāstīre tu pūrvoktaḥ parvato dhātumaṇḍitaḥ।
ṛṣyamūka iti khyātaḥ puṇyaḥ puṣpitapādapaḥ।।3.75.25।।
अस्यास्तीरे तु पूर्वोक्तः पर्वतो धातुमण्डितः।
ऋष्यमूक इति ख्यातः पुण्यः पुष्पितपादपः।।3.75.25।।
The famous mount, sacred Rishyamuka is situated on the bank of Pampa full of blossoming trees.
— Gitasupersite IIT
Arrival at Pampā and the utterance of name “Caitravana”
By the upamā-alaṃkāra of मृगशाबाक्षी ; a fawneyed lady, along with many animal’s description also leads to a peaceful sanctuary around lake PampA.
मां ह्यद्य मृगशाबाक्षी चिन्ताशोकबलात्कृतम्।
सन्तापयति सौमित्रे क्रूरश्चैत्रवनानिलः।।४।१।३५।।
सौमित्रे Saumitri, मृगशाबाक्षी a fawneyed lady, चिन्ताशोकबलात्कृतम् sinking in sorrow, माम् me, क्रूरः cruel, चैत्रवनानिलः the breeze of spring forest (vs the breeze of the wildlife sanctuary), अद्य now, सन्तापयति torments, हि indeed
‘O Saumitri “the cruel breeze of the spring forest” torments me as I am now immersed in grief in the absence of my fawneyed beloved.
— Gitasupersite IIT
Shri Nityanand Mishra translated it as under —
“Śrī-Rāma says that the cruel forest breeze of caitra month is tormenting him. He uses the inference from the slightly different reading of the commentary by Govindarāja, which says krūraścaitro vanānilaḥ/क्रूरश्चैत्रो वनानिलः, which means the cruel caitra month and the forest breeze are tormenting him.” He has done the samāsavigraha as breeze of chaitra month’s forest ( forest during Chaitramonth). To me it appeared little weired since Nandanavana, Chaitravana are common names for a wildlife sanctuary. To attempt it in sanskrit as chaitra month forest also appeared to me weired. So I attempted with the other meaning to understand the shloka with the help of various references.
— O Saumitri, “ the cruel breeze of the forest sanctuary”, torments me as I am now immersed in grief in the absence of my fawneyed beloved.
Why I say the forest sanctuary ? I arrive at it with the help of internal and external evidence of the description of Chaitravana. Read below.
(m) Name of a lunar month in which the full moon stands in the constellation Chitrā (corresponding to March-April in todays time, which is not the beginning of Vasanta/Spring in our times)
(m) One of the seven ranges of mountains (dividing the continent into Varṣas), [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]
Thus Caitravana= A wildlife sanctuary
Other references on the word Caitravana
- चैत्रवन मिथिला के पास का एक उद्यान । यहाँ तीर्थंकर नेमिनाथ दीक्षित हुए थे । महापुराण 69.54
2. दिव्य चैत्रवन ज्यों सुखद , सर्वाधिक अभिराम । त्यों यह उपवन राम का, सहज बढ़ाता काम ।
3. बक्सर को सिद्ध वन का राजा विश्वामित्र हुए जिसके द्वारा वैदिक और वैग्यानिक कार्य किया गया था । त्रेतायुग में लंका का अधिपति राण ने ताडका , मारीच का क्षेत्रों का अधिकारी बनाया था । ताडका ने चैत्रवन की स्थान देकर राक्षसी संस्कृति का कार्य करने में सक्रिय भूमिका निभाई थी और उसके लिए विश्वामित्र की वेदशालाओं को समाप्त कर रही थीं ।….यह स्थान प्राचीन इतिहास में “सिद्धाश्रम”,“वेदगर्भापुरी”, “करुष”, “तपोवन”, “चैत्रथ”, “व्याघ्रसर”, “बक्सर” के नाम से भी जाना जाता था। read here.
4. नंदनवन चैत्रवन । त्यांहूनि दिसे शोभायमान ।
आनंदवनेंसीं समान । कैलासभुवन तेंवी शोभे ॥ ३९ ॥ — श्रीएकनाथमहाराजकृत, श्रीभावार्थरामायण — सुंदरकांड॥ अध्याय सातवा ॥ रावणाचे अशोकवनात आगमन. Read here.
5. Passing beyond this forest there lies another vana (woodland) resembling Nandanavana of lord Indra and Chairaratha of lord Kubera. In the shribhavartha Ramayan we understand that Nandanavana and Chaitravana are names of sanctuary. Read here.
Other toponymy evidence
The place names like Chitradurga in the vicinity of Pampā in todays time — another physical Lakṣaṇā
Chitradurga district is an administrative district of Karnataka state in southern India. The city of Chitradurga is the district headquarters. Chitradurga gets its name from Chitrakaldurga, an umbrella-shaped lofty hill found there. Tradition dates Chitradurga District to the period of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The whole district lies in the valley of the Vedavati River, with the Tungabhadra River flowing in the northwest. (wiki)
Place name Cittirakūṭam
Cittirakūṭam (Tillai-Citamparam) refers to one of the 108 Vaishnava Divya Desam (divyadeśas or divyasthalas), located in the topographical division of Cōḻanāṭu (“Chola country”), according to the 9th century Nālāyirativviyappirapantam (shortly Nālāyiram). — Tradition would record the Vaiṣṇava divyadeśas or divyasthalas are 108. The fame of Cittirakutam didn’t just stayed till Citrakūṭa of north but has reached till the Govidaraja Temple within the Kuttan - Nataraja- Temple of Tillai, i.e., — Citamparam. Cittirakuṭam is identified with Citrakūṭa where Rama stayed in the forest. These are few ethnographic memories of place-names replicated in different geographies. The original of this temple is supposed to be in the West Car Street in Chidambaram. This name appears to bear a memory of yet another Cittirakūṭam of the southern India which eventually changed to Chitradurga district.
In ancient times, there were many Chitrakūṭa, Chaitravana and Chitraratha Vanas along pan India. From all of the above descriptions, Lakṣaṇās, I have come to the conclusion that Caitra in “Caitravana” has nothing to do with Chitra Nakshatra or the spring month of Chaitra with Vana; it is simply the name of a wildlife refuge or sanctuary.