The memory of “60,000 and 11,000 number of years” in Rāmāyaṇa
A memory of an unremebered “Daśaratha” from post Toba volcanic eruption time — 72000 BCE
After writing an essay about Hanuman’s memory of Swati nakshatra (read it here), I pondered whether humans could recall such a painstaking recollection of a distant event that occurred when some nakshatra was in a different location. Since in oral tradition, it is possible that the event were recorded in certain time and due to keen monitoring the changes felt were also recorded. Numerous words (nouns) have histories of potential diachronism, as shown by onomastic investigations, in addition to their semantic meaning of Sanskrit verb roots. The same verbroots can have different meanings when expanded with the help of upasarga etc. Some words potentially contain history ( like river names, etc). Similar to, how onomastic analyses of words indicate a significant period of time and their historical nature, it appears that some mathematical expressions are not just philosophical expressions but may also include the history of specific numbers of years elapsed.
We come accross two phrases that Daśaratha has lived for 60000 years and for Rāma who will live for 11000 years. What do they mean or what are these verses trying to say? Why Valmiki would use different numbers for different people? It it were phraseology then 60,000 years would have sufficed well for Rama also.
The Phrases — just phraseology or brief assessment of time
ष्टिर्वर्षसहस्राणि जातस्य मम कौशिक।।1.20.10।।
दु:खेनोत्पादितश्चायं न रामं नेतुमर्हसि।
ṣṭirvarṣasahasrāṇi jātasya mama kauśika।।1.20.10।।
du:khenotpāditaścāyaṃ na rāmaṃ netumarhasi।
O scion of of Kusika family, sixty thousand years have passed since I was born. Rama was born to me after a great deal of suffering. It is not proper to take him with you.
daśa varṣa sahasrāṇi daśa varṣa śatāni ca ।
rāmo rājyam upāsitvā brahma lokam prayāsyati।।1.1.97।।
दशवर्षसहस्राणि दशवर्षशतानि च ।
रामो राज्यमुपासित्वा ब्रह्मलोकं प्रयास्यति ।।
Rama, reigning the kingdom for eleven thousand years, will attain Brahmaloka.
Lets understand the 60,000 year phrase first. Do you remember Phantom series? Such narratives come from the memories and histories by themselves.
These stories come alive due to the similar name bearings in the monarchial system. Something like Rāma Kings of Thailand. All the kings of Chakri dynasty call themselves Rāma.
I don’t say that all were called Rāma for 11,000 years post Rāmāyaṇa, or may be probably they were called, we may never know. But just like for a long time Ikṣvākus were called Rāghava (a long distant predecessor). A king who was remembered so eminently for his deeds that Raja rAma was like Raghupati Rāghava. Such becomes the case for non rememberance of other kings who may have been significant but yet insignificant as compared to Raghu. If Rāma is remembered then due to him his immediate predecessor father and grandfather are remembered, other predecessors go into the list of unremembered members.
Now why 11,000 and not 60,000 years for Rāma.
After understanding the geographical and geomorphological condition mapping of rivers in Rg-Veda the narratives were written after some incedent that had already happened or was happening. Thus, Nairuktas had assigned the part of Rg-Veda studies as āitihāsika, since they contain Itihasa also. The condition can have been a past phenomena or is an ongoing event. Similarly uttering 11,000 years, that which will be attained, can only mean that those many years have past from the uprooting of Ikṣvāku’s main branch from this earth. We know that this was done by Mahāpadmananda.
When the 11,000 years got appended in Rāmāyaṇa?
Compare 1.15.28 with 1.1.17
दशवर्षसहस्राणि दशवर्षशतानि च।वत्स्यामि मानुषे लोके पालयन्पृथिवीमिमाम्।।1.15.28।।
‘I will’ then reside in human world ruling this earth for eleven thousand years.” Thus Vishnu assured the gods. [1–15–28, 29, 30a]
दशवर्षसहस्राणि दशवर्षशतानि च | रामो राज्यमुपासित्वा ब्रह्मलोकं गमिष्यति || 1.1.17
“Having served the kingdom for ten thousand years and another one thousand years, i.e. for a total of eleven thousand years, Rama ‘will go to’ the abode of Brahma”… [1–1–97]
Both the phrases assures that the number was not just verbatum, in fact was intentional. In the first shloka Lord Vishnu says and in the next Rama says. Now we come to a valid question, why eleven thousand years? When did the 11,000 years got appended in Rāmāyaṇa that Rāma will rule the earth for 11000 years. since it is talking about future lets see if we have any answer from future. For that matter we will have to investigat the times when thid could have been appended. We know that Mahapadma uprooted the last king of main Ikshvaku lineage. Lets understand Mahapadma and Maurya times. If Kautilya is the same Chanakaya who supervised Chandragupta Maurya then the timing is very accurately recorded by Chanakya in Arthashastra 2.20. Lets examine the times of Kautilya. (see the pic below)
21st Feb to 21st March = Vasanta’s first month=Chaitra.
Chaitra in that month would mean Chandragupta Maurya going back to 1500 BCE ± 500 years. In today’s time Chaitra has shifted to 21st day of second month of vasanta.
Now if we take the years 11,000 to be appended during the last of Ikshvaku by going with the evidence of timing given by Shri Nilesh Oak of Rāma- Rāvana yuddha-12209 BCE, just minus 11000 years to it and you get 1209 BCE. Though we don’t know how many years Mahapadma ruled still this is pretty close to Kautilya-Arthashastra reference of Maurya’s time when this verse in Rāmāyaṇa was appended.
And if 11,000 years is a truth then the mention of 60,000 years was not just a phrase, Dasharatha did utter this number with an intention to remember how old Ikṣvākus were on this earth. This time is pretty close to times of Toba explosion. There had been an Ikṣvāku Daśaratha, a long distant predecessor, just post Toba times.
- The numbers of years mentioned appears to be genuine.
- The verse 1–1–97 may have got appended during or little before Kautilya’s time.
- There had been many kings who were remembered in the name of their distant predecessors. Such a case is ruled in regard to Daśaratha also.