The epic can be seen as the expression of a certain historical consciousness, even though the events which it describes may not be historically authenticated. The epic form is in origin part of an oral tradition and comes to be ‘frozen’ into a literary form at a date subsequent to that of the oral composition. It reflects a changed historical situation in which the new is looking back on the old and often doing so nostalgically. The nostalgia is, however, circumscribed by new demands. The continuity of the epic is not merely due to love mythology and legend in a particular society. Undoubtedly, the appeal of the narrative, the literary form, the evocation of imagery and symbolism and the ethical emphases, all ensure continuity: but the role of the epic in the making of a historical tradition relates more closely to its potential function in such a tradition.
The popularity and the function of the epic Rāmāyaṇa in the Vālmīki version are manifest at many historical levels. As a poetic expression it had a literary appeal which, with the spread of Sanskrit, was introduced into new areas at specific times. In turn it became the model for the development of epic genres associated with Sanskrit culture. The literary currency of the epic is apparent from allusions in inscriptional records. As a theme it incorporates the great universal ethic of the battle between good and evil with a large number of subsidiary themes relating to ethical behaviour in a range of human relationships. At a wider level it functions as a link between the classical tradition and local culture where the epic form facilitates assimilation from one to the other, for what is pertinent to the local cultures can be incorporated into the epic through fresh episodes. In the same way, the geographical horizon of the epic can be extended through the inclusion of local places as the location of the events. As even more significant development in the Rāmāyaṇa is its function as a text to propagate Vaiṣṇavism, with the transformation of the hero-prince into an avatāra of Viṣṇu. To all these may be added yet another aspect: the Rāmāyaṇa symbolizes the triumph of the monarchical state, and the epic therefore becomes a charter of validation for the monarchical state. As such it can either be used directly where validation is required by groups seeking kinship links with the hero, or else can be virtually reversed if the validation is required for those who were considered the enemies in the original story.
The present paper is concerned with this latter aspect of the role of the epic, and attempts an analysis of three major and different versions of the events included in the Rāmāyaṇa and the degree to which they can be seen as charters of validation referring to distinct and separate groups. The three versions are first, the parallels to the Rāmāyaṇa themes in the Buddhist Jātaka literature, second the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa and, finally, the Jaina version of the story, the Paumacariyam of Vimalasūri. Irrespective of when the first earliest oral tradition was current, these three versions were composed and compiled in the period approximately between the fifth century BC and mid-first millennium AD. What seems significant therefore is the question of the need for these versions and the reasons for the dissimilarities in treatment.
References to the Rāmāyaṇa as such in Buddhist sources are met with in the commentaries and in the text of the later period such as the Cūlavaṃsa. The former dismiss the epic into uncomplimentary remark that it is ‘purposeless talk’. But the Jātaka literature has many scattered fragments which echo episodes from the story. It has been suggested that these fragments or ākhyānas may have been put together in the larger epic, the implication being that both Jātaka stories and the rāma-kathā derive from a common oral tradition. That the Jātaka versions were not an attempt at an alternative version of the Rāmāyaṇa seems evident from the absence of any rewriting of the epic as such in the Buddhist tradition. The stories merely illustrate certain actions by recourse to tales familiar to a wide audience, although the details of the stories often differ from the episodes in Rāmāyaṇa. These differences are important. The Jātaka stories associated with the Rāmāyaṇa consist either of those which relate events parallel to the events of the Rāmāyaṇa or which contain verses alluding to the narrative of the Rāmāyaṇa or personalities involved in the story. The selection is therefore not arbitrary. There are some Jātakas where the reference is indirect but quite clearly to the Rāmāyaṇa itself as when a verse describes the emotion of Rāma’s mother on his exile to Daṇḍaka or the reference to Sītā’s devotion to Rāma as reflected in her accompanying her husband to exile. Rāma is described as daśaratha-rājaputta in the commentary to this Jātaka. There is also a reference to Rāmamātuposaka, an inhabitant of Varanasi who went to Daṇḍaka, a country which was being destroyed by the wickedness of the king. Other Jātakas refer to places, persons and episodes which are also mentioned in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa or can be associated with this text. Thus Daṇḍaki is referred to as the king ruling over Daṇḍaka which is associated with the area extending down to the Godavari river and its capital is at Kumbhavatī. In the ‘Ayodhyākāṇḍa’ of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Daśaratha is forced to agree to the exile of Rāma because Kekeyi invokes a boon which he had given her and the exile of his son is explained by his having to undergo the same fate as the blind parents of the young ascetic whom he had accidentally killed whilst on hunt. This episode has its parallel in the Sāma Jātaka.
The town of Ayodhyā is known but not very clearly located. On one occasion it is said to have been attacked by the Andhavenuputta, who besieged and subjugated the city and then returned to Dvāravatī. This reference to the Andhaka-vṛṣṇi clans of the Yādava lineage is echoed in Puranic records where mention is made of the Haihayas, a segment of the Yādava lineage, attacking Kośala. The city of Sāketa which arose on the decline of Ayodhyā is more frequently mentioned in Buddhist sources and is often associated with the Śākyas.
Mithilā and Videha are mentioned more frequently in the Jātaka literature. A prince of Mithilā studied together with a prince from Varanasi at Taxila. King Videha ruled at Mithilā and was instructed in the law by four sages. Suruci is referred to as the king of Mithilā in Videha. Similarly, Makhadeva ruled for eighty-four thousand years and became a monk when he saw the first grey hair on his head --- a theme often repeated in Buddhist texts. The story is further elaborated upon in the Nimi Jᾱtaka where Makhadeva is reborn as Nimi and acquires renown as one who practices all the Buddhist precepts and virtues. He is therefore invited to visit Indra’s heaven which he does for seven days making a detour via hell. Nimi also renounces the world in sighting the first grey hair on his head and his son Kalāra-Janaka becomes king. The Mahājanaka Jātaka has a long account of the ancestry and tribulations of Mahājanaka who, having lost his right to accession at birth, manages to regain his kingdom but eventually renounces his princely existence and becomes an ascetic. The descriptions of Mithilā in this Mahājanaka Jātaka are reminiscent of the description of Ayodhyā in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa as a city of considerable splendour and wealth. Elsewhere too, Videha is described as a rich land of sixteen thousand villages and with well-filled granaries and storehouses and sixteen thousand dancing girls. Names such as Nimi and Janaka occur in the Puranic genealogies of the Videha branch of the Ikṣvāku lineage. The religious and philosophical activities of these kings are not dissimilar to the descriptions of Janaka in the later Vedic literature except that in those texts the connections are with the performance of Vedic yajñas and the pre-occupation with Upaniṣadic discourses.
The Jātaka story which comes closest to the theme of the Rāmāyaṇa is, of course, the Daśaratha Jᾱtaka and this has been commented upon at length.  Daśaratha is described as the king of Varanasi. He has two sons, Rāma-paṇḍita and Lakkhana, and a daughter, Sīta-devī, from his eldest queen. After her death he raises another wife to the status of queen consort and she demands that her son Bharata be made the heir-apparent. The king, frightened that the new consort will harm the elder sons suggests to them that they flee to the neighbouring kingdom and claim their rights after Daśaratha has died, it having been prophesied that Daśaratha would die after twelve years, Sītā accompanies her brothers and the three go to the Himalaya. Daśaratha dies after nine years. Bharata, refusing to become king, goes in search of Rāma and tries to persuade him to return. Lakkhana and Sītā, on hearing of their father’s death, faint, but Rāma preaches to them on the impermanence of life. Rāma insists that he will return only after the twelve years have been completed and therefore gives his sandals to Bharata to guide him in taking decisions. Finally, Rāma returns to his kingdom, makes Sītā his queen consort and rules righteously for sixteen thousand years.
This is the essence of the story of the ‘Ayodhyā-kāṇḍa’, the second book of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. But it also carries traces of the origin myths of various kṣatriya clans, pre-eminently the Śākyas and Koliyas, described in other Buddhist sources. King Okkāka, the founder of Okkāka or Ikṣvᾱku lineage and the ancestor of the Śākyas, banished the children of his elder queen to the Himalaya and made the son of the younger queen his heir. The exiled children, four sons and five daughters, paired off and became the ancestors of the Śākyas, founding a city at Kapilavastu. The origin of the Koliyas is linked to this story and is traced back to Rāma, the king of Varanasi who was exiled because he had leprosy. He cured himself as well as the elder daughter of Okkāka, whom her brother had left in the forest. They lived together in a kol tree and became the parents of sixteen twins, the ancestors of the Koliyas. Koliyanagara was built in the site of the kol tree. The thirty-two Koliya princes abducted the daughters of their maternal uncles, the Śākyas, in the accepted manner of certain cross-cousin marriage system.
The link between Okkāka and the northern region is emphasized in both these stories and also in a Jātaka story which states that Okkāka sent for a Madra princess for his son Kuśa. On this occasion Okkāka is said to be the king of the Mallas ruling from Kuśavatī. The princess curiously has a hunchbacked nurse. The Madras were the neighbours of the Kekeyas in northern India. That the Ikṣvākus were originally based further to the west and appear to have migrated eastward to the middle Ganga Valley is implied in certain references to them in Vedic literature. In case of such migration the shorter and more likely route was probably along the foothills of the Himalaya and the northern fringes of the Ganga Valley.
At some point the lineage of Okkāka was connected with that of Ikṣvāku. The name Okkāka is said to derive from the Okkamukha because when he spoke light seemed to come from his mouth. The Northern Buddhist tradition equates Okkāka with Ikṣvāku and derives the etymology from ikṣu, sugarcane, the usual etymology in Puranic sources. Was the association with Ikṣvāku a later attempt to link the kṣatriya clans which supported Buddhism with one of the two major royal lineages of the Puranic kṣatriya tradition? This may explain why these clans are given no importance in the Puranic accounts. The relevance of Buddhist origin myths to the epic has to do with the association of these clans with the janapada of Kośala.
The theme of exile occurs more than once in the Jātaka literature, but of these the Sambula Jātaka is the closest in detail to the Rāmāyaṇa story. A prince exiles himself on the account of leprosy and his wife accompanies him. She is kidnapped by a rakkhasa in the forest, but Śakra comes to her aid and she returns to her husband. In spite of her many efforts to reassure him he remains suspicious of her chastity. Ultimately they are reconciled. It is, however, the Vessantara Jātaka which is most frequently quoted in connection with the exile theme. Vessantara, the son of the ruler of Sivi, is the epitome of the gift-giving prince since he bestows his wealth in the form of dāna on all who ask for it. Finally, he goes to the extent of gifting his famous rain-inducing elephant to the king of Kaliṅga who ask for it in order to terminate a prolonged drought in Kaliṅga. This incenses the subjects of Vessantara who banished him from his kingdom, the loss of this particular elephant symbolizing the loss of prosperity. His wife, in emulation of Sītā, accompanies him to exile. He travels to Ceta/Cedi kingdom and lives in the Gandhamadana forest. Even here he is beset by greedy brᾱhmaṇas. His children are taken away by a brāhmaṇa from Kaliṅga and another asks for his wife to work as a slave. Eventually Śakra appears and it turns out that the tribulations of Vessantara are a test of his generosity.
Underlying the many stories there are some themes which appear to be significant not only in themselves but also as suggestive of some of the ideas which might have gone into the shaping of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa as well, although from a non-Buddhist perspective. There is first of all the extension of the geographical circumference. Mention is made of the links and alliances between janapadas of the middle Ganga valley with janapadas in two different directions. One appears to have been in the northern route, the uttarapatha, to the janapadas of the Indo-Gangetic divide, Punjab and the north-west –that of the Kurus, the Kekeyas, the Madras, Gandhāra and Kāmboja. The other went in the southerly direction via Cedi to Kaliṅga. The route from Kāśī to Cedi is said to have been infested with robbers. But Cedi and Kaliṅga seem closely associated with a frequency of safe travelling. The geographical dimension is emphasized in the theme of exile where banished princes go either to the Himalaya or southwards, as for example to Cedi.
The Cedi janapada is clearly an important area. The Cetiya Jātaka gives the lineage of the Cedi kings who ruled from the capital of Sotthivatinagara in Bundelkhand. They were descended from Mahāsammata and the succession is given as far as the famous Upacara, so named because he travelled through the sky. After him the lineage was segmented and his five sons ruled in five different regions, a statement which is confirmed in the Purāṇas. The Vessantara Jātaka mentions that the Cetarattha/Cedirāṣṭra was full of meat, wine and rice, and inhabited by sixty thousand khattiyas who lived there as cetiya rājās. The Cedi-Kaliṅga link indicated in this Jātaka is historically attested in the Hathigumpha Inscription. Khāravela, the king of Kaliṅga, describes himself as a descendant of Uparicara Vasu, the Cedi king, and takes the tile of Mahāmeghavāhana, as do other kings of Kaliṅga of this period. It would seem that the Cedis migrated or conquered the land to the south-west as far as Kaliṅga, thus extending their control from their original base in Bundelkhand.
Exile in these stories often seems to symbolize migration and settlement and even if the exiles return to their original homes, a connection with the area of exile is established. Colonization was probably expressed in the form of exile, perhaps to provide a dramatic context to the theme and an explanation for migration. Where new land was conquered and colonized the justification for the conquest was given in the theme of exile. The actual process of colonization would be similar in each case, irrespective of the story narrated for its justification. The process is described in the Jayadissa Jᾱtaka where fresh land is settled by the king through clearing the land, building a lake, preparing the fields, bringing in one thousand families and founding a village such as will support ascetics by giving alms. New settlements result in the establishment of cities which become the capitals of new janapadas such as Kapilavastu and Koliyanagara. The city in turn symbolizes the spread of a particular cultural system.
Legitimacy is bestowed on the new settlement not by the area having been conquered but by the settlers being linked to the appropriate established lineages. Segments of the existing landowning kṣatriya lineages migrate to new areas and in settling their claim ownership by virtue of kinship links with the established lineages. The connotation of kṣatriya in the Buddhist texts was evidently more that of landowning group than of a warrior. Thus, those who go into exile are members of the rājakula and not commoners. In some cases, as in that of the Cetiya Jᾱtaka, fragments of their genealogy are given to indicate their status; in other cases it is enough to say that they belong to the Ikṣvāku lineage. The repeated occurrence of sibling incest (brother-sister) may symbolize marriage between two exogamous phratries or tribal subdivisions from the period of the original settlements and the emphasis on cross-cousin marriage which, whether actual or not, does indicate the adoption of a system different from that described in non-Buddhist literature. It has also been argued that this type of incest is a method of stressing purity of lineage, where ancestry is traced back to single set of parents. Purity of lineage would again reinforce status. The theme of the sibling incest may suggest some traces of a system of succession where a brother and sister rule as king and queen but without incestuous relations. It appears to have been symbolic unlike the Ptolemies of Egypt.
In terms of political sanction, these stories reflect a mixture of the gaṇa-saṅgha system of chiefships or oligarchies and the early stages of monarchy. There are references to the many thousand khattiyas or rājās ruling in certain janapadas, such as Cedi, which would indicate a gaṇa-saṅgha system. In other cases individual kings are referred to, but in contrast to the two other versions, kingship is still a relatively unstable feature in these stories. Kings can be removed by angry subjects as in the case of Vessanatara. Even though he was removed while yet a prince, his father could do nothing to prevent his being exiled. Other Jātakas refer to kings being removed by their subjects as also to kings being elected by popular opinion, or situations of crisis where kings are called upon to abdicate.
These concerns are in turn enveloped in a Buddhist ethos. There is an emphasis on dᾱna where gift-giving becomes a major criterion of morality, as also the emphasis on karuṇā or compassion, so clearly expressed in the treatment of the story of the young ascetic killed by the king but revived by the faith of the blind parents. The benevolent and helping hand of Śakra assists in this. Central to this ethos is the bodhisattva ideal with the notion of rebirth to help in the salvation of others. In later times the ideal of the king and the bodhisattva were to merge, but at this point there is only the occasional king who is in fact a bodhisattva.
These four themes – the extension of the geographical area, migration and settlement, social and political legitimacy, and religious sanction – are recognized components of charters of validation and occur, as we shall see, in other versions of the Rāmāyaṇa story as well. In the Jātaka literature they are not integrated into a single text but remain as isolated episodes. There was evidently a floating oral tradition of such stories, probably a range of oral epics, and episodes from these were consciously worked into the text of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. That references are made to the text in the Jātaka stories would reflect the wide currency of the text at a period subsequent to the mid-first millennium BC.
It would be worth examining the way in which these four themes run parallel in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. These raised the problem of indicating at least some of the interpolations in the text, as also of sorting out the fragments which went into its making. There are two easily recognizable foci to the story, the events which centre on the kingdom of Ayodhyā and those which concern the period if exile. Within each of these a number of subfragments can be detected. It is also generally agreed that apart from specific interpolations, which are many, there are two substantial additions, namely, the ‘Bāla-kāṇḍa’ and the ‘Uttara-kāṇḍa’, the first and seventh books. These additions are largely extraneous to the story and appear to have been added mainly for didactic purposes. Both books carry many stock-in-trade myths from the vaṃśānu-carita sections of the Purāṇas and from the Mahābhārata. In the case of the Rāmāyaṇa these are primarily the myths connected with the Ikṣvāku lineage. The first and the last books were again the ones in which the role of Rāma as the avatāra of Viṣṇu is highlighted, suggesting that these sections may have been introduced to convert the epic into a part of the Bhāgavata literature. The justification for the killing of Rāvaṇa is sought in the appeal to Viṣṇu to incarnate himself and eliminate evil from the earth. Another aspect of the rise of Viṣṇu is the demoting of Indra, which is apparent in some sections of the seventh book in particular. Indra, who in the Vedic literature is said to have been the protector of the Bharatas and the Cedis and various other clans, was both a warrior-deity as well as practitioner of magical power as conveyed through yātu and māyā. The use of his vajra, thunderbolt, is symbolic of this. The introduction of Sītā as a fertility goddess and the testing of her chastity and ultimate return to the earth are also included in these additions. It may be suggested that the conversion of Rāma from hero to deity has as its counterweight, the dethroning of Sītā as an independent goddess in her own right.
Apart from these obvious indications of later additions, there are other features which would further support this argument. The first and the last books display a heightened consciousness regarding caste differences as compared to earlier sections. This is particularly noticeable in the insistence of the elevated status of the brāhmaṇa in contrast to the śūdra and the prohibition on the mixing of castes. Although kṛṣi, gorakṣā and vāṇijya are the three main occupations, it is clear that herding and agriculture continue to be important. The plough is referred to only in the later books and, curiously, throughout the period of exile no mention is made of anyone ploughing. Merchants adorning the city and the complexities of occupations required for trading societies in the context of developed urban cultures are again features restricted to the first and the last books, although references to shops, markets, etc. are made in connection with commerce in other sections of the text. Similarly, in the process of gift-giving on various occasions, cattle, horses and gold take precedence over other forms of gifts. The gifting of villages, although known, is less frequent and is associated with Kośala. A reference to sāmanta in the Bāla-kāṇḍa would also indicate a late date for this section.
One may therefore assume the validity of the theory that the original text consisted of what are now books two or six and that the first and seventh are later additions, quite apart from specific interpolations in the earlier texts as well. In the earlier sections the societies of both Kośala and the Rākṣasas approximate to human society to a far greater extent than in the later sections. The Rākṣasas are seen more as enemies than as demons; they perform ceremonies deriving from Vedic sanction and Rāvaṇa’s wife refers to him as ārya-putra. The impression is one of fairly equally matched societies but with different ways of life.
Going back to the themes emerging from the Jātaka literature, perhaps the most problematical is the question of the extension of the geographical circumference as it has to do with what seems to be the insoluble question of the location of Laṅkā. The geographical horizon primarily from the middle Ganga valley, Kośala, is extended into central India. The northern links are implicit in the Kośala-Kekeya alliance and are referred to marginally as when Bharata visits his maternal uncle. The major part of the narrative is located in central India and Daṇḍaka forest. Those who argue for Laṅkā being identified with Sri Lanka (Ceylon) would extend the horizon south of the river Godavari; those who support the identification of Laṅkā with either the vicinity of Tripuri, Amarakantaka or the Mahanadi or Godavari deltas would restrict the events of the exile to Vindhyan region and what is sometimes called Gondwana. The geographical directions listed in the epic appear to have been borrowed from other sources, mainly the Purāṇas, since the geographical order is sometimes confused and places at great distances from each other are juxtaposed. Since the Purāṇas were composed later than the earliest version of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa these geographical sections may well be later interpolations. Megasthenes refers to Sri Lanka under the name of Taprobane, Presumably the Tāmraparṇi of the Ceylon Chronicles. What is certain is the date at which the name Laṅkā became more current. The Dīpavaṃsa seems that this name was later than others.
By about the mid-first millennium BC the frequently referred to route to the peninsula from the Ganga valley was dakṣinā-patha which would have involved a journey from Kauśāmbi to Pratiṣṭhāna via Ujjayini and Mahiṣmatī – a route considerably further west than the one taken by Rāma. The journey from Citrakūṭa into the Daṇḍakāraṇya as indicated in the Rāmāyaṇa points to more easterly route, perhaps via Tripuri south to the Wainganga and Godavari valleys, a route which is not frequently mentioned but for which there is some evidence at this time. Alternatively, the Cedi-Kaliṅga connection suggests a link emerging between Bundelkhand and the Mahanadi valley.
Perhaps a clue to the area of exile is provided by the reference to a new settlement resulting from the events of the epic and this was the kingdom of Dakṣiṇa Kośala (generally identified on the first millennium AD with the upper Mahanadi valley, the area of Bilaspur, Sambalpur and Raipur on the borders of present-day Madhya Pardesh and Orissa). We are told in the Purāṇas that after the area had been cleared of the rākṣasas, a kingdom was founded and was ruled by Kuśa, the son of Rᾱma, and his descendants. Was this an attempt by the later dynasties of Dakṣiṇa Kośala to seek linage links with the Ikṣvākus/Sūryavaṃśa or does it refer to the actual conquest of the area by an Ikṣvāku? Had this been an area of the Ikṣvāku activity then the route to it in terms of geographical feasibility could have been from Bundelkhand to Tripuri and along the upper reach of the Narmada to the watershed around Mandla and Amarakantaka overlooking the plains of Chhattisgarh and Dakṣiṇa Kośala. References to Dakṣiṇa Kośala in other historical sources are later and can perhaps be dated to the early centuries AD. The Purāṇas refer to a dynasty called Megha ruling over Kośala at a period contemporary with that of the Andhras. The name Megha can perhaps be identified with the Megha dynasty of the early centuries AD whose seals and inscriptions have been found in the districts of Allahabad, Fatehpur and Rewa, and who are said to have had their base in the Kauśāmbi area. Were these the descendants of a once-powerful dynasty ruling both the Bundelkhand and Dakṣiṇa Kośala area? The entity of the latter as separate region is recognized in the Gupta period. The historically attested dynasties of Dakṣiṇa Kośala do not however always claim Ikṣvāku descent in spite of the statement to the contrary in the Purāṇas. Unless of course the area was initially conquered by members of an Ikṣāku lineage and later gave way to others such as the Cedis but retained a memory of the initial conquest.
The condition of exile also serves to highlight the contrast between the kingdom and the forest. The demarcation between the Kośalan way of life and that of the rākṣasas is accentuated in the later books with weird and lurid descriptions of the rākṣasas. The lineages of the two groups are kept quite distinct. The royal families of Kośala and Videha are segments of the same descent group and can perhaps be seen as phratries with a common ancestor in Ikṣvāku and both being identified as Sūryavaṃśī. The lineage of the rākṣasas is quite separate. Puranic sources refer to them as being the Paulastyavaṃśa, which originated in Vaiśālī.
The emphasis on primogeniture which is the pivot of the story in so far as the ‘Ayodhyā-kāṇḍa’ is concerned reflects a well-established system of kinship in which hereditary authority has passed into the hands of a particular family whose legitimacy is based on the descent— hence Daśaratha’s anxiety at not having a son to succeed him. The legitimacy is further emphasized by the introduction of Puarnic legends relating to the lives of the Rāmāyaṇa does not tally with those given in the Puranic literature. Whereas the prince Vessantara in the Jᾱtaka was exiled by the angry subjects of his father, in this case even though the subjects of Daśaratha were unhappy at the king’s decision to banish Rāma, they could do nothing to change it.
A subtle but important distinction between the two societies, that of Kośala and that of Laṅkā, lies in the emphasis on the monarchical state in the one and its absence in the other. The kingdom of Kośala is well-defined and it takes three days from Ayodhyā to reach the border. The rākṣasas do not seem to be limited by any political identity with a particular state. There are no boundaries and they seem to wander freely and interminably. The city of Laṅkā has a boundary by force of being an island and the area of Rāvaṇa’s control is never clearly defined. Rᾱkṣasa lineages seem to be distributed over a very wide area with kinship ties rather than territorial proximity linking them. In place of a strongly monarchical system, the rᾱkṣasas seem to function as an oligarchy and the term gaṇa is often associated with them. Even the hierarchies within society so evident in Ayodhyā are absent in a less complex but more equitable system. And there was certainly no shortage of wealth in Laṅkā; nor is there any mention of castes among the rākṣasas. It could well be argued that the rākṣasas of Vālmīki are the fanciful beings and would not conform to any particular social category, but since they are described as having the appurtenances of a human society the assumptions implicit in these descriptions can with justification be analysed.
Perhaps the distinction can be more easily seen in the economic activities of the two groups as highlighted in the later sections of the text. The state of Kośala is associated with plough agriculture and its wealth is described in terms of store-houses well stocked with grain and the bustle of traders and merchants and commercial wealth. In contrast to this wealth of the rākṣasas seems to derive primarily from the forest and mineral resources. Plough agriculture is not mentioned in connection with Laṅkā nor does it boast of traders and merchants. Yet it is a city of fabulous wealth and literally glowing with trimmings of gold and gems – an almost unreal city. Clearly, it must have had an agricultural hinterland but this is not highlighted as in the case of Kośala, the agricultural economy perhaps playing a lesser economic role in Laṅkā.
The eulogy on the monarchical state is evident in the definition of kingship as it occurs in the Rāmāyaṇa. Kingship involves nurturing the sources of wealth and administration of the wealth, maintaining the distinction of caste and hierarchy and supporting those who were the legitimizers of the systems. None of this appears to have been of much concern to rᾱkṣasa society. It would seem that the Rāmāyaṇa would be juxtaposing two systems, the monarchical state and chiefships or oligarchies with an unflinching endorsement of the former. To this extent the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa can be seen as the charter of validation for monarchies established in areas of erstwhile chiefships. This may be one partial reason for a possible geographical extension of the area of exile with every recession of the text, as well as the repeated adaptations and translations of later periods.
There was, however, yet another major theme introduced into the Rāmāyaṇa largely by way of later additions to the text and this was the theme of Vaiṣṇava bhakti. The text now became a necessary component of the literature used in the propagation of Vaiṣṇavism. It helped to popularize the ethic of the new cult of Bhagavatism. The mode of worship gradually changed from sacrifice to bhakti, but sacrifice was not debarred, since Rāma had protected the hermitages in the forest so that the sacrificial ritual should not be disturbed. The avatāra theory brought a new dimension into religious belief and in some ways paralleled the notion of the bodhisattva. It assisted in the process of acculturation both in channelizing Vaiṣṇava beliefs and values into new areas and in assimilating new cults.
The Vālmīki version of the Rāmāyaṇa story is significantly different in detail and construction from the Jātaka stories although thematically there is a parallel. The story as current at the times seem to have stimulated yet another version, namely, the Jaina text of Vimalasūri entitled the Padmacarita or, as it is called in Prākṛt, the Paumacariyam. The date for this text as given by Vimalasūri is 530 years after the death of Mahāvīra, which would make it the first century AD, but most scholars prefer a later date ranging from the third to the seventh centuries AD. The Paumacariyam was the earliest among the long line of Jaina versions of the story suggesting that the rewriting of this story was of considerable importance to the Jaina tradition. If the Vālmīki text was redacted by Vaiṣṇava propagandists, the Jaina version is even more didactic in its support of the Jaina religion. But at the same time it carries certain reversals of the story as discussed so far, which are of considerable historical interest.
We are told that the Paumacariyam is part of the ᾱcᾱryaparamparᾱ and it would be expected therefore to incorporate much of what might be called the prehistory of the Jaina tradition in the form of cosmology, creation legends and early mythological material. The Rāmāyaṇa story is introduced in a provocative manner. The initial scene is that of Magadha, a prosporeous kingdom with its capital at Rājagṛha and ruled by king Śrenika (Bimbisāra). Śrenika doubts the authenticity of the story as told in the existing versions of the Rāmāyaṇa and asks for the correct version. Most of his doubts centre round the characterization of the rākṣasas and in particular Rāvana. It is clearly stated that the rākṣasas were not demons and that the name comes from the root rakṣa (to protect). Rāvana was neither ten-headed nor a meat-eating fiend and all that has been said about him by foolish poets (murkhakukavi) is untrue. Paumacariyam is a conscious and deliberate attempt at rewriting the existing version of the Rāmāyaṇa story and depicting the rākṣasas in a better light. The story opens with the description of the land of the Vidyādharas of whom the rākṣasas and the Vānaras form a part. The early chapters provide a detailed account of the rākṣasa and Vānara lineages and it is not until well into the story that the Daśaratha episode is introduced. All the main characters involved in the story are pious Jainas, and therefore try to avoid violence: nevertheless, the heroic values cannot be entirely subdued and kings and princes do show their valour in combat and victory in arms through violence.
The geographical focus is essentially that of the Vindhyan region with its circumference extending south of the Godavari. There is a distinctly westward shift in the initial route taken by Rāma since it involves the Gambhīra river (a tributary of Chambal) and the towns of Avanti and Daśapura before reaching the Narmada. The narrative then moves in a more easterly and southerly direction. Most locations are in relation to the Vaitāḍhya mountain, also referred to as the Veyaddhagiri. Another Jaina text states that this mountain lay near Gandhamadana-vakkara (echoing the Vessantara Jātaka). It is also said to be a very long range touching the Sindhu and Ganga at each end. If the Sindhu is the Kāli Sindhu then this would be the Vindhya range, with which it is often identified. Laṅkā is located at the base of the Trikūṭa mountain (the location of which is not given) on an island. It would seem from the events of the exile that the location is somewhere in the Daṇḍakāraṇya.
In the geographical section we are told that the four best known lineages are the Ikkhaga/ Ikṣvāku, Somavaṃśa, Vijjaharana/Vidyādhara, and the Harivaṃśa. The Ikṣvāku is called the Adityayaśa, presumably a version of Sūryavaṃśa and companion to the Candravaṃśa/ Somavaṃśa. Though not given priority in the list, the most important was the Vidyādhara since it is described in maximum detail. Even the etymologies of the names are sometimes included. Vidyādharavaṃśa traces its ancestry back to Rṣabha who in his later years becomes a monk and divides his kingdom of the Vindhyas between his two sons Nami and Vinami. Being the recipients of many vidyᾱs they are called Vidyādhara. The most important among them is Meghavāhana who because of certain complications has to flee to Laṅkā where he establishes the Rākṣasavaṃśa. Many of the names in the long lists seem to have been arrived at through free association although the immediate forefathers of the main personalities are given correctly. The Vidyādhara list has a large number of names connected with vajra, vidyuta and megha. Yet another segment of the Vidyādharavaṃśa is the Vānaravaṃśa, which is again founded by a Vidyādhara prince who is exiled to Vānaradvīpa which lies outside the Vindhyan region and where at Kiṣkindi he established his kingdom. It is called the Vānaravaṃśa because the prince takes a monkey emblem for his standard. This is another point of contention with the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. The Vānaradvīpa is distinct from the Vaitāḍhya region but too far away, and is the habitat of monkey-like humans whom the prince has to train and discipline. There are both conflicts and marriage alliances between the segments of the Vidyādhara lineage. Thus, although there is tension between the Rākṣasavaṃśa and Vānaravaṃśa, Rāvaṇa, who is of the Rākṣasavaṃśa, is married to Śrīpabhā of the Vānaravaṃśa. The Harivaṃśa, to which Janaka the father of Śīta belongs, is relatively minor and is not connected with the Ikṣvākuvaṃśa of Daśaratha. Of the earlier Ikṣvāku kings the Paumacariyam gives prominence to Sagara of Sāketa, who is said to have married a Vidyādhara princess. The previous births of Sagara are given as well as the story of his sixty thousand sons, echoing the Puranic tradition.
Rāvaṇa is described as an ardent Jaina and a protector of the Jaina shrines. He is brave and handsome and woos many apsarᾱs. He has the ability to fly and is therefore called ākᾱśamᾱrgi, and in addition he owns a puṣpavimāna, an aerial chariot which he uses on occasion. (Strangely enough, Vimalasūri does not see this as an exaggeration.) Rāvaṇa therefore is no less of a hero than Rāma. His relationship with Sītā is sensitively delineated.
Rāma’s first major exploit is the expulsion of the mleccha threatening the kingdom of Janaka, an exploit similar to that of Sagara of earlier times expelling the Haihayas. Daśratha’s desire to renounce the world on the teaching of a Jaina muni leads Kekeyi to demand that her son succeed to the throne. Daśaratha had granted a boon to Kekeyi because of her skill in driving his chariot when he was contesting for her hand. Kekeyi tries to dissuade Rāma from going into exile, since she merely wishes her son to be king. This would suggest that this was not the rule of primogeniture which was being transgressed but merely a matter of which son should succeed the father. The exiles set off for the Vindhyas and there could hardly be a greater contrast in the description of exile between Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa and the Paumacariyam. Whereas in the former it was āśramas of the ṛṣis which had to protected, it is now predictably the Jaina shrines which replace the āśramas. The period of exile includes innumerable small episodes involving the princes and princesses of the region. Exile is hardly a condition of long periods of austerity in the forest. It is more frequently spent in setting right the manifold political problems of the many small courts scattered in the area. Austerity is frequently punctured by prosperous villages, beautiful cities and royal palaces.
In many ways the Paumachariyam is the mirror image of the Vākmīki Rāmāyaṇa. This is not merely in its Jaina didactic context which has been commented upon before, but even in the thematic structure of the text in terms of the themes which have been examined so far in relation to the other texts.
The theme of exile occurs at two levels. One is the familiar exile of Rāma. The other is exile as migration and the settling of new areas which is referred to not in connection with the Ikṣvāku lineage but with the Vidyādhara lineage. Meghavāhana establishes himself at Laṅkā and gives rise to the Rākṣasavaṃśa and another prince found the kingdom of Vānaradvīpa. There are close similarities to the Buddhist origin myths. In each case there is a new settlement demarcated by the term dvīpa, with its capital city and some distinguishing topographical feature, often a mountain. Exile is caused by some conflict with the established lineage and the rulers of the new settlement derive their status through kinship connections with the older and original lineage.
Unlike the vast wilderness through which the Vālmīki rᾱkṣasas roam, the territories of the Vidyādharas are more clearly defined in the Paumacariyam. In the latter text it is the northern kingdoms which are vague and undefined. Many northern towns are referred to such as Hastināpur, Ahichhatra, Kāmpilya, Mathurā, Kauśāmbi, Prayāga and Varanasi, but these references occur more often in connection with the earlier tīrthaṅkaras than with the narrative of the story. The area of exile, the Vindhyan region and the Daṇḍakāryṇa, is no longer the forest haunt of demons extending over vast expanses for it now boasts of cities and kingdoms with only the occasional forest areas. The wilderness is evidently gradually being settled. Inevitably, the monarchical state is the accepted norm as much among the rākṣasas as among the Ikṣvᾱku. Not only is this but even the institution of sāmantas or feudatory chiefs also known. When Daśaratha decides to renounce his kingdom he invites his sāmantas to a consultation. Similarly, when there is a political crisis in Kṣemāñjalipura in the Vindhyas, the sāmantas are consulted. However the alternative, earlier meaning of sāmanta, a neighbour, could also apply here.
Another striking difference is the absence in Paumacariyam of the need to uphold the varṇᾱśramadharma and the status of the brᾱhmaṇa. The brᾱmaṇas are here the heretics and the preachers of false doctrines who acquired their status through fraud? The most respected social groups other than princes are the merchants, and princes are said on occasion to have been merchants in their previous births. Maximum reverence is naturally given to the Jaina munis who weave their way through the narrative. It is they who often relate the stories of the previous births of various persons since they have access to such knowledge. Resort to such stories would not only enrich the narrative but could also be used as a technique to explain away problematical solutions, and at the same time underline the concept of transmigration. Although there is no well-defined avatāra theory as in Vaiṣṇava Bhāgavatism, the tripartite complex of Vāsudeva, Prati-vāsudeva and Baladeva serves a similar function, and the inevitability therefore of the predetermined relationships between Rāma and Rāvaṇa erodes some of the brutality of the conflict and reduces thereby the occasions for heroic stances. The Jaina muni is frequently found to be preaching renunciation. Finally both Daśaratha and Rāma renounce the world and the Jaina ethic triumphs over the traditional kṣatriya ethic.
There is a wide divergence in style among the three versions of the Rāmāyaṇa story as examined here. Yet the thematic concerns seem very similar. The vehemence with which the Paumacariyam denounces the known versions of the Rāmāyaṇa and sets out to give a different version does suggest that there may have been a historical need for such a treatment. Could it be argued that the Paumacariyam was attempting to legitimize the Vidyādhara lineage and act as a charter of validation for the kingdoms which arose in the Vindhyan region and its fringes in the early first millennium AD? The major kingdoms were those of western India such as the Traikūṭakas, rising on the decline of the Sātavāhanas and the Ābhīras; the Bodhi dynasty in the region of Tripuri and Bundelkhand, which area later saw the rise of the Kalacuris; the Bhojas and the Vakāṭakas ruling in Vidarbha; Dakṣiṇa Kośala and the Cedis of Kaliṅga. Linking many of these dynasties was what appears to be a Cedi connection with some among them using the Cedi era of AD 248-49 in their records. Most of these dynasties do not publicize any substantial patronage to Jainism although Jainism was becoming more popular in this region during the early centuries AD. Many of them were seeking legitimation through the performance of Vedic sacrifices and kṣatriya lineage links. Those claiming Haihaya origins would probably have encouraged the questioning of the authenticity of the Bhārgava versions of the tradition, the Haihayas having been major enemies of the Bhārgavas in the past. Was the Paumacariyam, therefore, intended primarily to question the Bhārgava version of the Rāmāyaṇa story and thus make it acceptable to the dynasties which claimed Cedi connections somehow linked in origin with the rākṣasas of the Paumacariyam if not of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa?
It could be argued that the connection was fabricated and that the dynasties claiming Cedi ancestry in the first millennium AD were merely being invested with antiquity by being linked with the pre-eminent lineages of the region, the Haihayas and the Cedis. The search for such genealogical links was common to many dynasties of the first millennium AD and later. But the endorsement of these links with the rākṣasas of the Rāmāyaṇa story, which is what appears to be suggested in the Paumacariyam, is problematical. If this was merely a search for lineage connections they would hardly choose to be linked with a defeated king and, more likely, the entire story would have been reversed to make Rāvaṇa the victor, or to link the new dynasties with the triumphant Ikṣvākus. The fact that Rāvaṇa is killed and the main thrust of the Paumacariyam is to state that the rākṣasas have received prejudiced treatment at the hands of the authors of the Rāmāyaṇa and the many other versions of the story current at the time, lends greater credence to the possibility that they might have been the Cedi ancestors of the new dynasties. Were the rākṣasas of the Vālmīki version exaggerated to such an extent that the memory of their Cedi identity was pulverized? And yet not completely, for the strange ability of Rāvaṇa to travel though the sky and his aerial chariot has strong associations with the founder of the Cedi lineage, Vasu. The use of the term meghavāhana, both as a lineage name as well as a royal title, would help in maintaining the myth that it was derived from an earlier ability to ‘ride the clouds’.
The Jaina background to the Paumacariyam would not be averse to Cedi connections. Among early royal patrons the Jainas claim Candragupta Maurya during whose reign it is said that Magadha was a centre of Jaina activity. In suggesting that Śrenika was conversing with Jaina teachers, Vimalasūri was merely projecting the association with Magadha to an earlier period. Puranic sources endorse an earlier link between the Cedis and Magadha. That the Kaliṅga Cedis were patrons of the Jainas is stated in their inscriptions. At about the same time Mathura emerged as an important centre of Jaina worship. By the early centuries AD Vidiśā had Jaina centres and gradually such centres were established in Bundelkhand and Rewa as well. The Jaina context of the Paumcamariyam is therefore as much of a localized phenomenon as the lineages. The need to use the Rāmāyaṇa story may also have had to do with competition with other religious sects for patronage. The inscriptions from western India suggest a partiality among royal families for patronage to Buddhist institutions. The decline of the Sātavāhans and the Kṣatrapas may have provided an opportunity for the rise of Jainism in central India, as indeed the inauguration of the Cedi era may have heralded the rise of those claiming Cedi connections.
With the increasing influence of Sanskritic culture the Vālmīki version seems to have gained wider currency as compared to that of Vimalasūri. By the end of the first millennium AD the later Kalacuris, although of Cedi association, take pride in their Haihaya descent and refer in their inscriptions to the defeat of Rāvaṇa at the hands of the Haihaya hero Arjuna Kārtavīrya. There is also a linking of the Mahanadi area with place names from the Rāmāyaṇa story. An inscription of the medieval period locates Dakṣiṇa Kośala to the west of Laṅkā which appears to have been the hinterland of the Mahanadi delta. The site of Sonepur is described as part of paścima Laṅkᾱ and an island on the Mahanadi nearby (present-day Laṅkeśvarī) is referred to as Laṅkāvarttaka. Curiously, the sixteenth century dynasty of Baudh (adjoining Sonepur) claims Sūryavaṃśa origin and descent from an ancestor who came from Ayodhyā. But this is so many centuries after the Rāmāyaṇa story that it is hardly feasible to regard it as evidence. This group of inscriptions does indicate that there was a tradition at least in medieval times of locating both the areas of Dakṣiṇa Kośala and Laṅkā on the route from central India to Kaliṇga, a likely battleground for those wishing to control the route. It should however be kept in mind that by now ties between Kaliṅga and Sri Lanka (Ceylon) were very close, to the extent of including dynastic links as well. The use of the place name Laṅkā, therefore, may be now have had some connection with the island of Sri Lanka.
By the mid-first millennium AD the Rāmāyaṇa story had moved far away from its initial beginnings. Over the centuries it had also provided the base for a number of literary forms, preeminent among them being the plays of Bhāsa, Abhiṣeka and Pratimā, and the narrative poem of Kālidāsa, Raghuvaṃśam. With each of these literary excursions into the elegant refinement of courtly circles, the original epic would require the identification of the rākṣasas and the cause for the conflict, which continues to be a matter for speculation.
If the genesis of the conflict in the Rāmāyaṇa story lay in an antagonism between chiefships, then the Puranic sources suggest various possibilities. The rākṣasas of the Vālmīki story are linked with the Paulastyavaṃśa originating at Vaiśālī. The aindra mahābhiṣeka of one of the kings of Vaiśālī, Marutta, was interrupted by Rāvaṇa. One of Marutta’s seven wives was a Cedi princess. Tṛṇabindu, a later king of Vaiśālī, appears to have had some links with the Ikṣvākus. His daughter Ilavilā (alternatively called Iḍaviḍa, Drāviḍa) married a brahmaṛṣi Pulastya and their son Viśravas was father to both Vaiśravaṇa Kubera from one of his wives and from another to Kmbhakarṇa, Daśagrīva, Vibhīṣaṇa and Śūrpaṇakhā. It was in this generation that some of the Ailavilas migrated from Vaiśālī to the Vindhyan region. The relationship with Kubera has influenced the notion that Daśagrīva Rāvaṇa had a Nāga identity. The kidnapping of princesses by rākṣasas was not an uncommon story in the Vaiśālī of these times and one among these stories may have been the prototype for the narrative of the kidnapping of Sītā. Was there a conflict between Kośala and Vaiśālī over the kidnapping of a princess? Or did the proximity of Kośala and Vaiśālī lead to warfare over claims to territorial rights for which the kidnapping of a princess provided an excellent excuse?
The continuing and more frequently mentioned antagonism was between the Haihayas and Ikṣvākus. Prior to this, Arjuna Kārtavīrya, a Haihaya, is said to have imprisoned Rāvaṇa of Laṅkā at Mahiṣmatī on the Narmada and later released him. The thousand-armed hero of the Haihayas claims boons from the ṛṣis and is among the most powerful of the kṣatriyas. The description given in the Purāṇas is reminiscent of the description of Rāvaṇa in the epics. The enmity between the Bhārgavas (whose descendants are said to be among the major redactors of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa) and the Haihayas is expressed in the killing of Arjuna Kārtavīrya by Rāma Jāmadagni and this event may well have been one of the layers which went into the making of the Rāmāyaṇa story. The Haihayas attacked and captured Ayodhyā and it was not until the rise of Sagara that the Ikṣvākus were able to reestablish themselves.  This major conflict would have extended the geographical area of the conflict into the Vindhyan region. The earliest Cedis were linked to Yādava lineage and would therefore have a connection with the Haihayas apart from being based in the Vindhyan region as well. The later Cedis, claiming ancestry from the Kuru prince Vasu, controlled the southern bank of the Yamuna and the Ganga from Matsya to Magadha. In a period of expanding territories and the forging of trade routes this would inevitably have brought them into conflict with kingdoms such as Kośala in middle Ganga valley, also perhaps aiming at expanding southwards or capturing routes going south. These episodes, the material of bardic traditions would tend to be combined or sifted in accordance with folk memory and can therefore only be regarded as the possible fragments which went into the making of the epic. It would seem though, that there might have been some association in folk memory between the Haihayas, the Cedis and the rākṣasas of the Rāmāyaṇa story. Unlike the Mahābhārata where the theme of conflict, among chiefships, is very apparent, the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa papers it over in the fanciful descriptions of the rākṣasas. Significantly, where the Mahābhārata is classified as ithāsa, the Rāmāyaṇa is generally referred to as kāvya.
The epic forms a saga of heroes and focuses on chiefships and newly emerging kingdoms in competition over land, status and rights, although the ostensible reason in the narrative might well be the kidnapping of princess or the losing of a game of dice. The rewriting of the story in a literary form often takes place at a time when the institution of the state is impinging on tribal chefships or has already been established. In either case the emergence of the state requires a legitimization from the past through legends and stories justifying the establishment. This takes at least two forms: first, there is the incorporation of new territory into geographical circumference of epic events, where the territory on which the new state has been founded has to be described as having been rightfully conquered or settled; secondly, the legitimacy of the new rulers has to be ensured through mythology, genealogical links and events held to be significant in the tradition. Mythology is used to draw the territory and the personalities into a circle of known and familiar forms, kingship is used to establish links between the new rulers and the territory which is to be incorporated. The religious background is provided by those religions –Buddhism, Bhagavatism and Jainism – which presuppose the emergence of the state and whose spread coincides with the establishing of monarchies, each with its court and capital and its access or aspiration to royal patronage.
In analyzing the three versions of the Rāmāyaṇa story it may be suggested that they seem to reflect, among other things, the evolution of the state from tribal oligarchies and tribal chiefships to monarchies. The Jātaka stories appear to refer to an early period in that the geographical circumference is more restricted and the symbolic representation of social institutions carries traces of early forms. These stories do not develop into a Buddhist version of the Rāmāyaṇa. Probably such a version was not required if the context was one where origin myths sufficed and the absence of an established state did not demand an epic as a charter of validation. Although the Jātakas do describe monarchies, the flexibility of the system stands in contrast to that of the other texts and points to the Jātaka stories showing a greater familiarity with the gaṇa-saṅgha system. Most of the oligarchies in the Ganga valley with which Buddhism was associated declined as oligarchies and were converted or incorporated into monarchies. Even when Buddhism came to be linked with the monarchical system in its maturest form, the epic was not required since the Buddhist saṅgha had its own version of historical events to provide the validation, and association with saṅgha became a form of legitimation: a case in point being the Buddhist version of the reign of the Mauryan king , Aśoka.
The transformation of the episodes into an epic probably coincided with the emergence of the monarchical state in Kośala. A distinction would then be drawn between the acceptability of the monarchical state and a degree of antagonism towards chiefships which were seen as a threat to the growing concentration of power in monarchical systems. The acceptability would then be endorsed by increasing emphases on the forms and stratification inherent to monarchy, as is evident from the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.
The main interest in the Paumacariyam from this point of view would then lie in its depicting the acceptance of monarchy in those very areas where previously there had been chiefships or at most the early and faltering form of monarchy. There is a much sharper and stronger assertion of identity among the rᾱkṣasas in this text than in the previous two. In the Jᾱtakas they are primarily demons, goblins and magical beings and their role is minimal in the Rāmāyaṇa stories. The Vāmīki Rāmāyaṇa describes them both in terms of a normal human society as well as lurid creatures of the imagination. The Paumacariyam has no doubts about their being a recognizable human group with rights over a specific geographical area, governed by the institutions of a monarchical system. The conflict is a conflict among equals. This new identity in all its facets would have required a rewriting of the story to incorporate these changes.
The historical necessity of each version, therefore, would in turn reflect its function as a form of validation for a changing historical situation.
 First published in S.N. Mukherjee (ed.), India: History and Thought, Calcutta, 1982, 221-53. Republished with permission from the author.
 Sumaṅgala Vilᾱsinī, 1.76; Papaῆca Sudᾱnī, 1.163; Cūlavaṃsa, 6.42; 48.20; 75.59; 83.46. An earlier association of Rāvaṇa with Laṅkā occurs in the Lankāvatārasūtra but no mention is made of the Rāmāyaṇa story. It has been suggested that this text may have been prior to the fifth century AD when portions of it were translated into Chinese. D.T Suzuki, The Lankāvatāra Sūtra, London, 1932, p. xlii.
 Jayadissa Jātaka, no. 513.
 Vessantara Jātaka, no. 547.
 V. Fausboll, The Jātaka, London, 1896, vol. VI, p. 558. The commentary describes Sītā as Rāma’s sister who became his queen. But this is ambiguous for the reference to her being his sister is omitted in other commentaries.
 Sarabhañja Jātaka, no. 522.
 Rāmāyaṇa, II.57.
 Sāma Jātaka, no. 540.
 G. Malalasekera, Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, London, 1960, vol. 1, p. 165.
 F.E Pargiter, Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, London, 1922, p. 153.
 G. Malalasekera, op. cit.
 Sadhina Jᾱtaka, no. 494.
 Suruci Jātaka, no. 264.
 Mahā-ummaga Jātaka, no. 546; Vinīlaka Jātaka, no. 408.
 Mahāpanāda Jātaka, no. 264.
 Makhadeva Jātaka, no. 9.
 Nimi Jātaka, no. 541; Kumbhakāra Jātaka, no. 408.
 Mahājanaka Jātaka, no. 539.
 Rāmāyaṇa, 1.5; 1.6; 65. 18-20; 69. 2-3; II. 61.6; 77.12-15.
 Gandhāra Jātaka, no. 406.
 Pargiter, op. cit., pp. 145ff.
 Ibid., pp. 328-9.
 Daśaratha Jātaka, no. 461; V. Fausboll, The Daśaratha Jātaka, being the Buddhist story of King Rama, Copenhagen, 1971.
 Ambattha Sutta, Dīgha Nikāya, 1.92; E. Senart (ed.), Mahāvastu, I, Paris, 1882-97, 348-52; Sumaṅgala Vilᾱsinī, I pp. 258-62.
 Kuśi Jātaka, no. 531.
 P. L Bhargava, ‘ The Original Home of the Ikṣvākus’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, no. 1 (1976), pp. 64-6.
 Sumaṅgala Vilāsinī, 1.248, ‘… kathanakāle ukkā viya mukhato pabhā niccharati…’
 S. Beal, Romantic History of Buddha, London, 1907, pp. 18ff. This is also suggested in the Cūlavaṃsa, 87.34. This text also refers to Sagara and his 60,000 sons as among the descendants of Okkāka.
 V. Pathak, History of Kośala, Varanasi, 1963, pp. 238ff. the Śākyas claim the Gautama gotra and the Mallas the Vasiṣtha gotra. Dīgha Nikāya, II.160, 164ff. Manu refers to them as vrātya-kṣatriyas, X.22; XII.45.
 Sambula Jātaka, no. 519.
 Vessantara Jātaka, no.547. The elephant and the cloud are regarded as synonymous, hence the elephant symbolizes rain. H. Zimmer, Myths and symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, Princton, 1972, pp. 102ff.
 Vedabbha Jātaka, no. 48.
 Vessantara Jātaka.
 Cetiya Jātaka, no. 422.
 Pargiter, op. cit., pp. 118ff.
 D.C Sircar, Select Inscriptions, 2nd edn, Calcutta, 1965, pp. 214ff. One view argues for a first century AD date for Khāravela. T.P Varma, ‘The Date of Kharavela and the Early Satavahanas’, Sri Lanka Journal of South Asian Studies, I. No. 1 (June 1976), pp. 77-8. For the general use of the term meghavāhana by the Kaliṅga kings, see B.M. Barua, ‘Minor Old Brahmi Inscriptions in the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves’, IHQ, XIV (1938), pp. 158ff.
 S. Falk Moore, ‘Descent and Symbolic Filiation’, The American Anthropologist, no. 66, part 1 (1964), pp. 1308-20.
 H. Jacobi (tr.), The Rāmāyaṇa, Baroda, 1960; A.K Warder, Indian Kavya Literature, Delhi, 1974, vol. II, pp. 76ff; Romila Thapar, Exile and the Kingdom: Some Thoughts on the Rᾱmᾱyaṇa, Bangalore, 1978.
 C. Bulcke, Rāma-kathā, Allahabad, 1971.
 The Mahābhārata, Critical Edition, XII.57.40.
 E.g., VII.30.
 S. Bhattacharya, The Indian Theogony, Cambridge, 1970, pp. 249ff.
 1.6. 16ff; the killing of Śambuka by Rāma, VII. 65; 67.
 In the giving of gifts animal wealth takes precedence, as for example, in I.71.21.
 1.38.19; VII. 17.30.
 1.5; 1.6; 1.65. 18-20; 1.68.2-3; 1.31, 4-7; II.&&. 12-15; VII. 70.
 E.g., II.64.16; II.28.7; VI.113.41; subsequent to Rāma’s victory the gifts distributed are jewels, ornaments, gold and other precious gifts, VII. 3.9-10.
 J.L. Brockington, ‘Religious Attitudes in Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa, JRAS, no.2 (1976), pp. 108-30.
 A. Guruge, The society of the Rᾱmᾱyaṇa, Saman Press, 1969.
 Critical Edition, vol. I, p. 427; H.D. Sankalia, Rᾱmᾱyaṇa—Myth or Reality, New Delhi, 1973.
 Critical Edition, vol. IV, pp. xxxvi, xlviii-lxiii, IV. 40. 10-11 places Utkala, Avanti, Matsya and Kaliṅga in the southern region (Matsya/ Vaṅga)
 S.B. Deo and J.P. Joshi, Pauni Excavation (1969-70), Nagpur, 1972. Pp. 9ff.
 Pargiter, op. cit., p. 279.
 F. E Pargiter, Dynasties of the Kali Age, Oxford, 1913, p. 51.
 The History and Culture of the Indian People, vol. II, pp. 175-7.
K.D Bajpai, ‘New Light on the Early Pandava Dynasty of Southern Kosala’, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, vols LVII-LIX (1977-78), pp. 433ff, summarizes the early evidence on Dakṣiṇa Kośala before the detailed discussion on the Pāndava dynasty. The Cedi era has also been associated with the Megha dynasty which would place them in the third century AD. K.D Bajpai, ‘ The Meghas of Kauśāmbi and Southern Kośala and Allied Problems’, Indian Numismatic Chronicles, Part 1, vol. III, pp. 18ff.
 The Allahbad praśasti of Samudra Gupta, J.F. Fleet (ed.), Inscriptions of the Early Gupta Kings, vol.3 of Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Varanasi, 1970, pp. 6ff. ‘Arang copper-plate inscription of Bhimasena’, New History of the Indian People, VI pp. 85ff.
 The History and Culture of the Indian People, vol. III, The Classical Age, pp. 177ff, 190ff, 217ff. V.V. Mirashi (ed.), Inscriptions of Kalachuri-Cedi Era, in 2 parts, vol. IV of the Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Ootacammund, 1955, part 1, pp. xxxiff.
 Rāmāyaṇa,1.69.17; 1.70; Pargiter, Ancient Indian Historical tradition, p. 145.
 Rāmāyaṇa,VII.2-5; 9; Pargiter, op. cit., pp. 241ff.
 Rāmāyaṇa, 1.8.
 Cf. Pargiter, op. cit., pp. 145-7; Viṣṇu Purāṇa, IV. 5; IV.2.
 Rāmāyaṇa, II.43.7ff.
 Ibid., V.41.12; 46.14.
 Ibid., I.5; II.17; V.16.5; VI.24.20. The difference in the economic base between Kośala and Laṅkā has been discussed in Devaraj Chanana, The Spread of Agriculture in Northern India, New Delhi, 1963, pp. 27-9.
 Ibid., I.811ff; II.61.7ff; II.94; II.73.8; 95.2; 102-30.
 I am using the term chiefship here not in the sense of a primitive society, but as stratified society with social and economic differentiation and ruled by an oligarchy. The differentiation would not be as marked as in a monarchical system nor would there be the same concentration of power in the hands of the king.
 V.M Kulakrni, Vimalasūri Paumacariyam, Varansi, 1962, Introduction; ‘Origin and Development of the Rama Story in Jaina Literature’, Journal of the Oriental Institute, IX, no. 2, pp. 189-204; H. Jacobi, ‘ Some Ancient Jaina Works’, Modern Review, December 1914, Pariśiṣṭaparvan, Introduction, p. xix, Bib. Ind., no. 96, Calcutta, 1932; K.H. Dhruva, ‘Jaina Yuga’, I, part 2, 1981, V.S. pp. 68ff, part 5, pp. 180-1.
 Paumacariyam, II 1-20
 Ibid., II. 104-16; III 7-8.
 Ibid., VII. 1-13.
 Ibid., III. 14-15.
 J.C. Jain, Life in Ancient India, Bombay, 1947, pp. 354-5; B.C. Law, India as Described in Earlier Texts of Buddhism and Jainism, London, 1941, pp. 106ff.
 Hemacandra, Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacarita, vol. VII, pp. 173ff. the Vindhyācala hill is located in Mirzapur and is crowded by the temple of Vindhvavāsinī. The town of Vindhyācala, also known as Pampāpura, lies near Mirzapur. B.C Law, Historical Geography of Ancient India, Paris, 1954, p. 134. Ptolemy refers to the Vindhyans as Oiundon. The range includes Ṛkṣavat (the Ouxenton of Ptolemy), Vindhya and Pāripātra, ibid., p. 301.
 Paumacariyam, V.126.
 Ibid., XLIII-XLVI.
 Ibid., V. 1-2.
 Ibid.,V. 14-46.
 Ibid., V. 126ff.
 Ibid., V. 14-46
 Ibid., VI. 70-92
 Ibid., VI.42. ‘vānaragaṇa sadatto mānuṣāyāre…’.
 This is also suggested in the Rāmāyaṇa where the rākṣasas and the vānaras are said to be like brothers. V.49.2-3.
 V.50-168. The Jaina version of the Puranic legend states that Sagara and his 60,000 sons dug a ditch to protect certain Jaina shrines and the sons were burnt to ashes whereupon Sagara became a muni.
 Paumacariyam, XII.143; XLIV.29.
 Ibid., XXVII.
 Ibid., XXIX-XXXI.
 As for example, ibid., XXXIV, XXXVII.
 Ibid., XXXI.40-53.
 Ibid., XXXVIII.51ff.
 Ibid., IV.64ff.
 Ibid., V.81-92; VI.1-45.
 Ibid., V.154-6.
 The Paumacariyam does not link the rākṣasas with the Paulastyas as in the Purāṇas and the Rāmāyaṇa unless it can be suggested that the name Vidyādhara is indicative of magical power and knowledge, generally associated with the ṛṣis. Vidyādhara does echo the epithet of yātudhᾱna used for rākṣasas in the Rāmāyaṇa, III.25; VI.60.
 V.V. Mirashi, op. cit., part 1, pp. iff.
 F.E. Pargiter, The Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, London, 1922, pp. 197ff.
 Aerial chariots are part of the dream world of many cultures, but here a distinction is made between the ability to fly and the possession of aerial chariots and the latter are associated with particular groups of people. Vasu, the Kuru prince who conquered Cedi is called Uparicara because Indra presented him with a celestial chariot which enabled him to move through the sky. Mahābhārata, 1.63. This gift was made in appreciation of the tapas performed by Vasu. Yayāti had a similar chariot and this was acquired by Vasu (Vāyu Purāna, II.31.18ff). The Samkicca Jātaka refers to Cecca/Cedi who once could tread the air. These legends are similar to those of Rāvaṇa and his puṣpaka vimᾱna and may well derive part from the title Meghavāhana. Another Vidyādhara price is called Jimutavāhana who also takes the epithet of being ‘sky-roaming’ (Kathāsaritasāgara, XXII.17).
Guṇāḍhya in the Bṛhatkathā refers to Vidyādhara as one who is familiar with magic (A.K. Warder, Indian Kavya Literature., II, p. 123) which might also link it with vijjadhara meaning sorcerer. Indra is on occasion also described as meghavāhana –he who rides a cloud. Curiously, meghavaḥṇi refers to lightning which would link it up with vajra and the association of Indra with vajra is well known. The vajra in sculpture is depicted rather like a shortened and double-headed triśūla with point curved inwards. In this game of symbols based on lightning and clouds many associations rise to surface but remain unclear. In one of the Kalacuri inscriptions, the Haihaya ancestry is written as Ahihaya (Epigraphia Indica, II, p. 230). Ahi is the serpent in the sky, among other things (Monier-William, Sanskrit-English Dictionary, p. 125), perhaps a poetic description of lightning as it is depicted on occasions in miniature paintings. The word airavati also refers to lightning and Indra’s mount is the elephant Airavat, which again would bring in the link with meghavᾱhana/ meghavaḥṇi, if there is a link between these, then could one perhaps suggest that the Cedi inscriptions from Kaliṅga where the kings take the title of aira may have to do with this symbolism rather than the lineage connection with the Aila or Candravaṃśi lineage as has been suggested, although they did, as descendants of Vasu, belong to the Aila lineage? (B.M. Barua, ‘ Hathigumpha Inscription of Kharavela’, IHQ, vol. XIV (1938), pp. 459-85.) What adds to the puzzle is that the etymology of Cedi is uncertain, yet there is a P.Dr. form Cedi, meaning a bright light [Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (DED), 2271], which could perhaps refer again to lightning. Evidently symbolism of dark clouds, the thunderbolt and lighting had some interconnection in relation to tribal and clan names and titles taken by chiefs and kings, as also perhaps the god Indra. Possibly the denigration of Indra in some sections of the epics had to do with the rise and fall of tribal deities as well.
S.K Chatterjee suggested that the name Khāravela may be derived from P.Dr. Kār/kar meaning ‘black and terrible’ and vel meaning ‘lance’, and equivalent in Sanskrit being kṛṣṇa-aṛṣti (Vyᾱsa-saṃgrahama, 1933, pp. 71-4. Quoted in D.C Sircar, Select Inscriptions, p. 214). The two components of the name in P.Dr. carry homonyms of ‘cloud’, DED,1073, and ‘lightning’ , DED, 4525, as also in the latter case ‘chief or hero’, DED, 4562. The association of cloud and lightning occurs in the use of names incorporating megha and vajra among the rākṣasas as also the epithet, nīlameghanimbham (Rāmāyaṇa, VI. 70.6). the association with vel ‘lance’/’spear’ or ‘chief’ may link the name to protection. Curiously one of the Matsya chiefs is called Māvela which would also be translated as kṛṣṇa-aṛṣti (mᾱ meaning ‘black’, DED, 3918). If one may further add to the speculation, the name Kalacuri/Katacuri is again of uncertain etymology. Rājaśekhara writes it as Karaculi (Mirasi, op. cit., pp. xliv-lxxi) and also Kalacuri. Could this name also be a variant of ‘black’ (kara or kala) ‘spear’ (śūlī)? If the compound is meant to convey a spear moving through a black cloud, then the association with lightning would not be unlikely. In the context of the solution that the dark, rain-bearing cloud and the elephant are synonymous symbols., it may be worth pointing out that the P.Dr. mᾱ means black (DED, 3918), ‘a large animal, horse or elephant or deer’ (DED, 3917) and ‘great great man’ (DED, 3923), though the third meaning is restricted. If the termination vela in names such as Khāravela, Māvela, etc. can be regarded as Prākṛtized form of a P.Dr. word, then it might also have been derived from vel (DED, 4524) meaning ‘white, shining, light’ which could indicate lightning.
It has also been suggested that Rāvaṇa is not a personal name but a Sanskritized form of a Dravidian word ireivan/irauvan meaning god, king, sovereign, lord. It would thus be a title used by more than one person which might account for the reference to more than one Rāvaṇa in Puranic sources (Pargiter, op. cit., p. 242). A P.Dr. form iraivan is listed as no. 448 in the Dravidian Etymological Dictionary. Pargiter suggest that Daśagrīva may have been a Sanskritized form of a personal name of such Rāvaṇa which gave rise to the fable that he had ten heads (op. cit., p. 277). In the context of the symbolism discussed above, could the name Rāvaṇa have derived additional sanction by being linked with the form airᾱvan?
The etymology of rākṣasa remains obscure. The root rakṣ carries the double meaning of injury and protection and ārakṣaka provides the meaning of he who guards or protects. This could be sympathetically linked with the association of spears and lances as weapons of protection. The link with lightning remains unexplained as also with flying. In the Indian tradition, the ability to fly perhaps carries a shamanistic connection. (M. Eliade, Shamanism, Princeton, 1974.) Thus the Ṛgveda mentions the keśin flying through the air (X.136). The Dīpavaṃsa and Mahᾱvaṃsa also refer to the Buddha’s three flying visits to Sri Lanka prior to the arrival of Vijaya. Did the rākṣasas as practitioners of yᾱtudᾱna carry echoes of shamanistic religious forms?
 Pariśiṣṭaparvan, VIII. Pp. lxxi, 415ff.
 G. Buhler, ‘ New Jaina Inscriptions from Mathura’, Ep. Ind., I, Calcutta, 1892, pp. 371ff; ibid., II. Pp. 195ff; V.A. Smith, The Jaina Stupa and Other Antiquities of Mathura, Varanasi, 1969, rpt,; V.S. Agrawala, ‘ Ctalogue of the Mathura Museum, Jaina tīrthaṅkaras and Other Miscellaneous Figures’ Journal of the Uttar Pradesh Historical Society, XXIII (1950), pp. 36ff.
 K.D. Bajpai, ‘Development of Jaina Art in Madhya Pradesh’, JIH, LV (December 1977); U.P. Shah, Jaina Art and Architecture, vol. 1, p. 128; J.F. Fleet, op. cit., pp. 258ff; V.V. Mirashi, op. cit., pp. clxi-ii.
 Mirashi, op. cit., pp. clvff.
 However, the earliest use of an era which is identified later with the Cedi era comes from western India and its use in the Cedi country belongs to a later date. Mirashi, op. cit., viii ff.
 The Bilhari Stone Inscription of Yuvarajadeva, Goharwa Plates of Karṇa, Banaras Plates of Karṇa, Mirashi, op. cit., pp. 210, 241.
 B.C. Mazumdar, ‘ Mahada Plates of Yogeśvaradevavarman’, Ep. Ind., XII, no. 25, p. 218; ‘Sonpur Plates of Kumara Someśvaradeva’, Ep. Ind., XII, no. 29, p. 237; ‘ Ratnapura Stone Inscription of Jajalladeva’, Ep. Ind., I, pp. 32ff.
 Apart from the controversy of whether Vijaya came to Sri Lanka from Kaliṅga, ties between the two regions were formally mentioned in the sources stating that the Tooth Relic was sent to Sri Lanka from Kaliṅga in the early fourth century AD. This was followed by a series of matrimonial alliances from the tenth century onwards, when some of the most powerful kings of Polonnaruwa claimed Kaliṅgan ancestry. (S. Paranavitana, ‘The Kaliṅga Dynasty of Ceylon’, Journal of the Greater India Society, vol, III, no. 1, January 1936, pp. 57-64) The twelfth-century Galpota Slab Inscription of Nissaṃkamalla (Epigraphia Zeylonica, II, no. 17, pp. 98ff), combines various claims to legitimacy on the part of this Kaliṅga prince who was called upon to succeed to the throne at Polonnaruwa, claims which echo many facets of what has been discussed in this paper. He invoked Vijaya as being linked with Kaliṅga-cakravarti-kula, the latter having the ability of travelling through the air (ᾱkᾱśacari) and belonging to the royal line of the Okkāka-rājā. Evidently by now the lineage lines had got crossed! Curiously, the capital from where he ruled, Polonnaruwa, is also referred to as Pulasti-pura. (I am grateful to Dr. Sirima Kiribamune for drawing my attention to this inscription.) In the light of the above, could it perhaps be argued that the identification of Laṅkᾱ with Sri Lanka dates to the period of these connections?
It is significant that there are a series of names applied to Sri Lanka which are directly and indirectly referred to in the Dīpavaṃsa. In the earliest time the name Oja, Vara and Maṇḍa are used (1.73) The name Sinhala derives from the lion ancestry of Vijaya and his original home (IX). Vijaya and his companions give the name of Tāmraparṇi to the island because of its copper coloured soil and this may have been the origin of the word Taprobane used by the Greeks. (IX.20-30; Pliny, Hist. Nat., VI.24.1.) The Dīpavaṃsa also refers to it as Laṇkā, but the date of the text is circa fifth century AD so that the name Laṇkā appears to be late. Was the change in the name in any way linked to connections with Kaliṅga?
 Aitareya Brāhmaṇa, VIII.21; Rāmāyaṇa, VII.18.
 Mārkaṇḍeya Purāna, 131.
 Y. Mishra, An Early History of Vaiśālī, pp. 52ff.
 Ibid., pp. 59ff.
 Ibid., p. 79.
 Pargiter, op. cit., p. 266.
 Viṣṇu Purāna, IV. 11.
 Pargiter, op. cit., pp. 153ff.
 Ibid., pp. 102-3.
 Ibid., pp. 118-19.
 To search for an archaeological correlation for the events of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa is therefore almost a search for chimera; at most it may be possible to correlate episodes. Conflicts between chiefships would relate to a period of the Chalcolithic cultures just prior to the spread of NBP. But urban centres and royal courts would be of later date. The description of Ayodhyā in the late sections of the text would be of later period.
 The choice of Rāma as the hero of the Ikṣvākus also needs explanation. Was there already a legend on the heroic exploits of Rāma elaborated upon in the epic? Strangely, the Jātaka literature does not project Rāma as an epic hero but this may have to do with its Buddhist context. The reign of Rāma seems to mark a terminal point in the history of Ayodhyā and a point of change in the history of Kośala. Lava succeeds Rāma in Uttara Kośala but the capital is shifted to Śrāvastī which then becomes the more important city. It has also been suggested that Rāma’s reign marks the terminal point between the Tretā and Dvāpara yugas (Pargiter, op. cit., p. 177). It is not until the time of Prasenajit that one hears of Kośala playing a significant historical role again. Was the projection of Rᾱma as an epic hero entirely imaginary but influenced by the feats of Rāma Jāmadagnya, Sagara and other earlier heroes?
 More recent claimants of Haihaya descent in the Vindhyan are are the Gonds of Garha-Mnadla (C. vol Fuhrer Haimendorf, The Raj Gonds of Adilabad, London, 1948, pp. 1ff.) A sixteenth-century Gond king also claimed to be of the Paulastyavaṃśa. (J.C Ghosh, ‘Ravana’s Lanka Located in Central India’, IHQ, V, no. 2, June 1928, pp. 255-6.) The parallels between Gond society and the descriptions of the Rākṣasas in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa have been suggested by various scholars, e.g., G. Ramdas, ‘ Ravana and his Tribes’, IHQ, V, no 2 (June 1929), pp. 282-98; IHQ, VI (1930), pp. 284ff.