Gita and Ramayana
1. “Who wrote Ramayana?”
“Udayji, what a dumb question! Everyone knows the answer. It is Valmiki!”
*I would say Veda Vyasa.*
Yes. Ramayana is also written by Vyasa and is called Adhyatma Ramayana. It is also embedded in the latter portion of Brahmanda Purana (The author is Vyasa).
Before that, the saga of Rama (Ramayana) was authored by Valmiki who is called Aadi Kavi. The first letter of every 1000th Shloka together in the Ramayana forms the Savitri Mantra (popularly known as Gayatri), making this revered mantra the essence of the epic. There are 24 letters in the Gayatri and there are 24,000 Shlokas in the Valmiki Ramayana. The original name of Valmiki Ramayana was Chathur Vimsadi Saaharshi (24,000 shlokas).
*There are three hundred (300) versions of Ramayana.* There are 25 Ramayanas in Sanskrit alone. One of the earliest vernacular Ramayanas is Kamban’s Tamil epic. There are many tribal versions too, including the famous Bhil Ramayana. Dasaratha Jakarta (The Buddhist version), Paumachariya (The Jaina version), Gond Ramayani (The Gond version) and Ramakien (The Thai version) are also popular.
The authorship of Ramayana is also attributed to Shiva and Hanuman too. Rama was a historical character. As he was the epitome of Dharma, the world elevated him to the position of an avatar of Vishnu. Based on astronomical information such as the position of constellations and the time of eclipses available in scriptures, studies have concluded that events in the Ramayana took place 7,000 years ago and events in the Mahabharata took place 5,000 years ago.
Now, coming to Mahabharata, how many of us know that Jaya Samhita is the original name of Mahabharata?
2. *Who wrote Gita?*
Many readers wrote me: “Udayji, it is too simplistic. Everyone knows it is Veda Vyasa”. Some readers attribute it to Krishna.
But I would ask a counter question: “Which Gita?” There are so-many Gitas! There are nearly 40 Gitas in our scriptures.
If you say, Gita in Mahabharata, the question is still not clear – there are more than 14 Gitas in Mahabharata! Of course, Srimad Bhagavad Gita (also known as Kavi Gita and Hari Gita) is the most popular in that epic. If you say Krishna’s Gita, well, Bhagavad Gita is followed by Krishna’s Uttara Gita and Anu Gita too.
The Gita by a Butcher is also on the top list – Vyaadha Gita. It is from Vana Parva Mahabharata and consists of the teachings given by a butcher(Vyaadha) to a monk. The arrogant monk is humbled by the simple butcher who teaches him ‘Nishkama Karma’.
If you say, Veda Vysa’s Gita, I would refer to the “Vyasa Gita” (from Kurma Purana), which is also an important Gita.
When I explained about various Gitas to a reader earlier, he asked me: “Udayji, which Gita should I read first?,”
I would recommend that everyone MUST read Vasishta Yoga Samhita (Yoga Vashistha) or Vasistha Gita. It is also known as Jnanavasistha, Maha-Ramayana, Arsha Ramayana, or Vashista Ramayana – it has the most astounding and astonishing truths. There are two books – the Brihat (big) Yoga Vasishtha and the Laghu (small) Yoga Vasishtha. Please start with the small one. (Message Number: 373)
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