An Indian scholar claimed that the ancient Sanskrit epic The Ramayana features historical accounts of interactions between Homo sapiens and Homo erectus. Dr. Rangan Ramakrishnan made the claim in his ten-volume study of the Ramayana, its traditional author Valmiki, and its later reception and adaptation in Indian culture. He holds a doctorate in yoga (!) and produces content valorizing ancient India and the Vedas. An article in the South China Morning Post quoted the author on the bizarre claim. Here, Ramakrishnan speaks of Hanuman, a monkey god, and the Vanaras, his monkey retainers:
“If one reads the original Ramayana without the influence of succeeding vernacular versions, which emerged at least several centuries after Valmiki, Vanaras like Hanuman are referred to as a distinct species altogether,” said the author of the new book, Dr Rangan Ramakrishnan, a scholar of the Ramayana and literary historian. “Like other human species, they speak fluently and they inhabit a distinctive culture.”
In India, Valmiki is considered both a historical figure and an incarnation of the god Brahma, as well as the first poet in human history. There is no evidence for any of that. The Ramayana, allegedly his work, dates from perhaps the seventh to fourth century BCE on philological evidence, which makes it younger than either the Homeric poems or the Epic of Gilgamesh. So much for being the first epic poet. Hindu nationalists often falsely claim a primordial origin for the Ramyana, dating back to the Treta Yuga, 870,000 years ago, which is what allows Ramakrishnan to presume a memory of Homo erectus lies buried in the poem.
But it gets worse. Ramakrishnan claim the text also features Neanderthals:
Ramayana is perhaps the only literature to speak about a variety of human species offering to fill an important gap in human ancestry and evolution through literary support,” said Ramakrishnan. “Interestingly, the protagonist Lord Rama corresponds to the sapiens, other ‘Vanaras’ loosely match Homo erectus, while the villain Ravana and his ‘Rakshasas’ clan are mostly consistent with the description of Homo Neanderthals.
When challenged on his claims based on the facts, notably that Homo erectus did not have a tail or the other monkey-like features that are dissimilar to the apelike elements of Homo erectus, Ramakrishnan claimed that too few fossils have been studied to truly understand whether ancient humans exactly match ancient Sanskrit myths.
By identifying different animal gods with various human species, Ramakrishnan could therefore falsely date the Ramayana to the Treta Yuga. He notes that the different gods and creatures treat each other as equals, so he claims the text represents a point in time when the various human species lived in equality and Homo sapiens had not yet ascended to dominance. By contrast, the text presumes the urbanization of India and makes reference to cultural developments after the sixth century BCE.
2/13/2020 09:13:56 am
"He holds a doctorate in yoga (!)"
2/13/2020 09:24:23 am
Fossil evidence is needed to back-up such theories.
2/13/2020 09:34:09 am
Catty? Probably coming from Jason. BUT, what about all that Muslim colonialism in the view of Hindutuva? How is a monotheistic Christian supposed to RESPOND? Attack Paul? Overly simplistic isn't it? But this sites commentators repeatedly box themselves in with it. Be well fellow skeptic.
2/13/2020 10:09:05 am
The scepticism was over-reached yesterday.
2/13/2020 10:35:44 am
Let's not forget the binitary God of some Jews and that the First Commandment implies the existence of other Gods. The God of the Jews, Adonai/Elohim/JHVH is specifically the God of the Jews. The God of the Christians is different and Allah is different yet again, in spite of what people say to seem tolerant and help them sleep at night.
2/13/2020 10:43:30 am
There was no such thing as Judaism and Christianity. It was and it always should be Judeo-Christianity and the difference between the two lay in collaboration with the occupiers of Judea. You may not have noticed this, but the New Testament is steeped in the Old Testament and the original scriptures of first century Christianity was the Old Testament before the pedigree of the religion became established during the Second Century and the formation/contrivance of the Gospels.
An American Indologist(!)
2/13/2020 07:34:15 pm
Maybe we should defer to Indian Americanologists regarding religion and history in the US.
religion and history in the US
2/14/2020 03:31:22 am
Founding Fathers decreed Freedom of belief in the US
2/14/2020 03:40:15 am
There's a lot of stuff in Christianity that wasn't developed until centuries and centuries after its formation and is far removed from its initial origins. Yet people don't know that.
2/13/2020 10:21:24 am
Slightly apropos of today's topic...
2/13/2020 12:01:14 pm
How long before someone takes the word "ghost" literally ?
2/13/2020 11:45:57 am
I'd love to hear his explanation of how exactly Rakshasas resemble Neanderthals.
2/13/2020 02:58:53 pm
Shane, he can't tell you how a Rakshasas resembles a Neanderthal, but I can tell you how one nearly got Carl Kolchak:
2/14/2020 11:00:03 am
I remember that one!
Jr. Time Lord
2/14/2020 03:34:43 pm
Kind of surprising this guy didn't claim human tails as proof. If I remember correctly, the majority of these births happen in India. The last one I'm aware of was a little boy born with a 6 inch tail, and worshipped as the reincarnation of The Monkey King. He's surely a full grown man by now.
2/17/2020 09:18:24 pm
hysterical peasant feeding old stories to pets who eventually write an epic could add tails that weren't there to descriptions of apish looking humans
P.D. Moncrief Jr.
2/18/2020 03:17:59 am
Christine Erikson makes a good point. I think Homer speaks of "beast men" who live "north of the Black Sea." There are rumors about Almasty (not Yeti) in the Caucasus area. It MAY be possible that remnants of paleo humans somehow exist in remote areas in small numbers. Henry Gee wrote a pro-cryptozoology article in Nature after the discovery of Homo Floresiensis fossils. There are even legends of Ebo Gogo who may be related to H. F. Speculations, yes, but discoveries sometimes result from speculations.
2/18/2020 01:21:59 pm
The Ramayana doesn't take place, as per actual solid direct evidence, in anywhere near the fourth century or third century, it takes place well before 7,000 BC and predates any known civilization in Western Eurasia.
2/18/2020 06:17:27 pm
The Ramayana contradicts Lord of the Rings therefore the Ramayana is false.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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