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For many years Lord Rama and Sita lived together in the forest.

Out of 14 years of exile, in which year was Sita captured by Ravana?

Is there any reference in Valmiki Ramayana about the years?

EDIT: This question is a specific to year of Sita's abduction while the other question is about the ages of characters. What has timeline of events got to do with ages of Ramayana characters?!

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Ravana abducted Sita towards the end of 13th or early part of 14th year of her, Rama and Lakshmana's exile from Ayodhya. There are several references in Valmiki Ramayana to support this fact.

In Aranya Kanda, Sarga 16, Valmiki mentions the ṛtu (season) as Hemantha (late-autumn or pre-winter, Mārgaśīrṣa or Pauṣa month):

vasatastasya tu sukhaṅ rāghavasya mahātmanaḥ.
śaradvyapāyē hēmantaṛturiṣṭaḥ pravartata ৷৷3.16.1৷৷

While the great self Rama lived happily there, autumn passed and dear winter set in.

And later in Aranya Kanda, Sarga 56, Ravana, soon after abducting Sita, warns her that she only has an year to change her mind and marry him:

śṛṇu maithili madvākyaṅ māsāndvādaśa bhāmini ৷৷3.56.24৷৷
kālēnānēna nābhyēṣi yadi māṅ cāruhāsini.
tatastvāṅ prātarāśārthaṅ sūdāśchētsyanti lēśaśaḥ ৷৷3.56.25৷৷

O comely princess from Mithila, O lady with a sweet smile! listen to my words. If you do not accept my hand in the course of twelve months, the cooks will cut you off into small bits for (my) breakfast.

In Sundara Kanda, Sarga 58, Sita tells Hanuman that she's only 2 months left before Ravana would kill her:

yadyanyathā bhavēdētaddvau māsau jīvitaṅ mama.
na māṅ drakṣyati kākutsthō mriyē sāhamanāthavat ৷৷5.58.106৷৷

Otherwise with none to protect me, I will live only for two months. I will die like an orphan and he [Rama] will not see me.

Then it took Rama and the vānarās a couple of months to build the Nala-setu, reach Lanka and finally defeat Ravana in the Phālguna month, an year after Sita was kidnapped. Rama frees Sita immediately after Ravana is killed and then they all head back to Ayodhya after the 14-year exile.

One particular attempt at astronomically dating the Ramayana, provides the following timeline for some major events of Ramayana:

Rama's Birth Date            4th  December 7323 B.C


Rama-Seeta Married           7th  April    7307 B.C


Rama Exiled                  29th November 7306 B.C.


Hanuman enters Lanka         1st September 7292 B.C


Hanuman meets Seeta          2nd September 7292 B.C.


Setu (Bridge) built          26-30th Oct.  7292 B.C 
on the ocean


The War begins               3rd  November 7292 B.C


Kumbhakarna is killed        7th  November 7292 B.C.


Ravana is killed by Rama     15th November 7292 B.C.


Rama returns to Ayodhya       6th December 7292 B.C.
  • Good answer but why did you mention that 7292 BC stuff? Not all agree with that. Events may recur. Matsya Purana says Ramayana happened in 24th Treta Yuga. – The Destroyer Oct 6 '16 at 18:07
  • I mentioned it because it made sense to me. Some people want to call Ramayana recent history, others suggest it happened millions of years ago, but whatever one's belief is, we cannot ignore research done on the subject. 'Events may recur' - true...but what about seasons and alignment of stars? "Do planetary positions repeat themselves in each Yuga cycle?" in this question has not been addressed but the answer is accepted. – sv. Oct 6 '16 at 19:39
  • sv- I suggest removing the part related to ages of the characters for two reasons. One -it is not what the question requests. Two, the Ramayana did not happen in the current yuga cycle. So the dates of 7k b.c. are wrong. – user1195 Oct 7 '16 at 15:52
  • @moonstar2001 Assuming Ramayana did not happen in the current yuga cycle (7000 BC), what is your view on some people calling Lanka of Ramayana same as current day Sri Lanka? What is the problem you see in the article I linked and its analysis based on alignment of stars? The article I linked assumes Lanka = Sri Lanka. – sv. Oct 7 '16 at 16:49
  • I do not have an opinion one way or the other wrt Lanka= Sri Lanka. There is other evidence also corroborating this ,such as the discovery of Rama Setu whose age was calculated to be more than a million years. There is overwhelming evidence/scholarly discourse that the Ramayana took place way before the dates mentioned in the answer. Please remove that portion of the answer as it is more false than true. – user1195 Oct 8 '16 at 0:51

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