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One of the fundamental differences between the Buddhist Daśaratha-Jātaka and the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa is that Sītā is portrayed as Rāma's half-sister in the Jātaka:

Once upon a time, at Benares, a great king named Dasaratha renounced the ways of evil, and reigned in righteousness. Of his sixteen thousand wives, the eldest and queen-consort bore him two sons and a daughter; the elder son was named Rama-paṇḍita, or Rama the Wise, the second was named Prince Lakkhaṇa, or Lucky, and the daughter's name was the Lady Sītā.

Whereas, per Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Janaka miraculously finds Sītā while plowing the field one day, adopts her and names her Sītā:

atha me kṛṣhataḥ kṣhetram lāṃgalāt utthitā mama || 1-66-13
kṣhetram śhodhayatā labdhvā nāmnā sītā iti viśhrutā |

Later, when I was ploughing the ritual field then raised by the plough [from the furrow is a baby girl... since she is] gained while consecrating the ritual-field, she is named as Seetha, and thus she is renowned... [1-66-13b, 14a]


I want to know if Daśaratha-Jātaka predates Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa or vice versa or are both of them independent and parallel works derived from an even older version of Rāmāyaṇa.

PS. Please don't answer citing blogs or Wikipedia.

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    Really @sv ?!?! – user1195 Mar 11 '17 at 2:35
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    I think the Dasaratha Jataka is conflating Shanta and Sita. In any case, the Valmiki Ramayana is leaps and bounds older than the Dasaratha Jataka. The Valmiki Ramayana was composed in the 24th Treta Yuga of the present Vaivasvata Manvantara. The Dasaratha Jataka, like all the Jataka tales, were composed after the time of Buddha. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 11 '17 at 4:35
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    And by the way, this isn't atypical for a Jataka tale; the Ghata Jataka, which I discuss in my question here, similarly messes up Krishna's family tree. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 11 '17 at 4:39
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    @sv. OK, but do you at least believe that the Ramayana was composed by Valmiki contemporaneously with Rama's life, as the Ramayana itself says? If so, then the conclusion that the Valmiki Ramayana was composed before the time of Buddha is inescapable. After all, the Jataka tales were written after the time of Buddha and are supposed to about the the previous births of Buddha before he was born as Siddhartha Gautama. So logically the Jataka tales cannot possibly be older than the Valmiki Ramayana. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 11 '17 at 6:16
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    @sv. Do you really believe this? Really? – The Destroyer Mar 11 '17 at 6:29
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Valmiki is Lord Ramas contemporary. For eg. In the Ayodhya Kanda Lord Rama, along with Sita and Sri Lakshmana meet Valmiki in Chitrakuta forest.

इति सीता च रामश्च लक्ष्मणश्च कृताञ्जलिः |
अभिगम्याश्रमम् सर्वे वाल्मीकि मभिवादयन् || २-५६-१६

After deciding thus Seetha, Rama and Lakshmana all with joined palms approached the hermitage and offered salutation to the sage Valmiki.

Thus this clearly proves that Ramayana written by Sage Valmiki is the Original one. Now, if you believe Rama came after Buddha then one can't do anything.

As a sidenote all the Jataka tales are written after the period of Buddha. They are considered the stories which were told by Buddha to make layman person understand various theories like law of Karma, law of reincarnation. Obviously the Dasaratha Jataka is also clear on it as in the last part it is stated:

The Master having ended this discourse, declared the Truths, and identified the Birth: (now at the conclusion of the Truths, the land-owner was established in the fruit of the First Path:) "At that time the king Suddhodana was king Dasaratha, Mahāmāyā was the mother, Rāhulā's mother was Sītā, Ānanda was Bharata, and I myself was Rāma-paṇḍita."

So, it's clear that Dasaratha Jataka is a story told by Buddha.

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    Thanks for attempting to answer. Interesting reference you've used. But logically this answer has some problems. You're using Valmiki Ramayana itself to prove Rama was Valmiki's contemporary. It's like saying because Valmiki Ramayana says Rama ruled for 10,000 years and Dasaratha lived for 60,000 years they really did live so long. But those are clearly exaggerated #'s as other ages within Valmiki Ramayana clearly contradict that. – sv. Mar 11 '17 at 18:57
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    Also, in your answer here you say Valmiki was also Pandavas' contemporary. Everybody cannot be everybody's contemporary. Please add some sources to support the later part of your answer (right now it sounds like an opinion). Thanks. "Now, if you believe Rama came after Buddha then one can't do anything." - No, I don't believe so. – sv. Mar 11 '17 at 19:00
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    @sv. I'm not sure what refrences should I use (you may suggest me😀😀).. Valmiki Ramayana is called Adi Kãvya and I do not find any Itihasa older than it... Certainly Vedas do not mention about Rama and Valmiki... – Tejaswee Mar 12 '17 at 1:49
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    @sv. It depends on how you take contemporary. Do you believe Hanuman was Ramas contemporary or not?... But Hanuman was also Pandavas contemporary in Mahabharata (for eg. Bhima met Hanumana)... You can make your own theory to explain these... (also what do you mean by sources in latter part)... – Tejaswee Mar 12 '17 at 1:51
  • I meant references for "all the Jataka tales are written after the period of Buddha", "Theravada Buddhism .. considers many Jataka tales as not being authoritative.." – sv. Mar 12 '17 at 2:20
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The OP stated in the question that Sītā is portrayed as Rāma's half-sister in the Jātaka.

However, the story of Jātaka in question clearly states that Of his sixteen thousand wives, the eldest and queen-consort bore him two sons and a daughter. So Sita was mentioned as the own sister of Rama-paṇḍita.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Coming to my answer, I had found the following issues worth mentioning:

  1. The Jātaka tales are a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the previous births of Gautama Buddha in both human and animal form, dating their average contents to around the 4th century BCE. Many of the Buddhist texts appeared much later to his leaving the human body. So orally transmitted stories might have been altered to suit that age.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jataka_tales

  1. Siddhartha, the Gautama married to his cousin Yaśodharā. However, the Dasaratha-Jataka tells about Rama-paṇḍita marrying his own sister Sita. Was there any tradition in ancient/modern India, where children of same parents marrying? Very peculiar. This Dasaratha Jataka may not be reliable.

  2. Though some of the incidents in both Dasaratha Jataka and Ramayana had been quite similar, this Jataka story does end with coronation of Rama-pandita after completion of his exile period, but Ramayana deals with birth of Sita as ayonija, abduction of Sita, elimination of Vali, Search for Sita, Construction of a bridge over ocean, war between Sri Rama and Ravana and finally coronation of Sri Rama.

  3. Further, we have to understand 6 Pramanas, which the teachers of Advaita Vedanta philosophy had codified for resorting to right means, to understand various issues. Which pramana has to be resorted to & also when, is decided by the situation and the nature of object concerned.

http://www.vmission.org.in/vedanta/articles/pramanas.htm

  1. The sixth Pramana is Sabda. Sabda pramana is verbal testimony. It is also called ‘apta-vakyas’ (statement of a trust-worthy person), and agama (authentic word).

  2. Saints are considered to be in Union with the God and the words that flow from them will never be untrue. In case of inconsistency in Sastras, the words/advice of saints can be relied upon. The sixth Pramana is Sabda, coming from a trust-worthy person refers to, in my opinion, the utterances of Saints.

  3. Sri Shirdi Sai, a renowned saint, had a talk with one of his devotees. The discourse is as follows:

One devotee of Shri Sai Baba was Shama. Shama was the closest of Sai Baba, and shared a relationship of a closest friend, with Saibaba. Shama would speak with Sai Baba, as a closest friend speaks, quite knowing the stature of Sai Baba.

Once the following incident took place. Shama asked Sai Baba,

"Deva (Shama always use to address Sai Baba by Deva, meaning God) it is written in Ramayana that Lord Rama got a bridge built by 1 crore (10 million) monkeys. This bridge (is called Setu) spanned the sea, so Lord Rama and his troops could cross the sea and reach Lanka. There He waged war with Ravana and vanquished him. Deva, is this true."

Sai Baba replied, "Yes this is true. The sea is real and Lord Rama was really there."

Shama inquired, "Deva, where did so many monkeys sit? And how did they sit?

Sai Baba replied, "They sat on the trees and clung to the branches. They looked like myriads of ants."

Then Shama asked Sai Baba, which perhaps only he could lovingly dare, "Did You see this with your own eyes?"

Sai Baba replied, "Yes, yes I saw them with my own eyes. Alright Shama."

Shama again said what only he could lovingly dare, "When I first saw You, You hardly had a stubble of mustache (a popular way in India to suggest youngsters). Then how and when did You go to see 'Vanar Sena(troops of monkeys) Re.' "

Sai Baba replied, " Shamyaa (as He lovingly called Shama) you and I have been together for many generations. I remember them but you do not."

In wonders Shama asked, "How old were You then?"

Sai Baba, "Just as you see me now."

Shama could not grasp the immensity of this spiritual fact or truth. He persisted, "Is this really true?"

Sai Baba as always, "Have I ever lied sitting here in the Dwarkamai? What I say is true. I swear by you."

&&&&&&

So Ramayana did happen. Whether historical evidences of our time support that fact or not, it is immaterial.

  • 'apta-vakyas (statement of a trust-worthy person)' - what if statements of 2 different trustworthy people contradict? How do you determine who is more trustworthy? Even if Ramayana (the base story) is historical, Shirdi Sai Baba was not present at the time, so how can one accept his statements as pramana? – sv. May 14 at 17:59
  • @sv.: what if statements of 2 different trustworthy people contradict? How do you determine who is more trustworthy?Good question. However, I am talking about a Saint, who has no desires and who attained highest state in the Spiritual realm. As far as I understood, a saint, who attained highest state, will be equal to the God and never speaks a lie. So we can believe such a saint. – srimannarayana k v May 15 at 4:33
  • @sv.:Your another question: Shirdi Sai Baba was not present at the time, so how can one accept his statements as pramana? A saint like Sri Shirdi Sai, who attained highest state in the Spiritual realm, will always remain merged in the God. The God has another name called TIME. Sri Krishna said I am time (कालोऽस्मि - BG 11.32). TIME will have no beginning and ending. And, whoever merges into the TIME, can view anything occurred at any point of time. So we can accept the words of such a saint. – srimannarayana k v May 15 at 4:38

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