The Valmiki Ramayana consists of 7 Kandas. The last chapter called the Uttara Kanda is considered an interpolation, added in later time? Does the the Uttara Kanda mentions about sakas or Greeks? Is it really an interpolation or not?
The answer can be both 'yes' and 'no'. The jury of scholars is still out, how can I student take it upon myself to answer the query. However, by logically analyzing the evidence presented by both schools, the answer tends towards "Yes. Uttara Kaanda is a later interpolation."
Based on the prime evidence in Chapter IV of Baala Kaanda and Chapter CXXVIII (128) of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana, the following reply is made:
Verse 2 of Chapter IV of Baala Kaanda of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana reads as under:
(2) चतुर्विंशत्सहस्त्राणि श्लोकानामुक्तवानृषिः |
तथा सर्गशतान् पञ्च षट्काण्डानि तथोत्तरम् ||
This epic contains twenty four thousand verses split into five hundred chapters in Six Cantos. (Baala Kaanda: Ch IV:2) [The six cantos are Baala Kaanda, Ayodhya Kaanda, Aranya Kaanda, Kishkinda Kaanda, Sundara (Lanka) Kaanda and Yuddha Kaanda.]
However, the interpretation of the last term “तथोत्तरम् ” is explained by many scholars as “thereafter Uttaram”. Hence Uttara Kaanda is an original part of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana. While by usage the term “तथो ”can be interpreted as “thus”, “thereafter” as well as “and”. Though the normal usage allows this interpretation, however the first chapter of Baala Kaanda does not allow such interpretation. The first few stanzas make it clear from the query Maharshi Valmiki addressed to Maharishi Narada.
ॐ तपःस्वाध्यायनिरतं तपस्वी वाग्विदां वरम् |
नारदं परिपप्रच्छ वाल्मीकिर्मुनिपुङ्गवम् ||
को न्वस्मिन् साम्प्रतं लोके गुणवान् कश्च वीर्यवान् |
धर्मज्ञश्च कृतज्ञश्च सत्यवाक्यो दृढव्रतः ||
चारित्रेण च को युक्तः सर्वभूतेषु को हितः |
विद्वान् कः कः समर्थश्च कश्चैकप्रियदर्शनः ||
आत्मवान् को जितक्रोधो ध्युतिमान् कोsनसूयकः |
कस्य बिभ्यति देवाश्च जातरोषस्य संयुगे ||
एतदिच्छाम्यहं श्रोतुं परं कौतूहलं हि मे |
महर्षे त्वं समर्थोsसि ग्यतुमेवंविधं नरम् ||
The interpretation of the 5th Verse is “I am desirous of knowing of such a person and you definitely are capable of enlightening me about such a man.” Maharishi Valmiki having enumerated the qualities he desires in his ideal man, tells Sage Narada that he is definitely capable of answering the query.
बहवो दुर्लभाश्चैव ये त्वया कीर्तिता गुणाः |
मुने वक्ष्याम्यहं बुद्ध्वा तैर्युक्तः श्रूयतां नरः ||
इक्ष्वाकुवंशप्रभवो रामो नाम जनैः श्रुतः |
नियतात्मा महावीर्यो द्युतिमान् धृतिमान् वशी ||
The reply of Sage Narada was “The unique and difficult characteristics you have described to be found in any one person is very difficult – almost impossible – but after much reflection I think that there is one such person. Please listen attentively.
Born in the Ikshvaku dynasty, there is one such person, who is known amongst the people by the name of Rama. He is renowned for keeping his mind in control, extremely strong, famous and brave, and has conquered his sensual desires.”
Thereafter in the next ninety verses Sage Narada describes the attributes of Sri Ramachandra and his story in brief and concludes now he is ruling over Ayodhya where his rule will last for
दशवर्षसहस्त्राणि दशवर्षशतानि च |
रामो राज्यमुपासित्वा ब्रह्मलोकं प्रयास्यति ||
Ten thousand and ten hundred years (eleven thousand years) before shedding his mortal body.
The printed edition of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana in my hands is the Sixteenth Edition printed by M/S Gita Press, Gorakhpur, in the year Samvat 2053 (1996 C.E.) and the details of the shlokas, etc. are from that edition. In this edition, the Six Cantos Baala Kaanda, Ayodhya Kaanda, Aranya Kaanda, Kishkindha Kaanda, Sundara Kaanda and Yuddha Kaanda comprise of 2270 verses in 77 chapters, 4305 verses in 119 chapters, 2414 verses in 75 chapters, 2437 verses in 67 chapters, 2865 verses in 68 chapters and 5843 verses in 128 chapters totalling 20134 verses in 534 chapters (sargas) in six cantos (kaandas). In this edition Uttara Kaanda comprises of 3538 verses in 111 chapters (and it is annotated that six chapters – verses???? Have not been included.) If Uttara Kaanda is included the sargas become 635 plus 6 and then it is not “तथा सर्गशतान् पञ्च ” but becomes “तथा सर्गशतान् षष्ट ”. Is the second verse of Chapter IV of Baala Kaanda an interpolation to justify the inclusion of Uttara Kaanda as a composition of Valmiki. Chapter IV comprising of 36 verses deals with the story, that Maharshi Valmiki composed the Ramayana consisting of 24,000 verses and taught the same to Lava and Kusha, the twin sons of Seeta Devi. The twins sang the composition in the assembly of sages in the hermitage of Maharishi Valmiki and won great appreciation. It would appear that the entire Chapter IV is a later interpolation added to justify the claim of Uttara Kaanda being part and parcel of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana.
A perusal of the Sixth Canto Yuddha Kaanda apparently makes one wonder whether the Seventh Canto was indeed Maharishi Valmiki’s original work. Shloka 92 – 93 of Chapter 128 of Yuddha Kaanda states that Sri Rama spoke to his devoted brother Lakshmana stating that as the earlier Kings of our dynasty our father, grandfather and great – grandfather ruled wisely and justly over vast tracts of the Earth assisted by a Crown Prince – Heir Apparent, so shall you assist me as the Crown Prince – Heir Apparent. In spite of Sri Rama’s request, explanations and entreaties, Lakshmana flatly refused to be the Crown Prince – Heir Apparent. So Sri Rama anointed Bharata as Crown Prince – Heir Apparent.
Shlokas 107 – 125 enumerates the benefits of reciting, hearing, writing about Srimad Ramayana and benediction to these people. This benediction is usually enumerated at the end of a shruti, song or prayer and thereafter may be a few more verses are sung in conclusion, but definitely not 3,538 or more verses, continuing the main theme / narration. Therefore Uttara Kaanda is most likely not composed by Maharishi Valmiki, but is a later interpolation.
The events described and narrated in Uttara Kaanda are definitely from various Puranas and Upa – Puranas of Sanatana Dharma. But is the Seventh Canto Maharishi Valmiki’s composition?
The jury is still out as the learned scholars still debate this point – but the public at large, especially in heartland of Bharatavarsha have accepted on the basis of faith that Uttara Kaanda is also Maharishi Valmiki’s original composition, strengthened by the work ‘Ramacharitamanas’ by Hindi poet philosopher saint Goswami Tulsidas which includes Uttara Kaanda. Uttara Kaanda of Ramacharitamanas more or less deals with benefits of reciting, hearing the story of Sri Ramachandra rather than continuing about the life of Sri Ramachandra after his coronation.
This is not to say that Uttara Kaanda is not a part of Ramayana, it is most likely not an integral part of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana.
Nilesh Oak, scholar of Ancient Indian History states - "If one means by ‘later addition’, that ‘Uttar Ramayana” was not part of ‘FIRST EDITION’ of Valmiki Ramayana… then logic is ‘Quite obvious”.
On the other hand, if this logic is used to extend it further, to assume, therefore, that ‘Uttara Ramayana’ in INTERPOLATED, then such a claim is without any basis. It is obvious that in ancient times there were no printed editions and hence there could be no first edition, second edition, etc.
(1) Phalashruti: It comes at the end or beginning of a ethical or religious works. My response…..
(I am reproducing). If one means by ‘later addition’, that ‘Uttar Ramayana” was not part of ‘FIRST EDITION’ of Valmiki Ramayana… then logic is ‘Quite obvious”.
Thus I am agreeing that Valmiki completed his first edition in 6 Kandas.
Now to second sub point..
Ramayana is ethical (and religious) work alright. But it is more. Both Ramayana and Mahabharata are Itihas and thus logical for a author to add more info in future editions and/or as seen relevant after the completion of book (e.g. Appendices, notes and so on). Ramayana has Uttara Kanda, Mahabharata has ‘Harivamsha’ as Khila-parva (Appendix)"
Thus Nilesh Oak is also of the opinion the the original Valmiki Ramayana comprised of just six Kaandas and Uttara Kaanda was later created by Valmiki as an appendix. I bow to the wider knowledge and wisdom if Nilesh Oak.
I had also stated that the events in Uttara Kaanda did occur ad it is part of the Itihasa of Ramayana, but it probably is not an composition of Valmiki Ramayana and a later addition - supported by the Sanskrit and Ancient Indian History scholar Nilesh Oak. [Oak's books on history, etc are available on the Amazon].
This question was answered by me long back.
I would like to supplement it with further thoughts.
A 6th century version of Ramayana was found in Kolkatta. In this version, Ramayana ends with Sri Rama's ascension to throne of Kosala Kingdom. There was no mention of Uttara Kanda in this version.
King Dasaratha thought of performing Aswamedha, to beget sons.
तदहं यष्टुमिच्छमि शास्त्रदृष्टेन कर्मणा | कथं प्राप्स्याम्यहं कामं बुद्धिरत्र विचिन्त्यताम् || १-८-९
"Therefore, I contemplate to perform that ritual as enshrined in the scriptures and as a rite-oriented one as well... let this contemplation of mine be well thought of... and as to how my desire to beget sons will be fulfilled."
However, in Uttara Kanda Lakshmana proposes to Sri Rama to perform Aswamedha, to get rid of sins. (2nd sloka of 84th Sarga - Gita Press). So it is contradicting with King Dasaratha's understanding of Aswamedha.
So Uttarakanda is an interpolation.
I believe strongly that Valmiki Ramayana ended with Lord Rama as King and Maata Sita as Queen of Ayodhya.
The essence of Valmiki Ramayana was the winning of righteousness and Dharma over evil and Adharma.
The banishment Sita to the forest,birth of Lava,Kusa never happened in the this Hindu Mythology of Valmiki Ramayana is a complete fiction only to reduce the greatness of Lord Rama and Sita Maata. Also Rama would not send Sita to forest just because some dhobi questioned,and would not impose his superiority with performing Aswamedha Yaga which is against Rama's Nature of live and let live. Rama also did not kill Shambuka. All these are later added fictious versions to severely discredit Lord Rama's greatness.
Finally when Valmiki Ramayana ended with coronation of Lord Rama as King ,Quee Sita of Kosala, any other discussions are useless for the good of humanity.