Can someone please give timelines of Ramayana, Mahabharta, Vedas, and Upanishads?

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Klaus K. Klostermaier's A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism has the following traditional dates for Hindu scriptures starting with the Vedas.


The chronology of Ancient India up to the time of Buddha is at present the focus of fierce scholarly debates. The majority of Indian scholars assume a date of 4000 BCE for the Ṛgveda, rejecting also the so-called 'Aryan invasion theory', whereas the majority of Western scholars maintain the invasion theory and date the Ṛgveda to 1500–1200 BCE. The chronology offered here represents largely the traditional Indian position.

Indians who do not use the Western (Gregorian) calendar have several other systems of dating. The most common eras used in today's India are samvat (beginning 57 BCE) and śaka (beginning 78 CE).

On the basis of the more recent research, based on archaeology and astronomy, the following chronology can be tentatively established:

c. 4000 BCE  Earliest Vedic hymns

c. 3500 BCE  Early Harappan civilization

c. 3100 BCE  Traditional dates for the 'Great Flood' and Manu Vaivasvata

c. 3000–2750 BCE  Traditional date for Yayāti Period

c. 2750–2550 BCE  Traditional date for Māndhātri Period

c. 2700–1500 BCE  Mature Indus civilization

c. 2350–1950 BCE  Traditional date for Rāmacandra period

c. 1900 BCE  Age of Rāmāyaṇa

c. 1500–500 BCE  Major Upaniṣads, development of early Sāṃkhya, early Pūrva Mīmāṁsā

c. 1400 BCE  Great Bharata War – Age of Kṛṣṇa. Early version of Mahābhārata

c. 1200 BCE  Early Sūtra literature. Consolidation of Vedic civilization: Manusmṛti

624–544 BCE  Life of Gautama Buddha according to traditional reckoning

527 BCE  End of Mahāvīra's earthly life according to Jain tradition

518 BCE  Persian invasion under Skylax and conquest of the Indian satrapy for Darius I

c. 500 BCE–500 CE  Composition of Śrauta Sūtras, Gṛhya Sūtras, Dharma Sūtras, Vedāṇgas; the basis of the orthodox systems; composition of the epics and the original Purāṇas

c. 500–200 BCE  Composition of the Bhagavad-gītā

c. 500–200 BCE  Bādarāyaṇa's Vedānta Sūtra

c. 490–458 BCE  Reign of Ajātaśatru, king of Magadha

c. 400 BCE  Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī (Grammar)

c. 400–200 BCE  Jaimini's Pūrvamīmāṁsā Sūtra

327–325 BCE  Alexander of Macedonia's invasion of India

c. 322–298 BCE  Reign of Candragupta of Magadha

c. 300 BCE  Megasthenes, Greek Ambassador to Magadha

c. 300 BCE  Kauṭilya's Arthaśāstra (according to some scholars: 100 CE) Gautama's Nyāya Sūtras and Kaṇāda's Vaiśeṣika Sūtra

c. 273–237 BCE  Reign of Aśoka

c. 200 BCE–100 CE  Invasions of Śuṅgas, Iranians, Śakas and Kuṣāṇas, who founded kingdoms in India

c. 200 BCE–200 CE  Peak period of Buddhist and Jain influence

c. 150 BCE–100 CE  Patañjali's Mahābhāṣya

c. 115 BCE  Besnagar inscription of Heliodorus with a mention of Kṛṣṇa worship

c. 100 BCE–500 CE  Patañjali's Yoga Sūtra

c. 100 BCE–100 CE  Upavarṣa's commentary on Pūrvamīmāṁsā Sūtra and Vedanta Sūtra

c. 100 BCE–400 CE  Śabara-bhāṣya on Jaimini Sūtras

c. 100 BCE–800 CE  Composition of Tirukkural

c. 100 BCE  Early Mathura sculpture; images of gods in temples

c. 25 BCE  Indian embassy to Emperor Augustus of Rome

c. 50 CE  First documentation of images of gods with several pairs of arms

c. 10  Indian embassy to Emperor Trajan of Rome

c. 100–500  Expansion of Hinduism in South-East Asia

c. 100–200  Yājñavalkyasmṛti

c. 100–300  Viṣṇudharma Sūtra

c. 100–400  Nāradasmṛti

c. 200–500  Composition of Viṣṇu Purāṇa

c. 250–325  Sāṃkhya Kārikā of Īśvarakṛṣṇa

c. 300–600  Composition of some of the older Purāṇas in their present form

c. 300–888  Pallava rulers in South India (Kāñcīpuram)

c. 319–415  Gupta empire of Mathurā

c. 400–500  Vātsyāyana's Kāma Sūtra

c. 400  Composition of Harivaṃśa Purāṇa, Ahirbudhnya Saṃhitā. Age of Kalidāsa, the greatest Indian dramatist. Spread of Vaiṣṇavism, especially Kṛṣṇa cult. Beginning of Tantricism

c. 400–500  Vyāsa's Yoga-bhāṣya


David R. Kinsley, in Hinduism: A Cultural Perspective, gave the following timeline that begins with the end of Indus Valley Civilization.

David Kinsley chronology

A similar chronology is also available in Encyclopedia of Hinduism by Constance A. Jones and James D. Ryan:

3600 B.C.E. to 1700 B.C.E.

  • Indus Valley civilization, including sites at Mohenjodaro and Harappa, prospers. Archaeological finds include a seal that some scholars identify as a proto-Shiva.


  • Indo-Iranian people settle in Iran (Persia) and Afghanistan.


  • Drying up of Sarasvati River due to climate changes. End of Indus-Sarasvati culture; center of civilization in ancient India relocates from the Sarasvati River to the Ganges River.

1500 B.C.E.

  • Compilation of Rig Veda Samhita (the earliest extant text in Hinduism).

1000 B.C.E.

  • End of compilation of the three original Vedas: Rig, Yajur, and Sama.


  • Decline of Sanskrit as a spoken language occurs over the next 300 years.

800 to 400 B.C.E.

  • Orthodox Upanishads are compiled.


  • Prakrits (vernacular or "natural" languages) develop among India's various cultures, as evidenced from later Buddhist and Jain works.


  • Birth of Mahavira Vardhamana (c. 599–527), 24th Tirthankara, Jain master who stresses vegetarianism, asceticism, and nonviolence.


  • Birth of Siddhartha Gautama (563–483), the Buddha.

c. 500 to 200 B.C.E.

  • Over these 300 years numerous secondary Hindu scriptures (smriti) are composed: Shrauta Sutras, Grihya Sutras, Dharma Sutras, Mahabharata, Ramayana, puranas, and others.

c. 450

  • Panini composes his Sanskrit grammar, the Ashtadhyayi.

c. 400 B.C.E.

  • Dharmashastra of Manu develops. Its verses codify cosmogony, four ashramas, government, domestic affairs, caste, and morality.

  • The Ajivikas, an ascetic, atheistic sect of naked sadhus reaches the height of its popularity.

  • Adversaries of the Buddha and the Jain Mahavira, they have a philosophy that is deterministic, holding that everything is inevitable.


  • When you had opted for closing of my question on the ground of speculation, you should have opted for closing this question also, as this question calls for data from history. Why did not you do it? May I know? @sv. – Srimannarayana K V Aug 16 '20 at 11:03
  • Does this comment answer your question? The user there voluntarily deleted his question after reading my comment. @SrimannarayanaKV – sv. Aug 16 '20 at 17:48
  • I'm pasting the same comment here again for discussion: "Scientific speculation (searching for modern scientific discoveries in Hindu scripture, scientific reasons behind Hindu rituals/practices, etc.) is off-topic for this site. See this meta post." @SrimannarayanaKV – sv. Aug 16 '20 at 17:49
  • Simply asking, How old is Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, etc. can be answered using either Hindu scripture or as I did here, from books written by secular historians. Neither the question nor the answer engages in scientific speculation. Your question ('Did Ramayana occur 1.6 million years ago?') on the other hand has this line: "Modern anthropologists say that elephants with four tusks existed 12-1.6 million years ago." - you have now entered the scientific speculation zone and the accepted answer does not cite a single reference from Hindu scripture. @SrimannarayanaKV – sv. Aug 16 '20 at 18:05
  • Now to validate that answer, we need users from Biology SE and other science-centric SE sites. But those users don't visit this site. This is why we close questions that only expect answers from a purely science POV as off-topic ("scientific speculation"). The problem is not with the answer posted but the question seeking such an answer. I didn't understand this site rule very well back in 2015 when you asked the question, but after reading the answer it became clear the problem is with the question itself. Hope it's now clear. It's nothing personal. @SrimannarayanaKV – sv. Aug 16 '20 at 18:17

Rig veda II.15.6, dedicated to Indra, says

सोदञ्चं सिन्धुमरिणान महित्वा वज्रेणान उषसः सं पिपेष | अजवसो जविनीभिर्विव्र्श्चन सो... ||

sodañcaṃ sindhumariṇān mahitvā vajreṇāna uṣasaḥ saṃ pipeṣa | ajavaso javinībhirvivṛścan so... ||

With mighty power he made the Sindhu (stream) flow Northward/upward, crushed with his thunderbolt the car of Uṣas, Rending her slow steeds with his rapid coursers. These things did Indra in the Soma's rapture.

The rishis composed the mantras of Rig Veda in esoteric manner. So it is very difficult to say whether Indra's act describes diversion of flow of Sindhu in Northern direction or in SPIRITUAL sense.

If it is viewed in physical sense, then the time period at which the direction of Sindhu was turned in Northern direction, is the period at which Rig Veda was composed.

May be lakhs of years ago.

The composition of Upanishads was done in Classical Sanskrit. Hence, the time period for composition of Upanishads shall be around 600 BCE.

Ramayana occurred almost 16 lakh years ago. However, the composition of Ramayana was done in Classical Sanskrit, as was the case of Upanishads. Hence, the time period for composition of Ramayana shall be around 600 BCE.

Mahabharata occurred much later. It was around 3100 BC.

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