I wanted to know whether there is any scientific or historical proof that the stories and events mentioned in Ramayana are true or is everything just a made-up story?
This is something I posted a while back in Quora
Veracity of a story is often affirmed through certain evidences mainly,
- Literary; i.e. if the same incident is mentioned repeatedly in many stories by various sources, there could be some truth to it.
- Geographical/Geological; If the places and other landmarks really exist(ed). It again gives more credibility to the story.
- Archaeological; This is the most important source of evidence, which unfortunately rarely provides any in case of myths about humans, because of the devastating effect nature has on human artifacts and creations.
- Astronomical; More potent source of evidence, but with less credibility than archaeological one. The dates and position of celestial bodies in heaven as described in the texts when verified with latest planetary charts can validate the authenticity of the myths.
Ramayana conforms excellently on Literary, Geographical and Astronomical fronts.
Magenta line is the path Rama traveled from Ayodhya to Lanka for Sita during his Vanavaas. The sites like Rameshwaram, Ayodhya, Hastinapur, Kaushal, Mithila, panchavati, Dandakaranya etc. are still in use in modern day India (except Dandakaranya forest, which was later subjected to deforestation for human settlement).
- The Scientific Dating Ramayana and the Vedas - P V Vartak
- The problem of using Astronomy in dating the Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata
Now one can always counter all these arguments saying that
- A person well versed in the geography of India could have simply connected various places in India to craftily concoct a story around them.
- Since, ancient Indian astronomers were experts in their field, they could have easily back calculated the planetary position, and used it in the stories.
I don't have a response to these questions, which begs me to ask about the reason for asking the authenticity of these stories. Does a Hindu need these stories to be true for affirming his belief in Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma)? Does his faith requires Ramayana and Mahabharata to be true to the word? If yes, which version of it? A. K. Ramanujam's 'The 300 Ramayanas' details the myriad variations in the retelling of this one epic in entire South Asia and South East Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, Java and Sumatra.
Hinduism, unlike Abrahamic religions aren't History centric (I'm using the same terminology as used by Mr. Rajiv Malhotra). Even if Ramayana and Mahabharata were classic representation of archetypes instead of real man in blood and bones, it would do no harm to any Hindu, unlike a Muslim for whom the existence of Mohammed is as mandatory as to a Jesus is to a Christian.
Your question seems to me loaded, in the sense that, you wish to juxtapose Science and Religion and want to see one in the light of the other. Hinduism is a religion, it's driven by faith, even if not supported by facts and events as we capture them with our senses, but sense their presence and relevance, because of their impact on the way of life. That's the basis of all religions, not just Hinduism.
Whether you are looking a scientific validation of epic events or you are looking to undermine them by holding them against a scientific mirror, the question may not be valid in this forum because it's likely to produce opinion-based discussions.
Nevertheless, here is an answer that will be honey to your ears :
As scientific and historic studies stand today, there is no irrefutable, conclusive evidence in the scientific, archaeological excavation and historic dates sense about the events in the Ramayana, outside of the calculations and chronological backdating from the framework of Hinduism itself.
However, cultural impact and continuity is considered an integral part in validating and endorsing historic prevalences and other fields related to history, such as cultural anthropology. In that sense, even if it's a story today, there is still scope for future evidence to meet and validate the events.