Thursday, February 29, 2024

Ramayana – 9: Asteroid-hit indicated by bad omens before the war with Khara

A few days after Bharata left with his sandals, Rama found the sages living in that region move out, apprehending trouble from the demon, Khara. In their absence, he also decided to move out of the Chitrakoota. Rama went to the hermitage of sage Atri where Anasuya, the wife of the sage offered her jewels, apparel, and garlands to Sita.

Then, Rama shifted to Dandaka Forest and “stayed there for nearly ten months at some place, elsewhere for one year, at somewhere else for four months, and for five and six months at elsewhere, even at somewhere else for more than a month, and for more than one and half months elsewhere.” (VR: 3-11- 24 to 26). Thus, ten years of exile elapsed (VR: 3-11- 26b, 27b).

Counted from the year Pramoda when he was exiled, he completed ten years by the month of Caitra  in Vikrama year. The year was 5080 BCE.

After the lapse of ten years, Rama shifted to Panchavati on the advice of sage Agastya. This was the 11th year in exile. He met Jatayu soon after, i.e., in the 11th year of exile.

Rama lived in a Parna-shala in Panchavati for some time, says Ramayana (VR: 3-15-31). How long they lived here is not mentioned. From the later events we deduce that they lived peacefully for two full years and certain events started in the 3rd year, i.e., in the 13th year of their exile.

Hemanta ritu in the 13th year.

The talk between Rama and Lakshmana on a morning of Hemanta ritu in the 13th year of exile is detailed in the next sarga after describing how they settled down in Panchavati (VR: 3-16).

It is stated in the 1st verse of this sarga – “sharad vyapaaye Hemanta ritur pravartate” With the Sharad ritu passing off, the Hemanta ritu has set in.

The nature of Hemanta ritu is described in several ways by Lakshmana of which two features stand out, enabling us to deduct the probable date of that talk.

The context was pre-dawn time on a day in the Hemanta Ritu when Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were walking towards river Godavri to have bath and do the morning rituals. During the walk, Lakshmana was describing the scenes around which are commonly found in Hemanta ritu. The sun was cool and continued to be in the direction of Yama (means South), therefore in Dakshinayana (VR:3-16-8). This information along with the mention of the offer of the first produce (aagrayana - आग्रयण) do indicate the month as Margashira (VR:3-16-6). This was not Makara sankaranti ( says so) as Aagrayana is a ritual done when the first harvest is done after the rainy season.

The full moon was already over (VR: 3-16-4), indicating that they were in the waning phase of Margashira. The moon was lusterless due to foggy nights (VR:1-16-13). The lotus ponds were seen with only the stalks of lotuses with their petals withered and aged (VR: 3-16-26). Thus, the change from Karthika to Margashira is beautifully expressed.

The time was the waning phase of Margashira which started from 3rd September in 5078 BCE. The year was Chitrabhanu.

Rising of the Pushya star at night

In that conversation, Lakshmana talked about the rise of the star Pushya in the early night which however could not be seen due to foggy atmosphere. It was Margashira in the first half of the Hemanta ritu when the sun used to rise in Sagittarius and set in Gemini (Mithuna). The star Pushya is in the sign Kataka, that appears after Gemini.

The sun was in the beginning of Sagittarius when the waning phase of the moon had set in. Daylight could last for about ten and a half hours in that month. Sunset in that month used to occur at the early part of Gemini and Pushya will rise 2 hours after sunset. By the time Pushya was rising, a blanket of fog had spread, and it appeared as though Pushya was in a deep sleep. When the fog cleared Pushya had moved well into the sky and there was chilly weather thereafter for three ‘yaama-s’ until the time they were walking towards the river.

निवृत्त आकाश शयनाः पुष्यनीता हिम अरुणाः |

शीता वृद्धतर आयामः त्रि यामा यान्ति सांप्रतम् || -१६-१२

(Meaning: Completely enveloped with tawny coloured fog, the star Pushya had gone to sleep. Chillness continued for three Yaama until now.)

The Yaama gives the clue that there was indeed foggy weather in the early part of night sometime after sunset.

One Yaama is equal to 2 hours and 24 minutes. Three Yaama-s make 7 hours and 12 minutes. After sunset at around 6.30 pm in their location in Panchavati, Pushya must have risen after 8 pm. But by then it became foggy. Assuming that the fog cover was seen from 8 to 10 pm when Pushya’s sign of Kataka was rising, it is indicative of Mun-pani season, i.e., early night fog. It would clear soon, and the night would continue to be cold. Suppose the early night fog cleared by 10 pm, then for the next 7 hours and 12 minutes there was chilly weather. This lasted till 5-30 in the morning. By 5-30 am, it was pre-dawn and Lakshmana, Rama and Sita had woken up and started walking to the river. On this walk, Lakshmana was describing how foggy it was that they could not see Pushya rising and how cold it was for the rest of the night. The description about ‘sleeping’ Pushya and the cold night are depicted in the illustration.

This talk occurred sometime between 3rd September and 16th September 5078 BCE when the waning phase of Margashira was running.

Almost in the same phase, Surpanakha entered their hermitage and was humiliated when she pounced on Sita with an intention to kill her.

Surpanakha complained to her brother Khara. Khara sent 14 demons to attack Rama. Rama killed all the 14 demons. On hearing this, Khara himself decided to take 14,000 demons to attack Rama. At that time horrible portents appeared. Ramayana refers to them as Utpaata (VR: 3-23-18 & 19). A full chapter is about the utpaata witnessed by Khara (VR: 3- 23)

An Utpaata is an omen or portent which is sudden, unusual and unexpected indicating a calamity. There is no mention of any planetary position in this chapter, but scholars like Pushkar Bhatnagar have interpreted the utpaata as solar eclipse! Let us check verse by verse to know what was being described.

This is from the 23rd chapter of Aranya Kanda.

Verse 1: Clouds poured blood.

Verse 2: The horses of Khara’s chariot tottered in a trice even though the surface was even and smooth.

Verse 3: Dark red halo surrounded the sun (the halo is called Parivesha) while the sun appeared like a fireball.

Verse 4: An awful eagle perched on the flag of Khara’s chariot.

Verse 5: Cacophonous and carnivorous predators and vultures took over the nearby places of Janasthaana.

Verse 6: Jackals looked towards the sun and howled.

Verse 7: Sky filled with mountain like clouds having blood.

Verse 8: There was no brightness but sudden darkness of abominable, cataclysmic, hair-raising nature.

Verse 9: The twilight glistened with the colour of blood-red.

Verse 10: Female jackals howled in front of Khara’s army.

Verse 11: Near the sun, a club-like object was hanging like a headless body (Kabandha). It appeared that the sun was eclipsed by Rahu out of season.

Verse 12: Wind blew, and the sun appeared sheen less. Stars appeared like fireflies though it was not night.

Verse 13: At that moment fishes and waterfowls stood still in lakes, lotuses have dried up, flowers and fruits have dropped from trees as though it is night.

Verse 14: Without any puffing of wind dust in brownish red colour is heaved up. Songbirds screamed.

Verse 15: उल्काः अपि निर्घोषा निपेतुः घोर दर्शनाः Ulkaa means meteors. Meteors looking horrible fell down with thunderous sound.

Verse 16: The earth with its mountains and forests quaked shakily.

Verse 17: Khara’s left shoulder quivered excessively (bad omen for men), and his voice was shaky.

Verse 18: Tears shed from his eyes for no reason, his head ached, and he could not be steady in his steps.

Until the 18th verse, only the omens were mentioned. Thereafter Khara was described as ignoring these omens and proceeding to attack Rama.

In the next chapter, Rama is described as expressing the same kind of omens.

VR: 3-24-4: Reddish grey clouds are pouring blood.

VR: 3-24-7: Rama’s right hand repeatedly throbbed (good omen for men)


The entire description revolves around just one kind of Utpaata, namely an asteroid-hit or a meteor shower. Red-coloured appearances such as the rain of blood and dust in reddish hue are associated with NOx created by a meteor-fall. The NOx mixed with any water content turns it red, like blood. This kind of description was found in the Mahabharata too in the fall of a Dhumaketu. All the associated occurrences in a meteor-fall as expressed in the Mahabharata are found in the Ramayana too in this context. The earth quaked. The whirls of winds blew. The rising dust dimmed the sunlight making the sun appear dark reddish with a halo around it and a Kabandha next to it. Darkness appeared in the daytime making the stars visible.

The description of the sun perhaps made scholars think that there was a solar eclipse. It is specifically said in that context that it was ‘aparvani’ – ‘out of season’ - which means there was no Amavasya then for a solar eclipse to happen.

जग्राह सूर्यम् स्वर्भानुः अपर्वणि महाग्रहः

Swarbhanu refers to Rahu. The dullness of the sun gave the impression that Rahu captured the Sun though it was not the time to capture (means not Amavasya). Looking at the other description, it is understood that the darkness was caused by the meteor hit, because no solar eclipse is regarded as a Utpaata and no solar eclipse is associated with rains of blood, bloody dust, whirls of wind, earthquakes and strange behavior of animals. The Kabandha like cloud or the dark patch of atmospheric dust near the sun made Valmiki compare it with Rahu capturing the sun.

Moreover, we can check with the GISP2 maps to check whether a meteor or asteroid had fallen that year (5078 BCE) causing considerable impact. A cosmic impact must/will/is always FOLLOWED by a decrease in global temperatures, and then rebound to higher temperatures compared to the impact date. When I checked the GISP2 graphs for the period between 4050 BCE to 6050 BCE, a sudden and steep drop is found in the year 5078 BCE.

The close-up of the event period is shown below:

It is seen that exactly in the year 5078 BCE, the graph shows a sudden and steep fall indicating a global drop in temperature. The steepness shows that it was indeed a terrible impact. The exact location of the impact might be elsewhere, but meteors had fallen in the Panchavati region, and the effects had been substantial as known from rainfall in blood red colour. Such clouds are induced by the cosmic impact and are considered as important markers for a meteor or asteroid fall.


Exile started: Pramoda year, Caitra Shukla Ekadasi, Pushya, Monday, 18th December, 5091 BCE

Completed 10 years in Dandaka: Vikrama year, Caitra, 5080 BCE

Met Jatayu: 11th year, 5080 BCE.

Started life in Panchavati: 11th year, 5080 BCE

Encounter with Surpanakha : 13th year, waning Margashira (between 3rd September and 16th September 5078 BCE)

Encounter with Khara: 13th year, Hemanta ritu (may be Pushya month) 5078 BCE

Meteor- hit: 5078 BCE (after September 5078 BCE)


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