Ramayana in the view of a scientist

The greatest epic of India, in the view point of a scientist. Through this interview, GnanaBoomi tries to get clarification on many a pressing questions on the Ramayana related to today’s science. The author who has written a book on Ramayana from a scientific perspective clarifies them all.

If there is anything that is read, heard, watched, debated, loved and cherished over and over again through all the mediums you can think of for centuries together, it is The Ramayana and The Mahabharata, beyond a doubt with Ramayana being the Adhi-Kavya. Inspired from the original Valmiki Ramayana, the Kamba Ramayanam being the oldest among the rest of may be a hundred versions, we have Ramayana in many a languages. Recently, the Internet God Google has been instrumental for a version of it. It is one of the rarest of the rarest which makes you read it, watch it and listen to it no matter how many times you have already done so. It is not an exaggeration to say that Ramayana and Mahabharata are the direct or indirect inspiration for all the stories across the world.

The two epics stand out of the rest in their marvelous revelations about history, geography and the knowledge that was common in those times. Our forefathers were superior in their scientific knowledge that the recent discoveries stand as testimonials, so open and bold they were, that they challenge us to take it up, question it and verify it for ourselves.

Rather than being just a story, there are references for scientific facts, innovation for those who look for it. But, The Ramayana has been visited mostly for its divinity, moral character and on top, the incomparable story line which amazes the children of all ages. Through their dominance, the scientific facts normally gets overlooked. This probably resulted in many a passer-by comments it received and is generalized under the not-so-adequate word Mythology. We have had those pressing questions in our minds too. Was it real? Did such a man really exist in our country? Can somebody lift a mountain? Is that all possible and so on and so forth. They even said that a person of science will really laugh at such stories. But the questions persist.

But here’s a person who looks at it in the scientific sense and perceives the same story in a different perspective and reassures that our motherland has indeed produced the greatest of men and women who pioneered even in science and technology. He has written a book and aptly named “Valmiki Ramayanam, A scientist’s view”.

Yes, the author is a scientist.


This book can be obtained by emailing the author (krishlal @ yahoo dot com).

Ramayana, a scientists’s point of view.

This is one of the must-have books for anyone who wants to have the scientific view on the greatest epic. Need we say more that it will strengthen our views towards our country, its tradition, the character that Rama glorifies,
its culture and most importantly, it will restore the fact that we are the heirs of our great forefathers with the same potential?


GnanaBoomi interviewed him with some of these pressing questions:

[GB] Vanakkam and welcome to Gnana Boomi. Please tell us about yourself.

  • I am Krishnan, was born in 1932, raised in Madras (now Chennai), studied in The Vivekananda College and The Presidency college. Then I moved to Delhi and worked in The National Physical Laboraotry. I worked under Sir. K.S. Krishnan FRS, submitted a thesis in The Madras Univarsity and got my M.Sc. degree in 1960. Soon I left for Paris and worked there and got my D.Sc. degree from the Universoty of Paris (Sorbonne). I joined Laboratory of Magnetism and stayed on till I retired as the Director of Research in 1997. I was the head of a group working on novel Magnetic Materials for Information Storage. I had started collaboration with various labs in India since 1980 and this goes on even now. My main collaboration now is with IITB, Mumbai. I am now an Honorary scientist in my old lab which has changed its name since as GEMAC and situated in Versailles, a famous suburb of Paris. We continue to live in Paris but since my retirement, my wife and myself visit India during winter particularly to listen to Carnatic music and of course visiting temples, friends and relatives.

[GB] That is very impressive. Ramayana from a scientist’s view is not only interesting but something that we all have always looked for. What attracts a person of science towards the epic apart from its beautiful story line?

  • There are ever so many editions of Ramayana written by great Pundits. Why should person like me attempt to write one more version? The incident which led me into writing this book is… In September 2008 I happened to lay my hands on ‘Valmiki Ramayanam’, sixteen volumes of it, which my father used to read daily during his prayers (Ramayana Parayanam) for over twenty years. I have heard him reading it over and over again and going in raptures about it which made me wonder. He used to tell us that all modern inventions existed already in those ancient times. I have also listened ever since my childhood to scores of discourses on Ramayana by Pundits but I never had a clue of what modern invention or knowledge existed in that period. It is known that the ultimate goal of a man is to get out of the cycle of birth and death and this spiritual pursuit to understand the Paramatma or the Eternal Brahman forms the basis of the studies of our Puranas and Ithihasas. So no special attention is paid generally on details which are rather ‘terre à terre’. Though this is understandable, in my humble opinion this is not really justified because our seers had realized so much in the hoary past. Our ancestors questioned where the Universe came from and how it functioned.

They knew Mathematics, Medicine, Geography, Astronomy and Astrology and so on. This was a time when most of the rest of the world lived in total ignorance. I feel that it is our duty to reveal this to the younger generations or else it could create a general feeling that everything came from the West and there was nothing in India. This feeling gradually could develop into a sort of inferiority complex and one is no longer proud about one’s own country. Furthermore this lack of knowledge of our past achievements could also seriously impair our progress. Therefore I wanted to read for myself and bring out these aspects that could be found in our Ithihasas.

I would like to caution and say that one should not also overdo and say that everything originated in India!

I am a scientist by profession and hence the type of treasure that I searched in Valmiki’s great work and my view of things could be somewhat different and perhaps be of interest. So I decided to find out for myself such details.

[GB] Is Valmiki Ramayana the main source of reference in your work?

  • I started reading all the volumes of ‘Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam’ by Late Rao Sahib P.S. Krishnaswami Iyer of Mylapore, edited by M.N. Ramaswami Iyer. I read with great interest and it was indeed a discovery for me. I personally derived a great deal of peace and happiness in having spent several months reading this great epic of Valmiki. I read the Tamil translation carefully and also those verses in Sanskrit which described some interesting details in order to appreciate (using my limited knowledge of Sanskrit) the translation better. Though I have closely followed the above work, in certain instances I also consulted the translation of a few others in order to get a balanced view. I was very much impressed to find so many rich details and interesting information on several aspects of tradition, culture, Astronomy, Geography and so on which are not generally talked about and which I have highlighted in my book.

[GB] Can you please provide an example in the Valmiki Ramayana for the interesting information on tradition, culture or science? 

  • Valmiki’s deep knowledge of Astronomy and Astrology is amazing. I was surprised to discover that iron was already in use in Ramayana period. Let us note that the westerners attribute a much later period for the use of iron and also claim that the knowledge of planets came to India from the Greeks! I think it is our duty to reveal such treasures to the younger generation. We have been insisting perhaps a bit too much on spiritual matters found in our ancient works but not revealing any aspect dealing with science and technology. This situation has given us a complex (at least for me) and one feels that the West knows things better. I wanted to do something to put things in the proper perspective and here is my humble attempt to do so.

[GB] I recall an article which I read earlier, where Valmiki mentions about an eclipse when Hanuman flew over the ocean to Sri Lanka. This was later verified with the help of software technology, when dated back to the days of Ramayana, there happened to be an eclipse as per the planetary positions. There are articles mentioning the exact date of birth of Rama to be on the noon of January 10 in the year 5114 BC. Do we have a scientific validation for these?

  • This is a ticklish question. There are instances where one finds the mention of Eclipses and other celestial objects. The experts believe that basing on eclipses could be hazardous. How the configuration of planets etc. could be more helpful. This aspect is still a bit uncertain and gives us only some approximate dates. The genealogy also helps to fix the dates.

[GB] From a scientist’s perspective, do you think that our forefathers embedded greater truths and values in to stories, an easy medium to recall and sustain? If so, what is the value or truth that Ramayana teaches us?

  • Ramayana teaches about the way of life but also to tell us about the way of life in those times and what interesting things existed.

[GB] We are blamed to be dwelling too much in our glorious past! How is Ramayana useful in today’s world, in the field of science and technology? How can the ‘cool dudes of Facebook’ relate to it?

  • It is somewhat true we do recall the achievements of our ancestors may be a bit too often. But this became and continues to become necessary. In the first place after a couple of centuries of foreign rule we people have lost our confidence and self respect. This foreign rule has instilled in most of us an inferiority complex leading to the feeling that the West knows best. Therefore it is necessary to recall the past glory to remind us that we too had achieved things but in the ancient past. Any civilization decays-Greek, roman and so on but ours has suffered greater damage. When one finds in Ramayana certain examples which would help this situation and when I find that these are generally not mentioned, it pains me.

[GB] The Atharvana Veda allegedly talks about missiles and air-planes that flies with air, water etc! Did you find any such interesting notes from Valmiki?

  • Valmiki per se does not describe the functioning of these. He just mentions the existence of Vimana (Bhagavadam also mentions this) usage of destructive missiles etc. There are other works which describe more in detail about these. Rishi Bhardwaja has written a treatise on Vimanas but we have only fragments available now. Some of these documents have been taken away by foreigners (Germans) who seem to have benefitted from them.

[GB] A weird question. During the Aswamedha Yagna that Dasharatha performs, the translation from the original text of Valmiki allegedly talks about the queens mating with the slain horse etc. Though it sounds bizarre and ridiculous, these phrases are repeatedly pointed by those who preach negative on the Sanatana Dharma and particularly bash Ramayana. What is your view on those texts?

  • These are not Valmiki’s words so I did not come across such a description. The only thing he says is that the queen killed the horse in the end.

[GB] We now know that Medha in Ashwamedha Yajna does not mean sacrifice, but it also means the welfare. See here

[GB] From a scientific point of view, what do you think of the possibility of constructing a bridge over the sea, the pushpaka vimana, celestial weapons, lifting the mountain etc.?

  • Building a bridge is quite feasible considering the length which was probably not too much as it is today. Also the sea could have been shallow those days! There are instances where Bhrama Astra was used and it is believed that this was probably based on nuclear energy. Recently it was found that in the Valley of Mohenjadaro some skeletons were unearthed. The way they were found in certain positions would indicate that the death occurred in a very short instance, like Hiroshima bombing! Also both in Ramayana and Mahabharatha one finds mention that much caution was employed before using Bhramastra. Lakshmana requests Ram not to use it to destroy the sea God for he says why destroy some innocent people? One only surmise as more details are not given at least in these works.

[GB] Some claim that the birth place of Rama is not the Ayodhya of India, but as per the texts of Valmiki Ramayana, the geographical location of Ayodhya of Ramayana is in Nepal, with Sarayu river too. Do we have an authentic reference from the Valmiki Ramayana about this?

  • The description by Valmiki of the surroundings and how they left for the forest etc. would fix it as Ayodhya as we know of it today, in India.

[GB] Do we have any scientific validation on the period of Ramayana & on Hanuman flying over, lifting the mountain etc.

  • As I said about the period we cannot be so certain. Flying mountains could be figurative.

[GB]NASA released a photograph of a allegedly man-made bridge, the Rama-Sethu. Do you think that it is indeed the bridge?

  • One could say that it resembles a pathway- may be the remains of a bridge.

[GB] The most famous Sanjeevani. It is believed to bring back the dead to life. How does the modern science look at it? 

  • The science never admits things unless proven. Many things are cured today which was not possible some 50 or 100 years ago! So we cannot be certain on such matters. Again, The Ramayana dates back to at least 7000 years, where there could be no knowledge about many things. Unlike the Vedas, which followed the oral tradition, the Ithihasa – Puranas are believed to have undergone modifications and interpolations. 

{GB} True. The Vedas were only recited orally and in groups (hence the name Veda Kosha), thus avoiding any possible adulteration. In addition, the Vedas contain cross verification technique, making it fool proof. Indeed, marvelous. 

[GB] The cover of the book is unique. Usually we see the primal characters of the story depicted in the cover. What does this depict?  Cover

  • The picture is that of a Nebula some 5000 light years from us. I felt that if light had travelled from faces of Rama, Sita and all could travel that distance it would be visible there by now! Just a fancy.

Sweet! Thank you for your time sir. We are honored to have known you and we truly appreciate the value this book will bring in, to know our own tradition only more scientifically. Thank you again.

  • You are very welcome.

Further Reads:


Who was Rama – Myth or Historical Hero


7 thoughts on “Ramayana in the view of a scientist”

  1. Thank you very much sir. The full set of Ramayana by P.S.Krishnasamy iyer and edited by M.N.Ramasami iyer is being preserved by me after the passing away of my father P.S.Venkatraman of Mylapore. I would like to know whether the volumes are now available now. If so please let me know.

    1. Dear Sir
      Thanks for the comments. If you are referring to the GnanaBoomi Tamil magazine, we’re not them in their magnitude but a tiny little online group.

  2. The knowledge and importance given to the epic by a scientist is of great importance.It is a commendable attempt of Gangaboomi.Thanks a lot.

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