A Gopuram or gopura is a monumental entrance tower ornate, at the entrance of a Hindu temple, in the Dravidian architecture of the Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Telangana states of Southern India. Ancient and early medieval temples feature smaller gopuram, while in temples they are a prominent feature of Hindu temples of the Dravidian style, they are topped by a bulbous stone finial. They function as gateways through the walls. Another towering structure located towards the center of the temple is the Vimanam. Both of them are constructed as per rules given in the texts of Vaastu shastra; the gopuram's origins can be traced back to early structures of the Pallava kings, relate to the central shikhara towers of North India. Between the twelfth and sixteenth century, during the Pandya and Vijayanagara era when Hindu temples became a hub of the urban life, these gateways became a dominant feature of a temple's outer appearance overshadowing the inner sanctuary which became obscured from view by the gopuram's colossal size and courtyards.
It dominated the inner sanctum in amount of ornamentation. A shrine has more than one gopuram, they appear in architecture outside India Khmer architecture, as at Angkor Wat. A large Dravidian-style temple, or koil, may have multiple gopurams as the openings into successively smaller walled enclosures around the main shrine, with the largest at the outer edges; the temple compound is square or rectangular with at least the outermost wall having gopuras from the four cardinal directions. The multiple storeys of a gopuram repeat the lower level features on a rhythmic diminishing scale; the inner sanctum and its towering roof is called the Vimanam, although in the south it is smaller than the gopurams in large temples. The Tamil derivation is from the two words: கோ and புறம் meaning'king' and'exterior' respectively, it originates from the Sangam age when it was known as ஓங்கு நிலை வாயில் meaning'imperishable gateway'. An alternative derivation is from the Sanskrit word gopuram, which can be broken down to go, which means either'a city' or'a cow', puram,'a town', or'a settlement'.
Dr. Sthapati explains the meaning of the words vimanam thus. Vimanam means measure, indicating the number of measures made in the construction and design of that structure. Gopuram consist of two words and puram, meaning the place from which all the energy that exists in all living beings comes inside. A gopuram is a tapering oblong in form with ground-level wooden doors richly decorated, providing access. Above is the tapering or "battered" gopuram, divided into many storeys which diminish in size as the gopuram tower narrows; the tower is topped with a barrel vaulted roof with a finial. The form began rather modestly in the 10th century, as at Shore Temple, with the 11th century Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur marking a crucial step forward with two multi-storey gopurams from that period, much larger than any earlier ones, though much smaller than the main tower of the temple; the four gopurams of the Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram are important early examples, begun in the mid-13th century but completed over a longer period.
Gopurams are exquisitely decorated with sculpture and carvings and painted with a variety of themes derived from the Hindu mythology those associated with the presiding deity of the temple where the gopuram is located. The two tallest gopuras are both modern, at least in part; the Ranganathaswamy Temple, Tamil Nadu, has 21 gopurams, including the towering 239.5-foot Rajagopuram, claimed as the tallest temple tower in Asia. The 73-metre -tall 13-tiered Rajagopuram was completed in 1987 and dominates the landscape for kilometers around, while the remaining 20 gopurams were built between the 14th and 17th centuries. Competing for the title of "tallest" is the twenty storey 249-foot gopura at the modern Murdeshwar Temple, unusually, is provided with a lift. List of tallest Gopurams Dallapiccola, Anna L.. Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-51088-1. Harle, J. C; the Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, 2nd edn. 1994, Yale University Press Pelican History of Art, ISBN 0300062176
Ranganāthar known as Sri Ranganatha, Aranganathar and Thenarangathan is a Hindu deity, more well known in South India, the chief deity of the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam. The deity is a resting form of Lord Vishnu, recumbent on the great form of the serpent god Adisesha, one of the foremost of Hindu Gods, his consort is Goddess Lakshmi known as Ranganayaki. His two other consorts seen next to his recumbent figure are Nila Devi. Most of the deities portray a'smiling' lord in a sleeping or reclining position over the celestial serpent Adisesha in the sea of cosmic dissolution; this is the form in which he is open to listening to all of his devotee's woes, blesses them. Apart from being worshipped by all Hindus, this form is of particular importance to the Sri Vaishnava community, his name in Tamil means "leader of the place of assembly", coined from two Tamil words'Arangam' and'Nathan'. Though the presiding deity in the form of reclining Vishnu is not part of the Dashavatara, this temple is of particular interest for scholars in the south because of the vast history attached to it in shaping the religion in the south.
Symbolic representation of Ranganatha and Nataraja has been compared as the meaning of both is the same except for their locations. In Ranganatha, ‘Ranga’ means "stage" and which in the broadest sense refers to "the world, the cosmos or better still of the body and the senses". Nataraja means the "Lord of the Stage" and in this case his stage is in ‘Chidambaram’ meaning the "sphere of wisdom", while Ranganatha rests on the milkyway, a metaphysical or esoteric concept, not easy to interpret as it is perceived in different ways by different people; the name "Nataraja" is more taken to mean Lord of the Dance in reference to the dance of destruction, or pralaya, or alternatively the dance of illusion by which the material sphere is manifested, is therefore a name for Lord Shiva, as distinct from Lord Vishnu. The Pancharanga Kshetrams are the five most sacred Ranganatha temples which are located on the banks of the Kaveri River spelled as Cauvery; the five Pancharanga Kshetrams in the order of their successive locations, on the banks of the Kaveri River are: The Srirangapatna called the Adi Ranga, the first temple on the banks of the Kaveri River from the upstream side.
The Sarangapani temple at Kumbakonam is mentioned in place of Vatarangam in some references. Parasara Battar, well known poet of the times who has written a commentary on "Vishnu Sahasranama" has noted the beautiful image of Ranganatha at Srirangam temple as ornamented with basil garland on the chest, Vaijayanthi hara and a few other ornaments, which once formed the divine jewelry of Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu, are decorating the image of Ranganatha; the Ranganatha temple is the religious center of Sri Vaishnavism propagated by Saint Ramanuja from Srirangam. The temple worship at the Ranganatha Swamy temples is done traditionally in the Tamil and Sanskrit scriptures written by the 12 Alvars and Ramanuja. Kaveri River forms three small sacred islands in its river stretch in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu at Adi Ranga, at Srirangapatna, Madhya Ranga at Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple and Antya Ranga or Adya Ranga at Srirangam where Ranganatha temple is located. Among the 108 Divya Desams, the reclining posture of the God can be found in many temples.
Some of these temples are at Thirumayam, Koviladi, Thiruneermalai, Anbil, Mayiladuthurai and Padmanabhaswamy temple at Tiruvanathapuram. There are many other Ranganatha temples spread over many towns and villages of South India and to mention a few are: Pallikonda Ranganatha where his three consorts Shri Devi and Nila Devi are deified next to Ranganatha. Other notable temples of Ranganatha are at Nellore and Bangalore. Roshen Dalal. Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. Pp. 339–. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6. Retrieved 12 December 2012. Srilata Raman. Self-surrender to God in Śrīvaiṣṇavism: Tamil Cats and Sanskrit Monkeys. Taylor & Francis. Pp. 44–. ISBN 978-0-415-39185-6. Retrieved 13 December 2012. Deshpande, Aruna. India: A Divine Destination. Crest Publishing House. Pp. 264–265, 363–64, 374–75. ISBN 81-242-0556-6. Srirangam, Temple Information Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Sri Rangam
Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya or Sri Vaishnavism is a denomination within the Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism. The name is derived from Sri referring to goddess Lakshmi as well as a prefix that means "sacred, revered", god Vishnu who are together revered in this tradition; the tradition traces its roots to the ancient Vedas and Pancaratra texts and popularized by the Alvars with their Divya Prabandhams. The founder of Sri Vaishnavism is traditionally attributed as Nathamuni of the 10th century CE, its central philosopher has been Ramanuja of the 11th century who developed the Vishishtadvaita Vedanta sub-school of Hindu philosophy. Tradition is based on the Vishistadvaita vedanta philosophy derived from Vedas and Divya Prabandhams; the tradition split into two sub-traditions around the 16th-century called the Vadakalai and Thenkalai. The most striking difference between Srivaishnavas and other Vaishnava groups lies in their interpretation of Vedas. While other Vaishnava groups interpret Vedic deities like Indra, Bhaga, etc. to be same as their Puranic counterparts, Srivaishnavas consider these to be different names/roles/forms of Lord Narayan citing solid reasons thus claiming that the entire Veda is dedicated for Vishnu worship alone.
Srivaishnavas have remodelled Pancharatra homas like Sudarshana homa, etc. to include Vedic Suktas like Rudram in them, thus giving them a Vedic outlook. The name Srivaishnavism is derived from two words and Vaishnavism. In Sanskrit the word Sri refers to goddess Lakshmi as well as a prefix that means "sacred, revered", god Vishnu who are together revered in this tradition; the word Vaishnavism refers to a tradition. The followers of Srivaishnavism are known as Srivaishnava; the tradition traces its roots to the primordial start of the world through Vishnu, to the texts of Vedic era with both Sri and Vishnu found in ancient texts of the 1st millennium BCE to the puranas and the Bhagavad Gita. The historical basis of Sri Vaishnavism is in the syncretism of two developments; the first is Sanskrit traditions found in ancient texts such as the Vedas and the Agama, the second is the Tamil traditions found in early medieval texts and practices such as the emotional songs and music of Alvars that expressed spiritual ideas and loving devotion to god Vishnu.
The Sanskrit traditions represent the ideas shared in ancient times, from Ganga river plains of the northern Indian subcontinent, while the Tamil traditions have roots in the Kaveri river plains of southern India what in modern times are the coastal Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu region. The tradition was founded by Nathamuni, who combined the two traditions, by drawing on Sanskrit philosophical tradition and combining it with the aesthetic and emotional appeal of the Bhakti movement pioneers called the Alvars. Sri Vaishnavism developed in Tamil Nadu in the 10th century, after Nathamuni returned from a pilgrimage to Vrindavan in north India. Nathamuni's ideas were continued by Yamunacharya, who maintained that the Vedas and Pancaratras are equal, devotional rituals and bhakti are important practices; the legacy of Yamunacharya was continued by Ramanuja. Ramanuja, a scholar who studied in an Advaita Vedanta monastery and disagreed with some of the ideas of Advaita, became the most influential leader of Sri Vaishnavism.
He developed the Visistadvaita philosophy. Around the 18th century, the Sri Vaishnava tradition split into the Tenkalai; the Vatakalai placed more emphasis on the Sanskrit traditions, while the Tenkalai relied more on the Tamil traditions. This theological dispute between the Vedic and Bhakti traditions traces it roots to the debate between Srirangam and Kanchipuram monasteries between the 13th and 15th century; the debate was on the nature of salvation and the role of grace. The Bhakti-favoring Tenkalai tradition asserted, states Patricia Mumme, that Vishnu saves the soul like "a mother cat carries her kitten", where the kitten just accepts the mother while she picks her up and carries. In contrast the Vedic-favoring Vatakalai tradition asserted that Vishnu saves the soul like "a mother monkey carries her baby", where the baby has to make an effort and hold on while the mother carries; this metaphorical description of the disagreement between the two sub-traditions, first appears in the 18th-century Tamil texts, but refers to the foundational ideas behind the karma-marga versus bhakti-marga traditions of Hinduism.
Along with Vishnu, like Shaivism, the ultimate reality and truth is considered in Sri Vaishnavism to be the divine sharing of the feminine and the masculine, the goddess and the god. Sri is regarded as the preceptor of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya. Goddess Sri has been considered inseparable from god Vishnu, essential to each other, to the act of mutual loving devotion. Sri and Vishnu act and cooperate in the creation of everything that exists, redemption. According to some medieval scholars of Srivashnava theology, states John Carman and Vishnu do so using "divine knowledge, unsurpassed" and through "love, an erotic union", but Sri Vaishnavism differs from Shaivism, in that Vishnu is the sole creator and destroyer of the universe while Sri Lakshmi is the medium for salvation, the kind mother who recommends to Vishnu and thereby helps living beings in their desire for redemption and salvation. In co
Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism, the Supreme Being or absolute truth in its Vaishnavism tradition. Vishnu is the "preserver" in the Hindu triad that includes Shiva. In Vaishnavism, Vishnu is identical to the formless metaphysical concept called Brahman, the supreme, the Svayam Bhagavan, who takes various avatars as "the preserver, protector" whenever the world is threatened with evil and destructive forces, his avatars most notably include Rama in the Krishna in the Mahabharata. He is known as Narayana, Vasudeva and Hari, he is one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism. In Hindu iconography, Vishnu is depicted as having a pale or dark blue complexion and having four arms, he holds a padma in his lower left hand, Kaumodaki gada in his lower right hand, Panchajanya shankha in his upper left hand and the Sudarshana Chakra in his upper right hand. A traditional depiction is Vishnu reclining on the coils of the serpent Shesha, accompanied by his consort Lakshmi, as he "dreams the universe into reality".
Yaska, the mid 1st-millennium BCE Vedanga scholar, in his Nirukta, defines Vishnu as viṣṇur viṣvater vā vyaśnoter vā, "one who enters everywhere". He writes, atha yad viṣito bhavati tad viṣnurbhavati, "that, free from fetters and bondages is Vishnu"; the medieval Indian scholar Medhātithi suggested that the word Vishnu has etymological roots in viś, meaning to pervade, thereby connoting that Vishnu is "one, everything and inside everything". Vishnu means "all pervasive". Vishnu is a Vedic deity, but not a prominent one when compared to Indra and others. Just 5 out of 1028 hymns of the Rigveda, a 2nd millennium BCE Hindu text, are dedicated to Vishnu, he finds minor mention in the other hymns. Vishnu is mentioned in the Brahmana layer of text in the Vedas, thereafter his profile rises and over the history of Indian mythology, states Jan Gonda, Vishnu becomes a divinity of the highest rank, one equivalent to the Supreme Being. Though a minor mention and with overlapping attributes in the Vedas, he has important characteristics in various hymns of Rig Veda, such as 1.154.5, 1.56.3 and 10.15.3.
In these hymns, the Vedic mythology asserts that Vishnu resides in that highest home where departed Atman reside, an assertion that may have been the reason for his increasing emphasis and popularity in Hindu soteriology. He is described in the Vedic literature as the one who supports heaven and earth. In the Vedic hymns, Vishnu is invoked alongside other deities Indra, whom he helps in killing the symbol of evil named Vritra, his distinguishing characteristic in Vedas is his association with light. Two Rigvedic hymns in Mandala 7 refer to Vishnu. In section 7.99 of the Rgveda, Vishnu is addressed as the god who separates heaven and earth, a characteristic he shares with Indra. In the Vedic texts, the deity or god referred to as Vishnu is Surya or Savitr, who bears the name Suryanarayana. Again, this link to Surya is a characteristic Vishnu shares with fellow Vedic deities named Mitra and Agni, where in different hymns, they too "bring men together" and cause all living beings to rise up and impel them to go about their daily activities.
In hymn 7.99 of Rigveda, Indra-Vishnu are equivalent and produce the sun, with the verses asserting that this sun is the source of all energy and light for all. In other hymns of the Rigveda, Vishnu is a close friend of Indra. Elsewhere in Rigveda and Upanishadic texts, Vishnu is equivalent to Prajapati, both are described as the protector and preparer of the womb, according to Klaus Klostermaier, this may be the root behind post-Vedic fusion of all the attributes of the Vedic Prajapati unto the avatars of Vishnu. In the Yajurveda, Taittiriya Aranyaka, Narayana sukta, Narayana is mentioned as the supreme being; the first verse of Narayana Suktam mentions the words paramam padam, which mean highest post and may be understood as the supreme abode for all souls. This is known as Param Dhama, Paramapadam or Vaikuntha. Rig Veda 1.22.20 mentions the same paramam padam. In the Atharvaveda, the mythology of a boar who raises goddess earth from the depths of cosmic ocean appears, but without the word Vishnu or his alternate avatar names.
In post-Vedic mythology, this legend becomes one of the basis of many cosmogonic myth called the Varaha legend, with Varaha as an avatar of Vishnu. Several hymns of the Rigveda repeat the mighty deed of Vishnu called the Trivikrama, one of the lasting mythologies in Hinduism since the Vedic times, it is an inspiration for ancient artwork in numerous Hindu temples such as at the Ellora Caves, which depict the Trivikrama legend through the Vamana avatar of Vishnu. Trivikrama refers to "three strides" of Vishnu. Starting as a small insignificant looking being, Vishnu undertakes a herculean task of establishing his reach and form with his first step covers the earth, with second the ether, the third entire heaven; the Vishnu Sukta 1.154 of Rigveda says that the first and second of Vishnu's strides are visible to the mortals and the third is the realm of the immortals. The Trivikrama describing hymns integrate salvific themes, stating Vishnu to symbolize that, freedom and life; the Shatapatha Brahmana elaborates this theme of Vishnu, as his herculean effort and sacrifice to create and gain powers that help others, one who realizes and defeats the evil symbolized by the Asuras after they had usurped the three worlds, thus Vishnu is the savior of the mortals and
Tamil Nadu is one of the 29 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian subcontinent and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry and the South Indian states of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, it is bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri Mountains, the Meghamalai Hills, Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, by the Indian Ocean on the south. The state shares a maritime border with the nation of Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu is the sixth largest by population, it has a high HDI ranking among Indian states as of 2017. The economy of Tamil Nadu is the second-largest state economy in India with ₹17.25 lakh crore in gross domestic product after Maharashtra and a per capita GDP of ₹167,000. It was ranked as one of the top seven developed states in India based on a "Multidimensional Development Index" in a 2013 report published by the Reserve Bank of India.
Its official language is Tamil, one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world. The region was ruled by several empires, including the three great empires – Chola and Pandyan empires, which shape the region's cuisine and architecture; the British Colonial rule during the modern period led to the emergence of Chennai known as Madras, as a world-class city. Modern-day Tamil Nadu was formed in 1956 after the reorganization of states on linguistic lines; the state is home to a number of historic buildings, multi-religious pilgrimage sites, hill stations and three World Heritage sites. Archaeological evidence points to this area being one of the longest continuous habitations in the Indian peninsula. In Attirampakkam, archaeologists from the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education excavated ancient stone tools which suggests that a humanlike population existed in the Tamil Nadu region somewhere around 300,000 years before homo sapiens arrived from Africa. In Adichanallur, 24 km from Tirunelveli, archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India unearthed 169 clay urns containing human skulls, bones, grains of rice, charred rice and celts of the Neolithic period, 3,800 years ago.
The ASI archaeologists have proposed that the script used at that site is "very rudimentary" Tamil Brahmi. Adichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies. About 60 per cent of the total epigraphical inscriptions found by the ASI in India are from Tamil Nadu, most of these are in the Tamil language. A Neolithic stone celt with the Indus script on it was discovered at Sembian-Kandiyur near Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu. According to epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan, this was the first datable artefact bearing the Indus script to be found in Tamil Nadu. According to Mahadevan, the find was evidence of the use of the Harappan language, therefore that the "Neolithic people of the Tamil country spoke a Harappan language"; the date of the celt was estimated at between 1500 BCE and 2000 BCE. Though this finding remains contested,like the claim of historian Michel Danino who rubbishes the theory of the latter’s southward migration in a paper he presented at the International Symposium on Indus Civilisation and Tamil Language in 2007.
He wrote: ‘There is no archaeological evidence of a southward migration through the Deccan after the end of the urban phase of the Indus- Sarasvati civilization… The only actual evidence of movements at that period is of Late Harappans migrating towards the Ganges plains and towards Gujarat... Migration apart, there is a complete absence of Harappan artefacts and features south of the Vindhyas: no Harappan designs on pottery, no Harappan seals and ornaments, no trace of Harappan urbanism… Cultural continuity from Harappan to historical times has been documented in North India, but not in the South… This means, in effect, that the south-bound Late Harappans would have reverted from an advanced urban bronze-age culture to a Neolithic one! Their migration to South would thus constitute a double “archaeological miracle”: apart from being undetectable on the ground, it implies that the migrants experienced a total break with all their traditions; such a phenomenon is unheard of.’ The early history of the people and rulers of Tamil Nadu is a topic in Tamil literary sources known as Sangam literature.
Numismatic and literary sources corroborate that the Sangam period lasted for about eight centuries, from 500 BC to AD 300. The recent excavations in Alagankulam archaeological site suggests that Alagankulam is one of the important trade centre or port city in Sangam Era; the Bhakti movement originated in Tamil speaking region of South India and spread northwards through India. The Bhakti Movement was a rapid growth of bhakti beginning in this region with the Saiva Nayanars and the Vaisnava Alvars who spread bhakti poetry and devotion; the Alwars and Nayanmars were instrumental in propagating the Bhakti tradition. During the 4th to 8th centuries, Tamil Nadu saw the rise of the Pallava dynasty under Mahendravarman I and his son Mamalla Narasimhavarman I; the Pallavas ruled parts of South India with Kanchipuram as their capital. Tamil architecture reached its peak during Pallava rule. Narasimhavarman II built the Shore Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much the Pallavas were replaced by the Chola dynasty as the dominant kingdom in the 9th century and they in turn were replaced by the Pandyan Dynasty in the 13th century.
The Pandyan capital Madurai was in the deep s
India known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia; the Indian subcontinent was home to the urban Indus Valley Civilisation of the 3rd millennium BCE. In the following millennium, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism began to be composed. Social stratification, based on caste, emerged in the first millennium BCE, Buddhism and Jainism arose. Early political consolidations took place under the Gupta empires. In the medieval era, Zoroastrianism and Islam arrived, Sikhism emerged, all adding to the region's diverse culture.
Much of the north fell to the Delhi Sultanate. The economy expanded in the 17th century in the Mughal Empire. In the mid-18th century, the subcontinent came under British East India Company rule, in the mid-19th under British Crown rule. A nationalist movement emerged in the late 19th century, which under Mahatma Gandhi, was noted for nonviolent resistance and led to India's independence in 1947. In 2017, the Indian economy was the world's sixth largest by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity. Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies and is considered a newly industrialised country. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption and inadequate public healthcare. A nuclear weapons state and regional power, it has the second largest standing army in the world and ranks fifth in military expenditure among nations. India is a federal republic governed under a parliamentary system and consists of 29 states and 7 union territories.
A pluralistic and multi-ethnic society, it is home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats. The name India is derived from Indus, which originates from the Old Persian word Hindush, equivalent to the Sanskrit word Sindhu, the historical local appellation for the Indus River; the ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as Indoi, which translates as "The people of the Indus". The geographical term Bharat, recognised by the Constitution of India as an official name for the country, is used by many Indian languages in its variations, it is a modernisation of the historical name Bharatavarsha, which traditionally referred to the Indian subcontinent and gained increasing currency from the mid-19th century as a native name for India. Hindustan is a Middle Persian name for India, it was introduced into India by the Mughals and used since then. Its meaning varied, referring to a region that encompassed northern India and Pakistan or India in its entirety; the name may refer to either the northern part of India or the entire country.
The earliest known human remains in South Asia date to about 30,000 years ago. Nearly contemporaneous human rock art sites have been found in many parts of the Indian subcontinent, including at the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh. After 6500 BCE, evidence for domestication of food crops and animals, construction of permanent structures, storage of agricultural surplus, appeared in Mehrgarh and other sites in what is now Balochistan; these developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, the first urban culture in South Asia, which flourished during 2500–1900 BCE in what is now Pakistan and western India. Centred around cities such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Kalibangan, relying on varied forms of subsistence, the civilization engaged robustly in crafts production and wide-ranging trade. During the period 2000–500 BCE, many regions of the subcontinent transitioned from the Chalcolithic cultures to the Iron Age ones; the Vedas, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism, were composed during this period, historians have analysed these to posit a Vedic culture in the Punjab region and the upper Gangetic Plain.
Most historians consider this period to have encompassed several waves of Indo-Aryan migration into the subcontinent from the north-west. The caste system, which created a hierarchy of priests and free peasants, but which excluded indigenous peoples by labeling their occupations impure, arose during this period. On the Deccan Plateau, archaeological evidence from this period suggests the existence of a chiefdom stage of political organisation. In South India, a progression to sedentary life is indicated by the large number of megalithic monuments dating from this period, as well as by nearby traces of agriculture, irrigation tanks, craft traditions. In the late Vedic period, around the 6th century BCE, the small states and chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies that were known as the mahajanapadas; the emerging urbanisation gave rise to non-Vedic religious movements, two of which became independent religions. Jainism came into prominence during the life of Mahavira.
Buddhism, based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, attracted followers from all social classes excepting the middle
Ramayana is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Mahābhārata. Along with the Mahābhārata, it forms the Hindu Itihasa; the epic, traditionally ascribed to the Hindu Valmiki, narrates the life of Rama, the legendary prince of the Kosala Kingdom. It follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest from the kingdom, by his father King Dasharatha, on request of his second wife Kaikeyi, his travels across forests in India with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnapping of his wife by Ravana, the great king of Lanka, resulting in a war with him, Rama's eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king. There have been many attempts to unravel the epic's historical growth and compositional layers; the Ramayana is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature. It consists of nearly 24,000 verses, divided into about 500 sargas. In Hindu tradition, it is considered to be the adi-kavya, it depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal husband and the ideal king.
Ramayana was an important influence on Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Like Mahabharata, Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and ethical elements; the characters Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India, Sri Lanka, south-east Asian countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia. There are many versions of Ramayana in Indian languages, besides Buddhist and Jain adaptations. There are Cambodian, Filipino, Lao and Malaysian versions of the tale; the name Ramayana is a tatpuruṣa compound of the name Rāma. According to Hindu tradition, the Ramayana itself, the epic belongs to the genre of itihasa like Mahabharata; the definition of itihāsa is a narrative of past events which includes teachings on the goals of human life. According to Hindu tradition, Ramayana takes place during a period of time known as Treta Yuga. In its extant form, Valmiki's Ramayana is an epic poem of some 24,000 verses.
The text survives in several thousand partial and complete manuscripts, the oldest of, a palm-leaf manuscript found in Nepal and dated to the 11th century CE. A Times of India report dated 18 December 2015 informs about the discovery of a 6th-century manuscript of the Ramayana at the Asiatic Society library, Kolkata; the Ramayana text has several regional renderings and sub recensions. Textual scholar Robert P. Goldman differentiates two major regional revisions: the southern. Scholar Romesh Chunder Dutt writes that "the Ramayana, like the Mahabharata, is a growth of centuries, but the main story is more distinctly the creation of one mind." There has been discussion as to whether the first and the last volumes of Valmiki's Ramayana were composed by the original author. Most Hindus still believe they are integral parts of the book, in spite of some style differences and narrative contradictions between these two volumes and the rest of the book. Retellings include Kamban's Ramavataram in Tamil, Gona Budda Reddy's Ramayanam in Telugu, Madhava Kandali's Saptakanda Ramayana in Assamese, Krittibas Ojha's Krittivasi Ramayan in Bengali, Sarala Das' Vilanka Ramayana and Balaram Das' Dandi Ramayana both in Odia, sant Eknath's Bhavarth Ramayan in Marathi, Tulsidas' Ramcharitamanas in Awadhi and Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan's Adhyathmaramayanam in Malayalam.
Ramayana predates Mahabharata. However, the general cultural background of Ramayana is one of the post-urbanization periods of the eastern part of north India and Nepal, while Mahabharata reflects the Kuru areas west of this, from the Rigvedic to the late Vedic period. By tradition, the text belongs to second of the four eons of Hindu chronology. Rama is said to have been born in the Treta Yuga to king Dasharatha in the Ikshvaku dynasty; the names of the characters are all known in late Vedic literature. However, nowhere in the surviving Vedic poetry is there a story similar to the Ramayana of Valmiki. According to the modern academic view, who, according to Bala Kanda, was incarnated as Rama, first came into prominence with the epics themselves and further, during the puranic period of the 1st millennium CE. In the epic Mahabharata, there is a version of Ramayana known as Ramopakhyana; this version is depicted as a narration to Yudhishthira. Books two to six form the oldest portion of the epic, while the first and last books are additions, as some style differences and narrative contradictions between these two volumes and the rest of the book.
The author or authors of Bala Kanda and Ayodhya Kanda appear to be familiar with the eastern Gangetic basin region of northern India and with the Kosala and Magadha regions during the period of the sixteen Mahajanapadas, based on the fact that the geographical and geopolitical data accords with what is known about the region. Dasharatha is father of Rama, he has three queens, Kausalya, Ka