Ayodhya, The City On The Banks Of Sarayu

The Prime Minister of Nepal, Sri Oli, recently made a controversial statement. He said, “SriRama was born in Thori, a village in Nepal. King Dasharatha was also from Nepal. He had performed Putrakameshti Yajna in the village of Ridi in Nepal. In the past, long journeys were extremely difficult and people did not move around much. So it was not possible for SriRama to reach Janakpuri from Ayodhya in India. Hence it is obvious that SriRama was born in Nepal near Janaka’s village … ” PM Oli was speaking at a function on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the poet Bhanubhakta. The poet Bhanubhakta had translated the Valmiki Ramayana into Nepali language in the 19th century.

Is there any truth in Mr. Oli’s statement? What does Valmiki Ramayana say about the location of the city of Ayodhya? Let’s see if Thori in Nepal could be the ‘real’ Ayodhya as claimed by PM Oli.

In the Balakanda of Ramayana, Rishi Valmiki writes –

कोसलो नाम मुदितः स्फीतो जनपदो महान् |

निविष्टः सरयूतीरे प्रभूतधनधान्यवान् || १-५-५

अयोध्या नाम नगरी तत्रासील्लोकविश्रुता |

मनुना मानवेन्द्रेण या पुरी निर्मिता स्वयम् || १-५-६

On the banks of the river Sharayu there was a Mahajanapada called Kosala. This state was prosperous; abundant with grains and water. The people of Kosala were content and lived happily. In that state, there was a city called Ayodhya. The city was built by King Manu himself. The highways of this vast city were adorned with flowers every day. The city had many gardens and mango groves. Dasharatha, who seemed like Indra on Earth, was ruling here.

The important point in this description of Ayodhya is it’s location – “On the banks of the river Sharayu”. From the map one can see that the city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh is on the banks of the river Sharayu (Ghaggar). While the village Thori in Nepal is far away, about 250 km away from Sharayu. One must note, that Thori is not on the banks of any other river too. Thus, Thori cannot be “Ayodhya on the banks of Sharayu” as described by Rishi Valmiki.

The Valmiki Ramayana goes on to say that when Sriram, Lakshman and Sita went into exile, the citizens of Ayodhya followed them. Accompanied by the people of Ayodhya, Sriram spent the first night of exile on the banks of the river Tamsa. At dawn, before the people woke up, Sriram along with Laxman and Sita crossed the fast flowing river Tamsa. (Today the Tamasa river in Faizabad district has turned into a nallah. The dry bed of the Tamasa river has been encroached upon in many places.)

Later, the trio crossed the Gomti river and the Syandik river which bordered the Kosal country. While crossing the borders of his birth place, Srirama was sorrowful. He sadly said –

कदा अहम् पुनर् आगम्य सरय्वाः पुष्पिते वने |

मृगयाम् पर्याटष्यामि मात्रा पित्रा च सम्गतः || २-४९-१५

“When will I come back home, and take my parents for a hunting trip in the forests near Sharayu? Not that I enjoy the sport, but I am saddened by the thought that I will not get to see my parents for a long time.”

After crossing the boundaries of Kosala, the three reached the banks of the Ganga. Here they were taken across the Ganga by the Nishad king Guha.

The location of Ayodhya is highlighted by another event in the Valmiki Ramayana. Soon after Sriram, Lakshman and Sita went into exile, King Dasharath left this world. At that time the princes Bharat and Shatrughan were at their maternal grandfather’s place in the kingdom of Kekaya. Sage Vashishta sent messengers to fetch Bharat and Shatrughan to Ayodhya. Five envoys mounted on swift horses, left Ayodhya right away. They went north and crossed the river Ganga at Hastinapur and then rode westwards.

ते हस्तिनापुरे गङ्गाम् तीर्त्वा प्रत्यङ्मुखा ययुः |

पाञलदेशमासाद्य मध्येन कुरुजाङ्गलम् || २-६८-१३

Since Ayodhya was located on the west bank of the Sharayu, one did not have to cross the river while going west. To the west of Ayodhya was the river – Ganga. This implies that Ayodhya was situated between the rivers Ganga and Sharayu. If you look at the map, you will know that Thori village of Nepal is far from both rivers Ganga and Sharayu.

Upon receiving the message from the envoys, Bharat left Kekay for Ayodhya. This return route was a little to the south. Bharat traveled for 8 consecutive days and reached Ayodhya. The Valmiki Ramayana states that during this journey he crossed the rivers Sutlej, Saraswati, Yamuna and Ganga. At a small town called Ekshala he crossed the Gomti river. After taking some rest there he reached Ayodhya the next morning.

एक साले स्थाणुमतीम् विनते गोमतीम् नदीम् |

… अयोध्याम् मनुना राज्ञा निर्मिताम् स ददर्श ह | २.७१.१८

Therefore Ayodhya as described in the Valmiki Ramayana was in the area between rivers Gomati and Sharayu. If ‘real’ Ayodhya was the village of Thori, then Bharata would have had to cross the rivers – Sharayu, Rapti and then the Gandaki to reach Ayodhya.

The descriptions in Valmiki Ramayana show exactly location of Ayodhya. Today, the city that we call Ayodhya in Faizabad district is to the east of river Sharayu; and to the west of rivers Tamsa, Gomti, and the Ganga.

After establishing that the Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, is the same as the Ayodhya of Ramayana, it is time to as Mr. Oli a few questions –  

  • He said, “There were no means of transportation during the days of Ramayana. The long journey from Ayodhya in India to Janakpuri in Nepal was not possible. So Ayodhya had to be in Nepal.” Valmiki Ramayana describes the journey of Bharata from Kekay to Ayodhya, or the journey of SriRama from Ayodhya to Lanka, which was much longer than the journey from Ayodhya to Janakpuri. Obviously there is no value to Mr. Oli’s opinion.
  • If Thori was the birthplace of SriRama, then why didn’t any earlier king of Nepal, build a temple at the birthplace of Sri Rama? Janakpuri in Nepal is considered to be the birthplace of Sita Maiyya and it has a magnificent temple. When the kings of Nepal had build a temple at the birthplace of Sita Maiyya, then they would have built a temple at Thori too. So why is there no temple to mark the so called birthplace of SriRama?
  • In 2018, a direct bus service from Ayodhya to Janakpuri was started. This bus service was from Ram Janmabhoomi to Sita Janmabhoomi. It was inaugurated by the same Mr. Oli. So should we now understand that 2 years ago, SriRam’s birthplace was in India, and now it has shifted to Nepal?
  • Was any excavation carried out at Thori? Is there any evidence of ancient settlement at that place?
  • To this day, which devotees and saints have gone to Thori to worship Rama at his so called birthplace?

India and Nepal relations are very old. These ties are cultural and historical. Also SriRama, the son of India was the son-in-law of Nepal. Nepal has loved SriRama more than Indians have. SriRama’s words – “जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी” (mother and motherland are superior even to heaven) is the motto of Nepal.

Prime Minister Oli’s statement seems to have no basis. So why should he then make such claims that will deteriorate Indo-Nepal relations? Who will benefit if India-Nepal relations deteriorate? Prime Minister Oli’s statement has no support from the people of Nepal. There is no literary evidence for his statements. He does not have the support of his party either. And the opposition party also does not agree with him. So the question is, on what basis is he making such claims?  Is it the Prime Minister of Nepal who is speaking, or is he a puppet controlled by somebody else?

References –

  • Nepal schools make Mandarin compulsory after China offers to pay teachers’ salaries. Times of India, 15 June 2020
  • ‘China encroaching our land, may set up border outposts here’: Nepal govt, Times Now News, 23 June 2020.
  • Nepal’s PM KP Sharma Oli ‘claims’ real Ayodhya is in Nepal, MANY REMARK THE STATEMENT IS IN BAD TASTE – The Himalayan, 13 July, 2020

-Deepali Patwadkar