The First Verse
maa nishhaada pratiSThaamtva magamaH shaashvatiiH samaaH
yat krauiNcha mithunaat eka mavadhiiH kaama mohitam
maa+niSaada pratiSTaam+tvam+agama shashavatii+samaa
yat krouincha+mithunaat eka mavadhiiH kaama+mohitam
Ithihasa Vs Puraana
There are ithihasas, which are different from that of Puranas. Ithihasa, which literally means 'this is how it happened', are written by contemporaries. That is; the author of the ithihasa is a contemporary of the characters narrated in the ithihasa and he is doing a ball-by-ball commentary on the events. The author recordeds it 'as he saw it happen'. Ramayana and Mahabharatha are Ithihasas in that regard. As both Krishna-dwaipayana (a.k.a Veda Vyasa The IVth) and Valmiki were contemporaries of Krishna and Rama. On the other hand, Puranas are written for posterity by people who had heard the story much later, after it was orally handed down from generation to generation.
Valmiki's Ramayana in the strict sense qualifies as an Ithihasa but has certain exceptions. Unlike Mahabharatha, it was not recorded live ball-by-ball. Valmiki was witness to some events pertaining to Rama but he also did not observe some events. Brahma appeared in Valmiki's conciousness and said (loosely translated as) "Write what you saw and write what you did not see; you will not write false". Valmiki, consulting many eye witnesses along the process, eventually finished his work. After finishing his Ramayana, as many poets in those days did, Valmiki recruited dramatists/singers to spread the work. Lava and Kusa were two stage dramatists, living in Valmiki's ashram, who were recruited to enact and recite Ramayana. In their travels spreading the poem, they happened to travel to the country of Kosala. Bharatha saw this play and invited the artists to perform in front of Rama. The aspect of Rama hearing his own story being narrated to him by his own two sons has several layers of beauty and some fantastic narrative sequences. Rama was extremely taken aback by the accuracy of the narration, especially when his assumption was that no one but him, his brother and his deposed wife were a witness to some of the events being narrated. So he calls upon the author of the drama and requests the author to finish the story. Rama, in great emotional distress, himself does not know how his own story would end. So Valmiki in effect scripts Rama's own future. So in a very ironic way, the Uttara Khanda was truly not in the initial cut of Valmiki's Ramayana. However, Ramayana could not have happened without the Uttara Khanda.
A Historical Perspective: The Ancestory of Rama.
I got engrossed in Vol I of the 6 volume texts on 'The History of India' by Majumdar & Pusalker. While writing the chapter 'The History from Earliest times' Dr. Pusalkar reconciles several version of the Epics and Puranas that exist and tries to put together a succession/ancestory list. While several variations exist in different versions of puranas and epics, the essense or kernel of the several versions is consistent and they all take great effort in preserving dynasty lists and genealogical lists. The list of kings, their successors, locations, star configurations and data pertaining to natural calamities are recorded in some detail. There are multiple levels of cross-verification and corroboration. Epics are recorded by different authors and are also narrated in the Puranas, which in turn are cross referenced in other puranas and vedic/literary works. The vedic, puranic and ithihasic tradition classifies epochs as Manvantras. Each Manvantra is headed by a King called Manu. Each era started by a Manu is ultimatley destroyed in deluge/flood/pralaya and a new Manu preserves mankind and enables it to continue. Seven Manus exist in history. Manu Vaivasvata (estimated by Dr. Pusalkar - who draws a little from Aryabhatta - at around 3102 - 3110 BC) is an important Manu and considered to be the Moses equivalant of the Hindu tradition. Prior to him were; Anandha -> Manu Syambhuva (a man who ruled all earth) -> Priyavrata (the first ever kshathriya) -> Uttanapada -> Dhruva -> Prachinagarbha -> Manu Chakshusha -> Vena (a bad tyrannical king) -> Prithu (the first consecrated king and source of word 'prithvi') -> (5 generations later) -> Manu Vaivasvata.
Manu Vaivasvata saved the world from a great flood (mainly documented in the Satapata Brahmana vedic text and corroborated by other Puranas). As per vedic literature, puranas and ithihasas; Matsya avatara happened during Manu Vaivasvata's time and the fish warned Manu of impending flood. This Manu is said to be the creator of the human race. Manu, apart from a gender-indeterminate daughter/son Ila, had nine sons; Ikshavaku, Nabhaga, Dhrishta, Saryati, Narishyanta, Pramsu, Nabhagodishta, Karusha and Prishadara. Ikshavaku set up camp in Ayodhya and his son founded the Solar dynasty. This dynasty originated by Ikshavaku led to the people mentioned in Ramayana. Manu's daughter Ila led to the formation of the Lunar dynasty (where the Yadavas hail from). The important lines in the Solar dynasty were Ayodhya, Videha, Vaisalas and Saryatas. The lineage of Rama is; Ikshavaku -> Vikukshi -> Parjanya/kakutstha -> (3 gens later) -> Yuvanvasa -> Sravastha ->(grandson) Kuvalvasa ->(8 gens later) Yuvanvasa II. If I skip the details regarding Yuvanvasa II's progeny and the near-erasure of kshathriya race by Parasurama, I would arrive at King Sagara -> Amsumant -> Bhagheeratha (who initiated Gangetic worship)-> Ambarisha -> Rituparna (of Nala Damayanti fame) -> Kalmashapada -> Asmaka -> Khatvanga (Dilpa II) -> and finally -> Raghu (of Raghu-vamsa fame) -> Aja -> Dasaratha (one who can ride a charriot in 10 directions). Dasaratha, contrary to popular opinion was not childless for a long time. He had several daughters (santha given in adoption to Lomapadha is notable among daughters) but he had no son. His search for a male successor led him to Putrakameshti Yagna. Rishiyasringa who performed the Yagna was Santha's husband and Dasaratha's own son-in-law. He earned Dasaratha's audience as a result of performing a successful Putrakameshti Yagna for his foster-father-in-law and Dasaratha's close friend Lomapadha.
So 65 generations (potentially 1100 - 1200 years) after Manu Vaivasvata came King Ramachandra. Ramachandra married Seetha, the daughter of a Videha King called Siradhvaja (who was the most popular king in the Janaka line of kings). Siradhvaja renamed Ramachandra as Ramabhadra at the marriage ceremony. Later Ramachandra was also called as simply Rama.
Solar Dynasty Post Rama:
1. U Ve. Velukudi Krishnan Upanyasam
2. The History & Culture Of Indian People - Majumdar & Pusalkar
3. Various Web related Sources