Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/321

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reigned at Çrāvastī. All this points to the conclusion that the original Rāmāyaṇa was composed when the ancient Ayodhyā had not yet been deserted, but was still the chief city of Kosala, when its new name of Sāketa was still unknown, and before the seat of government was transferred to Çrāvastī.

Again, in the old part of Book I., Mithilā and Viçālā are spoken of as twin cities under separate rulers, while we know that by Buddha's time they had coalesced to the famous city of Vaiçālī, which was then ruled by an oligarchy.

The political conditions described in the Rāmāyaṇa indicate the patriarchal rule of kings possessing only a small territory, and never point to the existence of more complex states; while the references of the poets of the Mahābhārata to the dominions in Eastern India ruled by a powerful king, Jarāsandha, and embracing many lands besides Magadha, reflect the political conditions of the fourth century B.C. The cumulative evidence of the above arguments makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that the kernel of the Rāmāyaṇa was composed before 500 B.C., while the more recent portions were probably not added till the second century B.C. and later.

This conclusion does not at first sight seem to be borne out by the linguistic evidence of the Rāmāyaṇa. For the epic (ārsha) dialect of the Bombay recension, which is practically the same as that of the Mahābhārata, both betrays a stage of development decidedly later than that of Pāṇini, and is taken no notice of by that grammarian. But it is, for all that, not necessarily later in date. For Pāṇini deals only with the refined Sanskrit of the cultured (çishṭa), that is to say, of the Brahmans,