Sunday, 25 May 2014


Wikipedia states that the origin of the name of the Italian city of 'Ravenna' is unclear, although it is believed that the name is Etruscan, the ancient Italian civilization that pre-dates the rise of the Roman Empire and Christianity and is dated from 768 BC - 264 AD, if not earlier than 768 BC.

As is common in a major part of the world, the etymology of the names of ancient civilizations is forgotten and unknown. The same is true of the name of the Etruscan civilization itself, as of its cities of which 'Ravenna' is one.

Some have speculated that the name 'Ravenna' is related to 'Rasenna' (later 'Rasna'), the term that the Etruscans used for themselves, but there is no agreement on this point.

With the rise of the Romans all traces of the Etruscan civilization were either systematically removed or perished with time. What however has survived is a treasure trove of Etruscan paintings - now over 2000 years old. In these paintings lies a clue to where the name 'Ravenna' emerged.

Professor P.N.Oak states in his book 'World Vedic Heritage' that the name Ravenna derives from the name 'Ravana', the name of the principal adversary of Sri Rama in the Ramayana.

That the lore of Ramayana hand an influence on the west in ancient times is a reality has a growing support now, what with the revelations of newly excavated archaeological sites and artifacts and the impending death of the Aryan invasion theory. 

There is at least one ancient Etruscan sketch that proves that the Ramayana was not unheard of in ancient Italy. Other sketches prove that there was considerable influence of the Vedic culture, customs and attire in ancient Etruria which covered mainly the regions of present day Tuscany, Umbria and Latium.

Here is a sketch of an Etruscan painting which seems to portray the story of 'Sita Haran' of the Ramayana:

Ravana abducts Sita

This panel sketch depicts the story of the abduction of
Sita by Ravana. Centre: Notice the dead deer 'Marich' and a tussle 

between Ravana and Sita. On the right Ravana
takes Sita to Lanka via the aerial-route depicted by the winged-horse. 

Left: Is the bird 'Jatayu' who is slain by Ravana?

Part of the  original artifact from where the above sketch has been made:

This Etruscan artifact shows the tussle between Ravana and Sita.
Notice the dead deer Marich who plays an important
part in the Sita abduction saga.

Here is another Etruscan sketch that portrays the conversation between Ravana and Vibhishana. Vibhishana pleads with Ravana to release Sita and thereby avoid war with Sri Rama. In the sketch, notice Sita seated at the bottom right of the sketch.

Vibishana pleads with Ravana to release Sita
and avoid war with Ravana. Notice it is the same bearded
Ravana that one sees in the previous sketch.
Sita is seated with her head bowed.


Other ancient Etruscan paintings that are obvious portrayals of the story of Ramayana are collated here. This sketch is undeniably that of Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshman. It is said that Rome is named after Sri Rama. One thing is certain -the ancient Etruscan were well versed with the Ramayana.

An ancient Etruscan sketch
of Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshman of Ramayana.

For more on the Etruscan paintings and their link to Ramayana click here. The influence of India on Etruria is also visible in artifacts displayed at various museums.  

3rd century BC dish from Campania, Italy
depicting a elephant and calf unknown as a
war animal anywhere except India.

It is said that Europeans first came in contact with live elephants only in 327 BC, when Alexander the Great descended into India from the Hindu Kush. One of the earliest depictions of an elephant in Middle Eastern history appears on Shalmanezer's black obelisk dug up in Iraq and  dated to 860 BC. The illustration of the elephant and monkeys makes clear the artist was not familiar with these animals. While the elephant seems to have been unknown in the Middle East, it is known that from Indian records that the elephant was used in battle at least as early as 1100 B.C and this is not considering the mention of elephant in the Ramayana which is not a day younger than 5118 BC as established by the NASA Planetarium software and the position of the planets as detailed in the Ramayana.

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