Among one of the reasons Diwali is celebrated with such pomp and show is that mythologically, it is said to be the day when Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya with his wife Sita and brother Laxman after a prolonged exile of 14 years and defeating Lanka King Ravan. Dusshera, also celebrated as Vijay Dashami of the Durga Puja, was when Ram defeated the 10-headed demon god with the blessing from the goddess. In a way Diwali, is a continuation of Durga Puja as it is the celebrations of homecoming after the war and victory. Moreover, it was time-bound as Bharat, Ram’s younger brother vowed to end his life if Ram would not return to Ayodhya on time after the exile.
Now, the distance from Lanka to Ayodhya (even when measured in today’s topography, and assuming Lanka is Sri Lanka and not Australia, as one of the schools of thought propagate it to be) is quite a large one, and to complete that in just 20-odd days was nigh impossible at the time. Hence, it is not surprising that even at that time, the trio were quite short of time to return and save Bharat, the then crown price of Ayodhya. So, Ram sent Hanuman, his fond devotee, to inform Bharat not to take any drastic step as they were on their way back.
After the battle between Ram and Ravan, the Lankans needed a new king and Vibhishan, Ravan’s brother was crowned to the throne, a ceremony which ancient text suggests Ram missed, he still had tasks in hand.
No matter that the reason for his delay, people have been very curious to find out how they made it back from Lanka to Ayodhya in just 18-20 days. While there are controversies and much popular folklore, Netizens tried to seek answers on Quora how this was possible in such a limited time. It is said that the distance is approximately 3,000km and roughly one would take around 66 days to reach Ayodhya. From riding horses continuously to walking non-stop, there are many theories afloat.
Here are some interesting answers:
One user, Gunjan Gupta, referred to Google maps so as to assess the distance and verify if this was practically possible in that period. He also assumed that if Ram began his journey from Rameswaram and exchanged his horses along the path, it could have been possible taking in consideration the speed of the animal. “From Dusshera to Diwali its exactly 20 days. Now travelling 2618 km in 20 days means travelling on an average of 130 km a day. So lets see if it was possible to travel 130 km a day in those times. The fastest way to travel would be on horse.” Drawing reference from the Roman empire’s message transportation system, he said fit horses could travel 80-100km a day. “So 100 km in a day is quite possible. Although it is unlikely that same horse can travel for 100 km in a stretch for 20 days. However note that Rama had well wishers and friendly kingdoms all along the way, so it is quite possible that en-route they would have been changing their horses, again getting the best and fittest horses along the way.” Supporting the speed theory of the horses, he added, “I think the main reason such travel times were possible was because horses could be changed en route. It is quite unlikely for the same horse to travel this fast over such a pro-longed period of time, but quite possible if the rider is able to switch horses and get fresh and fit horses as soon as the current one gets tired.”
Ashish Tiwari, who claimed to be an atheist said that he believes in fact and concluded that the journey is possible on foot too. The only hack it has to be assumed that they did not rest for even a single minute during the long journey. “On checking the distance and the time taken by walking to cover that distance is 514hrs. it means approximately 20 days. Only thing we have to assume is, Shree Ram walks continuously for 20 days, I think that’s why we call him GOD.”
Another user, Mani Duraisamy who believes, that ‘Religion does not defy science, but complements it,’ said, it may have taken “1 year and 18 days (at the max)” from Ram to reach Ayodhya. He tried to justify his answer by divided the 14-year exile period of Ram’s vanvash. “In the actual Ramayan- its said that Sita was kidnapped somewhere in the 10th year of the exile and the search for Sita, going to Lanka, fighting the war and killing Ravana took atleast another 2.5- 3 years. By the time it was over it was 13 years completed. In all probability, Rama and Co. still have about 1 year of their exile yet to be completed as Rama was an obedient son, He would be compelled to abide to the Dharma.”He also talked about how each year the festival is celebrated in the gap of 8-11 days and that it was all made sense for them to return in this time frame. “One year is a good time for them to complete their return journey. Its likely that Rama took 1 year and 18 days (at the max) to reach Ayodhya after he killed Ravana.”
See his full answer here
This seems most plausible (by mythological standards, that is)
But the answer that is most believable, and popular too, with some references to old text is that the trio actually flew back to Ayodhya. According to the Ramayan, aware of the distance and Bharat’s vows, Vibhishan arranged for an aircraft for their return. The mythical plane called the Pushpak helped them reach their destination.
Quora user, Ameya Dubey explained the 18-day travel by highlighting mythological references. “Rama, Lakshmana , Sita , Vibhishana and the vanara army board the Pushpak aircraft , a mystical aircraft from Lanka that could contract and expand according to the will of the user and fly at great speeds , and reach Ayodhya. Rama shows Sita the wonders he saw during his journey to the South from the Pushpak.” Dubey also threw some light about the origin of the mystic airplane: “The Pushpak was made by the master craftsman Vishwakarma for the creator of the world, Brahma. Brahma later on gave it to Kuber , the God of Wealth. Lanka, the city of Kuber, was then conquered by the demon king Ravana, who now claimed the Pushpak as the spoils of war.”
Whose theory or justification seems more practical? Or if you have any other explanation do share with us in comments below.