As Ayodhya is renewed today with the rebuilding of the Ram Janmbhoomi Mandir, it will again become the foremost not only of the cities of ancient Bharat, but the main image of the new India casting off its colonial legacy and shadow of foreign rule, embracing its dharmic legacy and role of spiritual guidance for the entire world, as Vishva Guru.
Symbolism of Ayodhya
Ayodhya is first mentioned in the Atharva Veda and is the first city noted by name in the Vedic texts. While cities (pur) up to a hundred in number are frequently mentioned in Rig Veda, no city name has endured from the text.
अष्टचक्रा नवद्वारा देवानां पूरयोध्या।
तस्यां हिरण्ययं: कोश: स्वर्गो ज्योतिषाऽवृत:।। अ.श् 10.2.31 ।।
“With eight circles and nine gates, Ayodhya is the city of the Devas. In that is a golden sheath, celestial and covered with light.”
This image of Ayodhya is a yantra of cosmic energies, perhaps even indicating the Shri Yantra. The golden sheath (hiranmaya kosha) is the spiritual heart in which the immortal Atman dwells, the Hiranmaya Purusha or Golden Purusha of the Upanishads. Ayodhya is the dwelling place of Paramatman, who took birth as Shri Ram, the avatar of the Sun in Vedic thought.
The greatest knowledge treasure of India is its Vedantic teachings of Self-realisation: that in our inner Being we are one with the Self of all. This Atma Vidya is the basis of all true and enduring knowledge. Ayodhya should be a center for Vedantic learning as well. Shri Ram was famous as a great Jnani taught by the Rishi Vasishta in the profound and monumental text Yoga Vasishta.
History of Ayodhya and the Ikshvakus
Ayodhya and the Ikshvakus have a long history from the earliest period of Vedic literature, as does the Sarayu River on which Ayodhya is located. Ayodhya is said to be the capital of the Ikshvakus, the solar dynasty or Surya Vamsha founded by Manu, of which Ikshvaku was the first king at the dawn of history. The main Ikshvaku kingdom was Kosala, whose capital was Ayodhya.
Ikshvakus are mentioned in the Rig Veda relative to the Rishi Agastya, compared to the Sun in the brilliance of their rule. The great Rishi Vasishta and his gotra are said to be the purohits of Ayodhya. Agastya is Vasishta’s elder brother in the Vedas. Vasishta has the largest number of hymns of any Rishi in the Rig Veda. Agastya gives Shri Ram the Aditya Hridaya Stotra to the Sun that allows him to defeat Ravan. Ayodhya should be a center for Vedic learning as well, including new research into the Vedic mantras whose deeper yogic indications have not been properly understood, such as Shri Aurobindo has taught us.
A number of kings of the Ikshvaku dynasty are prominent in Rig Veda, notably Mandhata, Purukutsa and Trasadasyu. Mandhata is famous in the Puranas for defeating the Druhyus in the northwest from which they moved out into Central Asia. He is also famous for founding the city of Mahishmati on the Narmada. Trasadasyu is lauded as a demigod in the Rig Veda by Vamadeva, one of the great Gotama Rishis, the purohits of Videha.
Videha occurs in a story in the Satapatha Brahmana, when King Mathava of Videgha, along with Rishi Gotama, go east crossing the rivers to establish a new kingdom, perhaps reflecting the drying up of the Sarasvati River. Puranic king lists are shorter for the kings of Videha than for those of Ayodhya, though both were branches of the same solar dynasty, probably because it was founded later. The kings of the Videha were all called Janaka. The Janaka kings of Videha were famous as Self-realised sages or Jnanis as in the Janaka of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad who Rishi Yajnavalkya taught.
Ayodhya’s fame spread over many centuries of time as far as Korea and Indonesia, along with the Ramayan that became the greatest poetic story of Asia, perhaps of the entire world, and the Adi Kavya of Sanskrit literature.
The main empires and chakravartins in ancient India were mainly of the Kuru dynasty or the Ikshvakus, who shared a common dharmic view of the country and often worked together.
Ayodhya and Kurukshetra
Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says that he taught the original Yoga to the Sun Devata Vivasvan and hence to Manu and Ikshvaku in a long parampara, making Shri Krishna’s Yoga lineage carried on through the Ikshvakus. That repository of yogic knowledge also wells in Ayodhya, both as an external sacred site and as the internal core of our own being. Ayodhya and Kurukshetra are closely related, particularly relative to the Surya Kund in Kurukshetra and Ayodhya as the city of the Sun and the Solar Dynasty.
Ayodhya for All Humanity
Ayodhya can now function as a global dharmic heritage center, reflecting all dharmic traditions and the legacy of Bharat overall. Buddhists regard Shri Ram as a Pratyeka Buddha, or special Buddha manifestation. Ayodhya can reclaim its cultural and spiritual heritage and influence and be a centre of gathering for the dharmic traditions of India that are now practised and honored throughout the world.
Ayodhya can become a vast modern cultural centre with gardens, ghats, performance halls, museums, research centers and Vedic schools, as well as its many great temples and historical sites. Ayodhya can become a showpiece for New India reclaiming its ancient heritage for a new century and another new millennium. The restored Ram Janmbhoomi will function as its crown jewel. The restoration of Ayodhya perhaps even more so is a restoration of the Yoga-Vedanta knowledge for all humanity, as the core of our highest civilisational values and practices. May the entire world and all humanity recognise the true value of Ayodhya for awakening us to the Atman within!