I encountered this Jataka story and to my surprise, it is very similar to Ramayana’s characters.
Could this be a copycat of the Hinduism’s Ramayana story ? Or rather the Hinduism’s Ramayana was a fantasized story of the real story (Dasaratha Jataka)?
I wouldn’t be surprised if Ramayana is made up because this is how world’s famous myths come to be, for example: Japan’s Amaterasu Goddess Epic, China’s Journey to the West Epic, etc.
Now Ramayana is is an ancient Indian epic, composed some time in the 5th century BCE, about the exile and then return of Rama, prince of Ayodhya. It was composed in Sanskrit by the sage Valmiki, who taught it to Rama’s sons, the twins Lava and Kush.
Now since Jataka, according to Theravada history, was composed by the Buddha and compiled by the 500 Arahants during the First Council, that is just after Lord Gautama Buddha’s death in c. 483 BCE. But consider the Buddha told His direct disciples years earlier before His Parinibbana, the time will be different.
And I read one of the comment on Quora:
Yes indeed the epic Ramayana has been derived from the Early Buddhism, later on this story was stretched by Valmiki (and other Jain authors) that’s why it goes up to 24000 verses. The biggest proof of it is that one should read the Dasaratha Jataka properly, there Buddha says “At that time the king Shuddhodana (father of Buddha & king of Kapilavastu) was king Dasaratha, Mahamaya (deceased birth mother of Buddha) was the mother, Rahul’s mother (wife of Buddha) was Sita, Ananda was Bharata, and I (Buddha) myself was Rama-pandita”, so Buddha was Rama (as Bodhisattva, not avatar) in one of his previous births. One thing should also be kept in mind that this story was orally spoken by Buddha to his disciples in 6th Century B.C., later on this story was separated from the discourses and arranged in the Jataka section which people sometimes confuse it by saying that these Jataka stories came later. The literature of Valmiki Ramayana is not like the Vedic literature which was carried down from generation to generation through oral tradition. Valmiki Ramayana came into existence much after Early Buddhism because it was composed in Panini Sanskrit (Classical Sanskrit), and Panini himself lived later than Buddha. The story of Rama which Buddha told to his disciples must have influenced them so much that they created an epic out of this.
But on the other hand, Hindus around the world claimed Ramayana is real and the Sri Lankans are ignoring it. But there are quite a number of Sri Lankan Tamils believed it to be true.
Let us see what Hindus claimed:
(1) Siripada peak is related to Lord Shiva
(2) Ravan was the King of Lanka once.
(3) Ravan is a devout devotee of Rudra (Shiva).
(4) Ravan composed “Shiv Tandav Strotram” for Shiva.
(5) Lanka was the land of adharmic Yakshas and Rakshasas, ruled by Ravan.
(6) Shri Ram attacked Sri Lanka and get his wife, Sita back from Ravan.
And Hindus and Sri Lankan Tamils really believed it, though lacking of historical evidence. And they said Dasaratha Jataka is the copycat.
I believed not only in India and Sri Lanka, in fact, other countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Indonesia, Philippines, and Myanmar…all know this Ramayana story and Sri Lanka always be depicted as a land of evil … To me, that’s quite unfair.
Thai’s depiction of Ravan:
So, how did Sri Lankan Buddhists cope with this claim?