Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rama Setu is a place of worship: aadhyaatma and laws of evidence

Rama Setu is a place of worship: aadhyaatma and laws of evidence

The mode of worship of Rama Setu is prescribed in Skanda Purana (text excerpts attached).

Five parts are included in this note prepared in the context of proceedings in the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 15 April 2008. The question reportedly raised was: “How is Ram Sethu a place of worship? Do not argue that people go there and worship Ram Sethu. It is not Rameswaram, but far from it.”

Limited scope of the note: related to worship of Rama Setu

The following five parts are annexed. Context is limited to explaining Rama Setu as a place of worship (arguments related to it as a Underwater Cultural Heritage and Monument of National and International importance have already been presented elsewhere, including the Madras HC judgement of 19 June 2007).

1. Statement of Dr. SR Rao issued on April 16, 2008
2. Statement of Former SC Justice Shri VR Krishna Iyer issued on 14 August 2007
3. Laws of evidence: Rama Setu: myth is history, tradition is evidence
4. Vivekananda’s visit to Rama Setu
5. An example of a case related to a mountain held sacred by Navajo and a US Court judgement

When one visits Badrinath, there are many places of worship. Similarly, when one does pilgrimage to Rameshwaram, there are many places of worship including Rama Setu. Worship is a complex process and takes many forms. Worship in an enclosed space is only one form. Many myriad forms of worship are sanctioned by Hindu tradition.

Recollecting the collective social memory of Rama Setu built under Shri Rama’s command is itself a form of worship. Pilgrimage to Rameshwaram facilitates this aadhyaatmika recollection of a great moment in human history, in world tradition, an enormous achievement of crossing the ocean, to protect dharma. This reason is enough to protect this great monument, this great place of worship, this Rama Setu built by Nala and the sena under the leadership of Veera Hanumanta.

Since evidence is the medium of determination, the following note discusses the subject related to Laws of evidence in the context of aadhyaatma.


A detail on the location of Rama Setu is relevant. The Rama Setu is 3 to 5 kms. wide and 35 kms. long and links Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar. Rama Setu is seen today as a series of sandbanks (thidal in Tamil) interspersed with incursion of the ocean breaking up the sandbanks in shallow depths from 3 to 9 feet. The tides of the Indian ocean ingress and retreat. During times of low-tides, the entire stretch of the Rama Setu becomes visible as a land connection between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar as was seen during the tsunami day on Dec. 26, 2004. Thus, the depths of water in the spaces between the sandbanks keep varying. Pilgrims even today stand upto 4 feet deep ocean waters and offer pitrutarpanam in this place. Over 5 lakh pilgrims visit on Ashadha amavasya day to do sankalpam in Agni teertham in Rameshwaram and many also journey to the Rama Setu by boats and stand on the Rama Setu and the 4 feet deep ocean waters. This is the locus of Underwater Cultural Heritage, this is Rama Setu mandiram.

The text (Skanda Purana) is specifically prescribing the actual rituals (worship) at the very rama setu, and not merely at the rameshwaram shrine. So absolutely, going by the textual evidence, the contention of Setu itself being a place of worship is undeniable.

Skanda Purana’s third book, Brahmakhandam, opens with a section called Setu-Mahatmya and the 48th and 49th verses from its first chapter known as setu-gamana-phalAdi-varNanam are:

setusaikatamadhyeyaH shete tatpAMsukunThitaH |
yAvantaH pAMsavo lagnAstasyAnge viprasattamAH || (48)
tAvatAM bramhahatyAnAM nASaH syAnnAtra saMSayaH |
setumadhyastha vAten yasyAngaH spR^syate-akhilaM || (49)

(48) One, who prostrates in the middle of the Setu's sandbank (setu-saikata-madhye), his sins becomes dulled. And ultimately his sins are subdued, O Best of the Dvija-s. (49) (So much so), that the grimmest sin that arises from killing a Bramhana, no doubt, even that is destroyed by performing rites there - (when) every part of the (sinner's) body touches the winds in the middle of the Setu ( setu-madhyastha-vAta ).

scanned pages from the purANa, attached. the complete article : (The entire book with English translation can be submitted).

One one such thidal, the broken spud of Aquarius dredger can still be seen lying without being salvaged for over 10 months now. Boatmen take pilgrims to these thidals. Skanda Purana and other ancient texts mention that Rama installed 3 s’ivalingas: One in Rameshwaram, one in Tirukkedees’varam and one in the middle of Rama Setu. Old people remember their forefathers and grandmothers informing them how the ancestors went on pilgrimage to this s’ivamandiram in the middle of Rama Setu to do sankalpam, samudra snaanam and worship for being blessed with putrabhaagyam (praying for child-birth). Fisherfolk working on the edges of Rama Setu underwater gathering algae (paaci in Tamil) do prayasc’ittam in Ramapadam temple (Gandhamaadana parvatam) in case they take out any piece of rock from the Rama Setu while trying to gather paaci or algae. This is done by everyone, be he a muslim, Christian or Hindu. This is tradition. This is tradition as evidence.

Three facts should be brought to the notice of the Hon'ble SC who seem to be playing with fire.
1. There is a third S'ivalinga and mandiram in the middle of the Rama Setu. People of faith, desirous of children, go their to perform puja, sankalpa and samudrasnaanam. This is also confirmed by Guru Dasa Swamigal (1848-1929).
2. Even the Union of India (represented by Setusamudram Corpn) had stated in their affidavit to Madras HC that a viewing gallery would be built at Dhanushkodi for pilgrims to pay obeisance to Rama Setu.
3. Inauguration of the converted BG line with cantilever bridge at Pamban gap between Manamadurai and Rameshwaram was transferred from Rameshwaram to Manamadurai because people protested against the inconvenience caused to lakhs of pilgrims who visited Rama Setu for worship on that day, Ashadha Amavasya day. About 5 lakh pilgrims visit every year on that day to perform pitru-tarpanam, samudra snaanam and worship Rama Setu. This was the day on August 12, 2007 when the inauguration session of the broad-gauge line to Rameshwaram by some politicians was transferred, after pilgrims protested, to Manamadurai so as not to cause inconvenience to the pilgrims with the super security measures in place. Such actions of the State contradict the unfounded averment made by the Respondent which raises a serious question in Constitutional law: fundamental duty of the State to protect the citizens' right to exercise religion and limits to the exercise of State power burdening such exercise.
4. Today, the Rama Setu is a stretch of tidal-s with continuing ebbs and tides of the Indian Ocean leaving the Setu visible; pilgrims stand on the Setu and walk through for some distance from Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar (Srilanka).
5. Madras HC order which was endorsed by the Hon'ble SC for compliance by respondents noted this statement of the respondent and cited Section 295 of IPC.
Section 295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs
1[295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of 2[citizens of India], 3[by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4[three years], or with fine, or with both.]

1. Ins. by Act 25 of 1927, s. 2.

2. Subs. by the A.O. 1950, for "His Majesty's subjects".

3. Subs. by Act 41 of 1961, s. 3, for certain words (w.e.f. 27-9-1961)

6. Subs. by Act 41 of 1961, s. 3, for "two years" (w.e.f. 27-9-1961)

Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith (1826-1906) was a Sanskritist scholar during British period. Between 1870 and 1874, he produced a rhyming rendering of Ramayana in form of running English verses. Here notice what his poetry reflects about the Setu being an object of reverence (and not just the Rameshwaram):

There stretches, famed for evermore,
The wondrous bridge from shore to shore.
The worlds, to life's remotest day.
Due reverence to the work shall pay,
Which holier for the laps of time
Shall give release from sin and crime.

Link to the complete article:

Hindus offer prayers to the invisible river Saraswati at Triveni Sangamam near Allahabad. Some devotees go to the middle of the river on boats for offering prayers and others offer prayer from the banks of Ganges. Though Saraswati River dried-up since Centuries, Hindus consider that it is flowing underneath Ganges at Allahabad. It is very sacred for Hindus and is mentioned in the Rig Veda just as Rama sethu is mentioned in the immortal epic Ramayana. The entire world knows that NASA satellite pictures have spotted River Saraswati and Rama Sethu. Thus, there is cogent and clinching evidence supporting the sacred beliefs or faith of millions and millions of Hindus inherited by them from their ancestors. The submerged city Dwaraka traced by the archeological department cannot cease to be sacred for Hindus because it is under water. Can Dwaraka be delinked from the history of Lord Krishna revealed by the sacred texts of Hindus?

• Hindus worship Rama Setu because Rama established dharma by building the Setu to reach the sena to Lanka to defeat Ravana. Rama has also ordered (according to Mahabharata of Veda Vyasa) Hindus to protect this Setu and hence Setupati Raja’s claim it as their duty.
• Vedavyasa refers to Nalasetu
nalasetur iti khyāto yo 'dyāpi prathito bhuvi rāmasyājñāṃ puraskṛtya dhāryate girisaṃnibhaḥ MBh. 3.267.45
.... which even today, popular on earth as Nala's bridge, mountain-like, is sustained out of respect for [Lord] Rama's command. (Nala was son of Vis’wakarma) Kalidasa's Raghuvams’a (sarga 13): Rama, while returning from SriLanka in pushpaka vimaana: "Behold, Sita, My Sethu of mountains dividing this frothy ocean is like the milky way dividing the sky into two parts"

Kaavya in Prakrit by Setubandha Kavya by the King Damodara Sen (5th Century).
King Pravarasena II (550-600 CE) called “Setu bandha or Ravanavaho, Dasamuha Vadha"

Venerating Rama Setu is part of the chaar-dhaam yaatra (Pilgrimage to four places of worship): Badrinath, Kedarnath, Kaas’i and Setubandha Rameshwaram. This is how Rameshwaram is referred in ancient maps (documented by Schwarzberg of Univ. of Chicago in South Asia Atlas in scores of maps) – apart from other names such as Setu, Setuka, Rama Setu, Nala Setu, Ramar Koil (Rama’s temple).

Before Dhanushkodi was submered in 1964, a Railway line used to go up to Dhanushkodi. Even today, people can go by motorized vehicles along the sand bank between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi.

If perception (sense perception) is the criteria to consider a place of worship, it amounts to questioning the very religious faith. Because God himself is not available for Sense perception and the medium for sacred texts of different religions, said to be revelations from God were also not available for sense perception. In this context it is significant to note Prophet Mohammad’s night journey to heaven. On one night Mohammad was taken to the Jewish temple at Jerusalem by a Woman headed white horse with two wings to fly under the guidance of Angel Gabriel, while the prophet’s body lay on his bed at Mecca hundreds of miles away. It is said that from Jerusalem Prophet mounted upwards ascending from one heaven to another then he met Allah. Upon the rock over which the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem stands, people believe there is Prophet’s foot print as he vaulted from it upon his winged Whitehorse. Can this belief be questioned by saying that how could there be a foot print of Mohammad upon a rock at Jerusalem when his body lay on his bed at Mecca? From this it is very clear that using the yardstick of perception in religious matters creates more problems instead of finding solutions to the existing ones.

Beyond perception is tradition which is more emphatic evidence than any sensory perceptions can offer. The very foundations of aadhyaatma are based on consciousness beyond the five senses. It is not necessary to enter into a spiritual discourse but refer to 1) a copper-plate inscription (called Velanjeri copper plate) of Parantaka Chola of the 10th century which refers to the Chola king worshipping Setu teertham and offering tulaabhaaram; and 2) a record of Vivekanada’s worship at Rama Setu. (See annex).

Sethu temple in Rameshwaram and pujavidhaanam (methods of worship) on Rama Setu prescribed in ancient texts including Skanda Puranam and in Pamban Swamigal’s Tamil song (19th century). In a place of pilgrimage, there are many places of worship. For example, in and around Rameshwaram, Rama Setu is one such place of worship. Details are provided in Tamil Nadu Govt. Tourism brochures and also in many for a. (Details annexed).
Sethu Temple: 5-km south of the temple is Sethu, where there is a celebrated temple of Sri Anjaneya, and where, tradition holds, Sri Rama built a bridge to Sri Lanka. In Devipatnam, or Navapashanam, also by the sea, there are nine stones visible at low tide. It is believed that they were set up by Sri Rama to represent the nine planets, the Navagrahas.
Textual evidence (19th century) for a third s'ivamandiram located in the middle of Rama Setu

Kumara Guru Dasa Swamigal or Pamban Swamigal 1848-1929 had sung 6666 songs. In the compilation realated to tirthasthana dars'ana, (referred to in Tamil as Tiruvalam); in the second kaanda ( kavittur-aikal.), there is a song titled: Tiruccetumatti (In the middle of Rama Setu);

Translation from Tamil rendering is as follows:

In the middle of Rama Setu enveloped by the ocean and the clouds, is the s'ivalinga worshipped by vibhuti-wearing Rama, the Kaakutsa ; I bow down with love imagining S'iva in the form of Kugesa Muruga who is searching for me and finds me.

This remarkable song emphatically provides literary evidence for the existence of a third s'iva linga on Rama Setu: one is at Rasmes'waram, the other is at Tirukkedees'varam (on the Talaimannar end) and the third is in the middle of Rama Setu.

This textual evidence matches with the tradition held sacred by people of the nation. Grandmothers recall with fondness that their ancestors had performed setutirtham at this Ramar Palam S'ivamandiram praying for the blessing of child-birth (magarperu).

It is the duty of Archaeological Survey of India to find this third s'ivamandiram.
This and other textual and archaeological evidences are contained in the Second Part of Setubandhanam (Ramar Palam), a book authored by R. Subbarayalu and published in March 2008 by Thanjavur, Mamannan Padippagam, 126 Natcattiranagar, Thanjavur 613005. All citizens of the world who adore the heritage of Sri Rama owe an immense debt of gratitude to Shri R. Subbarayulu for publishing updates of the gem of a work, a veritable garland of literary flowers adoring Sri Rama and Rama Setu or Setubandhanam.

This work adds to the evidence recorded in the Madras High Court's judgement of 19 June 2007 emphatically attesting to the ancient monument, Rama Setu.
It is possible that the cyclone which submerged some portions of Rama Setu in 1480 also submerged this third s'ivamandiram on Ramar Palam (Rama Setu).

Part 1. Report by GP Srinivasan, Reporter Hindu Voice (16 April 2008):

I asked him whether he has read today morning newspaper reports on what Supreme Court judges said?

Dr. S.R. Rao said that he has read the report and has this to say and he was unhappy. He added:

“Ram Sethu constitutes a very important link of manking. The ICMOS International Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH) consisting of underwater archaeologists and others of which I was a member has defined Underwater Cultural Heritage. This includes all underwater traces of human existence, which are of cultural or historial importance including sites etc. The Ram Sethu comes under this category. It is referred to in all Indian literature, epic Ramayana and Puranas. There are submerged remains of temples in Mahabalipuram, of which one is in the shore. Even Dvaraka was considered a myth until the submerged buildings were discovered. The frequent textual references to Ram Sethu are not to be dismissed as myths. The NIO with the cooperation of ASI should be asked to undertake the survey work. The work must be undertaken as laid down in UN Convention on Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. Ram Sethu must not be damaged, but must be protected. They have no regard for the Underwater Cultural Heritage. They have no idea what is Underwater Heritage. They are not following United Nations’ Convention to protect Maritime Heritage"

Although the Sun (Surya Devata) and the Moon (Chandrama) are located millions of miles away high up in the sky, they are regularly worshipped by Hindus and several ethnic tribes across the world. Similarly the Kailash Parvat (Abode of Lord Shiva) is located far far away bu is still worshipped by millions from long distance. Then how can the worship of Rama Sethu be questioned, simply because it is situated in sea?

Part 2. Protect Rama Setu, the historic and holy monument:

Statement issued by Shri. V.R.Krishna Iyer former Supreme Court Judge on 14 August 2007

According to Mr.Cardoze , famous U.S legal luminary, ''Means un lawful in their inception do not become lawful by relation when suspicion turns in to discovery.''

These words come to me when I talk of the Sethusamudaram Channel Project. The callousness with which such a big project is conceptualized and implemented is an unpardonable act .

First of all I would like to state that neither I nor any patriotic citizen could support this project. It is a serious fault that neither scientists, technocrats nor Indian Navy had been consulted and sought their opinions before this project was conceptualized. More over the project is an open challenge to age old Hindu beliefs.

At least the opinion that the implementation of this project as envisaged now may lead to oceanic eruptions like Tsunami should be considered and studied.

According Shri Kalyanaraman, the reputed researcher, this project would invite disasters like Tsunami to our southern coast and pose as a threat to the valuable mineral sand deposits along this coast .

Unlike in the case of Suez Canal, this canal penetrates deep in to the seabed. All this testifies that the construction of the canal is unwarranted .

I suspect that the haste with which he project is proposed to be completed, ignoring the welfare and progress of he people of India may be to further the interests of countries like America . About this I had send an emergency message to our Hon. Prime Minister.

What ever it maybe, it is the duty of every Indian to see that this historic and holy monument is protected. With out succumbing to the pressures from foreign forces all should strongly oppose this project.

I call upon each Indian to come forward and fight for such an important cause with out compromise.

Sd. VR Krishna Iyer

Part 3.

Laws of evidence: Rama Setu: myth is history, tradition is evidence


This monograph presents a legal argument that Laws of evidence have to be in sync with the history of thought and spiritual darshanas, thus accepting tradition as 'evidence' and recognizing that myth is history. Myth is often a metaphor of history.

Rama Setu as history

Laws of evidence

Tradition IS evidence, the very essence of life's reality for millions of people in relation to the victory for dharma achieved by building Rama Setu to cross into Sri Lanka from Bharatam. This essence (saara) is enshrined in cultural memory of millions.
"History is Philosophy teaching by examples", noted Thucydides (c. 460-c. 400 B.C.), Athenian historian. Quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus in: Ars Rhetorica, ch. 11, sct. 2.

Why are Rama and Rama Setu abiding episodes of history? An answer is provided by this statement of Nietzche: "Only strong personalities can endure history, the weak ones are extinguished by it." -- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher. Thoughts out of Season, pt. 2, sct. 5 (1874).

F. W. J. Schelling notes (in the eighth chapter of Introduction to Philosophy and Mythology ): "Mythological representations have been neither invented nor freely accepted. The products of a process independent of thought and will, they were, for the consciousness which underwent them, of an irrefutable and incontestable reality. Peoples and individuals are only the instruments of this process, which goes beyond their horizon and which they serve without understanding."

"What has history to do with me? Mine is the first and only world! I want to report how I find the world. What others have told me about the world is a very small and incidental part of my experience. I have to judge the world, to measure things." -- Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. Notebooks 1914-1916, entry for 2 Sept. 1915 (ed. by Anscombe 1961; later refomulated in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, sct. 5:63, 1921, tr. 1922). Wittgenstein paraphrased: "I am my world. (The microcosm)." "It would strike me as ridiculous to want to doubt the existence of Napoleon; but if someone doubted the existence of the earth 150 years ago, perhaps I should be more willing to listen, for now he is doubting our whole system of evidence."

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. On Certainty, sct. 185 (ed. by Anscombe and von Wright, 1969). [Many perceptions of many intellectuals involved in the history of thought may be noted from the citations in Annex A –What is history?]
Where myth and history intersect, life-experience is the only reality. When people of Ramanathapuram do not use a plough to cultivate the land, they cherish the memory of Sita Devi who had made a shivalinga using this land and hence do not use the piercing plough, but only spades and shovels. When a muslim, christian or hindu fisherman harvests for algae from the marine bioreserve and when they pull out a piece of rock from the Rama Setu, they perform prayasc'ittam at Ramapadam on Gandhamaadana parvatam, asking for kshamaa for taking out a piece of the sacred bund (setubandhana). Ancestors of these people have walked across the Rama Setu to reach Srilanka where the tradition of venerating Ramayana episodes continues even today.

So it is, that the Madras High Court bench in their order of 19 June 2007 asked the Archaeological Survey of India to indicate archaeological studies done, deeming this an ancient monument of national importance under the 1958 Act.

This order is based on the following reading:

The Ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains Act, 1958 :

2.Definitions. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,- (a) "ancient monument" means any structure erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith, which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than one hundred years , and includes- (i) the remains of an ancient monument, (ii) the site of an ancient monument, (iii)such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving such monument, and (iv)the means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an ancient monument; …

58 (b) "antiquity" includes- (i)any coin, sculpture, manuscript, epigraph, or other work of art or craftsmanship, (ii)any article, object or thing detached, from a building or cave, (iii)any article, object or thing illustrative of science, art, crafts, literature, religion, customs, morals or politics in bygone ages, (iv) any article, object or thing of historical interest, and (v) any article, object or thing declared by the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, to be an antiquity for the purposes of this Act, which has been in existence for not less than one hundred years ; (c) "archaelogical officer" means an officer of the Department of Archaeology of the Government of India not lower in rank than Assistant Superintendent of Archaeology ; (d) "archaeological site and remains" means any area which contains or is reasonably believed to containruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in existence for not less than one hundred years, and includes- (i)such portion of land adjoining the area as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving it, and (ii)the means of access to, and convenient inspection of, the area;…

The evidence produced is emphatic that Rama Setu is reasonably believed to contain ruins of historical and archaeological importance, in existence for more than 100 years.

Where myth and history intersect, the episodes of cultivation method or seeking kshamaa are living realities, even today. Sita Devi is exemplified by the metaphor of the plough as she, as an infant, was found on a ploughed field.

Collective memory as tradition as irrefutable evidence

"Universal history is the history of a few metaphors", said Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. Pascal's Sphere (1951; repr. in Other Inquisitions, 1960; tr. 1964). Setu or Rama Setu is one such metaphor, based on the reality of the land-link between India and Srilanka which had existed for thousands of years, etched in the collective memory of the people of the region near Rameshwaram.

Our direct spiritual experiences shape our views about 'the world as it is'. This reality is thus subjective and relates to an individual's or a group of individuals' life experience, transmitted as collective memory of a society. This is the reason why Ramayana episodes have become integral to the identity of crores of people as followers of sanatana dharma.

A Dutch philosopher, Eric Schliesser notes that myth is history. Sankhya darshana philosophical tradition views tradition as evidence. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote: "Don't kill my demons, you might kill my angels too." Newton accidentally forced a turning-point in history', argues Dr Eric Schliesser. 'Before Newton, philosophy and science were studied as a single discipline. After Newton, the two were split into separate disciplines.'

Yogasutra 48 says: rtambhara tatra prajna (rtambhara means, 'Supreme Truth Bearing'; prajna means 'inner wisdom'self-arises, dawns and prevails.)
Christopher Chapple and Yogi Ananda in "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" (Sri SATGURU Publications, Delhi, 1990) translate this as: "This wisdom sustains the movement of life. Ignorance is to fall from this [intrinsic] order."

Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.117: "Dry arguments are inconclusive. Philosophers are known for their differences of opinion. Study of the branches of the Vedas will not bring one to the correct understanding of dharma. The truth is hidden in the heart of a self-realized person. Therefore one should follow the path of such great souls."
This tradition, this wisdom passed down from generation to generation, from mother to child, from guru to student becomes the lived experience. So is the experience of Rama and Rama Setu in the hearts of millions of people the world over who look upon Rama as vigrahavaan dharmah, the embodiment of dharma, who built the Setu to protect dharma and vanquish a-dharma. This collective, received memory (termed also as the sacred tradition or sacred history) is as emphatic as any evidence and rules of evidence.
What is perceptible by senses is vyakta. What is realized by consciousness is avyakta. If vyakta is its reflection in consciousness, as 'I am'. Avyakta is the universal and pure 'I' or aatman.
In Kapila's sankhya, two means of proof are identified: perception and inference. The empirical (evidential) universe is thus seen as the duality: vyakta (evolved) and avyakta (not evolved). The evolved phenomena are perceived; the unevolved are inferred.
Purusha is the observer, the knower, the witness. Purusha observes Prakriti -- the nature or multifaceted stuff the universe is made of --, in manifest and unmanifest (vyakta and avyakta – prakaTa or aprakaTa – publicized or unexpressed) forms. One such Prakriti is Rama Setu which links India and Srilanka which is considered sacred tirthasthana. Crores of hindus who accept the reality of Rama are the witness to received prajna from mother to child, from guru to student.

The root for vyakti, vyakta and avyakta is: an~j (= to annoint, decorate, make clear, make appear); the preposition vi- is the intensifier. Laws of evidence have to accept this traditional body of knowledge in Hindu thought, exemplified by the sankya darshana of Kapila. The prajna that has given the identity to crores of people as purusha (witnesses) living their lives reaching out to the ideal, vigrahavaan, Rama and emulate his life lived for protecting dharma is the sanatana dharma of this land, this punyabhumi. This is inalienable evidence, pramana which is integral to the very life-experiences of the people who live by this prajna. Courts of law as the arbiters of dharma have to accept this prajna as evidence.

There are case laws which support this. One is the London Nataraja case decided by the Privy Council (details in Annex B – London Nataraja case) and the other is the Navajo community's sacred mountain declared by a US superior court. (details in Annex C –Navajo sacred mountain case)

Not all caves, all waters, all oceans are tirthasthanas. Some get experienced as tirthasthanas, like the Amarnath cave, or the Ganga river or Setutirtha near Rameshwaram, where the s'ivalinga gets venerated because they were experienced as memories of the sthapana by Rama, Sita and Hanuman. When people reasonably belief in the sacredness of such a tirtha, it is a tirthasthana, based on tradition. Such tradition needs no other evidence but the avyakta pramana (unmanifest perception). The evidence and laws of evidence have to become subservient to this perception which is at a level different from the vyakta (manifest) phenomena which are sometimes regarded as 'evidence' in law. The philosophical framework of sankhya of Kapila thus provides for tradition as evidence, for myth as inhering the very essence of history.

Vyakti-vyakta-avyakta is the absolute.

avyakta("unmanifest" or 'noumenal'): beyond the perception of the senses ; ayamatma brahma: "This soul is Brahman"-one of the four great pronouncements of the Vedas. avyakta("unmanifest") is a term that belongs to the ancient vocabulary of the Yoga and Samkhya traditions. It generally refers to the matrix of Nature (prakriti), the source of the manifest forms, corresponding to the Greek notion of arche.
vyakta, the manifest (or phenomenal) nature, prakriti - the current and the undercurrent. Vyakta is the current on the surface which is visible, which is seen, creating different waves and movements.
avyaktaadeeni bhutaani
vyakta madhyaani bhaarata
avyakta nidhanaani eva
tatra kaa paridevanaa
In the beginning all are unmanifest, they are manifest in the middle, and in the end, o descendant of Bharata, they are all gone, therefore why complain when it is all like that? 2.1.28 Bhagavadgita

The world, manifest or un-manifest, according to Samkhya, is not derived from the purusa ie the Nature, does not have its matrix, in+ the Mind. The world is comprehended in the term of purusa, but does not originate from it neither is it grounded in it. This purusa is not personal though it is discreet and individual (Karika, 38). 4It is the propinquity of this purusa, to prakriti which gives rise to the world of appearances. In the absence of this nearness, the world is there but it simply remains avyakta, un-manifest. 'The world is that which is perceived or witnessed, lokyanti iti lokah,and thus the world of appearances serves the purpose of the individual purusa, purusartha.(Karika, 63).5
This discrete and individual purusa is in itself translucent and transparent; it is a witness; it is a fact of consciousness and that is its primary mode of function, witnessing or seeing the world (Karika, 19). 6It is inherent in this primary function of the purusa that by so functioning it appears different from what it is; it appears as if it were a panorama of appearances, and appearances likewise appear as if they were possessed of consciousness. That is how a double obfusciation afflicts the basic human situation, namely concerning its awareness of the world and of himself (Karika, 20). 7
4 tanmatra... vises as tebhyo mrta ... panca pancabhyah
5 purusartham prati vimocayaty ekarupena
6 kaivalyam madhyasthyam drastrtvakar trtra bhavas ca
7 tasmat tatsamyogad acetanam ceta navad iva lingam
gunakartrtvai ca karteva bhavatity udasinah

Myth and history represent alternative ways of looking at the past. Defining history is hardly easier than defining myth, but a historical approach necessarily involves both establishing a chronological framework for events and comparing and contrasting rival traditions in order to produce a coherent account.

It is true there are connections, even verbal parallels between India and Greece coming from an ancient Indo-European connection. But in India the myths were subsumed into a rich religious and philosophical tradition, while the Greek parallels floated loose in a semi-secular society which had no systemic view of religion or any serious working theology. William Harris, Humanities and the Liberal Arts

J R Tolkien said, "I have tried to modernize the myths and make them credible." Both as a mythmaker and as a philogist Tolkien knew the importance of mythology to language and culture. Myths develop a link with the past, A continuity that hleps people weather the present and look forward to the future. In an era of unprecidented change, the links to the past are stretched to the breaking point, and people without roots are likely to become, analogously,a people without brances or flowers. The roots of the past -mythology-are no longer acceptable in their traditional form and have to be reread in a contemporary, relevant mode."

Writer, philologist, and religious thinker J.R.R. Tolkien expressed a similar opinion: "I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of truth that can only be received in this mode." Letters, no. 147.

The word mythologyrefers to a body of myths/stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use the supernatural to interpret natural events and to explain the nature of the universe and humanity. From the Greek μύθολογία mythología, from μυθολογείν mythologein to relate myths, from μύθος mythos, meaning a narrative, and λόγος logos, meaning speech or argument.

Myth. OED distinguishes the meanings
1a. "A traditional story, typically involving supernatural beings or forces or creatures , which embodies and provides an explanation, aetiology, or justification for something such as the early history of a society, a religious belief or ritual, or a natural phenomenon", citing the Westminster Review of 1830 as the first English attestation
1b. "As a mass noun: such stories collectively or as a genre." (1840)
2a. "A widespread but untrue or erroneous story or belief" (1849)
2b. "A person or thing held in awe or generally referred to with near reverential admiration on the basis of popularly repeated stories (whether real or fictitious)." (1853)
2c. "A popular conception of a person or thing which exaggerates or idealizes the truth." (1928)

Categories of traditional stories (myths) are:

myths - sacred stories concerning the distant past, particularly the creation of the world; generally focussed on the gods
legends - stories about the (usually more recent) past, which generally include, or are based on, some historical events; generally focussed on human heroes
folktales/fairytales (or Märchen, the German word for such tales) - stories which lack any definite historical setting; often include animal characters
Relief of the "Descent of the Ganga" in Mahabalipuram (also Mamallapuram), India; detail of the central part, the complete relief is 9 m high and 27 m wide.

Similar is the reality of Nala, son of Vis'vakarma constructing the setu bund on a geological feature which is a ridge formed by collapsed canyons.

Annex A: What is history?
Annex B: London Nataraja Case
Annex C: Navajo sacred mountain case

All annexes may be seen at the URL

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

Rama Setu: is the very essence of cultural human memory

If Jallikattu has to be protected as a cultural tradition, so should Rama Setu be protected as an abiding cultural tradition.

Rama Setu: is the very essence of cultural human memory; scrap Setu channel project, an ecological and coastal peoples' livelihood disaster

Rama Setu is a memory of divine harmony.

Jules Michelet (1798-1874), French historian writes about the Ramayana :

The year 1863 will remain cherished and blessed. It was the first time I could read India's great sacred poem, the divine Ramayana…. This great stream of poetry carries away the bitter leaven left behind by time and purifies us. Whoever has his heart dried up, let him drench it in the Ramayana. Whoever has lost and wept, let him find in it a soothing softness and Nature's compassion. Whoever has done too much, willed too much, let him drink a long draught of life and youth from this deep chalice…. Everything is narrow in the Occident. Greece is small — I stifle. Judea is dry — I pant. Let me look a little towards lofty Asia, towards the deep Orient. There I find my immense poem, vast as India's seas, blessed and made golden by the sun, a book of divine harmony in which nothing jars. There reigns a lovable peace, and even in the midst of battle, an infinite softness, an unbounded fraternity extending to all that lives, a bottomless and shoreless ocean of love, piety, clemency. I have found what I was looking for : the bible of kindness. Great poem, receive me !… Let me plunge into it ! It is the sea of milk.[Source: Michelet, La Bible de l'humanité, volume 5 of Œuvres (Paris : Bibliothèque Larousse, 1930), p. 109-110. ]

The social memory of Ramayana embodies the culture and tradition of not only India but many other countries which adore this memory.

This sacred memory, this tradition is the strongest evidence that any Court of law can review.

The memory of Rama, Ramayana, Rama Setu are NOT justiciable. They are the very essence of the lives of millions of Hindus worldwide. It will be a travesty of justice to question this memory on grounds of laws of evidence.

Sustainable development
… policy makers and judicial bodies across the world have produced the concept of 'sustainable development.' Hence merely asserting an intention for development will not be enough to sanction the destruction of local ecological resources. The Court has to follow the principles of sustainable development and find a balance between the developmental needs and the environmental degradation. The principle of 'sustainable development' is also extensively dealt by the Supreme Court in KARNATAKA INDUSTRIAL AREAS DEVELOPMENT BOARD VS C. KENCHAPPA (2006(6) SCC 371 AND RESEARCH FOUNDATION FOR SCIENCE (19) VS UNION OF INDIA (2005(13) SCC 186).

Relevant portions of the Madras HC Division Bench judgement are given below:

In the High Court of Judicature at Madras
(Special Original Jurisdiction)

WP Nos. 18076, 18223 & 18224/2007 of 2007

Rama Gopalan (Petitioner in wp 18076/2007)
Dr. Subramanian Swamy (Petitioner in WP Nos. 18223 and 18224/2007)

1.Union of India through the Secy of Shipping
2. Chairman and MD, Sethusamudram Corporation Ltd.
3. Secretary, Dept. of Culture, Govt. of India
4. Director General, ASI, New Delhi
5. Thiru TR Baalu, Hon'ble Min. for Shipping, Surface Transport and Highways, Govt. of India, New Delhi
R6 Dravida Kazhagam
R7 S. Kalyanaraman
R6 and R7 impleaded as per order dt. 19/06/07 by the Hon'ble CJ and RJMJ in MP.2 and 3/07 in WP 18076/OP

…(Common order of the court was made by the Honourable Chief Justice)

These petitions filed in public interest seek to issue mandamus directing the respondents in implementing the Sethusamudram Canal Project by following any other alternate route or alignment without affecting or destroying or demolishing historic place Rama Sethu otherwise known as Adams Bridge.

2. Adams Bridge, which is also called Rama Sethu, is situated betweent he Islands of Thailaimannar and Sri Lanka and Dhanushkodi of India. The said Bridge is 48 kms. long and separates the Gulf of Mannar from Palk Strait. The existence of the Bridge is supported by various scientific and photographic evidence. Some experts have concluded that the bridge like formation whose existence has been established by NASA is not a natural formation but this is a deliberately constructed bridge by placing shoal stones in a bridge formation. According to some archaeological studies, the unique curvature and composition by age reveals that is man made.

3. Reference is found in Kamba Ramayana and Thulsi Ramayana about the existence of the Rama Sethu. Early coins and copper plate inscriptions of Cholas and Pallavas support the case of the existence of the Bridge. Ramanathapuram District Gazetteer says about Rama Sethu as follows:

"This bridge is 110 miles east-south-east of Madurai, 43 miles along the same direction from Rmanathapuram. The bridge is 15.5 miles east of Rameswaram. This bridge is composed of sand and stone. The western bridge links with Rameswaram and eastern end links with the island of Mannar. Bridging these two islands (of Rameswaram and of Mannar), this bridge links Srilanka and India. This is called Ramar Palam because this bridge was built under the leadership of Hanuman and with the participation of Vaanara Sena (kuranguppadai) and facilitated the crossing by Rama to reach Srilanka and to attain victory. Upto 1480, this bridge had served as a land bridge to Srilanka. Thereafter, a severe cyclone created fissures changing the dimensions to 30 miles long and 1.25 miles wide. This stretches from south-east to north-west. This sand bridge (of shoals) is seen above the ocean waters in some places and below the ocean waters in some other places. When submerged, the depth of the ocean-waters is 3 or 4 feet. The sand shoals keep shifting. There are also canals interspersed. During the south-east monsoon season, severe ocean currents and surges impact on the Adam's Bridge. A project is under planning to link the west-coast harbours with east-coast harbours with a view to reducing the navigational distance by creating a channel across the Adam's Bridge and linking Gulf of Mannar and Palk Straits."

4. Madras Presidency manual describes the Adams Bridge as follows:

"…Adam's bridge (Sethu, Tam.) Title from the Mahomedan tradition that Adam on his expulsion from paradise, crossed to Ceylon by this bridge. Tamul means artificial bund. Tax. Also (tiruvanai) meaning holy + bund. Sanscrit name (nala setu), meaning nalan, the monkey who constructed the causeway + bund. Also (rama setu) meaning Rama + bund. Also (adisetu) meaning first bridge. Isthmus; Madurai district, Ramnad Tal. Lat. 9.5 long 70" 30' from Madura ESE 110 miles; from Ramnad ESE 40 miles…"

5. The famous traveler Marco Polo during 13th century noted about Adams Bridge in these words:

"The name of this country, which both in the Basic edition and the older Latin is Maabar, and Moabar in the epitomes, is Malabar in the text of Ramusio, of which the former has been supposed a corruption; but the reverse is the case, for circumstances unequivocally point to the southern part of the coast of Coromandel as the place where the fleet arrived after leaving Ceylon; and what puts the matter beyong all dobt is, that the province of Malabar is afterwards distinctly mentioned in its proper place. Maabar, signifying a 'passage, ferry, ford, trajectus; (see the dictionaries of Meninaki and Richardson), was an appellation given by the Mahometans to what we call the Tinevelly, Madura, and perhaps, Tanjore countries – from their vicinity, as it would seem, to the celebrated chain of sand-banks and coral reefs named Rama's or Adams Bridge. It has now fallen into disuse, but is to be found in the works of all the oriental geographers and historians who have treated of this portion of India."

6. Several historic travelers, writers like Thomas Horsfield 1851, William Fordyce Mayor 1807, Charles O'Coney 1819 and several others recorded the existence of Adams Bridge.

7. There is thus ample evidence of Adams Bridge. In the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the 5threspondent the existence of the Bridge is not disputed, and in fact the stand of the 5 threspondent is that the creation of the channel will afford an opportunity to the pilgrims to visit the Adams Bridge, not possible today, and offer obeisance as the 5threspondent is contemplating provision of a Viewing Gallery along the channel alignment.

8. According to the petitioners, the ancient history of India, as evidenced by the epic Ramayana, shows that the Bridge was constructed by Rama with the help of local allies with a view to go to Srilanka to rescue his wife from Lanka King Ravana. Further, according to the petitioners, as per the calculations based on Indian Yuga system the Bridge was constructed several centuries ago and the existence of the Bridge in the area is unquestionable and there is no evidence or other material to show that the said Bridge was built by anybody else other than Rama the Prince of Ayodhya who belonged to Surya Dynasty was first deified and declared as Avatara by the Alwar saints of South India. In this regard, reliance is placed on the observations made by the Supreme Court in VEERAPATHIRA CHETTIAR VS RAMASWAMY NAICKER (AIR 1958 SC 1038)that whether any object is held sacred by any class of persons, must depend upon the evidence in the case, so also the effect of the words in Section 295 "with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as an insult to their religion."

9. A reference is also made to Article 49 of the Constitution of India which says that it shall be the obligation of the State to protect every monument or place or object of artistic or historic interest declared by or under law made by the Parliament to be of national importance, from spoliation, disfigurement, destruction, removal, disposal or export as the case maybe. Article 51A (f) makes it a fundamental duty of every citizen of India to value and preserve the rich heritage of the nation's composite culture. Reliance is also placed on the provisions of the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (for short 'the 1958 Act'). Section 2(a) of the 1958 Act defines the word ancient monument, as any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interest, or any cave, rock sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than one hundred years and include,

(i) the remains of an ancient monument;
(ii) the site of an ancient monument;
(iii) such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving such monument; and
(iv) the means of access to, and convenient inspection of an ancient monument.

Section 2(d) of the 1958 Act defines archaeological site and remains to mean any area which contains or reasonably believed to contain ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in existence for not less than one hundred years. Section 2(3) of the 1958 Act defines protected monument as an ancient monument which is declared to be of national importance by or under the said Act.

10. It is the contention of the respondents that Adams Bridge is not a man made construction but it is a natural formation of shoal stones. However, from the above mentioned definitions given in the 1958 Act it would be apparent that an 'ancient monument' has been given a very wide meaning. It would mean to be any monument which is very old having historic past or record. It can also be a stone, a post, a river etc. Thus in RAM SARUP VS STATE OF HARYANA (AIR 1993 PUNJAB AND HARYANA 204)a Division Bench of Punjab & Haryana High Court held that the 'Brahm Sarovar' is a very old historic place and it would clearly come both within the expression of ancient and historical monument, as defined in the 1958 Act.

11. The grievance of the petitioners is that when the existence of the Adams Bridge/Rama Sethu is brought to the notice of the Government, it was the duty of the Government to undertake such studies and if it is found that there is a Bridge it has an obligation and constitutional duty under Article 49 to protect the said bridge as a national monument. It is urged that Sethusamudram Canal Project had been under consideration right from 1860 onwards. Between 1860 and 1922 as many as nine proposals were made and subsequently also reports were submitted by different committees in 1956, 1967, 1983 and 1996 about the viability of the project. In this connection our attention was invited to the report made by Sir A. Ramaswamy Mudaliar. The said Committee was specifically constituted to consider the proposal of cutting the canal across the narrow strip of the land mostly through the Rameswaram Islands to connect Gulf of Mannar with Palk Bay. The Committee expressly rejected this proposal by giving a detailed reasoning. The report made by NEERI, which is sought to be relied upon by the respondents to justify the alignment, undoubtedly gives reasons for selecting route '6' alignment. However, there is no discussion as to whether any other route is possible in order to avoid cutting of Adams Bridge.

12. In SHRI SACHIDANAND PANDEY VS STATE OF WEST BENGAL (AIR 1987 SC 1109) Justice Chinnappa Reddy observed:

"Today society's interaction with nature is so extensive that the environmental question has assumed proportions affecting all humanity. Industrialisation, urbanization, explosion of population, over-exploitation of resources, depletion of traditional sources of energy and raw materials and the search for new sources of energy and raw materials, the disruption of natural ecological balances, the destruction of multitude of animal and plant species for economic reasons and sometimes for no good reason at all are factors which have contributed to environmental deterioration. While the scientific and technological progress of man has invested him with immense power over nature, it has also resulted in the unthinking use of the power, encroaching endlessly on nature. If man is able to transform deserts in to oases, he is also leaving behind deserts in the place of oases."

13. The learned Judge referred to the warning given to mankind by a great German materialist philosopher: "Let us not, however, flatter ourselves over much on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first."

14. In a recent judgment in INTELLECTUALS FORUM VS STATE OF A.P. (2006(3), scc 549), the issue raised was in respect of two ancient tanks, viz., Avilala tank and Peruru tank which were situated in the suburbs of Tirupathi town, a world-renowned popular pilgrim centre. The case involved preservation of and restoration of status quo ante of these tanks which were historical in nature, being in existence since 1500 AD. Disposing of the appeal the Supreme Court held that the responsibility of the State to protect the environment is now a well-accepted notion in all countries. It is this notion that, in international law, gave rise to the principle of 'State responsibility' for pollution emanating within one's own territories. This responsibility is clearly enunciated in the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm 1972 (Stockholm Convention) to which India was a party. Article 48-A of the Constitution mandates that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. Article 51-A of the Constitution enjoins that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India, inter alia, to protect and improve the national environment including forests, lakes, rivers, wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures. These two articles are not only fundamental in the governaqnce of the country but also it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws and further these two articles are to be kept in mind in understanding the scope and purport of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution including Articles 14, 19 and 21 and also the various laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures. The Court further observed that the debate between the developmental and economic needs and that of the environment is an enduring one, since if the environment is destroyed for any purpose without a compelling developmental cause, it will most probably run foul of the executive and judicial safeguards. In response to this difficulty, policy makers and judicial bodies across the world have produced the concept of 'sustainable development.' Hence merely asserting an intention for development will not be enough to sanction the destruction of local ecological resources. The Court has to follow the principles of sustainable development and find a balance between the developmental needs and the environmental degradation. The principle of 'sustainable development' is also extensively dealt by the Supreme Court in KARNATAKA INDUSTRIAL AREAS DEVELOPMENT BOARD VS C. KENCHAPPA (2006(6) SCC 371 AND RESEARCH FOUNDATION FOR SCIENCE (19) VS UNION OF INDIA (2005(13) SCC 186).

15. It appears that two writ petitions questioning the viability of the Sethusamudram project have been dismissed by this Court and appeals are pending in Supreme Court. It is seen that the only issue involved in those petitions was as to whether the project would cause environmental degradation. The petitioners before us are not opposing the project. The prayer of the petitioners is to implement the project without affecting the Adams Bridge/Rama Sethu which according to the petitioners, si a national monument. The Union of India has not filed any counter affidavit. A counter affidavit has been filed by the 5 threspondent which is only an implementing agency. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Union of India is directed to file a counter affidavit explaining whether any study has been undertaken by the archaeological or any other concerned department in respect of Adams Bridge/Rama Sethu and whether the said bridge can be regarded as a national monument within the meaning of the 1958 Act. The Union of India to also explain as to whether the said project can be implemented without affecting Adams Bridge/Rama Sethu by resorting to some other routes discussed and deliberated upon by the previous committees. The counter affidavit shall be filed within four weeks from today. We are not inclined to grant any interim relief at this stage, as it would hamper the further work in the project. However, we leave it to the Union of India to decide whether the actual cutting of Adams Bridge/Rama Sethu could be postponed till the issue involved in these petitions are considered by this Court. Hearing is adjourned to 23.7.2007. To be listed as the first matter on the Admission Boad.
Sd.' 19 June 2007

Setu temple in Rameshwaram

Rameshwaram Temple

Rameshwaram is an island located in the gulf of manner at the extremely tip of the Indian peninsula. This is a very vital pilgrim centre of the Indians. Rameshwaram is the place from where Lord Rama, built a bridge across the sea to rescue his consort Sita, from her abductor, Ravana. This is also the place where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva to cleanse away the sin of killing Ravana. Both the Vaishnavites and Shaivites visit this pilgrimage which is known as the Varanasi the south.

Rameshwaram is important for the Hindus as a pilgrimage to Benaras is incomplete without a Pilgrimage to Rameshwaram. The presiding deity is the Linga Of Sri Ranganatha, which happens to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India. Rameshwaram is also widely referred to as the 'Benaras of the south'. In order to attain Moksha it is said that the visit to Rameshwaram is compulsory.

Legend of Rameshwaram: As per the Hindu mythology, the story of Ramayana Lord Rama performed thanksgiving rituals to Lord Rama after the battle at Sri Lanka and his triumph over the demon king Ravana. Due to this Rameshwaram attracts Vaishnavites worshippers of Lord Vishnu and Saivites worshippers of Lord Shiva the same. Sri Lanka is at a distance of 24 kilometers from Rameshwaram. Actually the entire area of Rameshwaram is related with various incidents from the Ramayana. Rameshwaram happens to one of the most visited pilgrim sites in India.
Ramanathaswamy Temple: Ramnathswamy temple was built in the 17th century. Situated close to the sea on the eastern side of the island, this temple is famous for its 1200 gigantic granite columns. The 54 metre tall gopuram (gate-tower), 1220 metres of magnificent corridors and the flamboyant columns embellish and render fame to the temple. The water in each of the 22 sacred wells in the temple tastes different.

Other Temples of Rameshwaram

Dhanushkodi Temple: Dhanushkodi named after Rama's bow, is at the eastern end of the island at a distance of 8 kms from Rameshwaram. The boulders around the sea between Srilanka and this place known as Adam's bridge, are believed to be used by Hanuman to reach across Srilanka. Dhhanushkodi was completely destroyed by the cyclones of 1964. Kothandaramaswamy temple is the only salvage of the cyclone. Idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Vibhishana (brother of Ravana), surrendered to Rama, here.

Erwadi Temple: An important site for Muslim pilgrims, Erwadi houses the tomb of Ibrahim Sahid Aulia. At a distance of 24 kilometers from Rameshwaram is Erwadi. Muslims from across the globe visit Erwadi especially during the month of December to participate in the annual festival celebrated as a tribute to the saint.
Around Rameshwaram

Ramanathapuram Temple: This ancient town is the district headquarters. The Ram Vilas Palace of the Sethupati Rajas is a must visit place. The oil portraits of the Rajas of the past centuries and the articulately designed ceilings and walls embellished with eighteenth century murals, the subjects of which vary from business. Meetings with the English to battles with the Marathas, make this place more interesting.

Tirupullani Temple: Outside the island, there are three other sites traditionally connected with Sri Rama's expedition to Sri Lanka. A big temple in Tiruppullani commemorates the tradition that there the Lord obtained a bow and arrows to use in the impending war from its presiding Deity and also that the Lord of the Ocean who had refused to help Him finally submitted.

Uthirakosamangai Temple: 16-km southwest of Ramanathapuram stands the renowed Shiva temple of Uttarakosamangai. Manikkavachagar has sung of it. The Lord is Mangaleshvara and the Goddess Mangalesvari. The temple has inspired many Tamil works of devotion. So, of course, has the Ramanatha temple in Rameshwaram.

Sethu Temple: 5-km south of the temple is Sethu, where there is a celebrated temple of Sri Anjaneya, and where, tradition holds, Sri Rama built a bridge to Sri Lanka. In Devipatnam, or Navapashanam, also by the sea, there are nine stones visible at low tide. It is believed that they were set up by Sri Rama to represent the nine planets, the Navagrahas.

Air: Nearest airport is Madurai, 173 kms away.
Rail: Rameswaram has rail connections with all major cities like Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy and Tanjavur.
Bus: Connected with all the important towns of Tamil Nadu, buses and taxis ply regularly. The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation also operates buses to Rameswaram.

Part 4. Vivekananda visits Rama Setu

Deccan Herald Sept 30, 2007

In the corridor of royalty

Dhananjaya Bhatgoes back into history to take a look at 'Sethupatis', the royal family who guarded the Rama Sethu.

Today when the description of Rama and creation of the Rama Sethu as a myth is creating a furore, it is interesting to note that for thousands of years, there was a royal family in South India with its headquarters at Ramanathapuram near Rameshwaram, known as the Sethupati Rajas or the guardians of the Sethu. Like the Maharajas of Kashi in North India, the specific task of these kings was to guard the sanctity of Rameshwaram temple and protect the Sethu – now so much under the limelight.

In fact even today, though the famous Rameshwaram temple (which technically belonged to the Sethupatis) is administered by the Government of Tamil Nadu, the head of the Sethupati dynasty, at present Rajeshwari Nachiar, is the hereditary head of the temple's board of trustees.

Detailed information about the Sethupathis is available in the 'Ramnad Manual' maintained by Tamil Nadu archives. It states that, "The Sethupatis built several chattrams (dharmsalas) along the main roads of the pilgrimage to Rameshwaram. Roads were opened through the forests. Immense sums were spent on the restoration of the Rameshwaram temples, which were falling into ruins, and the splendid Chockattan Mantapam or the cloistered precincts of the temple at Rameshwaram being finally completed by the Sethupati representatives.." Although the dynasty claims that they are mentioned in the 2000-year-old sagas of Tamil literature, as the brave Marava community guarding the Sethu since the times of Rama, the first historical reference comes only in the 11th century AD, when Chola king Rajaraja made the head of Marava community as Sethupati to protect the pilgrims to Rameshwaram temple and the Rama Sethu.

The temple complex itself was built by Sethupati rulers in the 12th century, with Sethupathy Maravar beginning the construction of the grand Ramanathaswamy temple. Then again reference is made in A D1434 to the repair of the temple walls by the head of the Sethupati clan, known as Udayan Sethupati. Geologists state that till AD1480, when a tsunami damaged the present Rama Sethu, one could walk from India to Sri Lanka on the Sethu!
But only from AD 1605, we find detailed history of these chiefs, who are described as masters of Sethu and their kingdom described as Sethu Nadu (Land of Sethu). After the destruction of the Vijayanagar empire in 1565, their viceroy in South India, the the Nayak ruler of Madurai, re-appointed head of the same Marava community as the Sethupatis.

The most important of these monarchs was the Raghunatha Sethupati II alias Kilavan Sethupati (1671 AD to 1710 AD), who ensured that Sethupatis with their fiefdom over the area known as Ramnad, remained all powerful. It was during his time, that the magnificent still existing palace of Ramlingavilasam was created as the residence of the Sethupatis. No other palace in Tamil Nadu has such extensive mural paintings. As soon as you enter the Mahamandapam, you are surrounded by murals that glint like gem-encrusted jewels on the walls. Some are dull and faded, while others flash forth their brilliance, even 300 years after they were executed. In 1978, the Sethupati family, unable to maintain the palace handed it over to the Government of Tamil Nadu.

But in the18th century, the British entered the politics of South India and as a measure to reduce the importance of the Sethupatis, they were demoted as mere zamindars under the British in1803. Of all the services, this royal family has done to India, the most important was that of financing the visit of Swami Vivekananda in 1893 to Chicago, to address the World Religions Conference. Swami Vivekananda reached Ramnathapuram in 1892 and met the then scion, Bhaskara Sethupati at his palace, and stayed there as the official guest for eight days.

Initially, it was Bhaskara Setupati as the Raja of Ramnad, who had earlier decided to go to US to attend the Parliament of Religions as the representative of Hinduism. But after conversing with Swami Vivekananda, he decided that Swamiji was the right person to attend the conference.

Vivekananda decided to accept the Raja's offer. When Vivekananda returned from USA after his grand success, as he was about to land at Rameshwaram, the overjoyed Raja was waiting with his entourage to give him a royal welcome. Because of the achievement of Swamiji and as well as the regard, the Raja had for him, he bowed his head and offered it as step for Vivekananda to get down from the boat. But, Swamiji tactfully avoided this offer, by jumping from the boat to the land. Then the Raja unyoked the bullocks from Vivekananda's ceremonial chariot and pulled the conveyance manually with his entourage, till it reached his palace. Later he erected a victory pillar of 25 feet height with the Upanishad expression Satyameva Jayate to commemorate the success of Swami Vivekananda at Chicago.

After Indian Independence, the Sethupatis still retained their importance in the politics of Tamil Nadu. In fact Shanmuga Raja Sethupati won the elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly and held the seat thrice from 1951 to 1967, besides being a minister in the Rajagopalachari Ministry of 1952. He was well-known in horse racing circles and had a stable of over 50 horses in Calcutta and a huge garage of cars in Madras, including Rolls Royces and a Bentley. But the abolition of zamindaries by the Government of India, removed all sources of their wealth and today, the former Sethupatis are just well-known prominent magnates of Tamil Nadu.

Part 5. U.S. court backs Indian tribe on sacred mountain By Adam Tanner
10:46 a.m. March 12, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO – An Arizona ski resort's plan to use treated sewage to make snow on a mountain sacred to several Native American tribes violates religious freedom laws, a U.S federal appeals court ruled Monday.
"We hold that the Forest Service's approval of the proposed expansion of the Snowbowl, including the use of treated sewage effluent to make artificial snow, violates RFRA," a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, holds that the federal government may not "substantially burden a person's exercise of religion."
The dispute is one of the most prominent in recent years pitting the religious beliefs of American Indians against local economic interests.
According to the Navajo Nation, the San Francisco Peaks are sacred to more than 13 Native American nations.
"They walked all over our dignity," Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. said in 2005. "You're committing genocide; you're demeaning us." The Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, 150 miles north of Phoenix, wanted to use artificial snow to enable skiing throughout the winter and says the move in the San Francisco Peaks is crucial to its economic survival.
Organized skiing started at Snowbowl in 1938, but has depended on highly variable natural snowfall rather than using artificial snow as at many U.S. resorts. In many years, enthusiasts can ski for more than 100 days a year, although in the especially poor 2001-2 season there were only four days when skiing was possible.
Last year, a U.S. District Court judge backed the plans to allow a $25 million upgrade on the 777-acre facility on federal forest land to include the use of treated sewage water.
The Navajo Nation, which has an estimated 300,000 tribal members in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, joined several other tribes and environmental groups to fight the decision.
The appeals court decision described the religious significance of the Peaks to the Navajos, Hopi, Hualapai, Havasupai tribes, among others, and how sewage is treated to make reclaimed water.
"The record supports the conclusion that the proposed use of treated sewage effluent on the San Francisco Peaks would impose a burden on the religious exercise of all four tribes discussed above – the Navajo, the Hopi, the Hualapai, and the Havasupai," wrote Judge William Fletcher.
"We are unwilling to hold that authorizing the use of artificial snow at an already functioning commercial ski area in order to expand and improve its facilities, as well as to extend its ski season in dry years, is a governmental interest 'of the highest order."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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