Ram-Setu is back in news with the Congress led Government rejecting the Pachauri committee report that did not favour the dredging of the Ram Setu and the evil Karunanidhi lashing out at “communal forces” for stalling the Setu project.
Many articles had been written in this blogspot on why Ram Setu must not be destroyed. There are more dangerous reasons of a future tsunami wiping off parts of Srilanka, south Tamilnadu and Kerala if this raised patch of Ram Setu is destroyed. There is also the possibility of rare deposits of Thorium getting washed into the Indian Ocean in the event of Ram Setu getting destroyed. If these are not enough reasons for not touching Ram Setu, there is certainly the religious reason for not destroying it. Though I have written many articles in this angle in the past, I wish to address this issue especially to the people of Tamilnadu this time.
The Tamil speaking people are proud about their heritage and a long literary past of Tamil culture and language. They must know that their olden Tamil texts contain the keys to many secrets of the history of India and even mankind at large. They must also know that their Tamil ancestors had remained as custodians of the past culture of India which was nothing but Vedic or Hindu in substance. Let them know that Ramayana, Rama and Ram setu were recorded in their olden texts as facts of history and not as mythology or some imaginative stuff. A true Tamilian must rise above his religious identity or political identity to stand by the historical places of importance in his land and put a stop to the destruction of these sites by the likes of Karunanidhi. As inheritors of Tamil language and olden Tamil texts, it is the duty of every Tamilian to know what his texts say and bring them out to the outside world to set the records straight. In this article I am giving whatever I have gathered from Tamil sources to show why this issue of Ram Setu must not be just left as a ‘religious issue’ but as a national heritage issue which every citizen must raise his voice for and every Tamil should rise up to denounce the attempts to destroy Ram Setu.
First of all every Tamilian should understand that it is his bounden duty to protect Ram Setu, as it is located in his land. He must not accept the specious arguments of Karunanidhi and his mouthpiece The Hindu which calls Ramayana as a myth. If Ramayana is a myth, how could have the Pandyan rulers written about an incident of an early Pandyan with Ravana of Ramayana?
Contrary to what people think, Ramayana did not happen lakhs of years ago. It happened in a traceable past – that too at a time when the old Tamil kingdom of Pandyans was flourishing in the South. There is a mention of the location of Kavatapuram, the capital city of the Pandyas in Valmiki Ramayana, and a corroboratory reference to Ravana is also found in the Sinnamanur copper plates of the Pandyans.
When Sita was abducted by Ravana, Pandyan kingdom was thriving in the south. While giving instructions to Hanuman and other vanaras on how to proceed to the southern direction, Shugreeva narrated the places that they would encounter en route. In that context he said that after crossing the river Kaveri, Agasthya’s abode and then river Tamraparani, they would reach the Kavatam of Pandyas! ( कवाटम् पाण्ड्यानाम् – Valmiki Ramayana, chapter 41 -19). Thereafter they would reach the southern oceans, said Shugreeva. From there they could reach Ravana’s Lanka from Mahendra hills!
This Kavatam was the capital of Pandyans during the 2nd sangam period, It was submerged in the 3rd deluge that happened 3500 years ago. Today we could see only the Mahendra hills whose extension into the Indian ocean had gone under water. This extension was the Kumari hills of the Sangam period.
From the narration of Valmiki Ramayana, we come to know that Pandyans were ruling from Kavatam while Ravana was ruling Lanka.
As a cross reference we do have information available in the Sinnamanur copper plates of the Pandyan kings. While tracing the genealogy of Pandyans, these inscriptions make a specific reference to an earlier Pandyan (name not mentioned ) to have made Ravana buy peace (refer verse 5 in this link: –http://www.whatisindia.com/inscriptions/south_indian_inscriptions/volume_3/copper_plates_at_tirukkalar.html )
This is written both in the Sanskrit portion and the Tamil portion of the inscriptions. In Sanskrit it is written “Dasaanan sandheepa rakshakaara”. In Tamil the same is written as “dasavathanan saarbaaka sandhu seithum”. There was geographic proximity between the Pandyans and Ravana. The Pandyans had some skirmishes with him and at some time, they had the ten-headed Ravana buy truce with them or had negotiated with Ravana for some reason. The reason is not known and the exact event is not known, but the very mention of some interaction with Ravana goes to show that Ravana was not a mythological character, nor a Ramayana a fiction. It also shows that Ramayana happened in a decipherable past and not lakhs of years ago.
The Tamil texts also give the duration of time periods of the 3 Sangam periods. According to “Irayanaar Aga-p-porul urai” written 1000 years ago, the first sangam went on for 4,440 years with Southern Madurai (Then-Madurai) as its epicentre. After a deluge the capital was shifted to Kavaatam where the 2nd sangam went on for 3,700 years. It was in this period Ramayana had happened, as per the above references of Valmiki Ramayana and Sinnamaur inscriptions. This location was also lost in the deluge after which the 3nd sangam was shifted the present day Madurai. It lasted for 1,850 years with Ugra Peruvazhuthi as its last patron king. Adding all the years we get 9,990 years as the total duration of Tamil sangam period.
This figure was not a mythical figure. It was not written as a matter of fiction. The writer of this figure, Nakkeeranar was not a liar but belonged to the category of poets who had no reason to twist the facts or write a history out of imagination. These figures concur well with deluges of the past that started after the end of Ice Age some 13,000 years ago.
This figure also concurs with a cross reference from a sangam text and an inscription of the Cholas. The last patron of the 3nd sangam has been mentioned as Pandyan King Ugra Peruvazhuthi. There is a verse on this king and his contemporary king of the Cholas namely Peru Narkilli, written by the famous poetess Auvaiyaar in Pura Nanuru, a famous Sangam text (verse no 367). This Peru Narkilli is mentioned in the Cholan copper plates of Thiruvalangadu (verse 41 http://www.whatisindia.com/inscriptions/south_indian_inscriptions/volume_3/no_205b_aditya_ii_karikala.html )
The famous Cholan king Karikal Cholan came after this king as per the records of the Thiruvalangadu plates. Karikalan’s time was before the period of Silappadhikaram of 2nd century CE. By this it is inferred that Peru Narkilli and his contemporary Ugra Peru vazuthi must have lived in the 1st century CE or at the beginning of the Common Era. This puts the end of 3rd sangam at approximately 2000 years BP.
Now adding up the years of the 3 sangam periods to this last year of the last sangam at 2000 years BP, we arrive at the following years.
3rd sangam started around 1850 BC.
2nd sangam started around 5550 BC
1st sangam started around 9990 BC.
For our purpose of locating the period of Ramayana, it must have happened after 5550 BC when Kavatam was the capital of Pandyan kings.
This coincides with a research article by Prof Pushkar Bhatnagar based on the astronomy-inputs of Ramayana that puts the date of birth of Ramayana at 5114 BC!
(http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.in/2010/10/ramas-birth-date.html ) Therefore I request the readers, particularly the Tamils to understand that Ramayana was very much an historical event that happened around 7000 years ago when Tamil sangam was thriving under the patronage of Pandyan kings.
There is also a cross reference available from Kalidasa’s Raghu vamsa wherein he says that a Pandyan king attended the Swyamvar (self—choice) of Rama’s grand mother Indumathi! She chose Rama’s Aja, Rama’s grand father as her groom. By all this it must be understood that we must not allow any more talk of Ramayana being a myth. Ramayana happened in reality. It happened 7000 years ago. The core theme is the abduction of Sita who was rescued by Rama by crossing the ocean, after building a bund over the Isthumus. Setu means bund. The identity as a bridge came much recently after the British messed up with our history and called it as Adams bridge. From the records of Thomas Williamson , (1810 ), East India Vade-Mecum, VOL I. , London , Black, Parry, and Kingsbury , p. 125, it is known that there were many hill tops or projections from the sea which were connected and made as a bund. This record says,
“This reef, called’ Adam’s Bridge,’ is supposed to be formed by the summits of mountains, that, by some dreadful convulsion, were sunk below those waters, between which they originally formed a stupendous isthmus, like that of Darien, connecting Ceylon with the continent.”
At the height of 1 Km, the structure of Ram Setu shows striations which are impossible to happen in nature. Take a look at the picture below which shows the finer parts of Setu under water as seen from the height of 1 Km.
Ram Setu was a marvel even at its time of construction. Mandodhari, wife of Ravana was convinced about the defeat of Ravana the moment she came to know that Rama had built a bridge across the ocean to come over to Lanka. It was an incomparable human feat that a person who could do it cannot be vanquished. Lamenting on the death of Ravana she said, “The day when the terrific monkeys built a bridge on the great ocean, that day itself I believed that Rama was not an ordinary mortal.”
यदिअव वानरैर्घोरैर्बद्दः सेतुर्महार्णवे |
तदैव हृदयेनाहं शङ्के रामममानुषम् || (Valmiki Ramayana 6-111 -11)
Let me draw the attention of readers to some references from Silappadhikaram, the text that Karunanidhi used to show his love for Tamil. If Karunanidhi accepts Kannagi, the central character of Silappadhikaram, then he cannot ignore the other references in Silappadhikaram.
When Kovalan had gone out with Kannagi and Gavunthi Adigal, Kovalan’s father grew anxious and wanted to get him back in town. His emissaries met Kovalan on the way and conveyed the anxiety of his father. In that context they compared Kovalan with Rama! Just as how Ayodhya was reeling under sorrow at the exit of Rama to the forest, Pukar (the home town of Kovalan) was sad at the exit of Kovalan.
//பெருமகன் ஏவ லல்ல தியாங்கணும்
அரசே தஞ்சமென் றருங்கான் அடைந்த
அருந்திறல் பிரிந்த அயோத்தி போலப்
(மதுரைக் காண்டம் – புறஞ்சேரி இறுத்த காதை
Once again there is another reference in Silappadhikaram on Rama having gone to the forest. When Kovalan was sad over the developments of himself moving out with Kannagi, Gavunthi Adikal consoled him by comparing his position to Rama’s sojourn with Sita in the forest.
//தாதை ஏவலின் மாதுடன் போகிக்
காதலி நீங்கக் கடுந்துய ருழந்தோன்
வேத முதல்வற் பயந்தோ னென்பது
நீயறிந் திலையோ நெடுமொழி யன்றோ
(மதுரைக் காண்டம்: ஊர் காண் காதை line 45-49)//
Consider that these words were written 1800 years ago. Unless Rama’s story was a legend by then, these references could not have entered into the Tamil Epic. The fact that Rama’s exit to forest is recorded shows that what followed after that – namely abduction of Sita and building of Setu were also realities.
There is a reference in Sangam texts on the abduction of Sita. In verse 378 of Pura Nanuru, there is a description of the jewels received as gifts. The Paanans received different types of jewels from the Cholan king. Not knowing how to wear them, they were messing up with them. They did not even to how to wear and in which part of the body they must wear them. They wore the hand jewels on the ears and the ear jewels on the neck. The poet says that it looked like how the vanaras wore the jewels after they were thrown down by Sita while she was being carried away by Ravana!
//”…இலம்பா(டு) இழந்தஎன் இரும்பேர் ஒக்கல்
விரல்செறி மரபின செவித்தொடக் குநரும்
செவித்தொடர் மரபின விரற்செறிக் குநரும்
அரைக்(கு)அமை மரபின மிடற்றுயாக் குநரும்
மிடற்(று)அமை மரபின அரைக்குயாக் குநரும்
கடுந்தெறல் இராமன் உடன்புணர் சீதையை
வலித்தகை அரக்கன் வௌவிய ஞான்றை
நிலஞ்சேர் மதரணி கண்ட குரங்கின்
செம்முகப் பெருங்கிளை இழைப்பொலிந் தாஅங்(கு)
அறாஅ அருநகை இனிதுபெற்(று) இகுமே”
What a description by the Tamils some 2000 years ago, connecting a scene from Ramayana! The sudden and unexpected access to jewels of sorts with which they were not familiar got the poet (Oon podhi pasungudaiyaar – ஊன்பொதி பசுங்குடையார்) recall how the vanaras had behaved on seeing the jewels falling in their midst! If this is not a proof of Ramayana, why would anyone believe that even Kannagi was a real character?
There is another sangam verse that speaks about Rama before he crossed the ocean. In Agananuru 70, we come across a scene in which a man is speaking to his wife recalling their love affair. Before marriage, their love affair was the subject matter of talks everywhere around. But after their marriage all those talks had fallen silent. It was like how the birds of the Banyan tree were keeping silence when Rama was sitting under the tree in the shores of the Ocean of the Pandyan land in deep thought over war strategies to be followed.
//”நம்மொடு புணர்ந்த கேண்மை முன்னே
அலர்வாய்ப் பெண்டிர் அம்பல் தூற்றப்
பலரும் ஆங்(கு)அறிந்தனர் மன்னே; இனியே
வதுவை கூடிய பின்றை….
வென்வேற் கவுரியர் தொல்முது கோடி
முழங்குஇரும் பௌவம் இரங்கும் முன்துறை
வெல்போர் இராமன் அருமறைக்(கு) அவித்த
பல்வீழ் ஆலம் போல
ஒலிஅவிந் தன்(று)இவ் அழுங்கல் ஊரே”. (அகநானூறு:70:5-17)//
The location is mentioned as belonging to the Pandyan land. Obviously it refers to the shores of Setu, where Rama was in Darbha sayana for 3 days and waited for the next few days to have the bridge built. The above scenario is about the time the Setu was under construction while Rama was spending time thinking about the war -perhaps sitting under a banyan tree. This description further reiterates the historicity of this incidence of crossing the ocean from the Pandyan kingdom. There must have been more local legends and recollections of Rama’s stay in this part of the Pandyan kingdom among the Tamils of those days. A shred of it is available in this sangam verse.
The historicity of Setu continued for all times after that in such a way that a lineage of protectors of Setu had come into being. The rulers by name Setu-pathi were there in that part of Tamilnadu. Scurrying through the inscriptions, I came across one issued in the year 1714 by Vijaya Raghunatha Sethupathi. It was grant given to a dancer. At the end of the inscription, as was customary, it was mentioned that those who obstruct the continuation of that grant would incur the sin of having killed the cow in Setu or in the Ganges! (‘Kalvettu’, quarterly magazine of Tamilnadu archaeological dept, Jan2010 issue) This shows that Ram Setu was kept in equal importance as that of Ganges!
The reason behind this is another big story which I have written in Tamil. (http://thamizhan-thiravidana.blogspot.in/2011/03/47.html )
The nutshell of that story is that Setu was the place where the river Ganga first touched the ashes of the Sagaras and enabled them to get released to heavens! The Ganges was not in existence until the time of Bhageeratha. It was confined to the glacier at Gangothri during the Ice Age. At the end of Ice age, she started flowing down. She flowed on the path cut by the sons of Sagara, the ancestor of Rama. The path was cut along the eastern coast of Bay of Bengal when actually the Bay was farther away from the present day shore. The Sagaras who were in search of the horse dug through the shore line, encircled Srilanka and then ended up where Ram setu is situated. That region was a hot bed that they were reduced to ashes. Even today the ocean at the region of Rameswaram is called as Agni theertha. The Bathometry analysis of the Bay of Bengal shows 4 stands of canal like formations along the coastal line at depths 130, 80, 60 and 30 metres. It must be remembered that at the time of Ice age (13,500 years ago), the ocean level was 120 metres lower than now and that Bay of Bengal was much drier than the Indian Ocean which was lower than the bottom of the Bay of Bengal.
The Ganges in her early days had flown along these channels – cut by the sagaras and ended up at Ram Setu. The Ganga sagar was actually Bengal Sagar – now known as Bay of Bengal which was the ultimate region of river Ganga in her path. But as time progressed and the Ice age ended, the Ganges started flowing in full might. The Bay of Bengal swelled to its current level at the time of Ramayana – 7000 yrs BP. That was the time the ocean levels attained the current levels. So by then the original Channels of Sagara were inundated completely, Setu was almost under waters. The Ganges was more reachable at other places like Kasi and Gaya. That is how the glory of ganga went from “Aa Setu Himachala”.
The blue coloured arrow marks in the above picture shows the initial movement of river Ganga upto Setu. The green coloured route shows the return of the glory from Setu to the region of birth of Ganga.
The isthumus between Srilanka and India was not touched by the Sagaras and not even by Rama who initially attempted to shoot his Brahmasthra at that site. But that was stopped by Samudra rajan who requested Rama to shoot the astra at some other site in the ocean. The reason could be traced to the type of ocean floor at Ram Setu. It was dotted with volcanic formations that are plugging the fractures in the mantle surface. The mount of Mynaka that rose up when Hanuman crossed the ocean was a volcano that had a lava opening at its bottom. The rich Thorium deposit in this region concurs well with the Ramayana description of volcanism underneath Ran Setu. It was as though a stitch had been made at Setu and by Setu to suppress any fissure in the sea bottom from erupting menacingly.
At the time of Ramayana (7000 yrs BP), the until then naturally made isthumus of Setu was under water. It was raised by Rama’s vanara sena. He found an additional advantage as it served as a bund to stop the river waters flowing through the under water channel. This channel not only carried the waters of Ganges but also the other peninsular rivers. By arresting them at this point, it was possible for people to take a dip in the waters of all the sacred rivers starting from Ganges south-wards. Rama facilitated that by constructing Setu bund.
The religious significance of this place is thus formed 1000s of years ago. Even Rama had bathed here before he left for Lanka. It is written by sage Parasara in his Brihad Parasa Hora sastra that those who take bath here would get back their wealth, wife and family. Rama got them all within a fortnight of having taken bath here! Ram setu is recommended as a place of propitiation for those suffering from Chandra-dosha or the curse of mothers.
Tamilians must know that the information of the digging up of the Bay of Bengal is written in Tamil texts! The Bay of Bengal is mentioned as “Thodu kadal” in Tamil texts. It means ‘Thondappatta kadal” – dug-up sea. This expression is found with specific reference to Sagaras in the Pura nanuru verse no 6. This is again mentioned in Silappadhikaram at 2 places. Lanka is mentioned as “Agazh ilangai” – dug –out Lanka. The shape of Srilanka was not natural but man-made – dug out by the sagaras who encircled Lanka and ended up at Setu, being unable to cut through it. In Silappadhikaram this nature of Lanka is mentioned in a couple of places. If Karunanidhi is true to his Tamil leanings, he must have recognised these facts of Silapapdhikaram too and reorganised his views. He is after all a selfish seller – who wants to use Tamil to serve him and not keen on serving Tamil.
Whatever we find in Tamil texts of Sagaras’ digging up the Bay of Bengal, is also available in Valmiki Ramayana. The mynaka rose up to offer a resting place for Hanuman because it wanted to pay back to the Iskhwaku dynasty for having dug up the sea! Its location is in the region of Ram Setu is something we must remember. This location was not somewhere in North India but very much on the shores of Tamilnadu. Again after reaching the shores, it was Vibheeshana who suggested Rama to seek the help of Samudra Rajan to help him cross the seas on the pretext that his ancestors had facilitated the flow of waters in the ocean when they brought the Ganges through the channels dug by sagaras. The location is Ram Setu. Thus we have evidence to say that the Ganges came upto Ram Setu.
Today the average Tamil is indifferent to the issue of Setu samudram project. The Dravidian brain-wash had made him think that it is some Hindu issue or Jayalalithaa politics. No, it is the heritage of Tamils, its an issue of concern to Tamils. If only this kind of a situation had arisen in ancient times, no Tamil would have kept quiet. This is a place of pride, of historic importance for everyone from Pandyans to Setupathys. If we remain inert spectators, we are harming a tradition and heritage of our Tamil lands. If we allow the un-Tamil Karunanidhis and congreeswallahs to have their say, only we and our future generations are going to suffer – either through devastations in the event of tsunamis or by having permanently lost a rare region having propitiatory significance.