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Ramsetu bridge

Tuesday, 20 May 2008 - 8:54 AM SL Time



Dhananjaya Bhat goes 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sagas of Tamil literature, as the brave Marava community guarding the Sethu since the times of Rama, the first historical reference comes only in the 11th century AD, when Chola king Rajaraja made the head of Marava community as Sethupati to protect the pilgrims to Rameshwaram temple and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.
The existence of the bridge obviously cannot be denied! However to what extent there was manual intervention in connecting the gaps between the shoals, islands and rocks is a subject for detailed marine archaeological and geological research. This kind of research has never been carried out nor has any team been constituted so far. However, there is enough evidence about the existence as well as the use of this bridge in ancient Indian history, literature and travelogues etc.
Maharishi Valmiki has recorded in his Ramayan- (Yuudh Kand, sarg 22 and shlokas 45-73) that Shri Rama’ s army constructed a bridge over the sea between Rameswaram and Sri Lanka. After crossing this bridge, Shri Rama’ s army reached Sri Lanka, defeated Ravana and liberated Sita from his captivity. Valmiki has narrated in detail that originally Shri Rama’ s army camped in Kodikarai but found that place unsuitable for constructing the bridge. Therefore, the entire army was shifted to Rameswaram. Research was carried out by Shri Ram for three days to find out a suitable location in the sea for constructing the land route so that the army could cross over to Sri Lanka. Finally, the suitable location was identified. Shri Nal was a famous shilpakar, who had the expertise similar to that of Vishwakarma in constructing the bridges, was requested to construct the bridge. ( 6/22/45).
After carrying out the survey, Nal declared that a bridge can indeed be constructed. The armymen of Shri Ram utilized various tools and implements for uprooting trees like Taar, coconut, mango, ashoka, bakul etc., and with the help of various yantras transported these trees, stones, and rocks to the seashore. Shilpakar Nal directed the armymen to stand with long ropes/chains on either side and filled the space in between with creepers, trees, stones and rocks and bound them together. The construction of Ramsetu was completed in five days by connecting the existing land route consisting of islands, rocks and shoals.
This bridge was being used as land route between India and Sri Lanka for thousands of years, though sometimes part of it was submerged under the seawater. King Asoka’ s son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra had used this bridge to go to Sri Lanka more than 2,300 years back. Muslims believe that Adam had gone to Adam hill in Sri Lanka for penance by making use of this bridge. A gazette notiication issued by British Govt on Madras Presidency in 1803 has stated that Ramasetu was being used as land link between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka until 15th century AD when it got damaged and submerged due to cyclone and storm. Dutch and French maps drawn in 16th and 17th centuries show this Ramasetu as operational land route between Rameswaram (India) and Talai Mannar (Sri Lanka) – available in Saraswati Mahal Library, Tanjore.
As per the Government of India “ there are no archeological or historical studies which confirm the existence of Ramsetu bridge between India and Sri Lanka in ancient times.” Apparently this statement only reflects ignorance of Himalayan proportions about many fundamental historical, archaeological, geological as well as geographical facts. If only somebody had even opened the websites - Google Earth which contains interesting as well as authentic pictures of submerged Ramsetu and http://dsal.uchicago.edu/reference/schwartzberg/ which displays most authentic historical atlas of South Asia and has placed pictures of Ramsetu for the period starting from vedic era and 5th century BC to 19th century AD along with nomenclature of Ramsetu prevailing at the relevant times, the conclusions arrived at would have been quite different !.

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Berty
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LK Information  20 May 2008 01:55:14 GMT  Report for Abuse  
According to Hunter-146 s Imperial Gazetteer, XI.22 (translated by A.M. Ferguson) the ancient records preserved in the Rameswaram temple mention that a violent storm in 1480 AD breached this bridge and subsequent storms rendered the breach permanent. This fact is corroborated by the two maps drawn in 16th & 17th centuries by Netherlands and by a French map drawn in 18th century.
From 16th century onwards there are some references to two narrow channels, known as Pamban and Mannar through each of which only very small ships could make their way and that too when the sea was high. Reference to this has also been made by Dutch Governor of Ceylon in 1663.
James Rennell (1742 -150 1830) was the first Surveyor General of the East India Company and is also known as Father of Indian Geography. A map of Hindustan got prepared by him with the help of Sir Joseph in 1788 has named this bridge as the RAMA-146 s BRIDGE and the same is available in Saraswati Mahal Library, Tanjavor. However in the later 1804 version of the map, the name RAMA-146 s BRIDGE has been replaced with the name ADAMS BRIDGE! Hence the RAMA BRIDGE becomes the ADAMS BRIDGE and the psychology behind the same needs no explanation!
A picture of the bridge downloaded from NASA website, two pictures downloaded from Google Earth and maps extracted from Atlas of Sourth Asia have been shown above. Is it not amazing that for Schwartzberg, an authority on the geo-historical mapping of South Asia and for the University of Chicago the existence of Rama-146 s bridge is a historical, geographical as well as an archeological fact but many in India are not ready to acknowledge even its existence!
As per estimate made by the inter-government panel on climate change (NASA, Global Change Master Directory) the rise in the sea level during the last 7000 years has been about 2.8metres which roughly corresponds to 9.3 feet. The remains of Ramasetu are found submerged nearly at a depth of 9-10 feet. Thus, obviously this bridge was capable of being used as land route 7000 years back.

The astronomical calculations made by using the software Planetarium Gold with reference to the sequential planetary configurations corresponding to the important events in the life of Lord Rama made in Valmiki Ramayan have revealed that Shri Ram was born on 10 th January in the year 5114 B.C., which also happens to be ninth day of Shukla Paksha in Chaitra month. He left for his 14 year exile on 5 th Jan. 5089 B.C. and he came back to Ayodhya on 2nd Jan 5075 B.C. (Source: -147 Dating the era of Lord Ram-148 written by Shri Pushkar Bhatnagar and published by Rupa & Co) . Thus, as per Valmiki Ramayan, the bridge was constructed almost 7,000 years back!


Edited By - Berty - 20 May 2008 01:59:47 GMT
Berty
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LK Information  20 May 2008 01:56:07 GMT  Report for Abuse  
Indian history has recorded that Shri Ram belonged to Surya Vansh and he was the 64th ruler of this dynasty. The names and other relevant particulars of all the previous 63 kings are listed in -145 Ayodhya Ka Itihas-146 written about eighty years back by Rai Bahadur Sita Ram. Professor Subhash Kak of Lousiana University (USA), in his book -147 The Astronomical Code of the Rigveda-148 has also listed 63 ancestors of Shri Ram who ruled over Ayodhya. The ancestors of Shri Ram have been traced out as under: -150
Shri Ram, S/o King Dashratha, S/o King Aja, S/o King Raghu, S/o. Dirghabahu, S/o King Dilipa-II, S/o. King Visvasaha and so on )_________ (all listed) _________ King Sagar (40th Ruler) __________ Satyavadi Harish Chandra (32nd King) _________.
Professor Subhash Kak has also traced out 29 descendants of Shri Ram starting with his son Kusa f/o Atithi, f/o Nisadha, f/o Nala _________ (all listed) _________. 95th Ruler of Ayodhya being Brhatksaya.
Many researchers, including a colleague Dr. Ram Avtar, have researched on places visited by Shri Ram during 14 years of exile. They sequentially moved to the places stated as visited by Shri Ram in the Valmiki Ramayan. Starting from Ayodhya, they went right upto Rameshwaram. They found 195 places which still have the memorials connected to the events relating to the life of Shri Ram & Sita. The locals believe that Shri Ram had actually visited these places. Ayodhya Kand Aranya Kand & Kishkindha Kand, Sundar Kand and Yudhha Kand (chapters 2-6) give sequential and graphic details of these places which mostly included Rishi Ashrams located along several river banks. These details can be divided into 5 phases-
1) Gangetic belt- the places at which memorials exist include-Tamsa Nadi Tal (Mandah), Shringverpur, Bhardwaj Ashram ( near Allahabad), Chitrakoot on UP & MP borders, Valmiki Ashram, Mandavya Ashram, Bharat Koop etc.
2) Dandakvan area- existing memorials include- Sharbhang and Sutikshan Muni-ashrams in Satna, which include Mandavya Ashram, Shringi Ashram, Ram Laxman Mandir etc. in MP & Chhattisgarh areas, Then after crossing many rivers, lakes, hills and forests they went to Agastya ashram- weapons made in Agnishala were given to Shri Rama
3) Along Godavari river- from Agastya Ashram they went to stay in Panchvati which is famous for Sharoopnakha episode and war with Khar & Dushan. Nasik area is fully covered by memorils like Sita Sarovar, Ram Kund & Triambakeshwar
4) Along Tungbhadra and Cauvery- after meeting Jatayu they move towards south to reach Rishyamook On way visit Shabari Ashram in Pampasarovar area- now known as Sureban in Belgaon still famous for Ber trees. Rishiamook and Kishkindha are now located in Hampi, Distt. Ballari of Karnataka
5) On the banks of sea- Ram sena first camped in Koddikarai but later moved to Rameshwaram for construction of bridge .Existing memorials include Chhedukarai and Dhanushkoti from where the boatmen take visitors in glass boats to show remains of Rama,s bridge


Edited By - Berty - 20 May 2008 02:00:05 GMT
Berty
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LK Information  20 May 2008 01:56:43 GMT  Report for Abuse  
These are only some of the evidences listed which prove the historicity of era of Lord Ram and authenticity of the events related to his life. Every single part of India from Jammu and Kashmir to Rameswaram and from the Eastern Coast to the Western Coast has memorials relating to the era of Lord Ram, who is an integral part of Indian ethos.
Even then no effort was made by the Govt. of India after independence to conduct any scientific research and/ or develop this underwater cultural heritage along with other many geo-historical sites relating to the life and times of Lord Ram for the purposes of tourism and preservation of heritage. For some mysterious and inexplicable reasons, many Indians have been taking pride in denying the existence of our most ancient true cultural heritage. But the scientific research and evidence being gathered by western countries has been proving just the opposite. The satellite imaging, geo-historical mapping and archaeological studies, carried out by USA, Germany, France and many other countries enlighten us and prove that our glorious heritage, narrated in Vedas and Epics (including Ramayana & Mahabharata ) was real narrating true historical events around which myths were woven by devotees during thousands of years. Lord Ram was true historical hero with unprecedented qualities and Ramasetu was indeed constructed by connecting the existing chain of islands, rocks and shoals in the Palk Strait. After 60 years of independence it is time to come out of our inferiority complex and feel proud of our most ancient culture and civilization. We need to create atmosphere which would motivate our young and educated youth to carry out research and unearth true facts about ancient Indian civilisation and wisdom and would also encourage them to put across the results of their research before the people fearlessly and with a sense of pride!
Saroj Bala
(Author is posted as Director General of Income Tax at NADT,Nagpur)
Berty
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LK Information  20 May 2008 01:57:09 GMT  Report for Abuse  
Karunanidhi recites Hindi poem in public
Chennai, Oct. 1 (PTI): Under attack over his recent remarks on Lord Ram and the strong reaction they evoked in the North, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has apparently sought to reach out to his detractors by reciting a Hindi poem in a public meeting, an unprecedented act on the part of Dravidian leader known once for his strong anti-Hindi stance.
Addressing a public meeting late last night in support of the demand for speedy implementation of the Sethusamudram project, he surprised the audience by asking them to join him in reciting the poem.
-147 Hindustan hai desh hamara, janse apne humko pyara. Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isaai aapas main hain bhai bhai. Bhai hoga bhai hamara, aisa hoga chalan hamara (India is our country and we love it more than our lives. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are all brothers. Brothers will be brothers, such will be our conduct).
In the meeting he also chided -147 communal-148 forces for invoking the name of Ram for putting -147 obstacles-148 in the Sethusamudram project. He said the same communal forces had killed Mahatma Gandhi when he was uttering the name of Ram while singing a bhajan.


Edited By - Berty - 20 May 2008 02:00:22 GMT
AnuD
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LK Information  20 May 2008 02:44:15 GMT  Report for Abuse  
Long article.

but very good information.

There is a Buddhist temple in the East, rebuilt to in the name of Rajaraja. After they changed it looks tamils - shape of the faces etc.

1428 AD the bridge was destroyed. Major South Indian invasion was in 1200 AD.
Berty
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LK Information  20 May 2008 03:41:18 GMT  Report for Abuse  
AnuD
I know it is a long article but I thought it is interesting.
Thank you for the comments
Dewey
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LK Information  20 May 2008 14:29:28 GMT  Report for Abuse  
Is this how chola invaders came to SL?
Freelancer
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LK Information  22 May 2008 01:05:21 GMT  Report for Abuse  
It would be a good idea to preserve this bridge as a good exhibit to showcase global climate change and sea level rising. If two governments opt to make a bridge between two countries, they must design with these facts in mind.

-FL
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