Sachi R

Obiter dicta on music, men and matters

Archive for March, 2010

Rama Setu and Pokhran Blast

Posted by rsachi on March 18, 2010

How did Rama cross over to Lanka to fight Ravana? Ramayana says the monkeys built a bridge. DMK politicians say that the entire story is imaginary. I quote from

Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Saturday cautioned the Centre against paying heed to “religious fundamentalist forces” on the Ram Sethu issue. The Centre should not bow to such pressure and give up the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, Karunanidhi said in Yercadu on Saturday.
Quoting former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, he said Ramayana was a story based on the fight between Aryan and Dravidian races.
“Lord Ram is an imaginary character and Ram Sethu is not a man-made bridge. The Centre should not do anything to disturb the Sethusamudram project,” he said.

And then there are folks who download a NASA satellite picture and worship it as proof of the Rama Setu.

I was discussing Ramayana recently with my family. Someone said Hanuman carried Rama and Lakshmana on his shoulders across to Lanka. I felt this couldn’t be, as Rama would have liked to motivate the army by leading from the front and walk it. Would it not be otherwise ironical that the monkeys went to great trouble to build a bridge and Rama did not walk on it?. I remembered my childhood reading also that he had walked. Anyway I went online and searched the original Ramayana of Valmiki. Great reading!

First Rama prays to the Ocean to open up and give way. When his prayers are not answered, he takes up his bow and threatens the Ocean, fiercely. This is so well captured in Ravi Varma’s painting in the picture above.
And what follows is very interesting.
I quote excerpts:

Then, Rama spoke these harsh words to the ocean: “O, ocean! I will make you dry up now along with your nethermost subterranean region. A vast stretch of sand will appear, when your water gets consumed by my arrows..”
….Then, Sagara (the ocean god) himself rose from the middle of the ocean as the sun rises at dawn from the huge mountain of Meru…and spoke the following words: “O, beloved Rama! Earth, wind ether, water and light remain fixed in their own nature, resorting to their eternal path. Therefore, I am fathomless and my nature is that it is impossible of being swum across. It becomes unnatural if I am shallow. I am telling you the following device to cross me. Neither from desire nor ambition nor fear nor from affection, I am able to solidify my waters inhabited by alligators. I shall make it possible to see that you are able to cross over. I will arrange a place for the monkeys to cross me and bear with it. As far as the army crosses me, the crocodiles will not be aggressive to them.”
Then, Rama spoke to that ocean as follows: “Listen to me. This great arrow should not go in vain. In which region should it be descended?”
Hearing Rama’s words and seeing that powerful arrow, the large splendid Ocean spoke the following words to Rama: Towards my northern side, there is a holy place. It is well known as Drumatulya, in the same way as you are well known to this world. Numerous robbers of fearful aspect and deeds, having the sinful Abhiras as their chief, drink my waters there. I am not able to bear that touch of those wicked people, the evil doers, O, Rama! Let this excellent arrow with out vain be released over them there.”
 Hearing those words of the high-soled Ocean, Rama released that excellent and splendid arrow towards that place as directed by the ocean. The place where the arrow, whose splendor was akin to that of a thunder and a thunder bolt, was descended by Rama- that place is indeed famous as desert of Maru* on this earth.
* Maru—Malwar in Rajastan (India).
The earth there, pierced by the dart, then emitted a sound . The waters of the penultimate subterranean region gushed forth from the mouth of that cleft. Then the hollow became known as Vrana. Water constantly seen, gushing forth from it resembled seawater. A terrific splitting sound was born in that place. Water was dried up in those cavities, as a result of hurling of that arrow by Rama. That desert of Maru became famous in the three worlds.
….While that cavity was burning, Ocean the lord of rivers spoke these words to Rama who knew all scientific treatises.
“O, excellent man! This one, named Nala, a glorious person, is the son of Vishvakarma; who was given a boon by his father and is equal to Visvakarma. Let this greatly energetic monkey build a bridge across me. I can hold that bridge.”
Then, being sent by Rama, under Nala’s leadership, hundreds and thousands of monkey heroes jumped in joy on all sides towards the great forest. Those army-chiefs of monkeys, who resembled mountains, broke the rocks and trees there and dragged them away towards the sea. Those monkeys filled the ocean with all types of trees …The huge bodied monkeys with mighty strength uprooted elephant-sized rocks and mountains and transported them by mechanical contrivances. The water, raised up due to sudden throwing of mountains in the sea, soared upward towards the sky and from there again, gushed back. The rocks befalling on all sides perturbed the ocean. Some others drew up strings a hundred Yojanas long (in order to keep the rocks in a straight line.) Nala on his part initiated a monumental bridge in the middle of the ocean. The bridge was built at that time with the cooperation of other monkeys, of terrible doings. Some monkeys were holding poles for measuring the bridge and some others collected the material. Reeds and logs resembling clouds and mountains, brought by hundreds of monkeys, lead by the command of Rama, fastened some parts of the bridge.
Monkeys constructed the bridge with trees having blossom at the end of their boughs. Some monkeys looking like demons seized rocks resembling mountains and peaks of mountains and appeared running hither and thither. Then, a tumultuous sound occurred when the rocks were thrown into the sea and when mountains were caused to fall there. On the first day, fourteen Yojanas of bridge were constructed by the monkeys speedily, thrilled with delight as they were, resembling elephants. In the same manner, on the second day twenty Yojanas of bridge were constructed speedily by the monkeys of terrific bodies and of mighty strength.
Thus, on the third day twenty-one Yojanas of the bridge were constructed in the ocean speedily by the monkeys with their colossal bodies. On the forth day, a further of twenty-two Yojanas were constructed by the dashing monkeys with a great speed. In that manner, on the fifth day, the monkeys working quickly constructed twenty-three yojanas of the bridge up to the other seashore.
…The celestials and Gandharvas, the heavenly musicians saw Nala’s bridge, having a width of ten yojanas and a length of hundred yojanas and which was very difficult to be built. The monkeys taking long leaps and short leaps shouted in joy. All other beings saw that construction of the bridge across the ocean as unimaginable, impossible and wonderful, causing their hair to stand on end in amazement.
….Thereafter, Sugriva on his part spoke to Rama, the truly brave man as follows: “O, valiant man! This ocean, the abode of alligators, is indeed vast. You ascend the shoulder of Hanuman and let Lakshmana ascend the shoulder of Angada. These monkeys can hold both of you while flying in the sky.”
Rama the glorious and righteous man, wielding a bow along with Lakshmana together with Sugriva, went in front of that army. Some monkeys went along the middle of the bridge. Some others went along the sides. Some others were jumping into water. Some others marched forward on the path. Some monkeys entered the sky and aviated like Garuda the eagle.

……The celestials, Siddhas and others exalted Rama, who was duly respected by kings with their auspicious -words as follows: “ O, king! Defeat the enemies. Rule the earth and ocean eternally for years.”

I remember reading somewhere the theory of scientists about the deserts of Rajasthan and how Indus Valley Civilization disappeared. The scientists are struck by the type of sand dunes and how they resemble the sands on a beach. In fact they theorize that there was a meteor strike and that reduced the sea waters there into sands of the desert. Is it not uncanny that Ramayana talks of Rama’s super-powered arrow striking the ocean into Maru or the Marwar region as we know today? And some coincidence this – that India’s first nuclear explosion took place in Pokhran!

Finally, Rama, as narrated in the Valmiki story, walked ahead of his army. A true leader who led by example!

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