No Aryan - Dravidian divide - it was one Aryavartha - (13)
Sethu is sacred to all the three worlds.
Sethu is sacred to the underworld.
It is also sacred to those who live on earth.
People on earth get relieved of their sins if they visit this ‘theertham’ and take a dip here.
This place is of significance on two counts.
This is told by Rama to Sita while he showed her the Sethu from the Pushpaka vimana.
(1) “yEthat pavithram paramam mahaapaathaka naashanam”
“This place is very pure and removes the worst sins or crimes”
(2) “Athra poorvam mahadEva prasaadham akarOth prabhu:”
“Long ago (at a time in antiquity) Lord MahadEva did (gave) his blessings here”
(The entire description about Sethu by Rama runs like this:
“yEthatthu drushyathE theertham saagarasya mahaathmana:
sEthu bhanda iti khyaatam trailOkyenaabhi poojitham//”
“This sacred place of pilgrimage (theertham) of the mighty ocean is seen.
Known as Sethu bhandam, this is worshipped by the three worlds.”
“yEthat pavithram paramam mahaapaathaka naashanam.
Athra poorvam mahadEva prasaadham akarOth prabhu:”
“This place is very pure and removes the worst sins or crimes.
Long ago (at a time in antiquity) Lord MahadEva did (gave) his blessings here”
“Athra Raakshsa rAjOyamaajagaama Vibheeshana:”
“It is here Vibeeshana, the king of Rakshasas came to me")
THE FIRST SIGNIFICANCE:-
The first significance is about the benefit of this place.
“This place is very pure and removes the worst sins or crimes”.
The removal of sins happens
by Samudra snanam (bath at the ocean) at Sethu or at Rameshwaram.
The Samudram or ocean here is actually fed with
which travel through the channels dug by Sagaras.
Even Rama was said to have got a release from the
“Mathru shapaa” (curse of the mother)
after having taken bath at this waters.
In Brihat Parashara Hora Sashtra (BPHS), sage Parashara says that
a dip at Rameshwaram or Sethu removes the curse of the mother.
The curse of the mother usually appears
when the native neglected his duties towards his mother
in sense of obedience and protection in his previous life.
The combinations have been given in Brihat Parashara Hora sashtra 85.34-46.
The remedies are also given in this astrological treatise.
The foremost remedy
given by sage Parashara is this:-
“Taking a bath at Rameshwaram or Setubandha
where Lord Räma crossed the ocean to free Sita Devi from Ravana’s custody.
This also proves the fact that Ramachandra suffered a curse,
which manifested through his stepmother.
After the remedy, he got back his wife and had children.”
Rama in his previous incarnation as Parashurama,
killed his mother Renuka, at the behest of his father, Jamadhagni.
Even though carrying out the order of the father was the foremost duty of the son,
killing the mother amounts to a worst sin.
In Sanatana dharma, nothing can happen without a justification.
Even if God were to be born and were to suffer in some way,
a proper situation must exist for him to experience that suffering.
Killing Renuka invited the curse of the mother,
which was manifested
as the wrath of Kaikeyi and the subsequent developments leading to his exile.
The mother’s curse also deprives one of family life.
Rama came to spend major part of his younger days in the forest
leading a life of an ascetic.
(Kaikeyi’s order was that he must live like an ascetic in the forest).
The loss of his wife was also a part of this curse.
Only after he bathed in the waters of Rameshwaram,
he could get back his wife.
A dip at Rameshwaram removes the curse of the mother.
But after Sethu was constructed,
a dip at Sethu resulted in removal of any curse or sin.
This was told by Rama himself and further reiterated by Puranas later.
(click the link below to know the extent of “mahaa-paadaka naashanam")
The stature of this Sethu bhanda is that of a temple.
Only difference is the Sethu stretches on waters and a temple is built on land.
Any damage to Sethu is comparable to desecration of a temple.
THE SECOND SIGNIFICANCE:-
This is about the sanctity attached to this place by Siva’s blessings.
It is generally believed that Rama installed a shiva linga at Rameshwaram
on his return journey and worshipped Shiva
to get release from Brahma hatthi dosha.
(But Valmiki Ramayana does not say anything like this.)
Also this is not possible on three accounts.
(1) Rama did not stop at Rameshwaram or Sethu on his return journey.
Soon after installing Vibheeshana as the king,
Rama was in a great hurry to leave for Ayodhya,
because the day of return from the 14-year exile was nearing –
it was just a day away.
If he did not reach Ayodhya in time, Bharatha would jump into fire.
So Rama refused to accept the pooja that Vibheeshana wanted to do for him.
On coming to know of the urgency of Rama’s return,
Visbheeshana offered him to use the Pushpaka vimana to fly back in a day.
So they all returned by the Vimana
and the first stop was at Kishkindha,
where they stopped only for a brief time
to take along with them Tara and other women folks of the Vanaras.
By nightfall they reached the outskirts of Ayodhya
and stayed at the Ashram of sage Bharadwaja
and entered the city of Ayodhya the next morning.
After coronation, Rama and Sita stayed on Ayodhya only
and there is no authentic version that they visited Rameshwaram
afterwards to do any pooja.
(2) Rama did not receive any Brahma hatthi dosha.
He could never have got one in having killed Ravana,
because the weapon used by him to kill Ravana was nothing but Brahma’s weapon,
This weapon was made by Brahma himself for Indra.
Sage Agasthya got it from Brahma and gave it to Rama
just before the war with Ravana while advising him to pray on Adhitya
(Adhitya Hrudhayam sthothram recited for the first time.)
The use of Brahmasthra does not beget one Bhrahma hatthi dosha.
Whereas the use of other asthras on a person of Brahmanic qualities
would invite this curse.
We come across the incident of Pandavas in Mahabharatha
doing propitiation at Rudra Ganga in the upstream Ganga,
for Brahma hatthi dosha.
The Pandavas came to be afflicted with this curse, because they used asthras,
that were not of Brahma or Brahmasthra.
The Brahmasthra used by Arjuna towards the end of the war did not kill anyone.
Moreover, the bows carried by Rama during his exile
were given by Shiva himself to Devratha,
the ancestor of king Janaka (father of Sita) in a yajna.
These were given by Janaka to Rama after his marriage (as gifts).
Rama left them at the custody of sage Vasishta, the Family priest,
and got them back from him before leaving for the forest.
These weapons only (given by Shiva) were used
at all instances of warfare during his exile.
(3) It can not be assumed that Rama installed the shiva-linga
before leaving for Lanka.
It is known from Valmiki Ramayana that Rama scrupulously followed
the rules prescribed for pooja.
He could not have installed an image of any God
when he was not a gruhastha (family man) nor even an ascetic.
In the absence of his wife, he could not have consecrated a deity,
nor even conducted the pooja in an elaborate way.
For people in his times, doing pooja or worship means doing a homa for the deity.
The fire altar must be installed and prescribed offerings must be made.
Earlier in his stay at Chithrakoota and later at Panchavadi,
Valmiki describes elaborately the way Rama conducted the rituals with Sita
before entering (house –warming ceremony) the hut made by Lakshmana.
The fire altars were constructed there for different deities like Shiva and Ganesha.
But in any worship, Rama followed the precise method of praying Family deity,
who was Narayana.
With no such mention of these worships which are done while consecrating an idol,
it is not possible to infer that Rama installed the linga of Shiva at Rameshwaram.
But there is a possibility for an already existent Shiva linga at that place,
which was pointed out by Rama himself in his words,
“Athra poorvam mahadEva prasaadham akarOth prabhu:”
(“Long ago (at a time in antiquity) Lord MahadEva did (gave) his blessings here”)
The term ‘poorvam’ in this verse means very old times or at a time in antiquity.
Rama’s ancestor Bhageeratha had already visited that place
and done worship for the removal of PrEtha shaapa (curse of the spirits)
In having installed and worshipped Shiva at that place
where the 60,000 sons of Sagara attained salvation,
Bhageeratha saved his entire line of his descendants from the curse of spirits.
This must have been indicated by Rama when he said
that Shiva did a mercy there at an earlier time.
There is another reason also to prove that
Rama could not have installed the deity at Rameshwaram.
It was that there was hardly any time for him in his brief stay there.
From Valmiki Ramayana we know that events moved very fast
soon after the return of Hanuman from Lanka
bringing the news about Sita’s confinement.
Within a few days of hanuman’s return, Rama reached Lanka.
And within a few days from then, he killed Ravana and returned.
Less than a fortnight had elapsed between the time of Rama’s stay at Rameshwaram
and his return by Vimana over that place.
Such being the case, it is not possible to use the word ‘poorvam’
to say about something that happened very recently.
From the description in Valmiki Ramayana,
Hanuman entered Lanka
on the evening of Pradosham (thrayodasi).
On the next day, that is, on Chathurthasi,
he burnt Lanka and returned on the same day.
On hearing the information about Sita from Hanuman,
Rama wasted no time.
He ordered the army to start at that time itself, which was noon (abhijit lagna)
He also told that the next day the star uttra phalguni (utthram) would join Hastham.
He also said that starting on Uttra phalguni
which was the 6th star from his birth star, punarpoosam was ‘saadhaka’, helpful.
Moon in Utthara phalguni would be Full moon in the month of Panguni.
So the next day will be Pournami thithi with moon in utthara phalguni.
They started in the beginning of Uthara phalguni
(because joining Hastham the next day means moon entering virgo)
and marched night and next day.
The descriptions by Valmiki confirm this.
By the evening of next day when there was PourNami,
Rama reached the shores of Rameshwaram.
There as night was drawing near, Rama was talking about Sita.
There was no way, that he consecrated any idol then.
The next morning was PourNami remaining and Rama would have bathed in the ocean.
This was mentioned by sage Parashara in his astrological treatise.
This relieved Ram of the curse of the mother.
But the dip in the holy waters is not complete without worshiping the Lord of the Holy waters.
Therefore Rama must have worshiped the God (Shiva), the Jyothirlinga
already installed there by Bhageeratha.
In the absence of wife and other rituals connected with consecration,
there is no scope to say that he installed the deity on that day.
On the same day he received Vibheeshana and did coronation to him
using the water of the ocean.
PourNami still remaining, it was auspicious time for coronation.
While Valmiki had written about the coronation of Vibheeshana by Rama,
he could not have missed an important event such as installing the idol of Shiva-linga,
in his narration.
Going by Valmiki Ramayana, it is obvious
that Rama went on a penance on Dharba grass on the sea shore
praying the lord of the ocean, on the very evening itself.
By then Pratama thithi had statrted.
The next 3 days he was on penance and after that
the threat to the ocean-god happened,
followed by construction of the Sethu in the next 5 days.
There was thus no scope or time left for Rama to have installed the deity of Shiva.
He could have only worshiped an already installed deity,
which brought the name to this famous place, as Rameshwaram.
It is possible that just before starting the construction of the bridge,
rituals and worship as prescribed in texts were done by Nala and vanaras.
Valmiki would have definitely mentioned about them,
if they were done by Rama.
The purpose of the entire description as done above
is to set at right the facts as per Valmiki Ramayana.
It is also to show that the ‘poorvam’ in Rama’s narration,
contains in itself
a very olden story of the Sagaras and Ganaga’s descent
hidden into it.
Without knowing this “poorva” katha (olden or earlier story),
no proper understanding of the kind of blessings by Mahadeva
can be had.
This ‘theertham’ came to be known as Rameshwaram after Rama’s visit.
But its ‘poorva’ katha reveals
that this was indeed a very old and revered sacred place
with one of the oldest Jyothir lingas installed there.
“Poorvam” in this narration relates to
nearly 1000 years earlier than Rama’s times.
Such a sacred place that existed from antiquity,
did not belong to some so-called Aryans of North India!!
It belonged to the South, later came into the possession of the Pandyan kings.
(When Rama visited Rameshwaram, there was hardly any habitation reported there
or in the route to Rameshwaram from the western ghats -
the place from which he headed east to reach Rameshwaram)
If this land is not Arya vartha, then what else is this??
The answer to this can be that
the Pandyans (read Tamils or Dravidas) invaded a land of Arya vartha
and took possession of it,
along with its Aryan practices and worships!
But this would be a harsh comment on the Pandyans (or Tamils or Dravidas),
as it is with the accusation
that Aryans invaded Dravidian lands and chased the Dravidians deep south!
This land of the South was very much part of Aryavartha
and Bharatha varsha.
in terms of worship, prayaschittha (propitiation), values
and importantly Ganga as the remover of sins
was a very important characteristic of this soil.
This is again borne by the third level of benefit that the Sethu is said to bring!
(to be continued)