Thursday, July 31, 2008

From Ravana to Hiranya kasipu – what happened at Kumbakonam?

The following news item, if true, is a true cause of concern.

The EO of the Ramaswami temple of Kumbakonam has been transferred

on an accusation that a veiled reference to Mr Karunanidhi was made

in a spiritual discourse at the temple

on how Dasaratha was ready

to give up the reign and make way for his son.

It is a practice to draw allusions to contemporary issues

and none other than Mr Karunanidhi is well known for making such allusions.

Any discourse on Ramayana can not skirt on governance

and the governing leaders,

because Raj-neeti of the Ikshvaku race is one the many dharmas

enunciated by Ramayana.

One example is the advice of Rama to Bharatha

(who comes to the forest to persuade Rama to go back to Ayodhya)

on good governance is a celebrated chapter on governance.

The said reference in the discourse is not new, nor blasphemous.

I somehow feel sorry for Stalin, for,

no one seems to think kindly of him for the ‘wait’ he has to do.

Notable incidence is the rift with Maran brothers

for their veiled support of Stalin to the throne (Dinakaram issue).

But taking action on the officer and stopping the discourse on this account

make us wonder whether

there is Hiranyan’s rule running in this state.

It seems all will be well if we say

KarunanidhayE Namah:

Not long ago Karunanidhi did a Ravana

by questioning Rama

and His credentials.

He even went one step more by denying that Rama ever lived.

Ironically both Ravana and Karunanidhi did not realize the supremacy of Rama,

in His feats of constructing Sethu,

slaying of Karan and Vali

and even in his messenger Hanuman in flying over the ocean and burning Lanka.

(These 3 were mentioned by Ravana’s wife, Mandodhari

in counseling Ravana to send back Sita to Rama,

to show that Rama was not just a man but a God.)

With all the opposition to Sethu project from all accounts,

Karunanidhi finds it difficult to accept

that Sethu is indeed a wonder that can not be and should not be touched.

But the present episode on the discourse issue

makes it seem that he is out to make himself

be regarded as the supreme one,

something like what Hiranyan did.

Hiranya Kasipu insisted that everyone must glorify him only

and went to the extent of harming his own son,

when he refused to say “Hiranyaya namah:”

From the present episode

it seems that only

‘KarunanidhayE namah:’ will save one,

even if one were to support his son.

What a transformation from Ravana to Hiranyan

for one who projects himself as a hater

of epics and puranas or

anything of the culture of this great Bharath varsha.!

Thankfully, we are in a democracy, not in monarchy

and any allusions to ‘son’s rise’

can not happen as a matter of inheritance.

Rama could not ascend the throne

inspite of the wishes of the people,

who were waiting for the aging father to step down.

In today’s conditions,

the son’s rise is not in the wish list of the people.

That it is not in the agenda of the father too,

is made known from the episode at Kumabakonam temple.

On a different note,

it is irony of sorts that the EO has been transferred to Sri Vanchiyam temple,

known for propitiatory effects for curses of sorts.

Yama dharma raja who is known for giving justice,

is seated in this kshethram.

He will render justice to the EO!

He will render justice to all!



Dasaratha vs MK: Temple EO shifted

Thanjavur July 30: The executive officer (EO) of the famous Ramaswami temple in Kumbakonam, popularly known as `Ayodhya of South India’, has been transferred after a VHP speaker took potshots at chief minister M Karunanidhi for clinging to power, during a spiritual discourse on the Ramayana at the temple.

“Dasaratha gave up power and handed it over to his son in the larger interests of the public. But, some people even at the age of 80-85 still want to cling to power and are reluctant to make way for youngsters,” remarked R B.V.S. Manian, state organiser of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), during his discourse on `Lord Rama’s coronation’ at the temple premises on Monday night.

DMK functionaries, who learnt about the veiled attack on their leader, brought the matter to the notice of HR and CE officers and wanted to know how the temple premises could be used for political attacks under the guise of religious discourses. After a quick enquiry, the temple’s executive officer, P. Mohandass, was transferred to Sri Vanchinathar temple at Srivanchiyam in Tiruvarur district. The temple authorities also denied permission to the organisers to continue the 15-day spiritual discourse at the temple mandapam from Tuesday compelling them to shift to the Veera Saiva mutt near the Mahamaham tank.

The assistant commissioner of HR&CE, Mr P. Subramaniam, however, denied that the discourse had sparked off the transfer. “The transfer was a routine one. In fact, he had voluntarily sought it three months ago but could not be transferred as no replacement was available then, “ Subramanian told this newspaper. The official also explained that organisers were asked to shift the venue only due to increased security in temple following the recent bomb blasts and not due to any controversial comments made by the speaker.

Scrap Sethusamudram project - look at all issues.

An open letter to the Pachauri Committee from Dr S.Kalyanaraman.

I hope, Pachauri committee will call for and read Capt. Balakrishnan's
incisive cost-benefit analysis;
conduct 3-d computer simulation models on seismicity,
ocean currents,
heat flows;

read also 8000 pages of docmentation submitted to the Hon'ble SC on 160 topics (including the resultant devastation of the ecosphere).

The channel project will be in the hole for a long, long time.
Hopefully, the committee will recommend scrapping the project for the simple reason
that such a mid-ocean channel envisaged by SSCP does NOT exist anywhere in the world.
Unlike the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, this Rama Setu ain't no reef;
it is a continuation of the Indian landmass into Sri Lanka and a Setu, causeway, bridge;
a veritable centrifuge acting on clock-wise, anti-clockwise ocean currents
accumulating monazite sands in Manavalakurichi, Aluva and Chavara --
a stunning 32% of the world's reserves of thorium.

Hopefully, the committee will also come up with answers
on coping with the Nature magazine's Sept. 6, 2007 serious warning of a tsunami
waiting to happen from Sunda thrrust, a tsunami which will be more devastating
than the Dec. 24, 2004 tsunami and impact 6 crore people from Bangladesh to Kerala coastline.

Hopefully, the Committee will also call for and discuss with
Dr. CSP Iyer, Dr. K Gopalakrishnan, Dr. S. Badrinarayanan
who have given scientific reports on the
ecosphere, geo-scientific aspects.
Hopefully, the Committee will also call for and discuss with
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and the fisherfolk societies on the impact on their livelihood.

Hopefully, the Committee will also call the Rameshwaram Rama Setu Raksa Manch
concerned citizens on multifarious aspects related to culture and security implications
at a place where over 5 lakh pilgrims gather evey ashadha amavasya to offer pitru tarpanam,
homage to ancestors led by Sri Rama.
Sri Rama rameti vyapohati na sams'ayah is the first invocation before sankalpa mantra.

Hopefully, the Committee will adopt transparent and open procedures
for gathering views from the public and concerned citizens and
not rush through under the diktats of a regime under political compulsions.

What is needed a total revamp of the project approach as the Planning Commission observed
and not a quick-fix or band-aid solutions based on trivial pursuits.
Country's national security and integrity,
safeguarding nation's wealth and protecting coastal peoples' lives
are far too serious matters to be treated as trivial for a quick-fix by a committee
without detailed technical evaluations and environmental impact assessment studies
under the laws of the land and also in tune with
the 1958 Law of the Sea, 1958 Ancient Monuments Protection Act
(a culural facet by any standards of definition),
nation's undertakings under international laws,
treaties apart from the Indira Gandhi-Sirmavo Bandaranaike declaration
of historic waters in Gulf of Mannar in June 1974,
and concerns of the neigbouring state of S'rilanka in an indivisible ocean.

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman


Defiant DMK says matter not over

Swati Das | Chennai (Pioneer, 31 July 2008)

The Centre's submission to the Supreme Court on Wednesday

that it was seriously considering an alternative alignment for

the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project and setting up an expert committee

for that has come as a setback for the ruling DMK here.

However, it is not willing to give up.

"An alternative alignment means a whole new set of studies and analysis.

The whole process has to start all over again.

But we do not think that the project is over yet.

It is an ongoing issue. The matter is still in the court,"

DMK organising secretary TKS Elangovan told The Pioneer.

DMK president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi

was silent on the issue.

He attended various functions,

but did not react to the UPA Government's submission in the apex court.

DMK MP and Union Shipping Minister TR Baalu has been spearheading the SSCP.

Meanwhile, experts in Tamil Nadu are breathing a little easy

with the Centre's submission as it gives a chance for better assessment of the project.

But there is displeasure about the new suggested alignment too.

This is because any canal linking Palk Bay/ Palk Straits to Gulf of Mannar

will only damage the ecology and livelihood of this region.

"Once the turbid water of Palk Bay mingles with the clear water of Gulf of Mannar,

it will destroy the marine life in the latter.

This area should be left alone and no project should come up,"

said the retired director of Geological Survey of India K Gopalakrishnan.

He is also upset with the Government's submission on Tuesday

that Adam's Bridge/Ram Setu does not fulfill the criteria of national monument.

"Even if you push aside the issue of Ram Setu,

the bridge/barrier has all the geological and ecological qualities

to be declared as international geographical heritage site.

To my knowledge such a distinct geological feature does not exist anywhere in the world.

It rises very steep wall-like feature from the Gulf of Mannar.

It is an isthmus connecting two land masses (Rameshwaram and Thalaimannar)

under the sea. It has a unique curvilinear feature.

It is nearly 17 lakh years old.

It is a 'barrier zone' that separates two contrasting seas --

the shallow and turbid waters of Palk Bay

from the deep and clear waters of Gulf of Mannar and

it is a 'barrier/protection zone' against tsunami impacts."

He points out how in Thirumala in Tirupati

a rock formation called the Natural Arch has been declared

as a national monument and is a protected sightseeing spot.

Retired Captain H Balakrishnan of Indian Navy,

who has been studying the project says:

"Purely on the maritime point of view I can prove it to you that the SSCP

will make major losses within a year and no ships will go through it."

In New Delhi, the Congress, however,

rejected suggestions that there was an about turn in the Government's policy on the project.


Sethu eco-friendly? Panel to decide

31 Jul 2008, 0239 hrs IST,TNN

NEW DELHI: With the government setting up a six-member panel headed by the head of The Energy Resource Institute (Teri), R K Pachauri, the debate on the Sethusamudram project has come full circle. The case has all through attracted attention more for the religious sentiments involved rather than the environmental questions at the heart of the debate. Now Pachauri and his team will have to, besides contending with an object of faith, consider ideas of science, environment and economics. ( Watch )

Critics of the project have raised serious doubts about both the economic feasibility of the project as well as the social and environmental cost the region would end up paying for paltry gains.

The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) is meant to develop a 167-km-long shipping channel in the Palk Bay, cutting short the distance for ships running between the west and east coasts of India, by avoiding the circumnavigation of Sri Lanka. Environmental groups have for long argued that the canal alignment passes too close to the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, one of the world's richest marine biosphere reserves, with 2,600 species of plants and animals.

The massive upheaval in the waters caused by dredging and other activities, they have contended, will harm the biodiversity even if the activity is carried out 20 km away from the reserve.

Besides this, the Pachauri committee will also have to evaluate whether the current alignment of the canal or any of the other alignments would impact the reef formations — the Palk Bay has one of the five major reef formations in India. While government has contended so far that there wouldn't be any direct damage, ecologists have been quick to point out that mere turbidity in the water can lead to coral bleaching and death.

Something Pachauri would find himself at home is the question whether the destruction of mangroves in the region will increase the vulnerability of the region to tsunami-like events. Mangroves provide a natural defence against increasing tropical cyclones, tsunamis and consequent inundation.

The Adam's Bridge may be a contentious religious symbol but what's not doubted is the role the structure plays in regulating pressures from the rough seas of the Bay of Bengal, which helps create a space for marine life.

With the ambit of the Pachauri committee wide enough to review the social and economic impacts as well, experts point out that the group of experts will need to go beyond the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment report, which has a limited purview and has been dodged by controversy.

The committee would have to allay the fears of the 330 fishing villages that would be displaced by the project. The project, many independent social and economic assessments have contented, threatens the livelihood resources of more than 1.5 lakh fisherfolk.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

'Murasoli' accpets Ram-Sethu as a holy place!

Sethu: DMK quotes Ramayana

N Ravikumar

Chennai, July 29: Rushing to the defence of the Centre's stand in the Supreme Court that Lord Ram himself had destroyed Ram Sethu after crossing over to the home territory, the DMK has come out with exact quotes from Kambaramayana which supports the Centre's contention.

Countering a report in an English daily quoting pro-Hindutva journalist Mr Cho Ramasamy who had asserted that no such verses were found in any part of Kambaramayana, an article published in DMK organ `Murasoli’ quoted the stanza from Kambaramayana which says “Lord Ram destroyed the bridge using an arrow so that the bridge should not be an obstacle to passage of ships”.

The exact Tamil verse given is “Marakkalam Iyakka Vendi Varisilai Pudhaiyal Keeri”.

The next three lines of the stanza says “those who travel near the place where the demolished bridge lies will be absolved of their sins and will be equivalent to the Gods”.
The article written by a senior advocate Mr M S Venkatachalam asked “If Lord Ram himself has destroyed the Ram Sethu saying that it should not be an obstacle to ships, why some people are opposing it in the name of Ram himself”.

“Lord Ram himself had said that those who pass near the demolished bridge would be absolved of their sins. If a canal is dredged, several ships can pass near the demolished bridge and the people travelling in them will be absolved of their sins”, the article said quoting Kambaramayana.

The writer also gave the details about the chapter and the stanza's number in Kambaramayana. The article also questioned Mr Cho Ramasamy's knowledge in Tamil literature and asked if he was an expert in Kambaramayana. The article has also used ironical epithets like `great scholar’ and `great poet’, while referring to Mr Cho Ramasamy since most of the Tamil scholars have ridiculed Mr Cho Ramasamy's knowledge of Tamil as he cannot write a single sentence in proper Tamil without mixing Sanskrit words.

From Jayasree 
Evam Ethath puraa vruththam aakhyaanam bhadhram asthu va: |
 pravyaaharatha visrabdham balam vishNO: pravardhathaam ||

Let this story that happened in an olden time be of good to you.

Let the power of Vishnu grow in all worlds.

So saying Kavi Valimiki concludes his epic.

This verse, being said everyday by thousands of people

at the end of their parayana of Ramayana / Sundara khanda

is supposed to increase the power of presence of Vishnu in this world.

Rama does not come by himself to defend or destroy someone,

every time dharma is challenged.

The recital of his name or his story itself is taking care of the needs of the times.

Now this miracle has happened with the die-hard haters of Rama and his fame.

With all the outbursts and ridicules on Rama and his historicity,

the DMK Chief and his party’s mouth-piece,

are in effect giving credence to the existence of Rama.

By saying that Rama broke the Sethu,

they accept that Sethu existed.

By accepting Ram Sethu,

they accept that Ram existed!

But in quoting a verse from Kamba Ramayan

(this is not found in many olden editions

but only an interpolation as shown in this link

they have also demonstrated that knowledge and intelligence

do not always go hand in hand.

Mere knowledge of Tamil is not enough,

if one lacks the intellect to interpret the verses in Tamil.

Such intellect is not possible in the absence of knowledge

of the root texts which are in Sanskrit.

Thus their diatribe against Cho also is flawed.

Let us look at how their interpretation is false.

The verse quoted by them is this:

Marakkalam iyanga vendi,Varisilai pudaiyal keeri th

Tharukkiya idathhu,Pancha pdhagarenum saarin,

Perukkiya ezhu mundru piraviyum, pinikal neengi

Nerukuriya amararkku ellam nin needhi aavar anree.

The same verse also has appeared in some quotes

with ‘pudhaiyaal’ as ‘kudhaiyaal’.

‘Kudhai’ is the bottom part of the arrow.

‘Pudhai’ is the bunch of arrows.

First let them make it clear whether it is kudhai or pudhai.

I am saying this to show that the verse had been mutated/

with respect to some letters.

The other place where I find such mutation is

the very first word – ‘marakkalam’ (ship)

which they are relying on to ‘blast’ Ram sethu.

The 'marakkalam' (ship) seems to be

the mutated form of 'marukkaamal' (means 'without objection').

Look at the 'yedugai'

(the 2nd letter of the first words in each line rhyming with each other)

of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines.

The 'ru' in all these 3 lines do not go well with 'ra' of marakkalam in the first line.

It will be appropriate to have 'ru' yedugai in the first line too

and it does not result in 'thaLAi thattudhal' (adheres to the grammar of the words)

It must be

"marukkamal iyanga vEndi".

That is, in order to make the rule of Rama-neeti be adhered to

without any objection or opposition,

the 'kudhai' of Rama made a mark on Ram Sethu to declare

that those who worship there will be relieved of sins of 21 births.

If we analyse the verse deeply,

we see the purpose of 'breaking' (keeri).

This verse gives 2 reasons for this.

One is for making the ships sail (marakkalam iyanga vendi)

and another is for removing the sins accumulated in 21 births.

What Rama really intended to do?

To help people get their sins removed?

Or to make way for ships?

If ships could cross that stretch,

a question comes why Rama didn’t think of crossing the sea by ships.

Even catamarans would do to cross this stretch.

When he was able to get his huge army to build a bridge across the ocean in just 5 days,

he could have easily constructed catamarans or

even sailable ships in record numbers in record time

with the help of the vanaras.

But he didn't.

Or it didn't occur to him to cross the ocean in ships or catamarans.


One reason we can deduce is that

this part of the ocean was not a navigable one in his times.

The sea had been rough,

and this can be made out from the description in Valmiki Ramayana.

The description of the sea after they reached the shore,

is indicative of rough waters and rough weather.

(Yuddha khanda – chapter -4)

Based on this line of reasoning, we can say that

making a way for ships was not in the agenda of Rama.

Now about ‘kudhai’.

Kudhai is the bottom portion of the arrow.

(Senthamizh agaraathi by NC Kandaiya pillai, 1950 edition).

It is not the sharp piercing tip.

When will someone do the ‘keeral’ with the bottom of the arrow?

to mark the area for some purpose.

The purpose is told in the next lines

which is about the sanctity of the place for propitiation.

If the word is ‘pudhai’, which means a bunch of arrows,

it would mean that a bathing ghat was made

by means of shooting arrows on the ground.

The ensuing lines on propitiation make it known that what was done

was creation of a place for taking holy dip!

The verse seems to be a declaration

that those who take a dip there

would be relieved of the results of ‘pancha maha paadhakam,

and the sins accumulated over 21 births

and would be disease free.

By quoting this verse,

the DMK has accepted that Ram sethu is a holy theertham.

The verse also indicates that Ram sethu has been once used by people.

Then what prevents them from declaring it as a monument?

Foot note:-

The verse quoted by Murasoli is the succeeding verse of this:-

ஆவினை, குரவரோடும் அருமறை முனிவர்தம்மை,
பாவையர் குழுவை, இன் சொல் பாலரை, பயந்து தம் இல்
மேவின அவரை, செற்றோர், விரி கடல் சேது வந்து
தோய்வரேல், அவர்கள் கண்டாய், சுரர் தொழும் சுரர்கள் ஆவார்.

From this context it is deduced, that the 'keeral' was done

only for propitiation and not for movement of ships.

The 2 verses read together make this clear.

ஆவினை, குரவரோடும் அருமறை முனிவர்தம்மை,
பாவையர் குழுவை, இன் சொல் பாலரை, பயந்து தம் இல்
மேவின அவரை, செற்றோர், விரி கடல் சேது வந்து
தோய்வரேல், அவர்கள் கண்டாய், சுரர் தொழும் சுரர்கள் ஆவார்.

மரக்கலம் இயங்கவேண்டி, வரி சிலைக் குதையால் கீறித்
தருக்கிய இடத்து, பஞ்ச பாதகரேனும் சாரின்,
பெருக்கிய ஏழு மூன்று பிறவியும் பிணிகள் நீங்கி,
நெருக்கிய அமரர்க்கு எல்லாம் நீள் நிதி ஆவர் அன்றே.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Not a monument? - Ram Sethu is World heritage!

The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that

it had already come to a conclusion that Ramar Sethu

does not fulfill the criteria for being declared a national monument.

Ram Sethu as seen from the air.

"As far as we are concerned, the stand of the Government is very clear

that Rama Setu could not fulfill the criteria of national monument,"

senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for the Centre,

told a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan.

This declaration is anything but outrageous.

Can Mr Nariman or the Government spell out the basis

on which Ram Sethu could not fulfill the criteria of national monument?

Has the ASI done any study at Ram Sethu and arrived at this conclusion?

Not long ago the ASI had made it known that it did not have an occasion

to even make a prima facie determination

that the said formation could be an ancient monument

entitled to protection under the Act.

The ASI also claims that it has not undertaken any study in this regard as yet.

Does Mr Nariman mean to say that in the intervening period

(after September 2007 when the ASI made this known),

the study has been undertaken by ASI

and the conclusion has been arrived at

that Ram Sethu can not be declared a monument?

Perhaps the present rules of the ASI to declare a site as a monument

are restrictive in application

and the Government which sees everything through communal colour

lacks the wisdom to understand this country’s rich past.

Look at the following rules for the qualification of a monument.

It looks like a lesson from a school book of Tamilnadu State board –

needing to be improvised and lacking in clarity

to explain its applicability in diverse areas.

According to The Ancient Monuments and

Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958

an ‘ Ancient Monument ’ is defined as follows:-

“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 100 years and includes—

  1. Remains of an ancient monument,
  2. Site of an ancient monument,
  3. 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, a
  4. The means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an ancient monument”

The last point seems to be applicable in Ram sethu.

But the most fitting action will be to declare Ram sethu as a World Heritage.

Be it natural or man-made, the formation of Ram-sethu is amazing and

its connection with Ramayana makes it unique culturally too.

The definition of what makes a structure world heritage is apt for Ram sethu.

The UNESCO says,

“Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today,

and what we pass on to future generations.

Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.

Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti,

the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and

the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage.

What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application.

World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world,

irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of

cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of

outstanding value to humanity.”

For all the bungling it is making, let the Government of India

make efforts to declare this a world heritage.



Ramar Sethu doesn't fulfil criteria of national monument: Centre

New Delhi (PTI): The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it had already come to a conclusion that Ramar Sethu does not fulfil the criteria for being declared a national monument.

"As far as we are concerned, the stand of the Government is very clear that Rama Setu could not fulfil the criteria of national monument," senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for the Centre, told a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan.

Further, on the issue of alternative alignment to avoid destruction of Ramar Sethu for the Sethusamudram project, he said, so far, he has not received any instruction from the Government.

Nariman said that would, most probably by evening or tomorrow, receive some instructions.

A day after making a strident argument that Ramar Sethu was destroyed by Lord Rama himself, the Centre had on July 24 changed tack and said that the viability of going ahead with the Sethusamudram project through an alternative alignment has been taken up at the "highest level".

"The suggestion for alternative alignment to avoid Ramar Sethu route has been taken as a special case. I have personally taken it at the highest level. It is being scientifically examined. I will come back to you by Tuesday or Wednesday," Nariman had told the Bench.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ram Sethu – in Al-Beruni’ s writings

Landsat 5 image of Adam's Bridge
Landsat 5 image of Adam's Bridge

From "India" by Al-Beruni, page 100-101

"The distance from Panjayavar to Ramsher (Rameshar, Rameshwaram?)

is 40 farsakh, that between Ramsher and Setubandha 2 farsakh.

Setubandha means bridge of the ocean.

It is the dike of Rama, the son of Dasaratha,

which he built from the continent to the castle Lanka.

At present it consists of isolated mountains between which the ocean flows.

Sixteen farsakh from Setubandha towards the east is

Kihkind the mountain of the monkey.

Every day the king of monkeys comes out of the thicket together with his hosts,

and settles down in particular seats prepared for them.

The inhabitants of that region prepare for them cooked rice,

and bring it to them on leaves.

After having eaten it they return into the thicket,

but in case they are neglected, this would be the ruin of the country,

as they are not only numerous but also savage and aggressive.

According to the popular belief,

they are a race of men changed into monkeys

on account of the help which they had afforded Rama

when making war against the demons;

he is believed to have bequeathed those villages to them as a legacy.

When a man happens to fall in with them,

and he recites to them the poetry of Rama and

pronounces the incarnations of Rama,

they will quietly listen to him;

they will even lead on the right path him who has gone astray and

give him meat and drink.

At all events, thus the matter stands according to popular belief.

- India by Al-Beruni, page 100-101

Abridged Edition of Dr. Edward C. Sachau's English Translation
Edited with Introduction and Notes by Qeyamuddin Ahmad,
Second Edition
Third Reprint 1995

farsakh: a persian unit for measuring distance that equals three and a half to four miles

Abu Raihan Muhammad ibn Ahmad, a Muslim of Iranian origin, commonly known as Al-Beruni, born A.D. 973 at the outskirts of Khawarizm (modern day Khiva in Uzbekistan), wrote Kitabu'l Hind in around 1030 during the reign of Sultan Mahmud. He was the first person to document Hindu beliefs regarding Setubandha, now known as Ram Setu.

Deny Sethu and deny everything - history, geography, economics and environment!

Rama Setu: by denying Setu, Union of India has lost its right to govern

By Dr S. kalyanaraman

The latest affidavit denying Rama Setu may mark the beginning of the end of the UPA government temporarily ruling over Union of India.

Union of India may have just lost its right to govern since Setu is the very embodiment of national unity and integrity, the very quintessence of India's heritage and cultural traditions.

UPA may stay in sattaa by horse-trading MPs' votes, it cannot clam the right to govern by denying the very identity of Hindu rashtram -- a nation with over 83% Hindus.

In Sri Rama's time all were Hindus, some of them may be present day practitioners of Islam or Christian faiths, but their ancestors were Hindus who take the sankalpa saying, Sri Rama Rameti, vyapohati nasams'ayah and go on to define their locus in space and time from the kalpas...

The very aatman of India inheres in the received cultural memory of Rama and Setubandha. Remember, Kings Pravarasena and King Damodara Sena wrote Prakrit kavyas titled Setubandha kaavya in 5th and 6th centuries. Narimaan, to note.

(I hope someone will forward this note to this learned counsel).

I do not know if it is the cleverness of Narimaan or the political obduracy of Sonia Gandhi determined to destroy Rama Setu, it is ridiculous to read about the arguments being advanced.

Narimaan might have just contributed to the repeat of a situation which led to the Union of India withdrawing its sworn affidavit. Narimaan, CJ of Madras HC asked the first question: what is the meaning of 'setu'? Abhidaana kos'am, a Tamil encyclopaedia defined setu as 'man-made bund.'

Do you know that the word, bandha as in setubandha, setubandha rameshwaram is the root for the English word 'bund' which means a man-made embankment? It is unfortunate that learned counsels quibble without attempting to read the orignal texts.

If Sri Rama has broken the Setu, so be it. It is just an admission that the setu existed, it exists. No human power has any authority to meddle with this divine Setu. Citizens of India rightly denied the rights to the Courts or Governments under Art. 25 and 26 to meddle with issues divine or with matters of faith -- as argued earlier by Soli Sorabjee, Parasaran, KK Venugopal, Vaidyanathan and Dr. Subramanian Swamy.

Suggestio falsi, suppressio veri seems to be Narimaan's game plan.

He cites Kamba Ramayana out of context and fails to refer to the evidences provided by Skanda Purana, Kalidasa's Raghuvams'a, Mahabharata, apart from Valmiki Ramayana, Sangam literature texts like Akananooru, and even the 19th century verse of Pamban Swamigal. He also fails to acknowledge the references cited in Madras HC judgemennt of 19 June 2007, citing cartographic (maps), Marco Polo, Al Beruni, Royal Asiatic Research papers, epigraphs of Rameshwaram temple, epigraphs on Velanjeri copper plate of Parantaka Chola referring to the Setu and the fact that it functioned as a causeway for people to cross between Talaimannar of Srilanka to Rameshwaram of India.

Narimaan also ignores the puja vidhanam mentioned in Skanda Purana; he does not have to teach the faithful on modes of prayer at Dhanushkodi. That the Rama Setu is supported by an enormous body of living tradition (as evidenced by the affidavits from Rameshwaram temple, Rameshwaram fisherfolk, apart from volumes of documentation submitted to the Court), cannot be wished away by anecdotal references taken out of context.

What Kamban reports is a continual phenomenon of breaches to the Rama Setu as was the epigraph in Rameshwaram temple reporting breaches at three places during the 1480 cyclone, clearly demonstrating that until that year, the Rama Setu served as a bridge used by pilgrims to go across from Rameshwaram Shiva temple to Tirukkedeeswaram Shiva Temple.

Skanda Purana notes and confirmed by Pamban Swamigal that there is a third shivalingam installed on the Rama Setu itself.

It is the responsibility of marine archaeology win of Archaeological Survey of India to find tis shivalingam and associated mandiram on the Setu.

Affidavits have also been filed showing that earlier generation pilgrims used to go this Setu Shivamandiram praying for children and fulfilling their sankalpa venerating their ancestors.

This together with Gangasagar are the places where during the month of Ashadha amavasya offerings are made to the pitru-s, ancestors by offering sankalpam and tarpanam. Every year about 5 lakh pilgrims go on ashadha amavasya day to Rama Setu. This living tradition cannot be wished away by hypocritical, twisted references by the learned counsel of the Union of India. This Setu is a matter of fait not only for Hindus but also for Christians, Buddhists and Muslims. A Muslim family has given an affidavit that they celebrate marriages in their families singing the glory of Sri Rama remembering that their ancestors came from Ayodhya.

A rejection of this tradition and faith is a clear violation of Section 295 of IPC, a note which was also underscored in the Madras High Court judgement.

Vinaas'akaale vipareeta buddhih.

Evil minds in times of destruction.

These are the swan songs of an atheist supported government and learned counsels who indulge in casuistry in a pathetic show of juristic gimmickry.

Shame on some counsels who cannot see their responsibility to sustain the identity of the nation, the integrity and security of the nation's coastline and act like pied-pipers to a governance governed by evil.

We are continuing to use dharmic means through the justice system with the full confidence that the courts will not be parties to illegalities-- illegalities of national laws, illegalities violating international covenants, illegalities dismissing the concerns of neighbouring states and illegalities violating the Law of the Sea and international laws and norms of behaviour. Protection of Rama Setu is not a one issue concern of Hindus' faith. Protection of Rama Setu is protection of nation's identity, integrity and unity. A court is expected to uphold dharma and these national imperatives, transcending narrow interpretations of jurisdictions and boundaries between state responsibilities and responsibilities of the justice system. If the fence eats away the field, who will protect the crop?

Madras HC judgement has clearly recognized that Rama Setu is an undeniable fact in tradition and faith. The faith concerns millions of Hindus who venerate Sri Rama under whose command the Setu was constructed to protect dharma and to win over a-dharma.

Veda Vyasa states this categorically.

ramas'yaajnaam puraskritya dhaaryate girisannibhaah

(Trans. It is Rama's command to protect this Setu, famed as Nala Setu...) Rama's command is divine order and is inviolate.

Denying Rama and Rama Setu is blasphemy and denial of the very rashtram, the nation.

Narimaan should do well to read the 8000 pages of evidence in 160 volumes made available during court deliberations instead of relying upon suppressio veri, suggestio falsi tactics, thinking that points can be scored on points of law. Sure, law is an ass but don't allow the case to hurt the sentiments of millions of believers just to benefit a few, however high and might.

It is a sad day when counsels forget their larger responsibilities to the nation. The call of duty cannot become a wrestling bout on technical points of law but grounded on national interest. The national interest does not lie in creating a white elephant with the prospect of incurring Rs. 1000 crore loss per annum in perpetuity just to benefit a few dredging contractors and mariners owning small ships. It is the responsibility of jurists to explore the real development opportunities to enssure abhyudayam of coastal people and not an unmaintainable mid-ocean channel passage -- a unique experiment, untested experiment in human history -- without answering the question: for whose benefit is the benefit contemplated?

Evidence is there.

It is for the justice system to render justice, with fairness, equity and compassion.

There is enough expertise in the country of archaeologists, geologists and oceanographers (as in National Institute of Oceanography, Geological Survey of India) who can be commissioned to objectively find scientifically viable solution to the project disaster including options such as Marine Economic Zone, rail-road-container-port coordination. If there is a political will, there is a way. If the political will is skewed and motivated, the citizens will have to reconsider the covenant they established when they gave themselves a Constitution, constraining the powers of the executive and the judiciary and setting up checks and balances to ensure that the development projects do not violate the rule of law.



Sethu project threatens Mannar bioreserve (Pioneer, July 23, 2008)

Swati Das | Chennai

For 148 years, the plan to build a channel cutting across the barrier reef called Adam's Bridge, now politicised with Tamil or religious sentiments, have been stalled for three reasons: Engineering, economic and environmental.

The dream has always been to reduce the distance and time, connecting the east coast to the west without having to go around the island country of Sri Lanka. Top priorities since the British rule were safety of the canal and the ships, ecology, engineering and people's convenience. The prime objective was to connect the Palk Bay in the north of the barrier reef to Gulf of Mannar (GoM) in the south.

Politics today has thrown practical and logical issues to the winds, resorting to evoking ethnic and religious sentiments that threaten to destroy the unique feature of two distinct water bodies that lie side by side, thanks to Adam's Bridge or Ram Sethu, as believed by some. Result: Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP).

"Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Dredging of the channel will definitely affect the ecosystem of the National Marine Park. The silting will eventually form a layer over the coral reef and destroy the shoaling, physio-chemical conditions and biological parameters. The flora and fauna in the seabed would decrease and affect the life supporting system of the region. The ebb and flow of the waves will bring the sands to the clear water from the frequent dredging. Would the dredging be economical? We have to first think of the legal aspects, then livelihood and finally scientific," said P Nammalwar Rajan, former principal scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute and former Principal Investigator, Agriculture Authority, Government of India. He is now the project leader in the Department of Ocean Management, Institute for Ocean Management.

The Palk Bay in the north of Adam's Bridge is one of India's five permanent sediment sinks like the Sundarbans where the rivers drain into. There is a constant flow of silt into the Palk Bay and the Palk Straits. It has a shallow seabed and has its own natural reserve. The shallow nature of this area actually makes dredging difficult and expensive, as silting is continuous. The bay extends from north of Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram Island to Kodiakarai (Point Calimere) in Nagapattinam district.

The deep clear waters of GoM, south of Dhanushkodi to Kanyakumari, houses the rich coral reefs, where lies India's National Marine Park along the coast. This forms India's largest biosphere reserve called the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve stretching to 10,500 sqkm - a notified area. Of this, the National Park comprises 550 sq km. The coral reefs can survive only in clear water and some unique sea creatures here help in keeping the water clean. Endangering these sea animals is prohibited under the Wildlife Protection Act, Amendment, 2002, that came into force under the then Union Environment and Forests Minister and now Union Shipping Minister TR Baalu, who is now bent on affecting the biosphere. These creatures include sea fans, sea cucumbers, sponges, some species of sharks, shells and turtles, sea cow, reef building corals etc that come under the Schedule I of the Act - the same that protect tigers.

"The Adam's Bridge is a natural barrier reef. It helps maintain distinct nature of the two water bodies. If this barrier is cut, the constant silting of the Palk Bay would flow into the Gulf of Mannar, making the clear water murky and endanger coral reefs. Though the Tamil Nadu Government is claiming that the current alignment is 20 km away from the National Park, sampling of the canal area shows the presence of coral reefs, sea cucumbers, sea fans and sponges. The SSCP records admit that these will be endangered. But that would attract punishment under the Wildlife Act. There is so much noise about killing tigers. Why not protect these endangered creatures too? Is it because these are not as charismatic as tigers?" asks Sudarshan Rodriguez, Senior Research Associate, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), which has been doing research in the area. In fact, ATREE has done a study on the adverse effect of dredging in the Palk Bay area.

However, there are also those who feel that the alignment currently chosen, being 20 km away from the National Park, would cause only minimal damage to the marine park. "Current alignment would cause minimal damage. Damage is imminent when you want development. It would connect east to west and save time and distance," said DB James, retired principal scientist of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Tuticorin.

Fifteen alignments were suggested in the last 148 years to run a channel. Initially, viability of the alignment was the key reason for shelving the proposals. Then huge costs involved became the major roadblock. Post-Independence, preservation of marine reserve was the key consideration.

There were nine proposals between 1860 and 1922 and six proposals between 1956 and now, listed by the Sethusamudram Corporation Limited. The alignments under consideration in the recent past are the last three. The current alignment is just three km inside the India-Sri Lanka Medial Line and 20 km away from Shingle Island - the closest point of the National Marine Park from the proposed canal. It cuts through two shallows - Adam's Bridge (3m depth) that separates Palk Bay and GoM and Palk Strait (6-8m). It uses the natural depth in GoM south of Adam's Bridge and other areas of Palk Bay. Those opposing the "damage" to Adam's Bridge or "Ram Sethu" want the implementation of the fourth alignment that would cut through Dhanushkodi and exit close to Shingle Island.

But the moot point is if the canal is really worth sacrificing the bio-reserve? The 300-metre wide channel cannot allow the big ships of today to pass through and certainly not the international ships, which was the original need of the State to improve trade.

"Unlike what the DMK is projecting, it is not true that all the fishermen are for the canal. Their livelihood would certainly be endangered. I was at the meetings between TR Baalu and fishermen. The environmental issues were discussed. But all that has been hushed up. I have also told the BJP about the dangers. It was during the NDA regime that sixth alignment was finalised. Even they have turned it into a political issue. A general impression has been created that it is a Tamil pride," said Rodriguez.

For any comments, queries or feedback, kindly mail us at

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rama in Padma purana.

Padma puranam is in focus now in the Sethu issue.

Padma puranam is the source for the slokas for archana.

in any Ram temple in India (perhaps abroad also),

The Ashtothra- shata (108) namavali archana to Rama,

that is in vogue today

has been the one taken out from Padma purana only.

This namavali contains 108 names of Rama of which

“Sethu-kruthan” is one.

The 83th namavali of Rama among 108 is

Sethu-krthayE namah”

Kritham means ‘done’ / performed / made.

This name means ‘Rama who did / made / performed Sethu’.

This namavali archana is also being told at the beginning of

parayana (reading) of Ramayana.

This is universal in practice.

Reading of Ramayana begins with a sankalpa

followed by the namavali archana of Rama.

Padma purana namavali (containing this name of Sethu-krithan)

is in common use.

Another issue from the article below from Dr S. Kalyanaraman.

He has beautifully brought out how Gita views Rama.

But the ‘parathwam’ of Rama

or who Rama is –

has been quoted by all acharyas and commentators and scholars

from Mandodhari’s lamentation on Ravana’s death.

In the sarga 114 in Yuddha khandam

(I quote from AV Narasimhachariar’s translation, 1923 edition),

Mandodhari cries over the body of Ravana.

At that time she recalls 3 incidents,

the death of Karan & vali,

Hanuman’s entry into Lanka and burning down of Lanka

and the impossible feat of bridging the ocean by Vanaras

as evidences that Rama was not after all a man.

She counseled Ravana citing these 3 instances to desist him from going on war.

She recalls this at Ravana’s death and proceeds to tell

how Rama was not a man.

This part of narration has been handled by acharyas to establish that

Rama was a God - had parathwam – or the Paramathman in human form.

- jayasree

From Dr S. kalyanaraman

Raamah shastrabhritaam aham (I am Rama among warriors)

Dear Dr. Subramanian Swamy and bandhu,

What a privilege it has been to have you guiding the mighty movement to save our heritage. Our nation becomes the punyabhumi because of patriotic aatman like you. Tears of joy roll down my eyes as I recall the valiant fights won so far thanks to the sheer power of the samajam which expressed itself unambiguously that Hindusthanam is Shri Rama's country.

You and all the counsels who have been working with such diligence, commitment and patriotic fervor to defend the rule of law on behalf of the petitioners, have to succeed, we have to succeed and we will. I am sure the justice system will also not let us down despite their wrongly perceived jurisdictional limitations. If the justice system cannot protect a national cause, who else will in a regime of utter lawlessness? All citizens of Hindusthanam are beholden to all of you for the sage counsel and guidance you have brought to bear upon this historic case.

I want to know the specific reference cited by Fali Narimaan from Padma Purana. I have shown that his quote from Kamba Ramayana is simply not correct. I will be able to offer my comments on Padma Purana reference relied upon by Fali Narmaan. As of now, it appears that there is no mention whatsoever in this Purana text. I don't know what verse he is specifically referring. Though the Court said that they are not taking evidence on Setu, it is important to point out the minefield of ancient texts and dangers of misinterpretations of words out of context of space and time. Many words had different meanings at different points in time. The tradition is the guide. You have shown that the tradition is so intense that the Setu is a monument, a heritage monument, a place of worship beyond any reasonable doubt.

The Court cannot wish away the enormously weighty arguments on over 160 topics presented including your brilliant advocacy on the fraudulent economics, illegalities and national security implications. Environmental concerns are so enormous that a flippant decision should not be taken without detaled evaluation by experts from National Inst. of Oceanography of Goa and Geological Survey of India, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (Atomic Minerals Divsion) and Navy Coast Guard, national defence experts. The entire gamut of project alternatives should be subjected to study afresh.

It is shocking that Fali Narimaan advised GOI not to undertake ASI study assuming that issues of faith will in any case be part of any such study. It is shocking that there is an attempt to shy away from facts and ground realities, denigrating the very essence of safeguarding the professional integrity of experts working in many fields including archaeology. ASI cannot do this task by itself, it will be necessary that a multidisciplinary advocate commission is put in place to arrive at the issues related to monument declaration under 1958 Act and World Heritage monument under international covenants (e.g., Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention of UNESCO of which India is a party) apart from UN Law of the Sea 1958 on historic waters.

For the sake of this punyabhumi, for re-establishing the memory of vigrahavaan dharmah, Shri Rama, we shall prevail. Again, again, my namaskarams to you. S'ubha kaamanaayen. This is a moment of truth and satyam is so effulgent that the darkness enveloping the nation temporarily will get removed. We owe it to ourselves to fight, to fight to win. With the warrior Shri Rama's blessings, everything is possible. Gitacharya refers to Shri Rama in the Bhagavad Gita as a warrior. That word is enough. Rama is our ideal, you are warriors, like Shri Rama.

raamah shastrabhritaam aham
{Amongst Warriors, I Am Lord Ram!}
Srimad Bhagvad Gita 10.31

Full selected texts related to the manifestations of paramaatman including the manifestation as Rama:

yo mam ajam anadim ca
vetti loka-maheshvaram
asammudhah sa martyesu
sarva-papaih pramucyate 10.3

"He who knows Me as the unborn, as the beginningless, as the Supreme Lord of all the worlds—he only, undeluded among men, is freed from all sins."

buddhir jnanam asammohah
ksama satyam damah samah
sukham duhkham bhavo 'bhavo
bhayam cabhayam eva ca

ahimsa samata tustis
tapo danam yaso 'yasah
bhavanti bhava bhutanam
matta eva prithag-vidhah (10.4 and 5)

"Intelligence, knowledge, freedom from doubt and delusion, forgiveness, truthfulness, control of the senses, control of the mind, happiness and distress, birth, death, fear, fearlessness, nonviolence, equanimity, satisfaction, austerity, charity, fame and infamy—all these various qualities of living beings are created by Me alone."

pavanah pavatam asmi
ramah shastra-bhrtam aham
jhasanam makaras casmi
srotasam asmi jahnavi 10.31


Of purifiers I am the wind, of the wielders of weapons I am Rama, of fishes I am the shark, and of flowing rivers I am the Ganga.

dhanyosmi. namaskaram.