A video released by Science Channel on Ram Setu shows scientists saying that the submerged structure linking India and Srilanka is man-made. It consists of series or rocks and boulders sitting on a stretch of sand bed.
The significant information from this video pertains to the dates of the structures. It says that the boulders and rocks found on top of the sand dunes are 7000 years old while the sand dunes are only 4000 years old! The time period of 7000 years BP is the approximate period of Rama at whose behest this structure was built. But the sand dunes that support them being dated at 4000 years BP puts it at post-Krishna period. This could be possible only if the structure was re-built using the same old boulders when the sea level arose.
Boulders of the Ram Setu seen under water.
According to the geologist Dr Badrinarayanan, two dates of rise in sea level was found in this part of the sea, one, between 7,300 to 5,800 years BP and another between 5,400 to 4,000 years BP. As per the video the bounders correspond to the former date while the sand bed underneath them corresponds to the second and last date of sea level increase. But Dr Badrinarayana finds the occurrence of two sets of corals corresponding to these two levels.
This raises the possibility that the original layer was much below the current one which corresponded to 7000 years BP. For a brief period of 400 years between 5800 – 5400 years BP the sea level came down, exposing the Setu Bridge above the sea level. But once again the sea level rose submerging the structure after 5400 years BP. That was when a fresh attempt could have been made to re-construct the bridge – which was done by raising the height by laying a sand bed and re-laying the same boulders and rocks on top of it. The sacredness of the structure and connection with Rama could have made the re-builders to have retained the same boulders and also re-lay in the same way done originally by the vanaras. Research is needed to ascertain these ideas, but the fact is that research is woefully nil in India in the case of Ram Setu.
What is seen in the picture below as white objects (pic taken from the video released by Science Channel) are in fact the visible regions of the Setu above water – the corresponding regions in Google map is shown below this picture.
Till the 14th century the structure was well above the water level. In the next 6 centuries no attempt was made to restore the bridge perhaps due to changing or deteriorating political scenes in the ensuing period. Today, in these times of stable nationhood, we must have by now started rebuilding the structure using the same boulders after the lifting up the foundation.
The formation of stable nation with the arrival of Independence did nothing to secure the site back to its glory. In the previous UPA government, the focus was denying the Ram Setu as man-made and historical. It is unfortunate the same trend is continuing even now. Nothing much had happened in India in terms of research in this site. It needs a foreign channel to tell the world that Ram Setu is manmade while it is precisely the same we have known for ages. So what are we going to do now – the Government, the research agencies of India and the people?
In the case of people, I wish to clarify two objections or doubts that we often hear on this subject. They are given below.
(1) The time period of Ramayana: Rama belonged to Treta Yuga and the general opinion among the people is that Treta Yuga occurred 17 lakh (1.7 Million) years ago. There also exists a claim by NASA that Setu is 1.75 million years old. However there is no confirmation by NASA that it is man-made. There are many Indians who ascribe to this view as a proof of Rama’s times at 17 lakh years before present.
This is not logical as 17 lakh years ago was the time period when man was just beginning to walk upright. The geological conditions of that period also could not be the same as it is now. In this back-drop it is self-defeating to claim historicity of Rama linked to such an early period.
This issue can be approached from two angles (1) the veracity of NASA image and (2) understanding the true purport of the time period of Rama.
Taking up the first, the NASA image is true as there exists a natural shoal between India and Srilanka. This shoal is actually formed by underwater volcanic material. This has been confirmed in the studies by geologists. From the events of Ramayana we know that a hill called Mainaka existed exactly in the region of the shoal which grew up above the water when Hanuman crossed the sea. Such growth can be linked to a volcanic activity or magma bubbling up.
Earlier to Rama’s times, the sons of Sagara (Rama’s ancestor) were reduced to ashes while digging at this region. (read my article here). Such a description invariably supports the eruption of magma or heat that led to a calamity to them digging up the shoal here. Studies in this region do support such eventualities as heat flow signatures were found supported by hot water springs while drilling. Thus there can no two opinions on the presence of a natural bed formed of the material of the mantle in this region for ages. What NASA had noted in the satellite picture was the exact region of sea bed where magma got piled up (like a suture) Dating of the bed might give us clues on when such eruptions or volcanism first started.
This confirms an opinion that the island of Lanka was an extension of India and not one that got separated by geological activity as held by some. The very name “Ilangai” (Lanka) in Tamil refers to a raised bund in the midst of water or surrounded by water. Srirangam is an Ilangai by this definition. The ‘Maavilangai’ mentioned in one of Tamil Sangam texts refers not to Lanka as some people think, but to a raised land in the course of a river.
(Bingala Nikantu, Ch 4:104)
The natural bund between India and Srilanka served as an extension of habitation in this part for thousands of years. There is even proof of growth of wild rice since Ice Age in this part, signalling presence of habitation here.
(Fuller et al: 2010)
In the above picture, the connecting region between India and Srilanka is marked with ‘P’. It refers to growth of wild rice since 20,000 years before present. This can be taken as a proof of habitation in this part of India at that date. One can see that the linkage between the two countries was very wide. In the picture below one can see the light shaded regions around India and Srilanka (yellow-line border done by me). The land was extended till then when the sea level was low. As per the above figure, there is evidence of growth of wild rice in this extended region.
With such a naturally present land connection for a wider extent, Srilanka of those times existed as an extension of India much like the Kathiawar peninsula.
So there never existed a need to build a bridge in this part. Such a need could arise only when sea water completely inundated this connecting land. The inundation maps produced by Graham Hancock throw better hints on this issue. A comparison of them for different time periods is given below to pin point the date when the need arose to link the two countries by human efforts. The availability of maps start from 21,300 years BP.
Until 8900 BP, the land connection was there naturally, helping in the movement of people. But things changed after this period as sea level rose above the connecting land by 7700 BP. The below-maps show this.
By 7700 BP sea water passed through the connecting land. By 6900 BP the connecting land was completely under sea water.
So any construction of a bridge could have happened only before 7000 years. The naturally occurring base is already there. What people had to do was to raise structures on the base for a few meters. This was what Rama’s Vanara sena had done!
This date tallies with the date of boulders (7000 years) mentioned in the Video released by Science Channel.
This date also tallies with Pushkar Bhatnagar's date of Rama (5114 BCE).
Read also :- Rama lived 7000 years ago
(2) Ramayana is a myth?: There is a group including those from the West claiming that Rama is a myth perpetuated to promote divinity. This arises from a notion that Gods are not born on earth. This notion helps in linking super natural feats with Gods.
The fact is that there is nothing super natural about Gods of Hinduism. There is One God, the All-pervading Brahman and every other God is a manifestation of this Brahman in its different stages of existence. Even man (individual atman) is no lowly creature as he can become God – the all-pervading Brahman. It is only because of Karma binding him, man is born a man (or an animal or a plant). And when he crosses over Karma he is one with Brahman or identical with Brahman. This is what the texts say.
But the easiest way to understand how a man can become a God, the reply by Kalanos to Alexander is an eye-opener. For a question by Alexander on
“How may a man become a god?”
“by doing that which is almost impossible for a man to do”.
(Source: works of Plutarch, the Greek historian and biographer of Alexander the Great - here)
When a person does things that no other man can do or which are beyond normal human limits, then such a person comes to be regarded as a God. There comes a discussion on this topic in the Tamil text Silappadhikaram.
Two women of this story (a real one) showed extraordinary nature. One was Kannagi who despite undergoing terrible times with her husband going after another woman and then coming back to her empty handed, lost him once for all, for the sake of her anklet which the king mistook as stolen from his queen. With all the sense of loss in her heart, Kannagi nevertheless went to the court of the king to establish that her husband did not steal. The king died on the spot on coming to know of his mistake. The strange part of the story is that his queen also died on the spot immediately after him, being unable to bear the loss of her husband.
On coming to know of these developments, the Chera king asked his wife who among the two – the queen and Kannagi – was greater. The Cheran queen preferred Kannagi over the other on the basis that Kannagi put up with the suffering at the wake of the death of her husband to prove the world that he was innocent. So she was fit enough to be celebrated in human world whereas the other, the queen would be celebrated in the other world (heavens). This resulted in consecrating Kannagi as a deity in a temple.
This narration is in tune with what Kalanos said on doing the impossible. There had never been another Kannagi in history!
In the same way Rama, a man born in this world did some extraordinary feats and exhibited extraordinary character that he came to be regarded as a God.
Rama never considered himself as a God.
He expressed, “I am a human being” (‘Atmaanam maanusham manye Ramam Dasharathatmajam’ -VR 6-117-11)
But Brahma replied, “For destruction of Ravana you entered human body here, on this earth (“Vadaartham Raavanasyeh pravishto maanusheem tanum” – VR 6-117-28).
So it is found within Ramayana that God reincarnates as a human being. Rama was such an incarnation.
As a human being, how do we recognise him as a God?
By the impossible feats that no other man can do.
What was that impossible feat?
This is expressed in Valmiki Ramayana itself through the words of Madodari, Ravana’s wife. On seeing Ravana fallen dead, Madodari wailed that she knew Rama was not an ordinary mortal and therefore should not have been taken to task. Two things she mentioned as proof of this. One was the building of Setu! (The other was vanquishing demons at Janasthana)
“The day when the terrific monkeys built a bridge on the great ocean, that day itself I believed that Rama was not an ordinary mortal." (VR 6-11- 11)
Ravana was feeling secure sitting at Lanka as it was cut off from the mainland by the sea. Individuals might cross the sea in boats; but to cross the sea with a huge army to defeat him was impossible, Ravana thought.
The impossible feat of laying down a road or a bridge across the sea was unthinkable for any man. That is where Rama scored as super human – a God.
There are other attributes that made him God – all those are impossible for ordinary mortals. Explaining them here is out of context for this article.
What we need to know is that divinity in Hinduism does not make god unreal and unborn.
Rama was very much real as he lived and walked in this country. By the same reasoning of impossible accomplishments, Skanda, who lived in flesh and blood, came to be regarded as a God. He was perhaps the first man identified as a God in the Vedic civilization of the current era of Vaivasvata Manu. In his mantra for establishing Indra dhvaja, Manu invokes Skanda’s name.
By the same reasoning, Vamana, Parasurama, Balarama and Krishna were regarded as Gods. So there is no basis to say that Rama was only a mythical character. Ram Setu is one of the evidences of his time period.