No Aryan - Dravidian divide -it was one Aryavartha - (15)
Sethu is described as Swathi patham. (1)
There are other interpretations of this 'Swathi patham'.
They can be understood only if we know the connection between
name, form and works of anything.
This is a concept explained in Chandogyopanishat.
Any thing in creation starting from Brahman can be understood
by some characteristic which is specific to it.
The name by which it is understood is connected
with its form and the works it does or it is associated with.
For instance scriptures say that Akasha (sky) is Brahman.
Brahman is Akasha and Akasha is Brahman.
Akasha is vast and limitless like Brahman.
It is without imperfections
Nothing can stain it.
It is seen to be within reach but it can not be reached.
It always exists and a witness to all happenings in our life.
It is within a pot (ghatakaasha)
and also exists as infinite (mahaakaasha),
like how Brahman exists within every being
and also exists infinitely everywhere.
It is because of all these –
by name, by form and by the characteristic and works -
Scriptures say that Akasha is Brahman.
If we look at Akasha, we must think of Brahman.
because Akasha is Brahman.
That is the import of this.
“Verily, what is called ‘akasha’ is revealer of name and form.
That within which they are is Brahman” (2)
This can be further explained by taking myself as an example.
I have a name, Jayasree and I have a form.
My works and characteristics will be always identified with this Jayasree.
This Jayasree did not exist before she entered this earth.
And she is not going to exist as Jayasree after she dies.
She will exist by this name Jayasree only for a period of time in the vastness of Time.
Jayasree might have existed as someone else in a previous birth and
will identified as some one else in a future birth.
But whatever that is known by the name Jayasree,
will be of this Jayasree
and associated with the works and characteristics
of this Jayasree only.
By looking at the name Jayasree or by hearing that name,
people will immediately recognize her form and her works.
Thus a name always contains the form connected with it
and stands for the characteristics associated with it.
This is the very basic concept of any symbolism.
The Vedanthic and Vedaanga texts, such as the astrological texts
can be best understood by this
We know that Mars is a red planet.
In astrology Mars stands for red colour.
Red is the colour of blood.
So by this symbolism of associative principle,
Mars is responsible for blood and blood related ailments.
Red is also indicative of anger and fierceness.
This is the basis for fighting tendencies.
So Mars also stands for fighting and anger.
Red is the colour of agni, the fire.
Mars rules the Fiery sign, Aries.
The other sign ruled by it is Scorpio is a watery sign.
The water and fire are connected to each other.
The fire can be extinguished by water.
Since water extinguishes fire, it is said to eat fire and therefore contains fire.
Thus water and fire are connected.
So Mars, which stands for fire
also stands for water for its particular work of extinguishing fire.
Thus if someone says ‘red’, the wise will understand
what that ‘red’ conveys depending on the context.
This is how the Vedas and upansihats are understood.
Taking this method of analysis to our current topic on Sethu,
we find that the name Sethu is associated with certain form and works.
Chandogya upanishat calls Brahman as ‘SETHU”
Yes, Brahman is called as a bridge or Sethu. (3)
It is because of certain qualities that are associated with the name and form of Sethu!
It is first said that Brahman is ‘Satyam.’
The word satyam contains 3 letters, sat, th and yam (4)
‘Sat’ is amrutham (nectar), that which is immortal.
‘th’ is destructible, mortal.
‘yam’ bridges ‘sat’ and ‘th’.
Since Satyam is Brahman,
Brahman bridges mortal and immortal.
“Sethu bridges the mortal with the immortal, so that one reaches immortality.
Day, night, old-age, death, sorrow, punya and paapa do not touch Sethu.
All sins get released by Sethu” (5)
“sarvE paapmaanOthO nivarthinthE”
(all sins are absolved).
Chandogya further describes, (6)
“if the one who reaches Sethu is blind, he will get Vision.”
(thasmaadvaa yEtha sEthum therthwantha: sannanandhO bhavathi)
(thasmaadvaa yEtha sEthum therthwantha: sannanandhO bhavathi)
“The one who is afflicted gets relieved of afflictions”
(viddha: san-naviDDhO bhavathi)
“The one who suffers gets relieved of sufferings”
(upathabhI – san-nanupathaabhI bhavathi)
“For the one who reaches this ‘bridge’,
the night becomes day (darkness is removed)”
(thasmaad vaa yEtha Sethum theerthwabhinakna mahar yEwabhi nishpadyathE)
These are the chararctetistics of Sethu.
The Sethu not only bridges two different banks,
it not only takes one from one bank to the other, which is Immortal,
it also removes all that is imperfect and sinful.
Since because the other bank is Immortality.
the imperfections must be first removed
while traveling on this bridge.
So whenever the wise see the Sethu
or hear the name Sethu
they will always recognize the Sethu
as a mode of the transference from
Ast to sat, (from untruth to Truth)
from tamas to Jyothi (from darkness to light)
And from mruthyu to amrutham (from death to Immortality)
This verse of Chandogya has been analyzed by rishis of yore
and incorporated as a sutra
in their compilation of Brahma sutras
“paramatha: SETHU unmaana-sambhanda bhEdavya patheshEbhya:
“(It seems that there is something) superior to this (Brahman)
on account of the terms denoting a bridge, measure.
Connection and difference (used with respect to it.)
But (Brahman is called a bridge or Sethu) on account of similarity.”
“Brahman is called Sethu (bridge) not because
there exists something beyond It to be reached.
But because it binds the sentient and insentient worlds to Itself
Even as a bridge keeps things separate” (8)
The Brahman is the Sethu that separates the mortal world from Immortal realms.
This Sethu is also path to reach such Immortality.
In the process it prepares one who is traveling on it to reach Immortality.
Whenever the wise see a Sethu or a bridge,
they think of this import if Brahman and
as the path to reach Immortality.
The NaLa Sethu stretching from Dhanush kOti to Lanka
is not a bridge of boulders and trees.
The starting point is Dhanush kOti.
In Sanskrit it means the tip if the bow.
It is here Rama struck his bow on the land to shoot the Brahmasthra on the ocean God.
The prithvi or earth is denoted here.
In Tamil lexicon, Dhanu is identified with earth (9)
and kOti means the end point of earth that stretches into water.
This dhanushkOti thus stands for the edge of earth.
Lanka means “resplendent land”, a land of beauties and pleasure.
It was one such land enjoyed by Kubera, the Lord of Wealth.
The NaLa Sethu stands for taking one from earthly plane to resplendent land.
This is the outward import of Sethu.
But the wise will always see it as the Eternal Brahman
as it has been seen so by sages of yore
and immortalized so in verses of Upanishat.
This is the Knowledge associated with
or arising from Spirituality.
Mr Karunanidhi in his recent visit to the Golden
talked of the two (spirituality and Knowledge) as inter connected.
The connection is this,
not the one he has said (that his headquarters “Arivaalayam” stands for knowledge)
This knowledge ( and not that knowledge mentioned by Mr Karunanidhi)
is based on rationalism.
A rational thinker will see the Brahmanic import in the Sethu
and will see to it that it stands as a bridge connecting two banks.
No archaeological research is needed to prove this connection.
Only rational thinking based on spiritual awareness is needed.
Nowhere in the world one can find such a Sethu.
Too many bridges are there – on lands.
They cross the land and connect the lands.
Many Canals are there.
But they cross the lands and connect the waters!
In spiritual rationalism, connecting waters means
getting one into more troubled waters!
One must aim for reaching the shore or the bank.
That will happen on a bridge on waters, connecting two different lands.
The Sethu on the ocean is thus a unique feature of crossing the ocean of births (10)
Another rationale drawn from this is that
the Sethu could not have been destroyed by Rama on coming back.
Rama did not come back to this part of Sethu (in
He could not have by any stretch of imagination destroyed the Sethu
that has such a lofty spiritual import.
The reason quoted for such destruction of Sethu by Rama,
namely, the request of Shugreeva that the Rakshasas might pose him a trouble in future
Shugreeva did not make any such request.
Rama took along with him Shugreeva when he reached His abode in Vaikuntha.
Before doing that, he gave his deity (kula dhanam) to Vibheeshana
and ordained him to rule Lanka
in the Dharmic way of the Ikshvakus (Rama’s dynasty) (11)
There is no way to establish that the Rakshasa posed a threat to the Vanaras.
(to be continued)
(1) Yuddha khanda, 22-72 (Valmiki)
(2) Chandogya upanishat ( 8-14-1)
(3) Chandogya upanishat ( 8-4-1 & 2)
(4) Chandogya upanishat ( 8-3-5)
(5) Chandogya upanishat ( 8-4-1)
(6) Chandogya upanishat ( 8-4-2)
(7) Brahma sutras (3-2-30 & 31)
(8) Sri Ramanujacharya’s commentary for this sutra
(9) “kodumaram drONam chaapam kodumchilai dhanu naarperE” Choodamani nigandu.
(Dhanu is the name of Chilai which stands for mountain and boulders)
(10) ‘Piravi-p-perum kadal’ - Thirukkural-10
(11) Utthara khanda of Srimad Ramayana by Valmiki, sarga 108)