The following article by Sadhu Prof.V.Rangarajan, sent to me by Sri S. Kalayanaraman
traces the route of Rama's 'pada yathra' covering the length of Bharatha varsha.
In this context, I wish to state a few exalted notions from scriptures.
The Lord, otherwise known as the Supreme Brahman exists in 4 sthithi or postures.
He is always accompanied with Sesha in all these postures.
two birds are seated on a tree,
and another - similar to the one who is shining - is eating the fruits (of karma).
The shining one which does not eat (karma) is the Supreme Brahman.
The other is the souls(s) which gets karma-bound.
The Shining Supreme Brahman is known as Seshi
and the other is known as Sesha.
Sesha means that which is other than the Supreme.
Seshi is the Supreme.
Sesha is always depicted as the five hooded snake,
the hood representing the 5 elements and 5 senses
with which the souls take birth.
The Seshi never leaves the Sesha.
Without Sesha, the Seshi has no work or play in Its 'life'
The Seshi's entire concentration is on Sesha only.
That is how God's inseparable connection with the created beings
(rather than the other-way-round connection)
is an inevitable
component of Existence.
So Seshi is always with the Sesha.
Now about the 4 sthithis.
Always accompanied with his subordinate Sesha, who is none other than the Jivas or souls,
the Lord or Seshi is seated on Sesha while He is inVaikuntha.
Sesha is his seat.
In the state of un-manifested worlds,
in between kalpas and in between manvanthras,
when creation does not happen but everything is 'fluid',
the Lord is lying on Sesha.
In lying down posture,
the Sesha is his bed.
When the Lord stands, he stands on the hood of Sesha.
It is like stamping down the Sesha which is going riot.
As if to control the Sesha, the lord stands on it.
The image of Lord Parthasarathy in Triplicane is one of standing.
Here he is standing on Sesha.
The significance from the past is that
the Lord has just come back from the war field in Kurukshethra
which not only saw the eruption of senses in their negative manifestations,
but also a shake of heavens (of the elements of Nature)
just before the onset of war,
when the earth seemed to have wobbled a bit more,
resulting in the shifting of the position of the heavens, particularly, the moon,
which entered the no-moon position on the 13th day itself.
The significance drawn from a future incident is that
the sea that the Lord at Triplicane is looking at is going to be emptied
due to an upheaval of the sea bed.
Recall the incident I quoted in an earlier post
on Agasthya's feat of drinking the water of this sea,
which would be filled by the Ganga in another round of yagas!
("Bay of Bengal was a highland once"
Since Yuagas are cyclical, the birth and exit of Ganga will also be cyclical
and the formation and emptying of Ganga sagar also will be cyclical.
Such an event will mean the shake up of the elements - the sesha.
When that happens, the Lord firmly puts his feet on him - to keep him under control.
So when the Lord stands, it means, sesha will be there as the Base on which he will stand.
Sesha is his base.
Finally when the Lord walks....
he walks as a friend.
The sesha becomes his umbrella while walking with him!!
According to sanatana dharma, a friend is one who walks along with you.
The man and woman walk together around fire,
to pledge their life-long friendship.
Rama and Sugreeva walked around the fire
to become friends.
Savithri walked along with Yama and that is why, Yama could not harm her interests.
Rama walked along with Lakshmana.
This is a typical example of Seshi walking with Sesha!
The walk is for the sake of the friend, (Sita)
- that is, for the sake of mankind -
the Release of Sita from captivity is symbolic of
Release of man (souls) from bondage of cycle of birth and death.
Rama walked once for the sake of the suffering saints (Bala khanda)
(indicating that those who are sincere and un-harming will be definitely take care of)
and again for the sake of Sita (symbolizing the souls).
It is for man to understand
that He is ready to walk with him if he pledges to become his bosom friend.
A bosom friend will see to it that his friend is not hurt even by rains or sun light
and so will protect him from them.
He in turn will be taken care of by Him.
Rama walked and Krishna walked..
Krishna too walked for the sake of his friends.
Both Rama and Krishna avatars have an indelible effect on the minds and hearts of all in this Bharatha varsha.
For, their walks and their lives as well are the hopes and messages for them.
No force on earth can wipe them out of the memory of these people.
No force can stop these people from speaking about the glory of these Two Friends of Man -
unless otherwise willed so by God himself.
But He will not will so.
Because He too will be orphaned without friends (us)
Man without God is not an issue at all.
But God without man is the real issue with God
and He will see to it that He somehow walks or stands of sits or even rests lying on serpent bed,
so that His communion with us is retained at all times.
The relentless talks by persons like us,
about Him and about the issues around Him
are all emanating from this friend-friend relationship,
as we perceive Him to be walking along with us in our journey on this earth.
FOOTPRINTS OF LORD RAMA ON THE SANDS OF TIME
Sadhu Prof. V. Rangarajan
Founder & Spiritual Head, Sri Bharatamata Gurukula Ashram &
Yogi Ramsuratkumar Indological Research Centre,
Sister Nivedita Academy, Sri Bharatamata Mandir
Srinivasanagar, Krishnarajapuram, BANGALORE 560 036
Phone: 080-25610935 /25613716, Cell: 09448275935
Is Rama God or human being?
Rama himself answers in Valmiki Ramayana,
"Aatmaanam maanusham manye"--"I am only a human being".
Hinduism is a way of life,
which enables a man, who is in the pinnacle of evolution,
to further, ascend to the state of a Divine.
Thus Rama and Krishna,
the heroes of the Indian epics have elevated themselves
through their conduct in life to the status of God or 'Bhagavan',
the Enlightened Being, just as in the modern period,
noble and saintly souls like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsaa and Ramana Maharshi
have reached the state of 'Bhagavan'.
Epics, unlike mythologies, are historical narratives and the events
depicted in them are actual occurrences in history.
Historians of East as well as West have successfully
fixed the dates of Rama and Krishna
and have also identified the places associated with them.
Dismissing the contention that Ramayana is only a literary piece
or an allegory woven out of the imagination of a poet,
Griffith asks, " How could an Epic so dear in India to the memory of the people,
so deeply rooted for many centuries in the minds of all,
so propagated and diffused through all the dialects and languages of those regions,
which had become the source of many dramas,
which are still represented in India,
which is itself represented with such magnificence year after
year and to such crowds of people in the neighbourhood of Ayodhya,
a poem which at its very birth was welcomed with such fervour
as the legend relates,
that the recitation of it by the first wandering rhapsodists,
has consecrated and made famous all the places visited by them,
and where Rama made a longer or shorter stay,
how I ask, could such an Epic have been purely allegorical?".
Gorressio thinks that,
some events must have happened in the distant past the memory of
which has so impressed itself indelibly on the fancies of the Hindus
that there is no possibility of the story ever dying
until some geological alterations of the features of the country come to pass.
Pargitter says that 'the geographical knowledge revealed in the Epic
could hardly have been obtained except by actual visit to these places
by some persons.'
Monnier Williams among his many tributes he pays to the Epic,
ranks the Ramayana as the beautiful composition that has ever
appeared at any period or any country.
Swami Vivekannda proclaims,
"In fact the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the encyclopaedias
ancient Aryan life and wisdom,
portraying an ideal civilization which humanity has to aspire after."
Macdonall says, "Probably no work of world literature,
secular in its origin has ever produced so profound
an influence on the life and thought of a people as the Ramayana."
Valmiki, the author of Ramayana, was a contemporary of Rama
and infact, Sita, the wife of Rama,
gave birth to Lava and Kusa in the Ashrama of Valmiki.
Valmiki's ashrama is shown at a site in Bithoor
which is about thirty miles north of Kanpur and one hundred and ten
miles off Ayodhya, on the west bank of River Ganges.
Renowned historians have traced on the modern geographical map of
India the locations of various places mentioned in the Epic.
On the occasion of the All India Seminar on Ramayanam
held at Trivandrum in 1973,
Sri V.D. Ramswami had brought out a book on
"Sri Rama Pada Yatra"
covering the places visited by Rama during his itineraries,
with maps illustrating his trek in the forests.
Rama had undertaken two padayatras or long walks in his lifetime.
The first one was when he along with his brother, Lakshmana,
accompanied his Master, Rishi Vishwamitra,
into the forest to protect the sacrificial rites
conducted by Rishis in the hermitages,
from the onslaught of Rakshasas.
The second and longest march that Rama undertook was during
the Vanavasa to keep up the promise that Dasaratha made to Kaikeyi and
to fulfil the wishes of his step mother that he should go into the
forest for fourteen years, leaving the throne to her son, Bharata.
In this second Paada yaatra,
Rama was accompanied by his faithful wife,
Sita and brother, Lakshmana.
The people of Ayodhya, not willing to leave him,
chased his chariot up to the northern bank of River Tamasa
Here, in the night, Rama gave a slip to the people who were
tired and had fallen asleep, and reached Sringiberapura on the banks
of Ganges, where Guha received him, his wife and brother.
This place is identified as Singour of modern times.
Next morning, Guha got ready a boat for the party to cross the river.
Taking leave of Guha,
Rama, Seeta and Lakshmana started their long trek to the south.
The spot on which Rama crossed River Yamuna
to reach Chitrakoota is Kosum,
which Cunningham identifies with the ancient town of Kousambi,
capital of Vatsa Desha (the Doab).
The modern town of Chitrakoota is situated
in the district of Banda which is about five miles from the railway
station of Karvi.
The small hill of Chitrakoota is a part of the
Binthachal range and is about five hundred feet high.
Pilgrims walk round the hill which is never climbed
because people believe Rama is still there.
Nearby is the town of Sitapur with its numerous bathing
ghats dedicated to the memory of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana and Hanuman.
An important factor that lends support to identify the Bundelkand Hill
with Chitrakoota is that the description of the fauna and flora given
by Valmiki agrees with what prevails today in the area.
Mallinatha identifies Kalidasa's Rama Giri of Meghadhoota
with ancient Chitrakoota.
However, some scholars consider Ram Tek,
which is eighteen miles north of Nagpur, as Rama Giri.
Rama reached Panchavati where an abode was set up
by Lakshmana for the three to stay
and it was here Sita was abducted by Ravana.
While some historians identify Panchavati with modern Nasik,
there are others who hold the view that it must be the
modern Badrachalam in Andhra Pradesh.
After a long trek through dense forests in search of Sita,
Rama and Lakshmana reached Sabari Ashrama
which was located on the west bank of Pampa Saras.
The district map of Bellary shows a Pampa Sagar on the north bank of Tungabadra.
According to Professor Wilson,
there is a Pampas Lake and also a river of the
same name North of Tungabadra,
the Pampa River starting from the
Rishyamooka Hill joins the main river.
Sabari received the brothers here.
From there the brothers proceeded to Kishkinda.
To the west of the town of Bellary on the south bank of Tungabadra
is the small village of Hampi where the ancient Kishkinda is placed on general
agreement by scholars.
Longhurst on Hampi says Pampa Saras or Pampa
Tirtha is on the Nizam's side near the village Anegundi.
Pampa is said to be the puranic name of River Thungabadra.
Such is the story of the
Ramayana that the names of several localities around Hampi are
identical with those in the Epic.
Griffith also thinks that the
semi-civilized state of Kishkinda included a great part of the Deccan.
Rama and Lakshmana accompanied by the Vanara Sena under the leadership
of Sugriva and Hanuman marched towards the south and walked through
the area now known as Chitaldroog District of Karnataka before
reaching the Sahya Parvata or the Western Ghats.
Trekking along the eastern slopes of this mountain,
they should have crossed the river
kaveri near its source, the Coorg Hills.
Rice in the gazetteer of Mysore says,
"it is generally believed that Rama crossed the Kaveri
west of Srirangapatam near its junction with the River Lakshmana Teertha."
From there they reached Mahendragiri
from where Hanuman took his leap to Lanka.
Major Forbes in his book titled 'Eleven Years in Ceylon"
gives a good account of the various sites in this island
whose names are connected with those in the Epic.
The three prominent peaks in the Kandyan Hills
are identified with the Trikuta Parvata and the barren area above
Halaghatta with the gardens of Ravana that were burnt down by Hanuman.
Sita Talava, the place where Sita was kept confined, Nikumbha where
Indrajit did his penance, the Suvela Parvata and several other places
connected with the Epic are shown and their respective locations
appear to agree so closely with what is stated in the Epic.
Dr. Ram Avatar ji in his book in Hindi titled "Jahan jahan Ram chalee jahan"
traces the footprints of Lord Rama in the various places that
he visited, especially on his trek to the south
from Ayodhya to Sri Lanka.
At a time when ignoramuses proclaiming themselves as scholars
question the very existence of Sri Rama and the bridge, now known as
Rama Setu, that he built across the southern ocean to cross over to
Sri Lanka from the mainland, a thorough research study of all the
places connected to the life and times of Rama is really the need of the hour.
The original book in Hindi, embellished with more than two
hundred and fourteen photographs of the places of Rama's visit in his
travels, has been translated into Kannada by Sri K.S. Nagaraj and its
English rendering is now being made available to readers all over the
country and abroad.
It is hoped that the translation of the book in
other regional languages will also come soon. A nation that is proud
of its ancient history and heritage will ever survive the onslaughts
of time and live for ever inspiring the posterity.