Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rama Setu IS a place of worship - SC judges to note..

Rama Setu is a place of worship: aadhyaatma and laws of evidence

by Dr Kalyanaraman

The mode of worship of Rama Setu is prescribed in Skanda Purana (text excerpts attached).

Five parts are included in this note prepared in the context of proceedings in the Hon'ble Supreme Court on 15 April 2008. The question reportedly raised was: "How is Ram Sethu a place of worship? Do not argue that people go there and worship Ram Sethu. It is not Rameswaram, but far from it."

Limited scope of the note: related to worship of Rama Setu

The following three parts are annexed. Context is limited to exlaining Rama Setu as a place of worship (arguments related to it as a Underwater Cultural Heritage and Monument of National and International importance have already been presented elsewhere, including the Madras HC judgement of 19 June 2007).

  1. Statement of Dr. SR Rao issued on April 16, 2008
  2. Statement of Former SC Justice Shri VR Krishna Iyer issued on 14 August 2007
  3. Laws of evidence: Rama Setu: myth is history, tradition is evidence
  4. Vivekananda's visit to Rama Setu
  5. An example of a case related to a mountain held sacred by Navajo and a US Court judgement
  6. When one visits Badrinath, there are many places of worship. Similarly, when one does pilgrimage to Rameshwaram, there are many places of worship including Rama Setu. Worship is a complex process and takes many forms. Worship in an enclosed space is only one form. Many myriad forms of worship are sanctioned by Hindu tradition.

Recollecting the collective social memory of Rama Setu build under Shri Rama's command is itself a form of worship. Pilgrimage to Rameshwaram facilitates this aadhyaatmika recollection of a great moment in human history, in world tradition, an enormous achievement of crossing the ocean, to protect dharma. This reason is enough to protect this great monument, this great place of worship, this Rama Setu built by Nala and the sena under the leadership of Veera Hanumanta.

Since evidence is the medium of determination, the following note discusses the subject related to Laws of evidence in the context of aadhyaatma.


A detail on the location of Rama Setu is relevant. The Rama Setu is 3 to 5 kms. wide and 35 kms. long and links Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar. Rama Setu is seen today as a series of sandbanks (thidal in Tamil) interspersed with incursion of the ocean breaking up the sandbanks in shallow depths from 3 to 9 feet. The tides of the Indian ocean ingress and retreat. During times of low-tides, the entire stretch of the Rama Setu becomes visible as a land connection between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar as was seen during the tsunami day on Dec. 26, 2004. Thus, the depths of water in the spaces between the sandbanks keep varying. Pilgrims even today stand upto 4 feet deep ocean waters and offer pitrutarpanam in this place. Over 5 lakh pilgrims visit on Ashadha amavasya day to do sankalpam in Agni teertham in Rameshwaram and many also journey to the Rama Setu by boats and stand on the Rama Setu and the 4 feet deep ocean waters. This is the locus of Underwater Cultural Heritage, this is Rama Setu mandiram.

The text (Skanda Purana) is specifically prescribing the actual rituals (worship) at the very rama setu, and not merely at the rameshwaram shrine. So absolutely, going by the textual evidence, the contention of Setu itself being a place of worship is undeniable.

Skanda Purana's third book, Brahmakhandam, opens with a section called Setu-Mahatmya and the 48th and 49th verses from its first chapter known as setu-gamana-phalAdi-varNanam are:

setusaikatamadhyeyaH shete tatpAMsukunThitaH |

yAvantaH pAMsavo lagnAstasyAnge viprasattamAH || (48)

tAvatAM bramhahatyAnAM nASaH syAnnAtra saMSayaH |

setumadhyastha vAten yasyAngaH spR^syate-akhilaM || (49)


(48) One, who prostrates in the middle of the Setu's sandbank (setu-saikata-madhye), his sins becomes dulled. And ultimately his sins are subdued, O Best of the Dvija-s. (49) (So much so), that the grimmest sin that arises from killing a Bramhana, no doubt, even that is destroyed by performing rites there - (when) every part of the (sinner's) body touches the winds in the middle of the Setu ( setu-madhyastha-vAta ).

scanned pages from the purANa, attached. the complete article :

/2007/05/rama-setu-in-skanda-purana-1.html (The entire book with English translation can be submitted).

One one such thidal, the broken spud of Aquarius dredger can still be seen lying without being salvaged for over 10 months now. Boatmen take pilgrims to these thidals. Skanda Purana and other ancient texts mention that Rama installed 3 s'ivalingas: One in Rameshwaram, one in Tirukkedees'varam and one in the middle of Rama Setu. Old people remember their forefathers and grandmothers informing them how the ancestors went on pilgrimage to this s'ivamandiram in the middle of Rama Setu to do sankalpam, samudra snaanam and worship for being blessed with putrabhaagyam (praying for child-birth). Fisherfolk working on the edges of Rama Setu underwater gathering algae (paaci in Tamil) do prayasc'ittam in Ramapadam temple (Gandhamaadana parvatam) in case they take out any piece of rock from the Rama Setu while trying to gather paaci or algae. This is done by everyone, be he a muslim, Christian or Hindu. This is tradition. This is tradition as evidence.

Three facts should be brought to the notice of the Hon'ble SC who seem to be playing with fire.

1. There is a third S'ivalinga and mandiram in the middle of the Rama Setu. People of faith, desirous of children, go their to perform puja, sankalpa and samudrasnaanam. This is also confirmed by Guru Dasa Swamigal (1848-1929).

2. Even the Union of India (represented by Setusamudram Corpn) had stated in their affidavit to Madras HC that a viewing gallery would be built at Dhanushkodi for pilgrims to pay obeisance to Rama Setu.

3. Inauguration of the converted BG line with cantilever bridge at Pamban gap between Manamadurai and Rameshwaram was transferred from Rameshwaram to Manamadurai because people protested against the inconvenience caused to lakhs of pilgrims who visited Rama Setu for worship on that day, Ashadha Amavasya day. About 5 lakh pilgrims visit every year on that day to perform pitru-tarpanam, samudra snaanam and worship Rama Setu. This was the day on August 12, 2007 when the inauguration session of the broad-gauge line to Rameshwaram by some politicians was transferred, after pilgrims protested, to Manamadurai so as not to cause inconvenience to the pilgrims with the super security measures in place. Such actions of the State contradict the unfounded averment made by the Respondent which raises a serious question in Constitutional law: fundamental duty of the State to protect the citizens' right to exercise religion and limits to the exercise of State power burdening such exercise.

4. Today, the Rama Setu is a stretch of tidal-s with continuing ebbs and tides of the Indian Ocean leaving the Setu visible; pilgrims stand on the Setu and walk through for some distance from Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar (Srilanka).

5. Madras HC order which was endorsed by the Hon'ble SC for compliance by respondents noted this statement of the respondent and cited Section 295 of IPC.

Section 295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs

1[295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of 2[citizens of India], 3[by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4[three years], or with fine, or with both.]

1. Ins. by Act 25 of 1927, s. 2.

2. Subs. by the A.O. 1950, for "His Majesty's subjects".

3. Subs. by Act 41 of 1961, s. 3, for certain words (w.e.f. 27-9-1961)

  1. Subs. by Act 41 of 1961, s. 3, for "two years" (w.e.f. 27-9-1961)

Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith (1826-1906) was a Sanskritist scholar during British period. Between 1870 and 1874, he produced a rhyming rendering of Ramayana in form of running English verses. Here notice what his poetry reflects about the Setu being an object of reverence (and not just the Rameshwaram):

There stretches, famed for evermore,

The wondrous bridge from shore to shore.

The worlds, to life's remotest day.

Due reverence to the work shall pay,

Which holier for the laps of time

Shall give release from sin and crime.

Link to the complete article:

Hindus offer prayers to the invisible river Saraswati at Triveni Sangamam near Allahabad. Some devotees go to the middle of the river on boats for offering prayers and others offer prayer from the banks of Ganges. Though Saraswati River dried-up since Centuries, Hindus consider that it is flowing underneath Ganges at Allahabad. It is very sacred for Hindus and is mentioned in the Rig Veda just as Rama sethu is mentioned in the immortal epic Ramayana. The entire world knows that NASA satellite pictures have spotted River Saraswati and Rama Sethu. Thus, there is cogent and clinching evidence supporting the sacred beliefs or faith of millions and millions of Hindus inherited by them from their ancestors. The submerged city Dwaraka traced by the archeological department cannot cease to be sacred for Hindus because it is under water. Can Dwaraka be delinked from the history of Lord Krishna revealed by the sacred texts of Hindus?

Hindus worship Rama Setu because Rama established dharma by building the Setu to reach the sena to Lanka to defeat Ravana. Rama has also ordered (according to Mahabharata of Veda Vyasa) Hindus to protect this Setu and hence Setupati Raja's claim it as their duty.

Vedavyasa refers to Nalasetu

nalasetur iti khyāto yo 'dyāpi prathito bhuvi rāmasyājñā purasktya dhāryate girisanibha MBh. 3.267.45

.... which even today, popular on earth as Nala's bridge, mountain-like, is sustained out of respect for [Lord] Rama's command. (Nala was son of Vis'wakarma) Kalidasa's Raghuvams'a (sarga 13): Rama, while returning from SriLanka in pushpaka vimaana: "Behold, Sita, My Sethu of mountains dividing this frothy ocean is like the milky way dividing the sky into two parts"

Kaavya in Prakrit by Setubandha Kavya by the King Damodara Sen (5th Century).

King Pravarasena II (550-600 CE) called "Setu bandha or Ravanavaho, Dasamuha Vadha"

Venerating Rama Setu is part of the chaar-dhaam yaatra (Pilgrimage to four places of worship): Badrinath, Kedarnath, Kaas'i and Setubandha Rameshwaram. This is how Rameshwaram is referred in ancient maps (documented by Schwarzberg of Univ. of Chicago in South Asia Atlas in scores of maps) – apart from other names such as Setu, Setuka, Rama Setu, Nala Setu, Ramar Koil (Rama's temple).

Before Dhanushkodi was submered in 1964, a Railway line used to go up to Dhanushkodi. Even today, people can go by motorized vehicles along the sand bank between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi.

If perception (sense perception) is the criteria to consider a place of worship, it amounts to questioning the very religious faith. Because God himself is not available for Sense perception and the medium for sacred texts of different religions, said to be revelations from God were also not available for sense perception. In this context it is significant to note Prophet Mohammad's night journey to heaven. On one night Mohammad was taken to the Jewish temple at Jerusalem by a Woman headed white horse with two wings to fly under the guidance of Angel Gabriel, while the prophet's body lay on his bed at Mecca hundreds of miles away. It is said that from Jerusalem Prophet mounted upwards ascending from one heaven to another then he met Allah. Upon the rock over which the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem stands, people believe there is Prophet's foot print as he vaulted from it upon his winged Whitehorse. Can this belief be questioned by saying that how could there be a foot print of Mohammad upon a rock at Jerusalem when his body lay on his bed at Mecca? From this it is very clear that using the yardstick of perception in religious matters creates more problems instead of finding solutions to the existing ones.

Beyond perception is tradition which is more emphatic evidence than any sensory perceptions can offer. The very foundations of aadhyaatma are based on consciousness beyond the five senses. It is not necessary to enter into a spiritual discourse but refer to 1) a copper-plate inscription (called Velanjeri copper plate) of Parantaka Chola of the 10th century which refers to the Chola king worshipping Setu teertham and offering tulaabhaaram; and 2) a record of Vivekanada's worship at Rama Setu. (See annex).

Sethu temple in Rameshwaram and pujavidhaanam (methods of worship) on Rama Setu prescribed in ancient texts including Skanda Puranam and in Pamban Swamigal's Tamil song (19th century). In a place of pilgrimage, there are many places of worship. For example, in and around Rameshwaram, Rama Setu is one such place of worship. Details are provided in Tamil Nadu Govt. Tourism brochures and also in many for a. (Details annexed).

Sethu Temple: 5-km south of the temple is Sethu, where there is a celebrated temple of Sri Anjaneya, and where, tradition holds, Sri Rama built a bridge to Sri Lanka. In Devipatnam, or Navapashanam, also by the sea, there are nine stones visible at low tide. It is believed that they were set up by Sri Rama to represent the nine planets, the Navagrahas.

Textual evidence (19th century) for a third s'ivamandiram located in the middle of Rama Setu

Kumara Guru Dasa Swamigal or Pamban Swamigal 1848-1929 had sung 6666 songs. In the compilation realated to tirthasthana dars'ana, (referred to in Tamil as Tiruvalam); in the second kaanda ( kavittur-aikal.), there is a song titled: Tiruccetumatti (In the middle of Rama Setu);

Translation from Tamil rendering is as follows:

In the middle of Rama Setu enveloped by the ocean and the clouds, is the s'ivalinga worshipped by vibhuti-wearing Rama, the Kaakutsa ; I bow down with love imagining S'iva in the form of Kugesa Muruga who is searching for me and finds me.

This remarkable song emphatically provides literary evidence for the existence of a third s'iva linga on Rama Setu: one is at Rasmes'waram, the other is at Tirukkedees'varam (on the Talaimannar end) and the third is in the middle of Rama Setu.

This textual evidence matches with the tradition held sacred by people of the nation. Grandmothers recall with fondness that their ancestors had performed setutirtham at this Ramar Palam S'ivamandiram praying for the blessing of child-birth (magarperu).

It is the duty of Archaeological Survey of India to find this third s'ivamandiram.

This and other textual and archaeological evidences are contained in the Second Part of Setubandhanam (Ramar Palam), a book authored by R. Subbarayalu and published in March 2008 by Thanjavur, Mamannan Padippagam, 126 Natcattiranagar, Thanjavur 613005. All citizens of the world who adore the heritage of Sri Rama owe an immense debt of gratitude to Shri R. Subbarayulu for publishing updates of the gem of a work, a veritable garland of literary flowers adoring Sri Rama and Rama Setu or Setubandhanam.

This work adds to the evidence recorded in the Madras High Court's judgement of 19 June 2007 emphatically attesting to the ancient monument, Rama Setu.

It is possible that the cyclone which submerged some portions of Rama Setu in 1480 also submerged this third s'ivamandiram on Ramar Palam (Rama Setu).

Part 1. Report by GP Srinivasan, Reporter Hindu Voice (16 April 2008):

I asked him whether he has read today morning newspaper reports on what Supreme Court judges said?

Dr. S.R. Rao said that he has read the report and has this to say and he was unhappy. He added:

"Ram Sethu constitutes a very important link of mankind. The ICMOS International Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH) consisting of underwater archaeologists and others of which I was a member has defined Underwater Cultural Heritage. This includes all underwater traces of human existence, which are of cultural or historial importance including sites etc. The Ram Sethu comes under this category. It is referred to in all Indian literature, epic Ramayana and Puranas. There are submerged remains of temples in Mahabalipuram, of which one is in the shore. Even Dvaraka was considered a myth until the submerged buildings were discovered. The frequent textual references to Ram Sethu are not to be dismissed as myths. The NIO with the cooperation of ASI should be asked to undertake the survey work. The work must be undertaken as laid down in UN Convention on Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. Ram Sethu must not be damaged, but must be protected. They have no regard for the Underwater Cultural Heritage. They have no idea what is Underwater Heritage. They are not following United Nations' Convention to protect Maritime Heritage"

Although the Sun (Surya Devata) and the Moon (Chandrama) are located millions of miles away high up in the sky, they are regularly worshipped by Hindus and several ethnic tribes across the world. Similarly the Kailash Parvat (Abode of Lord Shiva) is located far far away bu is still worshipped by millions from long distance. Then how can the worship of Rama Sethu be questioned, simply because it is situated in sea?

Part 2. Protect Rama Setu, the historic and holy monument:

Statement issued by Shri. V.R.Krishna Iyer former Supreme Court Judge on 14 August 2007

According to Mr.Cardoze , famous U.S legal luminary, ''Means un lawful in their inception do not become lawful by relation when suspicion turns in to discovery.''

These words come to me when I talk of the Sethusamudaram Channel Project. The callousness with which such a big project is conceptualized and implemented is an unpardonable act .

First of all I would like to state that neither I nor any patriotic citizen could support this project. It is a serious fault that neither scientists, technocrats nor Indian Navy had been consulted and sought their opinions before this project was conceptualized. More over the project is an open challenge to age old Hindu beliefs.

At least the opinion that the implementation of this project as envisaged now may lead to oceanic eruptions like Tsunami should be considered and studied.

According Shri Kalyanaraman, the reputed researcher, this project would invite disasters like Tsunami to our southern coast and pose as a threat to the valuable mineral sand deposits along this coast .

Unlike in the case of Suez Canal, this canal penetrates deep in to the seabed. All this testifies that the construction of the canal is unwarranted .

I suspect that the haste with which he project is proposed to be completed, ignoring the welfare and progress of he people of India may be to further the interests of countries like America . About this I had send an emergency message to our Hon. Prime Minister.

What ever it maybe, it is the duty of every Indian to see that this historic and holy monument is protected. With out succumbing to the pressures from foreign forces all should strongly oppose this project.

I call upon each Indian to come forward and fight for such an important cause with out compromise.

Sd. VR Krishna Iyer

Part 3.

Laws of evidence: Rama Setu: myth is history, tradition is evidence


This monograph presents a legal argument that Laws of evidence have to be in sync with the history of thought and spiritual darshanas, thus accepting tradition as 'evidence' and recognizing that myth is history. Myth is often a metaphor of history.

Rama Setu as history

Laws of evidence

Tradition IS evidence, the very essence of life's reality for millions of people in relation to the victory for dharma achieved by building Rama Setu to cross into Sri Lanka from Bharatam. This essence (saara) is enshrined in cultural memory of millions.

"History is Philosophy teaching by examples", noted Thucydides (c. 460-c. 400 B.C.), Athenian historian. Quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus in: Ars Rhetorica, ch. 11, sct. 2.

Why are Rama and Rama Setu abiding episodes of history? An answer is provided by this statement of Nietzche: "Only strong personalities can endure history, the weak ones are extinguished by it." -- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher. Thoughts out of Season, pt. 2, sct. 5 (1874).

F. W. J. Schelling notes (in the eighth chapter of Introduction to Philosophy and Mythology ): "Mythological representations have been neither invented nor freely accepted. The products of a process independent of thought and will, they were, for the consciousness which underwent them, of an irrefutable and incontestable reality. Peoples and individuals are only the instruments of this process, which goes beyond their horizon and which they serve without understanding."

"What has history to do with me? Mine is the first and only world! I want to report how I find the world. What others have told me about the world is a very small and incidental part of my experience. I have to judge the world, to measure things." -- Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. Notebooks 1914-1916, entry for 2 Sept. 1915 (ed. by Anscombe 1961; later refomulated in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, sct. 5:63, 1921, tr. 1922). Wittgenstein paraphrased: "I am my world. (The microcosm)." "It would strike me as ridiculous to want to doubt the existence of Napoleon; but if someone doubted the existence of the earth 150 years ago, perhaps I should be more willing to listen, for now he is doubting our whole system of evidence."

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian philosopher. On Certainty, sct. 185 (ed. by Anscombe and von Wright, 1969). [Many perceptions of many intellectuals involved in the history of thought may be noted from the citations in Annex A –What is history?]

Where myth and history intersect, life-experience is the only reality. When people of Ramanathapuram do not use a plough to cultivate the land, they cherish the memory of Sita Devi who had made a shivalinga using this land and hence do not use the piercing plough, but only spades and shovels. When a muslim, christian or hindu fisherman harvests for algae from the marine bioreserve and when they pull out a piece of rock from the Rama Setu, they perform prayasc'ittam at Ramapadam on Gandhamaadana parvatam, asking for kshamaa for taking out a piece of the sacred bund (setubandhana). Ancestors of these people have walked across the Rama Setu to reach Srilanka where the tradition of venerating Ramayana episodes continues even today.

So it is, that the Madras High Court bench in their order of 19 June 2007 asked the Archaeological Survey of India to indicate archaeological studies done, deeming this an ancient monument of national importance under the 1958 Act.

This order is based on the following reading:

The Ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains Act, 1958 :

2.Definitions. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,- (a) "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 one hundred years , and includes- (i) the remains of an ancient monument, (ii) the site of an ancient monument, (iii)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, and (iv)the means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an ancient monument; …

58 (b) "antiquity" includes- (i)any coin, sculpture, manuscript, epigraph, or other work of art or craftsmanship, (ii)any article, object or thing detached, from a building or cave, (iii)any article, object or thing illustrative of science, art, crafts, literature, religion, customs, morals or politics in bygone ages, (iv) any article, object or thing of historical interest, and (v) any article, object or thing declared by the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, to be an antiquity for the purposes of this Act, which has been in existence for not less than one hundred years ; (c) "archaelogical officer" means an officer of the Department of Archaeology of the Government of India not lower in rank than Assistant Superintendent of Archaeology ; (d) "archaeological site and remains" means any area which contains or is reasonably believed to containruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance which have been in existence for not less than one hundred years, and includes- (i)such portion of land adjoining the area as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving it, and (ii)the means of access to, and convenient inspection of, the area;…

The evidence produced is emphatic that Rama Setu is reasonably believed to contain ruins of historical and archaeological importance, in existence for more than 100 years.

Where myth and history intersect, the episodes of cultivation method or seeking kshamaa are living realities, even today. Sita Devi is exemplified by the metaphor of the plough as she, as an infant, was found on a ploughed field.

Collective memory as tradition as irrefutable evidence

"Universal history is the history of a few metaphors", said Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. Pascal's Sphere (1951; repr. in Other Inquisitions, 1960; tr. 1964). Setu or Rama Setu is one such metaphor, based on the reality of the land-link between India and Srilanka which had existed for thousands of years, etched in the collective memory of the people of the region near Rameshwaram.

Our direct spiritual experiences shape our views about 'the world as it is'. This reality is thus subjective and relates to an individual's or a group of individuals' life experience, transmitted as collective memory of a society. This is the reason why Ramayana episodes have become integral to the identity of crores of people as followers of sanatana dharma.

A Dutch philosopher, Eric Schliesser notes that myth is history. Sankhya darshana philosophical tradition views tradition as evidence. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote: "Don't kill my demons, you might kill my angels too." Newton accidentally forced a turning-point in history', argues Dr Eric Schliesser. 'Before Newton, philosophy and science were studied as a single discipline. After Newton, the two were split into separate disciplines.'

Yogasutra 48 says: rtambhara tatra prajna (rtambhara means, 'Supreme Truth Bearing'; prajna means 'inner wisdom'self-arises, dawns and prevails.)

Christopher Chapple and Yogi Ananda in "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" (Sri SATGURU Publications, Delhi, 1990) translate this as: "This wisdom sustains the movement of life. Ignorance is to fall from this [intrinsic] order."

Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.117: "Dry arguments are inconclusive. Philosophers are known for their differences of opinion. Study of the branches of the Vedas will not bring one to the correct understanding of dharma. The truth is hidden in the heart of a self-realized person. Therefore one should follow the path of such great souls."

This tradition, this wisdom passed down from generation to generation, from mother to child, from guru to student becomes the lived experience. So is the experience of Rama and Rama Setu in the hearts of millions of people the world over who look upon Rama as vigrahavaan dharmah, the embodiment of dharma, who built the Setu to protect dharma and vanquish a-dharma. This collective, received memory (termed also as the sacred tradition or sacred history) is as emphatic as any evidence and rules of evidence.

What is perceptible by senses is vyakta. What is realized by consciousness is avyakta. If vyakta is its reflection in consciousness, as 'I am'. Avyakta is the universal and pure 'I' or aatman.

In Kapila's sankhya, two means of proof are identified: perception and inference. The empirical (evidential) universe is thus seen as the duality: vyakta (evolved) and avyakta (not evolved). The evolved phenomena are perceived; the unevolved are inferred.

Purusha is the observer, the knower, the witness. Purusha observes Prakriti -- the nature or multifaceted stuff the universe is made of --, in manifest and unmanifest (vyakta and avyakta – prakaTa or aprakaTa – publicized or unexpressed) forms. One such Prakriti is Rama Setu which links India and Srilanka which is considered sacred tirthasthana. Crores of hindus who accept the reality of Rama are the witness to received prajna from mother to child, from guru to student.

The root for vyakti, vyakta and avyakta is: an~j (= to annoint, decorate, make clear, make appear); the preposition vi- is the intensifier. Laws of evidence have to accept this traditional body of knowledge in Hindu thought, exemplified by the sankya darshana of Kapila. The prajna that has given the identity to crores of people as purusha (witnesses) living their lives reaching out to the ideal, vigrahavaan, Rama and emulate his life lived for protecting dharma is the sanatana dharma of this land, this punyabhumi. This is inalienable evidence, pramana which is integral to the very life-experiences of the people who live by this prajna. Courts of law as the arbiters of dharma have to accept this prajna as evidence.

There are case laws which support this. One is the London Nataraja case decided by the Privy Council (details in Annex B – London Nataraja case) and the other is the Navajo community's sacred mountain declared by a US superior court. (details in Annex C –Navajo sacred mountain case)

Not all caves, all waters, all oceans are tirthasthanas. Some get experienced as tirthasthanas, like the Amarnath cave, or the Ganga river or Setutirtha near Rameshwaram, where the s'ivalinga gets venerated because they were experienced as memories of the sthapana by Rama, Sita and Hanuman. When people reasonably belief in the sacredness of such a tirtha, it is a tirthasthana, based on tradition. Such tradition needs no other evidence but the avyakta pramana (unmanifest perception). The evidence and laws of evidence have to become subservient to this perception which is at a level different from the vyakta (manifest) phenomena which are sometimes regarded as 'evidence' in law. The philosophical framework of sankhya of Kapila thus provides for tradition as evidence, for myth as inhering the very essence of history.

Vyakti-vyakta-avyakta is the absolute.

avyakta("unmanifest" or 'noumenal'): beyond the perception of the senses ; ayamatma brahma: "This soul is Brahman"-one of the four great pronouncements of the Vedas. avyakta("unmanifest") is a term that belongs to the ancient vocabulary of the Yoga and Samkhya traditions. It generally refers to the matrix of Nature (prakriti), the source of the manifest forms, corresponding to the Greek notion of arche.

vyakta, the manifest (or phenomenal) nature, prakriti - the current and the undercurrent. Vyakta is the current on the surface which is visible, which is seen, creating different waves and movements.

avyaktaadeeni bhutaani

vyakta madhyaani bhaarata

avyakta nidhanaani eva

tatra kaa paridevanaa

In the beginning all are unmanifest, they are manifest in the middle, and in the end, o descendant of Bharata, they are all gone, therefore why complain when it is all like that? 2.1.28 Bhagavadgita

The world, manifest or un-manifest, according to Samkhya, is not derived from the purusa ie the Nature, does not have its matrix, in+ the Mind. The world is comprehended in the term of purusa, but does not originate from it neither is it grounded in it. This purusa is not personal though it is discreet and individual (Karika, 38). 4It is the propinquity of this purusa, to prakriti which gives rise to the world of appearances. In the absence of this nearness, the world is there but it simply remains avyakta, un-manifest. 'The world is that which is perceived or witnessed, lokyanti iti lokah,and thus the world of appearances serves the purpose of the individual purusa, purusartha.(Karika, 63).5

This discrete and individual purusa is in itself translucent and transparent; it is a witness; it is a fact of consciousness and that is its primary mode of function, witnessing or seeing the world (Karika, 19). 6It is inherent in this primary function of the purusa that by so functioning it appears different from what it is; it appears as if it were a panorama of appearances, and appearances likewise appear as if they were possessed of consciousness. That is how a double obfusciation afflicts the basic human situation, namely concerning its awareness of the world and of himself (Karika, 20). 7

4 tanmatra... vises as tebhyo mrta ... panca pancabhyah

5 purusartham prati vimocayaty ekarupena

6 kaivalyam madhyasthyam drastrtvakar trtra bhavas ca

7 tasmat tatsamyogad acetanam ceta navad iva lingam

gunakartrtvai ca karteva bhavatity udasinah

Myth and history represent alternative ways of looking at the past. Defining history is hardly easier than defining myth, but a historical approach necessarily involves both establishing a chronological framework for events and comparing and contrasting rival traditions in order to produce a coherent account.

It is true there are connections, even verbal parallels between India and Greece coming from an ancient Indo-European connection. But in India the myths were subsumed into a rich religious and philosophical tradition, while the Greek parallels floated loose in a semi-secular society which had no systemic view of religion or any serious working theology.

William Harris, Humanities and the Liberal Arts

J R Tolkien said, "I have tried to modernize the myths and make them credible." Both as a mythmaker and as a philogist Tolkien knew the importance of mythology to language and culture. Myths develop a link with the past, A continuity that hleps people weather the present and look forward to the future. In an era of unprecidented change, the links to the past are stretched to the breaking point, and people without roots are likely to become, analogously,a people without brances or flowers. The roots of the past -mythology-are no longer acceptable in their traditional form and have to be reread in a contemporary, relevant mode."

Writer, philologist, and religious thinker J.R.R. Tolkien expressed a similar opinion: "I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of truth that can only be received in this mode." Letters, no. 147.

The word mythologyrefers to a body of myths/stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use the supernatural to interpret natural events and to explain the nature of the universe and humanity. From the Greek μύθολογία mythología, from μυθολογείν mythologein to relate myths, from μύθος mythos, meaning a narrative, and λόγος logos, meaning speech or argument.

Myth. OED distinguishes the meanings

1a. "A traditional story, typically involving supernatural beings or forces or creatures , which embodies and provides an explanation, aetiology, or justification for something such as the early history of a society, a religious belief or ritual, or a natural phenomenon", citing the Westminster Review of 1830 as the first English attestation

1b. "As a mass noun: such stories collectively or as a genre." (1840)

2a. "A widespread but untrue or erroneous story or belief" (1849)

2b. "A person or thing held in awe or generally referred to with near reverential admiration on the basis of popularly repeated stories (whether real or fictitious)." (1853)

2c. "A popular conception of a person or thing which exaggerates or idealizes the truth." (1928)

Categories of traditional stories (myths) are:

myths - sacred stories concerning the distant past, particularly the creation of the world; generally focussed on the gods

legends - stories about the (usually more recent) past, which generally include, or are based on, some historical events; generally focussed on human heroes

folktales/fairytales (or Märchen, the German word for such tales) - stories which lack any definite historical setting; often include animal characters

Relief of the "Descent of the Ganga" in Mahabalipuram (also Mamallapuram), India; detail of the central part, the complete relief is 9 m high and 27 m wide.

Similar is the reality of Nala, son of Vis'vakarma constructing the setu bund on a geological feature which is a ridge formed by collapsed canyons.

Annex A: What is history?

Annex B: London Nataraja Case

Annex C: Navajo sacred mountain case

All annexes may be seen at the URL

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman


Jagadeesh said...

Namaskara Smt. Jayasree,

Your blog is very informative and a goldmine of thoughts espoused in our scriptures. I have a question on historicity of Rama Setu.

As per Valmiki Ramayana, Hanuman crossed (aerially) an ocean of 100 yojanas (~ 800 miles). If modern day Srilanka is to be taken as Kanchana Lanka of Ravana, how do we explain the apparent contradiction given the fact that today's Srilanka is only 40 km (by land) from Rameshwaram? The only explanation I have come across is that Srilanka may have been 100 yojanas apart from Rameshwaram roughly 15 millions years ago which is when Rama avatara was supposed to have taken place. This is a mere supposition but can't be substantiated archeologically. But, on the other hand, if Rama avatara was only 7500 years ago as your research indicates, how do we explain the apparent contradiction in that case?

Kindly share your thoughts and insights on this issue.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Namaskara Sri Jagadeesh.

I suggest the reading of my article in which I have written on yojana as dealt by 2 schools of thought (Vishwakarma and Maya). The link is :-

Reproducing the salient portion here:-

The system in vogue prior to the British is this.

24 amgula = 1 muzham (hasta)

4 muzham = dhanus

2 dhanus = 1 danda

50 danda = 1 koopidu (calling distance)

4 kooppidu = 1 yojana.

Or the distance at which a call can be heard.

From valmiki Ramayan we know that Hanuman traveled for 100 yojanas
for crossing the sea.

That is, the Nala-Sethu was built for 100 yojanas.

(Nala belonged to Vishwakarma lineage)

The sound travels a distance of 300 metres = 1 yojana

For 100 yojanas 300 x 100 = 30,000 mt = 30 km

This is the distance of Ram- sethu!

The same yojana is calculated differently if it is about the time!

1 yojana = 1 kaadam which is meant in terms of time = 7-1/2 ghatis.

1ghati = 24 minutes.

7-1/2 ghatis = 180 minutes = 3 hours.

But this measurement is used only for time- based distances.

This is not applicable in measurement of distances.

It is therefore necessary to know the scales and their exact applications.

Without knowing them, it is not advisable to measure the sites and artifacts of archeological importance.

(end quote from that article)

Now on the issue of 15 million years before present.

For this we have to check the sea level and inundation maps before and after the last Ice age. Graham Hancock's maps are of help. I have used them in many articles in this blogspot. Please search and read the articles. Or else you can google search for his website and see those maps.

They show that Srilanak was an extended land of Indian main land during Iceage (13000 years ago). The first wave of inundation from recorded history comes in Skanda purana when a tsunami struck and inundated parts of Srilanka in Murugan's time. The Shoora padman wars had happened in this vicinity only. The extended land link was above the sea level at that time. It was so in Sagara's time (Sagaras and Ikshwahus came after 13000 years BP - refer my articles on Manu's entry in to Indian mainland after first floods that marked the end of Ice age).

By Rama's time the sea level had risen up and Srilanka was separated by waters. Rama built a bund (Sethu literally means bund)on the submerged land link between India and Srilanka. (Rama's time marks the period when sea level had almost come to the level that is today. Not much change happened after that except the remaining hill tops of 90 degree range (of which Andamans are a part) and Malaya range into the Arabian sea which I consider as the Kumari range told in Tamil texts (of which Maldives are the remaining parts) submerged completely by 3500 years ago before present.)

If you read Tamil, I suggest you read my article on this in

Jagadeesh said...


Thank you very much for the clarification on Yojana. One question that comes to my mind is that when the word Yojana is used to describe bhoo-mandala in Bhagavata (earth's diameter calculation in bhagavata matches closely to modern day calculation if we consider entire bharata khanda to be modern day earth), the reference is 1 yojana = 8 miles. Was a different reference used in Bhagavata compared to Narayana? I am a little confused. Please advise.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

By distance 1 yojana = 8 miles. For your specific question you have asked, I don't know the answer as I have not analysed it. But I would say that many expressions like that are not physical measurements. There are metaphysical meanings.