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Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ram Sethu: What the apex court said

By Sri Ram

The recent verdict of Supreme Court in Ram Sethu case is a landmark directive to the Government of India to have the site surveyed by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and to declare the site as a national monument. The Congress-led government and the communists have been trying to project their report as scientific and the claim of the majority Hindus as unscientific and deserves to be rejected. The Congress-communist DMK combine in their own affidavit submitted that no archaeological exploration has been conducted in the site. What is science and where is science when the Congress Government did not carry out even a preliminary survey of the site through its own archaeological survey, not to speak of an underwhat archaeological survey for which it has a special wings under ASI.

The Supreme Court has rightly but firmly told the pseudo scientists first to conduct a survey of the site before coming to the court. According to their own submission in the affidavit, the pseudo scientists have shown that as early as 2002 the then Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee directed the Sethusamudram Project authorities to include an archaeologist in the Committee to oversee the progress. This sagacious noting was never implemented and at no point of time it was thought necessary. But when the court directed them to submit an affidavit, the ASI was hurriedly brought into the picture and an affidavit insulting the millions of Hindus was filed which was withdrawn the very next day. Even in the latest affidavit they have said: “No archaeological studies have been conducted. It is not possible to say or indicate the outcome in the event such investigations are carried out.” Thereby they tried to remove archaeological work at the site because of the humiliation they underwent due to their own anti-Hindu stance, but the court order has shown that it is a preliminary requisite to the issue.

The Committee of eminent persons constituted by the Congress government to receive objections and opinions from the public for and against the project, which it was expected to scrutinise and submit their report, also did not include any archaeologist but only had substandard yes men who also did not care to look into the public opinion and examine them but simply went ahead with what the Minister for Shipping wanted. We give below an extract of a petition given to the Committee, pointing out the ASI report was unscientific as it has done no work on the site. The Supreme Court has rightly shown the eminent persons have failed to take note of the basic scientific need. One may ask whether the so-called Committee or any in that Committee supposed to be an expert in archaeology or religious history whether they even had a cursory look at the petitions received by them and noted their views. One would also like to know whether there was any system of classification among the petitions received into various subjects and each subject given to the expert concerned for due consideration in such a sensitive matter? If this has not been done what was the purpose in constituting the Committee?

Unscientific nature of ASI’s approach

“The affidavit submitted by the Archaeological Survey of India in the Supreme Court suffers for want of even basic requirement of scientific study as no “on shore or under water archaeological exploration” seems to have been undertaken at the site in dispute. No report has ever been published by the ASI and no one from the ASI has visited this site and conducted any preliminary archaeological exploration. Therefore, any affidavit filed by this department has no scientific value, cannot stand scrutiny and deserves to be rejected. In the absence of any archaeological exploration, the presence or the absence of any human activity cannot be determined by the ASI. The conclusion that there was no human activity at the site is not valid. As the whole stand taken by the ASI is unscientific no proper pre-attention has been given to the historicity of the site when the project was floated and what has been now presented is a shabby, haphazard, patch work the whole deserves to be faulted.”

Human activity nearby archaeological position

It may be mentioned that a nearest archaeological site on the east coast that has been excavated has yielded human activity right from 3rd century BC and continued to be active till about 5th 6th century. The Pandyan Port of Korkai has yielded pottery said to be of the age of the Mauryas-3rd century BC. Archaeological evidences point to the fact that the coastal region around the site of Ram Sethu was very active and the suggestion that there was no human activity is not correct.

The reference to the historicity or otherwise of Ram is irrelevant, for the existence of no God can be proved by any religion in the world. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi has observed that “Ram is as much a historic person as Jesus or Prophet Muhammad”. (published in all the newspapers). Even communist countries like Russia which declared “religion is the opium of man” have started welcoming the Pope and renovating their churches. Consider the percentage of people in the world who believe in God as against the pseudo non believers.

The colonial policy-Slavish mentality

The Colonial rulers of India in the 18th and 19th century applied two different sets of norms for evaluating historicity; one for their own white race and the other for the enslaved Indians in which case they denigrated all that was Indian as done by Vincent Smith. For them norm for “historicity” of Jesus was totally different from the historicity of Ram. This is clearly reflected in not awarding the Nobel Prize to Mahatma Gandhi which they admit now as a mistake. The slavish history thrusted on enslaved Indians for obvious reason by the colonialists continues to remain as a slavish legacy with the Congress and the communists to this day, as has been mentioned by Romila Thapar.

A proven history-International evidence

Sri Ram was not only a real historic person for all the people of India but also to all the South East Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and Sri Lanka for over two thousand years in every sphere of their life in literature, music, dance, sculpture, religious belief, etc. Such a continued belief for over two thousand years is a living history then the view of one or two trying to refute it on subjective and questionable grounds.

Royal orders of 7th century-Epigraphical evidence

In a historic copper plate Royal record recently found it is mentioned by a 7th century Pandya speaking about his ancestors rebuilding the Sethu. (sethu bandham pala ceydu). The existence of the bridge is further corroborated by another copper plate charter of the Chola ruler Parantaka in the 10th century in which there is a pointed reference to the bridge constructed by the monkeys at the Ram thirtha (Ramye Sri Rama tirtte kavivara nikaraih baddha sethu prabandhe). Parantaka Chola specifically mentions that he performed tulabhara rite at the Ramatirtha where the monkeys built the bridge. And that is the reason for performing tulabhara rite at the site of the bridge. If any indisputable proof regarding the existence of Ram Sethu is required, this 10th century record is the factual indisputable historic evidence in which the Chola king refers to it.

On the other side of the ocean in Sri Lankan coast where Sri Ram is said to have landed there is a temple called Rameswaram even to this day which is under worship.

Further we have the reference to Adam’s bridge in later records attesting to “a bridge”. Thus there are continuous records that attest to the existence of Ram Sethu and the question of any doubt has no basis.

The Rulers of Sethuapti-Historic evidence

The bridge that Sri Ram built was Ram Sethu and the place was called “Sethu-pati” For five hundred years or more, from 15th century, the Ramanathapuram Marava rulers were the guardians of this tract and were called “the protectors of Sethu-pati”-(Sethupati-kaattha-devar). They were called so in all the records. The present name Sethupati Rulers is an abbreviated form. To say there was no Sethu is to wipe our history and the gallant sacrifice the Maravas rulers did for nearly 500 years. This presupposes the existence of Sethu.

Sethu coins as Sethupati coins

The Sethu has played such an important role in the region that several coins bearing the name Sethupati issued by the local rulers have been found both on the Indian side and on the Sri Lankan sides.

National monument of excellence

It is also not correct to say that Sri Ram is not a historic person. The very opening of the Ramayana by Valmiki starts with the statement “Who among the living person is most virtuous?” Thus it is a history of a living man Itihasa. Throughout it is Ram’s human nature and existence that remain the overwhelming factor appreciated by all the intellectuals of India, not the miracles. One who reads the original will know the very first opening verse of the epic begins with a historic person.

Literary

For over two thousand years Sri Ram building the Sethu has been consistently mentioned in the poems of all the great thinkers and poets of India. Century after century the poems mention the construction of the Ram Sethu. There is a separate early kavya name Sethu Bandha which has the construction of the bridge as its main theme.

The definition of “historical monument” is said to be “any relic, or place, that recall to the mind of the Indian people their associate acts of bygone ages”. For over two thousand years millions and millions of Indian people have believed and paid their respects to the bridge built by Sri Ram and that itself gives the claim to be preeminently suited to be the national monument. Declaration is only a formal action but it has remained a monument of unsurpassed beauty and remembrance for thousands of years. It is well known monumentality is not restricted only to “built up structures”, but “essentially to the place” that is associated with the memory of it as in the case of heritage towns. In the very capital of India, Delhi, there are many mosques of unknown personalities declared and preserved as national monument. The ASI should not be coerced to twist historic facts in the case of Ram Sethu to suit political gimmicks but allow the facts to speak for themselves.

Truly world heritage monument

In fact Ram Sethu goes beyond the concept of National Monument for it is virtually a monument of international faith. The whole of South East Asia like Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Sri Lanka and neighbouring regions have literature that tell Ram’s exploit and there are several hundred versions of Ramayana in all these countries. There are references to building Ram’s bridge in all these works, and all these regions believed in the existence of the bridge for hundreds of centuries. Hanuman building the bridge is the subject matter of paintings, sculptures etc. Hanuman building the bridge is the fascinating theme in these countries in dance and their music. It therefore is truly an international monument par excellence and deserves to be declared as “World Heritage Monument”.

The UNESCO is now spending considerable money in preserving valuable oral traditions in the world as contribution to world thought. For example the Buddhist mode of reciting their texts is now in the world list.

Overwhelming evidences

There exist overwhelming evidences of historical, epigraphical, archaeological, numismatic, literary and international evidences for the existence of the bridge that is remembered throughout South East. No civilised nation in the world can think of wiping out such a monument by actually cutting it to pieces just to benefit self-seeking politicians who neither place nation’s ethos above their selfish interest nor trustworthy. Almost every country boasts of its heritage and cannot destroy it.

There are hundreds of monuments throughout India which have been declared as National Monuments by the ASI, which are not even known to the villagers nearby. There are hundreds of burial sites that have been protected. One may even challenge the protagonists to say how many monuments declared by the ASI as monuments of national importance have really played any historical, ethical, economical or religious role as Ram Sethu? The regional superintending archaeologist continues to submit proposal to protect such insignificant places as national monuments which are under active consideration. That being the situation the ASI cannot but immediately declare this site as a monument of national importance and take immediate simultaneous action to get this declared as world heritage site. Is there any other suitable site to be declared as world heritage site than Ram Sethu?

Last but not the least is the permanent irreparable damage this project is trying to impose is an irreversible destruction by cutting the beauty of Ram Sethu which is against the civilised opinion of the world as reflected in the World Charter of Nature adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of United Nations and adopted on October 28, 1982. The Preamble of the Charter reads: “Civilisation is rooted in Nature which has shaped human culture and influenced all artistic and scientific achievements and bring in harmony with nature gives man the best opportunities for the development of his creativity and for rest and recreation. Every form of life is unique warranting respect regardless of its worth to man.” The Charter of Nature by the United Nations enjoys the status of Human Rights charter.

There is no doubt cutting the nature at the Sethusamudram bridge that has inspired millions of people for thousands of years is going to be a permanent damage to the nature.

The Indian nation is beholden to the judges of the Supreme Court for gently reminding the Government of its primary duty.

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