Thursday, 13 September 2007

Did Lord Rama Exist?

A major controversy is blowing up in India. It looks as if it is a godsend for opportunist politicians to capitalize on the religious sentiments of the faithful. It has been brewing in the sidelines ever since the $600 million Sethusamudram project was launched by the Government of India.

The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project is for dredging a shipping channel through shallow sea between the south of India and Sri Lanka. The channel will link the Gulf of Mannar with the Palk Strait and will allow ships sailing between the east and west coasts of India to have a straight passage, instead of having to circumvent Sri Lanka. This will lead to a saving of up to 30 hours of sailing time. While inaugurating the project, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India described it as "one of the most ambitious project ever to be conceived in the Indian port sector".

The proposed shipping channel will pass through the shallow sea called Setu Samudram, and through the island chain known as Rama's Bridge or Adam's Bridge. It is a chain of limestone shoals, 48 km long. Some of the sandbanks are dry and the sea in the area is very shallow seriously hindering navigation.

There is a religious dimension to the controversy. Some Hindus believe that Ram Sethu was built by Lord Rama with the help of an army of monkeys led by the monkey god Hanuman. The 'demon king' Ravana of Lanka kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita, and the rescue team of Rama needed the bridge. The epic Ramayana describes the story in great detail and literary style. Hindus attach a great deal of importance to the story, and believe (like any other religious group) all the characters in the story existed in flesh and blood and all events happened exactly as depicted in the epic. So a group of them petitioned the Supreme Court seeking a declaration that the formation known as Ram Sethu is a protected and ancient monument and it should not be demolished while constructing the Sethusamudram channel. The court is now hearing affidavits from all parties concerned.

The period of the Ramayana is considered as Tretha Yuga (more than 1.7 million years ago), but the Ramayana was written around 4000 years ago. So did Rama build the bridge with the help of his monkey army? Possibly not, says a research team from the Centre for Remote Sensing at Bharathidasan University, Tiruchi, India. (Rama’s bridge is only 3,500 years old: CRS).

The controversy has reached its zenith, when the government of India filed an affidavit yesterday through its director of Archeological Survey. It says that the petition “primarily relied upon religious and mythological texts, which formed an important part of ancient Indian literature, but which cannot be said to be historical records to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters or the occurrence of the event, depicted therein."

This has angered the Hindus and the main opposition party in India who promptly threatened a nationwide agitation against the government for hurting religious sentiments.

The Sanskrit word Vanara literally means ‘human with the tail of a monkey’, a race of ape-like humanoids’. According to the Ramayana, the Vanaras lived primarily in the region of Kishkindha in present-day southern India, in the midst of Dandaka Forest, where Lord Rama met them during his search for Sita.

Now, what is the scientific basis for the remote possibility of such complex engineering feats nearly 2 million years ago? According to the latest theories in evolutionary biology humans first evolved in Africa and migrated elsewhere. In fact, there were at least three major waves of human migration out of Africa (Humans Emerged "Out Of Africa" Again And Again:
Alan R. Templeton, Ph.D, Washington University in St Louis). The first wave of this migration reached South Asia around 1.7 million years ago, i.e. during the Thretha Yuga period of Ramayana.

A good time-line of human evolution can be found at . The species that emerged in Africa around 1.9 million years ago is called Homo Ergaster. The website also portrays an artist’s impression of H. Ergaster. However, researchers currently accept that "modern" humans emerged approximately 200-250 thousand years ago only.

For Ramayana to be authentic, in all probability Lord Rama was one among those migrants from Africa. On his way to the south of India, he befriended the Vanaras who inhabited the region. He then recruited an army of them and constructed a bridge across the shallow seas, which now the Government of India wants to break!

Do you think the Lord Rama was a H. Ergaster? I do not think any Hindu will accept that. All available pictures and idols depict him as a handsome young man!


Latha said...

You have gone to a lot of trouble indeed. A lesson in evolution as well as all the controversies surrounding Rama's bridge. Hope everyone involved see the bridge as it should be seen - a way to further progress for India!

Kishore said...

Please go through this...

The bridge could have been built around 7900 B.C as mentioned in the above article.
Moreover for Ramayana to be just a figment of imagination seems very odd to me. It could be an exaggerated account of what happened centuries ago in India.

kika said...

I don't think my father was saying that the Ramayana itself is a figment of imagination but rather the story itself is one. Rather like, Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" series.
I think that in 4000 years time (assuming that we haven't self-destructed by then and that's assuming a lot!) people will discover the "Sandman" series and go to court over its veracity :D

Sudha said...

There is a new view now. The trouble being created seems to have a geographical divide. It is a political party that is creating all this fuss. Rama is not a very popular dravidian God so the controversy is being dismissed as an aryan creation by the dravidian parties. This seems to be true because it is the BJP and not any of the local parties who seem to be protesting. Whatever the reason, hope the controversy ends and reason prevails.

mahidhara said...

What is the guarantee that humans evolved 2 million years ago? They could have evolved much before that .... What is the guarantee what scientists claim is true? Why did Ramayana as an epic written? Do you thihk that Valmiki is a fool that he came up with the story of Rama? Do you think that his literary style is vague and rudimentary? Is it wrong? I don't think so. I believe Ramayana really happened. Guys, come on, don't be so overwhelmed by the US depictions of Science. After all US is made up of only just 1000 yrs maximum ....

Amaranth said...

Good for people to know.

fayaz said...

To me ramayana seem to be an epic,a story written by valmiki. There is no sufficient proof that lord rama existed till now. Ramayana was not in history may be yes only in the indian history with no dates mentioned.

But moses,jesus mohammed had their own dates and sufficient proofs that they existed.
but i guess if a large number of hindus believe that lord rama existed then the adams bridge should not be demolished. Even though it is a blind trust with no sufficent science proofs that lord rama existed. But I feel the government should note down the sentiments of hindus.

Its usual in India that lord rama issue has caused lot many troubles than peace, In the case of babri masjid too ASI was not able to prove lord ramas excistence and now in eam sethu? whats going to be the next? funnny dude???

Richik said...

ramayana and mahabharata are just stories or rather tales which have been cultivated through generations in india. there is no historic proof for the being of rama or krishna as against muhammad or jesus or budhha . so i think the stand of govr of india is perfect

Anonymous said...

There is no proof the ram existed just as there is no proof that muhemmed or Jesus were messanger of God. These are just epic stories without any basis. Since these are linked to people's faith so anyone denying is either belong to other religion or called a traitor.

Anonymous said...

@mahidhara ...1000 yrs max US is ruling the world FYI and we are still caring about the things which makes no sense. whether Adam's/Rams bridge was build by Vanaras or not doesnt matter much now, but what is really important for us now is to help Government of India do its job..India jus cannot be a superpower if we keep protesting for stupid reasons

Madhusoodhanan said...

Friends, lets all also understand that this could have happened a long time back. Rama could have existed but we are not able to bring an evidence. Its way back and hence bringing evidences may not be possible. I feel that it would have been something like Valmiki wrote about the then king Rama. If evidence is not available, it does not mean it didnt happen. I dont have a photograph of my grandfather's grandfather (say 4 generations earlier), would it mean I dont have a hereditary background? As we all know, for all the Rishis and Munivars in India and for all its rich beliefs and traditions, I think we should respect and believe Rama's existence.

Anonymous said...

it does'nt matter if rama existed or not.The one who believed in ramayana pramod mahajan and pravin mahajan(b.j.p) should have learned frm relation between bharat and rama...if one belives in rama one should only take his good points and leave his bad points such as killing ravana and his army if he was really a god with supernatural power he should have converted ravana to leave sita just using his power

Anonymous said...

it is high time for people to abandon the fairy tales of all religions and move forward in the path of science and rationalization....

Anonymous said...

Please, please, please find the facts before make the amazing epic sound like a silly child's story. They weren't monkeys. They were vanaaras (translates to: humans with tails). Ravana wasn't the demon king. He was the rakshasa king. Rakshasa's are generally thpught to be demonic, but there are good rakshasas, such as Vibheeshana. Ravana was very good. Ravana prayed to the Lord and did good.It was just the act of kidnapping Sita that was his downfall.

As for Rama not being a Homo sapien... I don't know. But this here article places him in 5114 B.C. Please read it.

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human0412 said...

Guys i believe no body knows a answer... i really do not know if i have to believe in god either it is Rama, Krishna, Jesus or Mohammed. Neither we have proof that all the above mentioned were gods/prophets. It is our belief and if this belief is peculating along the generations, i believe there is no harm in respecting some ones belief.. afterall everybody is living on the basis of a assumption and it will continue.. there is no need to make agitations and strikes for these reasons.If more than 50% of the Indians i,e more than 500 million Indians believe and if the destruction of the bridge is going to hurt their sentiments, there is no need to destroy the bridge!!!

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Anonymous said...

Lord Rama Existed
But only by the influence of Kali yuga People questions about His Holy Existence... What can mere Scientific advancements do before the super Glory of the Supreme personality of Godhead Lord Rama.
Kindly make attention to this point
"if suppose now the whole earth is destroyed and after few lakh years it again emerges from a primitive style then how can anyone think that there was a time when man with smart phones and gadzets existed on this will be impossible for them.."
So Lord Rama existed but due to calamities of nature and upon the Strong influence of Kali yuga we are unable to see The light....
At last
Human mind is limited but the Maker of the mind is Unlimited.
Hare Rama...
All glories to Lord Rama..

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Neeta Raina said...

The 'Planetarium Software' has confirmed that Lord Rama was born on January 10, 5114 BC. All the planetary position on his date of birth, his date of 'vanavas', the eclipse dates mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana, all tally in the correct sequence. The 'Planetarium Software' was a NASA software, which was de-classified some years back and became available for common people. Just in case you are wondering why should Lord Rama's birth fall in January and not in March-April, that is because of the shifting of the precession of the equinox - this can be confirmed from any good astronomy web site.

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Anonymous said...

guys!we have never thought of inventing cell phones,computer,net,cloud computing.but if you go 500 years back n if u say about all dis,they will give u one slap for misguiding them. Similarly we are not able to believe the fact Rama n krishna exists,there are 203 evidences for proving ramayana.About sethu i will say that i is probably 1.9 million years ago.It is said that austarlia was a place where all weapons were kept and all the weapons used by ram and krishna are all science but the word "science" was not discovered and so it was called "power".
so it depends upon u that u want to believe or not.

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