Footprints of Lord Rama on the Sands of Time

published on March 10, 2008

By





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
email:



[email protected]


;






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 of 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 in fact, 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 (R. Tons). 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 Chitrakootais 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.

 

Entering Dandakaaranya, 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 PampasLake
and also a river of the same name North of Tungabadra, the PampaRiver
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.


 


 
 


 

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