Ramsethu – Rejoinder to the Counter Affidavit filed by Ministry of Shipping- Union of India

published on October 19, 2008

The spurious affidavit submitted on 16 Oct. 2008– after a lapse of 2 1/2 months — by Counsel for Union of India to Supreme Court is apparently intended to influence the Pachauri Committee. The malafide nature of the Counsel Nariman affidavit is apparent. The arguments made therein are a classic example of suggestio falsi, suppressio veri.

Skanda Purana and many other Puranas which are Hindu sacred texts prescribe the pujavidhaanam at Rama Setu or Setubandha Rameshwaram.

The official copy of the Constitution of India lithographed by the famous national painter Nandalal Bose adorns the SC Library. It has the picture of Sri Rama. Rama rajyam is central to raja dharma in Hindu traditions for millennia. Even Gitacharya says in the Bhagavadgita that Rama is the role model for warriors to protect dharma. So central is Sri Rama and the Setubandha built to destroy the asura Ravana and to establish dharma. Dharma and Sri Rama’s valour in protecting dharma, are the centre-piece of Hindu belief systems, indeed, the very core of Hinduism. There is the famous judgement on Hindutva by the SC and many other judgements referring to the centrality of the two epics, Ramayana (adi kavya) and Mahabhrarata. The definition of itihaasa given in Amarakosha (1.6.4) is:


Dharmarthakamamoksanam upades’a samanvitam, purvavrtta kathayuktam itihasam pracakshate


 

[Source: Mahabharata, Chitrasala Press Edn.; the s’loka is cited in V.S. Apte’s The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Revised and enlarged edn., Prasad Prakasan, Puna, 1957, and also occurs in Visnu-dharma, 3/15/1.]


Trans. Itihasa is narration of happenings of the past combined with guidance (for future action) to protect dharma, artha, kaama, moksha (purushartha or goals of life).


Appended are excerpts from the written submission to the Hon’ble Supreme Court:


Kalyanaraman


________________________________________________





 


REJOINDER TO THE COUNTER AFFIDAVIT FILED BY THE MINISTRY OF SHIPPING- UNION OF INDIA



                  


Affidavit of Rama Gopalan S/o  Ramaswamy, Hindu, aged about 80 years residing at No. 59, Iyya Mudali Street, Chintadripet, Chennai-600 002, do here by solmnly state and affirm as under: –

Excerpts from the final rejoinder submitted by Counsel Vaidyanathan:

That it is also shocking that in Paragraph 88 of the Respondent’sAffidavit that the following authoritative statement has been made: “The Union of India is of the belief that it should not be called upon to respond to issues of faith, except in recognizing their existence.” This averment raises a fundamental constitutional issue, impacting the basic feature of the Constitution, the meaning of the word ‘Secular’ used in the Preamble (as amended). The word is translated in the Official Hindi version as ‘pantha nirapekshataa’ that is, neutrality as to different paths of belief systems.

That Rama Setu issue as submitted by the Petitioners is based on tradition and sentiments of millions of people world-wide. This is reality, as reality as the sacredness attached to Ganga or Himalayas (Amarnath or Kedarnath or Gangotri) or Mahakumbh held every 12 years. It is an emphatic reality of tradition that lakhs of pilgrims go to Rama Setu to make offerings to the ancestors (pitru tarpanam) on Ashadha Amavasya day, year after year and include this tirthasthaanam as part of the chaar dham (four sacred tirthasthaana) yatras.

That Rama Setu is not a mere stone or body or cave of water as claimed by the respondent. It inheres the very essence of the identity of the nation as evidenced by the Survey of India logo: “Aasetu Himachalam” (meaning: from Setu to Himalayas), defining this bridge effectively as the southern boundary indicator. It also signifies the unity of the nation recollecting as received socio-cultural memory of the travels of Sri Rama from Ayodhya to Sri Lanka to win over a-dharmic forces, to create a channel cutting through Rama Setu.  It will be an unpatriotic act impinging upon national sovereignty if the Historic waters of the Indira Gandhi-Sirimavo Bandaranaike declaration of 1974 is converted into an International Waters boundary by creating this channel exactly, just 3 kms. west of the medial line between India and Sri Lanka.

That Para 81, 82, 83 and 84 are wrong and denied.  It is submitted that the 22 bore holes at the intervals of 1-1.5 Kms between bore holes allegedly done by DBM are not Experts to declare the Adam’s Bridge is only a natural and Geological formation. It is malafide and blasphemy and unscientific on the part of the Union of India to state  that there was no human intervention in formation of the Adams Bridge/ Rama Setu which is contrary to literary evidence and  Marine archeological evidence and Historical and Anthropological evidence.  It is illegal and unlawful and contemptuous on the part of the Union of India to make contradictory statements in the affidavit., wherein admitted on the one hand no archeological study weas carried out on the Rama Setu and unlawful assertation of of unscientific claim of natural formation of Adams Bridge/ Rama Setu. Without prejudice to the above contention “natural formation” would also governed and protected under Ancient Monuments Act, particularly the  natural formation is believed as religious importance such as Swayambu lingas (natural stone)  is worshiped. It is submitted that Rama Setu is considered sacred by millions of people world-over. “Aasetu Himachalam” is the logo of Survey of India under Union of India is only representing Rama Setu as the southern boundary of the nation and Himalaya as Northern boundary. It is not expected from a democratic and civil government to destroy monuments as the Taliban destroyed Bamian Buddha calling it mere stone.



World Heritage monuments



:

That there are 22 cultural properties and 5 natural properties in India. The number of recorded sites on the World Heritage now stands at 812 which include both cultural and natural wonders, and endowment that is shared by all mankind and the protection of which is the concern of the entire mankind. These include 628 cultural, 160 natural and 24 mixed properties in 137 state parties. India is an active member State on the World Heritage from 1977 and has been working in close co-operation with other International agencies like ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and ICCROM (International Centre for the study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property).
There are 27 World Heritage Properties in India out of which 22 are Cultural Properties and 5 are Natural Properties. The natural properties are:

Chamoli: Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers national parks

Bharatpur: KeoladeoNational Park

Manas: Manas Wild Life Sanctuary

Kaziranga: KazirangaNational Park

Sunderbans: SunderbansNational Park



Underwater Cultural Heritage


That underwater Archaeology Wing of the Archaeological Survey of India was established in 2001.India has 7,516 km long coastline, 1197 islands and 155,889 sq. km of territorial waters and 2,013,410 sq. km exclusive economic zone. The vast water area of the country is rich in underwater cultural heritage. The importance of underwater archaeology was realized as early as in the VI five-year plan. Adoption of “Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO in 2001 displays the global concern about the protection and management of underwater cultural heritage. UAW has initiated steps for the protection and preservation of the underwater cultural heritage. Underwater Archaeology Wing Archaeological Survey of India. Many monuments have been declared as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, including underwater cultural heritage sites, for example:
CoibaNational Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection in Panama Tubbataha Reef


 
Marine
Park in the Philippines Kvarken Archipelago/ HighCoast in Sweden/Finland Giant’s causeway and Causeway coast in UK Great Barrier Reef in Australia Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System in Belize Mont St. Michel and its bay in France Ha Long Bay in Vietnam Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe.

That many marine activities, which are themselves beneficial and desirable, can have unfortunate consequences for underwater cultural heritage if their effects are not foreseen. Underwater cultural heritage may be threatened by construction work that alters the shore and seabed or alters the flow of current, sediment and pollutants. Underwater cultural heritage may also be threatened by insensitive exploitation of living and non-living resources. Furthermore, inappropriate forms of access and the incremental impact of removing ‘souvenirs’ can have a deleterious effect. Many of these threats can be removed or substantially reduced by early consultation with archaeologists and by implementing mitigatory projects. International Charter is intended to assist in bringing a high standard of archaeological expertise to bear on such threats to underwater cultural heritage in a prompt and efficient manner.

That underwater cultural heritage is also threatened by activities that are wholly undesirable because they are intended to profit few at the expense of many. Commercial exploitation of underwater cultural heritage for trade or speculation is fundamentally incompatible with the protection and management of the heritage. The International Charter is intended to ensure that all investigations are explicit in their aims, methodology and anticipated results so that the intention of each project is transparent to all.

That Submerged sites and towns as well as ship-wrecks constitute a very important cultural heritage of mankind; which the UNESCO wants the states to explore, list and protect them under a UN convention approved by the U.N.  The ICOMOS International committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH) consisting of underwater Archaeologists and others  has defined “Underwater Cultural Heritage”.  The ILA’s definition on underwater Cultural Heritage includes all underwater traces of human existence, which are of historical or cultural importance including sites, buildings, shipwrecks, together with their archaeological and natural context.  The Ram Sethu comes under this category.  It is referred to in the Epic Ramayana and in the Puranas.  At the site known as Ram Sethu, the natural rock and the ‘piles of stone’ laid on it have been submerged with the rise in sea level over 5000 years or more.  This rise of sea level was not confined to Dvaraka of Mahabharata period in Saurashtra. The under water exploration by Marine Archaeology Centre (MAC) of NIO Goa along west coast has revealed that the protohistoric ports of Somanath and Prabhasa were also submerged as is evident from the submerged channel way laid for bringing ships and the presence of anchors and mooring stones in it.  In the ElephantaIsland, the early historic brick structures of 1st Century B.C. to 3rd Century A.D. have been submerged. The Buddhist period port of Sopara is also submerged.  On the east coast of India, traces of Poompuhar port town have been found in the sea as well as intertidal zone.  The rock of Ram Sethu must have been in the then intertidal zone and some stones must have been piled up to enable the army to cross the sea easily.  Over thousands of years small size stone blocks of bridge must have been transported by waves and currents.  The frequent textual references to Ram Sethu are not to be dismissed as myths.  Even submergence of Dvaraka was considered a myth until the submerged buildings were discovered. 

That the National Institute of Oceanography in cooperation with ASI should be asked to undertake the survey listing and protection of important underwater sites and shipwrecks.  This work must be undertaken by the Government of India and State Governments as laid down in UN convention on Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.  Ram Sethu must not be damaged but saved and protected. 

That the MAC had initiated certain steps for survey and listing of underwater cultural Heritage of India and even published a tentative map showing shipwreck sites and submerged parts.  Before further damage is done by nature and man to this vast under water heritage of India, immediate survey and listing of sites with a brief note on each wreck or site should be done, giving highest priority to Ram Sethu.

That it is submitted that a research is carried by Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) that comes under the Department of Space, says the satellite images have revealed an “ancient bridge between India and Sri Lanka in Palk Strait”. “The origin of the bridge is a mystery. Archaeological studies have revealed that the bridge dates back to the primitive age, that is about 1,750,000 years.” “Its structure suggests that it may be man-made,” it further states  under the sub-title, ‘Stunning Structures’. “This 30 km long bridge, named as Adam’s bridge, is made of a chain of shoals and links Rameshwaram in south India to Sri Lanka.” It goes on to say: “This has an echo in the ancient Indian mythological epic, the Ramayan. According to the epic, such a bridge was built by Lord Ram and his followers to reach Sri Lanka. Studies are still on but the bridge is seen as an example of ancient history linked to the Indian mythology.”

The revelations in the book, with a foreword by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman G Madhavan Nair, are in contrast to what the Government has been maintaining so far — that the setu is formed by giant tombolos or bars of sand. It contradicts the affidavit of the Respondents.



Rama Sethu is a place of worship


That the “Thirtha Kshetras”, pujas are offered by going to the center of the Thirthams by boat and other means, e.g. in Ganges at Kaasi  (Vaaranaasi) and at Triveni Sangamam at Prayag (Allahabab). Similarly pujas are offered at Rama Sethu also by using boats.

That Vedas and Bhagavad-Gita the sacred scriptures of Hindus unfold the fact that the invisible all pervading God manifests into different forms and aspects of the creation (Isavasyam Idam Sarvam). Understanding this unique Vedic vision empowers Hindus to invoke and worship God not only on different deities each representing a particular aspect of God such as Saraswati, Lakshmi etc.,  but also on different aspects of creation such as rivers, mountains etc as manifestations of God.

That for every true Hindu, Rama Sethu is very sacred because it is a divine structure which facilitated Lord Rama to move his massive army to kill the demons including Ravana and establish Dharma. Especially Hindus desiring a boon of progeny offer prayer to Rama sethu which facilitated Rama to reunite with his wife Sita.
Existence of Rama sethu, its utility and historical value was well documented by the Hindu scriptures and copious literature in many Indian languages.

That Hindus offer prayer 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 SaraswatiRiver dried-up since Centuries, Hindus consider that it is flowing underneath Ganges as antharvahini at Allahabad. 8 volume of encyclopedia on SaraswatiRiver meticulously prepared with archeological findings and scientific data by Dr.Kalyana Raman unfolds the truth. Palaeo channels seen in the satellite imagery traced the underground flow of River Saraswati. When bore wells were dug at different places following the said track, potable water was obtained from all such wells which proved the existence of Saraswati. It is very sacred for Hindus and it 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. It is significant to note that like offering prayers to invisible river Saraswati at Allahabad, offering prayers to Rama sethu is a great tradition inherited by Hindus.

That it is pertinent to state that  the existence of submerged city Dwaraka in Gujarat, traced by the archeological department cannot be denied and it cannot cease to be sacred because it is under water.  Dwaraka cannot be delinked from the history of Lord Krishna revealed by the sacred texts of Hindus.. 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. That is why their faith/belief is not a product of mere surmises and conjectures but born out of profound wisdom backed by knowledge and past experience.

That it is submitted that Hindus consider 5 elements of the universe as the very manifestations of Lord Shiva. They have a temple at Chidambaram for Lord Shiva representing space. When we go to the sanctum, we can find a purohit offering Deeparadhana (sacred lamp) to God and we can see only a garland of flowers hanging. No deity for our sense perception. It is called ‘Chidambara Rahasyam’ a famous phrase which means it (deity) cannot be seen.  Chidambaram temple cannot be negated as a place of worship because there is no sense perception of deity for offering prayers.

That on Ayudha puja day, Hindus offer prayer even to the tools used for their livelihood. It is a tradition coming down from Arjuna who offered prayers to his hidden weapons after completing 1 year of Ajnata vasam.

That perception is not the criteria to consider a place of worship, it would amount to questioning the very faith of religions, 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. Mohammedans believe that upon the rock over which the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem stands, there is Prophet’s foot print as he vaulted from it upon his winged Whitehorse.  Can they be questioned for this belief 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? Using the yardstick of sense perception in religious matters create more problems instead of finding solutions to the existing ones. Moreover the word perception needs to be understood properly and interpreted in its true sense. The dictionary meaning reads as follows:



Perceive:  to become or to be aware of through the senses: to get knowledge of the mind: to see; to understand; to discern. (Chambers English dictionary)

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