Scientific meet dashes Ramayan-baiters’ hopes

published on February 3, 2013

 Dravidian politicians in Tamil Nadu are famous for their anti-Hindu stance. Anything associated with the religion is anathema to them. Thirumavalavan, a Member of Parliament, went to the extent of changing the name of his father from Ramasamy to Tholkappiyan to flaunt his hatred for Hinduism and Ramayana. DMK chief M Karunanidhi too does not waste the smallest of opportunities to ridicule Hindu Gods. The mainline regional parties in the State always shun Ramayan and Mahabharatha as literary works “penned by Aryan aggressors from the North.”

All these beliefs are set to be shaken when the first International Conference on Ramayana in Literature, Society and Arts begins in Chennai on Friday. The month-long event will feature some of the best scientific and archaeological findings collected by researchers who have rummaged through the sub continent’s landscape and oriental libraries within and outside of India over decades.

M Amirthalingam, a soft spoken botanist who undertook a journey from Ayodhya to Lanka to retrace the life of exile by Ram, Sita and Lakshman found that the flora and fauna mentioned in Ramayan is not a figment of Valmiki’s imagination.

“We found all the plants, trees, flowers and fruits that have been mentioned by the poet in Ramayan. The accounts given by Valmiki about different landscapes, mountains, river basins and forests are accurate. When the Ramayan was being written, there were thick forests in Naimisharanya, Chitrakoot, Dandakaranya and Panchavati. The Kishkindha Kanda of Ramayan discusses the geographical distribution, botanical wealth and forestry,” Amirthalingam, research scientist, CPR Environmental Education Centre, told The Pioneer.

Dr Nandita Krishna, director, CPREEC, said Kishkinta was nothing but Hampi in the Deccan plateau. “The places Ram chose to stay during his exile from Ayodhya were full of plants, vegetations and biodiversity. Valmiki has mentioned dense jungles full of lions and tigers, though the co-existence of the two cats is hard to imagine now,” she said, pointing out that a corollary proof of such habitat was found in the Bhimbedka caves in Madhya Pradesh that has 10,000-year-old wall carvings and paintings featuring lions and tigers.

The seminar will features artists from across the country displaying their craftsmanship in recounting the Ramayan as it happened. Paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, Gond Ram Katha by the tribals drawn from Madhya Pradesh, Madhubani paintings, Stone Age sculptures of 2nd century BC, Patta Chitra by artistes of Odisha and paintings from various South East Asian countries will be on display at the Ramayan exhibition.

‘Our objective is to tell the people in Tamil Nadu that Ramayan is a real-life story and we have scientific and archaeological proof. The poem contains all flora and fauna mentioned in Rig Veda which again reiterates that Ramayan is more than a book. It is a chronicle of tremendous ecological significance and great morality,” said Dr Krishna.

Dr Krishna and Amirthalingam also pointed out to Sanjeevani, the hillock in the tropical forests of Sri Lanka. “The hillock contains exquisite flora, fauna and medicinal plants. It stands distinct from the Lankan topography, giving credence to the theory that Hanuman brought it from the north of the Himalayas,” they said.

 The conference will see the re-launching of a rare book on Ram Sethu, the stone-structure believed to be built by Rama and which Karunanidhi wants to demolish at any cost. “The Setu and Rameshwaram” authored by N Vanamamalai Pillai in 1929 with the consent of the then King of Ramnad Shanmuga Rajeswara Naganatha Sethupathi. The kings of Ramnad are addressed as Sethupathis because it is believed that Lord Rama entrusted them with the guardianship of the bridge.

Any seminar on Ramayan will not be completed without the Ram Temple at Ayodhya. AK Sharma, an archaeologist of repute, is presenting a research paper with scientific proof of the existence of a temple on the disputed land.

“Ramayan is no stranger to Tamil Nadu. The literary works of Aka Naanooru and Pura Nanooru of the great Sangam period have a lot of reference to both Ramayan and Mahabharata. Politicians prove their “secular” credentials by insulting and abusing Lord Ram and Lord Krishna only to ensure their vote banks. But Ramayan and Mahabharata will continue to inspire and enlighten the people,” said Ram Mohan, an Indologist of Saraswathi Research Centre, Chennai.

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