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Rama Sethu, Ram Setu, Ramar Bridge, History, Facts: Part V
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By: V Sundaram, IAS, Retd.
May 26, 2007
expressed here are author?s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer
is at the bottom.
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Rama Sethu, Ram Setu, Adam's Bridge - Part I - History, Facts, Information
Rama Sethu, Ram Setu, Adam's Bridge - Part II - History, Facts,
Rama Sethu, Ram Setu, Adam's Bridge - Part III - History, Facts,
Rama Sethu, Ram Setu, Adam's Bridge - Part IV - History, Facts,
Rama Sethu, Ram Setu, Adam's Bridge - Part V - History, Facts, Information
Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project
: Good Thing Done Badly!
We are used to being told that India has no historiography, no historic
graphical literature. And therefore no history and that Indians think in
terms of millions of years, cyclical and recurrent. This is a colonial
perspective that is clearly absurd. This is the view of Marxist historians
produced like house flies by the Jawaharlal Nehru University during the
last 30 years. This is also the view of Islamic historians from Aligarh
Muslim University who still continue to believe in the two-nation theory
of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Our tragedy today is that Islam-Embracing,
Christianity-Coveting and Hindu-Hating treacherous trio of Mrs Ambika Soni,
T R Balu and Karunanidhi are sharing the same colonial perspective of
British India in so far as the Hindus of India and their great heritage
There are extensive and detailed references to Rama Setu or Ramar Bridge
or Setu Bandhana or Adam's Bridge in Sanskrit Literature. Ramayana,
attributed to the poet Valmiki, is one of the most important literary
works on ancient India. The Ramayana has had a profound impact on art and
culture in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
Valmiki in his Ramayana describes construction of this bridge between
Slokas 2-22-50 and 2-22-72:
""I am a son born of
Visvakarma's own loins. I am equal to Viswakarma. This god of Ocean has
reminded me. The great ocean spoke the truth. Being unasked, I have not
told you my details earlier. I am capable of constructing a bridge across
the ocean. Hence, let the foremost of monkeys build the bridge now itself.
Then, being sent by Rama, hundreds and thousands of monkey heroes jumped
in joy on all sides towards the great forest. Those army-chiefs of
monkeys, who resembled mountains, broke the rocks and trees there and
dragged them away towards the sea. Those monkeys filled the ocean with all
types of trees like Sala and Asvakarna, Dhava and bamboo, Kutaja, Arjuna,
Palmyra, Tilaka, Tinisa, Bilva, Saptaparna, Karnika, in blossom as also
mango and Asoka. Some others drew up strings a hundred Yojanas long (in
order to keep the rocks in a straight line.) Nala on his part initiated a
monumental bridge in the middle of the ocean. The bridge was built at that
time with the cooperation of other monkeys, of terrible doings. Some
monkeys were holding poles for measuring the bridge and some others
collected the material. Reeds and logs resembling clouds and mountains,
brought by hundreds of monkeys, lead by the command of Rama, fastened some
parts of the bridge. Monkeys constructed the bridge with trees having
blossom at the end of their boughs...That Nala, the strong and illustrious
son of Visvakarma and an excellent monkey built the bridge across the sea
as truly as his father would have built it. That beautiful and lovely
bridge constructed by Nala across the ocean, the abode of alligators,
shone brightly like a milky way of stars in the sky.""
From Valmiki Ramayana we can see that when
Rama and Sita are flying in Pushpa Vimana, Rama tells Sita "" You can
see the grand ocean of SETU BANDHANAM down below, worshipped by one
and all in all the three worlds, over which we are flying now. This is
a very sacred spot which can help all destroy their sins. In this very
sacred spot Lord Shiva came to reside aeons ago just in order to help
me"". Here is the relevant Sanskrit verse from Valmiki in Tamil
Apart from the Valmiki
Ramayana which has emphatic and graphic references to the construction of
Setu Bandhana in 85 slokas in a separate sarga in Yuddha Kanda,
Mahabharata also refers to the continued protection of Nala Setu following
the command of Sri Rama. KALIDASA too in his Raghuvamsa extols the glory
and grandeur of Sri Rama.
SKANDA PURANA (VI.101.1-44) describes the installation of three Shiva
lingas at the end, middle and beginning of Rama Setu and making the same
bridge submerged under waters of the ocean and thereby creating
The construction of Rama Setu is also described in Kurma Purana
(21.10-61), Vishnu Purana (IV.4.40-49), Agni Purana (V-XI) and Brahma
Purana (138.1-40). Garuda Purana (1.81.1-22) lists the sacred places
including Setubandh and Rameswar. Narada Purana (Uttara Bhag 76.1-20) goes
into raptures on the immortal greatness of Rama Setu.
There is a kavya in Prakrit by King Pravarasena II (550-600 CE) called ""Setu
bandha or Ravanavaho"".""Dasamuha Vadha"" (Setubandha Kavya) was written
by the King Damodara Sen (5th Century).
Nanooram Vyas in his book "INDIA IN THE RAMAYANA AGE" (1967) gives the
following description of the Rama Setu Bridge in the light of the
literary evidence he has gleaned from Valmiki's Ramayana (pages
""A still more
eloquent proof of the high level of efficiency of civil engineering of the
day is afforded by the construction of the Bridge across the ocean in
Lanka. In building the bridges across this infinite depth and breadth in
time, remarkable speed and dexterity must have been displayed by the
Vanara forces. Engines or cranes were used for uprooting trees and crags
and transporting them to the edge of the water. Sutras (measuring lines)
were used by the builders to be sure that the rocks were laid out in a
straight line. Dandas or measuring rods were also used. Small stones,
grass, creepers and sticks (kaashtha) were used as building material. The
Vanaras threw the huge tree first, then weighted them with rocks and used
small stones, sticks, grass and creepers as materials for filling the
crevices. The co-operation and co-ordination between the different workers
was so perfect that within five days the marvelous structure stood
complete and finished (VI.22.56-76). The vehicles used for carrying, and
conveying, men and goods from one place to another were known as yaanas
An exquisite sculpture of the Gupta period dating back to the 5th - 6th
century AD depicting Vanaras building the Rama Setu Bridge to Sri Lanka
has been shown below:
Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple compound in Indonesia, located in
central Java. It was built around 850 AD by either Rakai Pikatan, king of
the second Mataram dynasty or Balitung Maha Sambu, of the Sanjaya dynasty.
Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest Hindu
temples in south-east Asia. There are beautiful sculptures depicting the
construction of the Rama Setu Bridge by the Vanaras. We can see one of
those beautiful sculptures from Prambanan Shiva Temple below:
Apart from Valmiki Ramayana and Mahabharata, there are innumerable
references to the Rama Setu Bridge in Tamil literature. Sangam Literature
is one of the main sources used for documenting the early history of the
ancient Tamil country. The facts I am presenting below are based on an
article in Tamil titled ""The Truth of Rama Sethu in literature"" by Veera
Rangarajan of Ithihasa Sanglana Samithi, Tamil Nadu.
In Agananooru, there is a direct reference to Rama directing the
construction of the Rama Setu Bridge which has been presented below:
Thiruganasambandar in his
Thevaram refers to Rama controlling and containing the ferocious waves of
the ocean in order to complete the construction of the Rama Setu Bridge.
Likewise Thirunavukarasar in his Thevaram describes how Rama filled the
ocean with mountains in order to create the Rama Setu Bridge. SETU in
Tamil means a DAM or what is called in Tamil as ""SEIKARAI""."Seikarai"
means to create or build a shore.
There is a 16th century work in Tamil titled Setu Mahatmiyam which is also
referred to as Setu Puranam in local tradition and legend
Nirambaazagiyasingar was the author of this poetical work. This work was
edited by the great Tamil savant and scholar Yalpanam Nallur
Arumuganavalar in the 19th century and published by the Trustees of
Saivapprakasha Vidya Salai of Chidambaram in Madras Presidency. Sri
Ponnuswamy Thevar of Ramanathapuram Samasthanam, a great Saiva Siddthantha
scholar, played a catalytic role in the matter of printing and publication
of this 16th century classic Setu Mahatmiyam. Sodavadanam Subburaya
Chettiyar, a prominent disciple of Thirisirapuram Mahavidvan
Meenakshisundaram Pillai, wrote an invocatory poem to this edition of this
great work. Consisting of 45 Sargas and 3438 songs/poems and marked by
majesty of thought and loftiness of expression, this work makes a
beautiful presentation of the construction of the Rama Setu Bridge. In a
chapter entitled Setu Churukkam, the glorious significance of Setu is
brought out in 64 verses.
Starting from 1850 to 1930, there existed a popular cultural tradition in
Ramanathapuram District and Southern Districts relating to the widespread
public performances of Kathakalakshebam (public
musical/religious/spiritual discourses with musical and percussion
accompaniments like Violin, Mirdangam etc) about the glory of Rameshwaram
and Rama Setu Bridge. Many outstanding itinerant exponents of
Kathakalakshebam used go from village to village ant town to town and give
public performances and discourses under the general title of ""SETU
BANDHANA MAHATTUVAM"". Thousands of Hindu devotees used to congregate at
these performances with great enthusiasm. A great scholar called Arumuga
Upadhiyayar in Ramanathapuram District collected the traditional texts of
these Kathakalakshebam performers and recorded and preserved them on Palm
Leaves in his own hand writing towards the end of the 19th century. Half a
century later, in 1957 an enterprising publisher called M.R.M.S. Ramalinga
Pillai in Ramanathapuram Town brought out a book under the title "SETU
MAHATTUVAM". Here is a sample verse from ""SETU BANDHANA MAHATTUVAM"":
From all these accounts it
should be clear that there is irrefutable literary evidence, scriptural
evidence, numismatic evidence, epigraphic evidence, architectural and
sculptural evidence and above all time-defying historic evidence regarding
the continued existence of the Rama Setu Bridge (Setu Bandhana) or Adam's
Bridge for centuries which can stand the strictest judicial scrutiny in
any court of law in India and abroad. Against this background, the recent
irresponsible and reprehensible statement of Mrs. Ambika Soni in the Lok
Sabha to the effect that there is no scientific evidence regarding the
existence of the Rama Setu Bridge can be dismissed as absurd and childish.
To Islam-Embracing, Christianity-Coveting and Hindu-Hating pseudo-secular
Indian Talibans (!!!) like Mrs. Ambika Soni, T R Balu and Karunanidhi, I
would only say with unshakable humility on behalf of more than 800
millions of Hindus in India and several Millions of Hindus outside India
in all parts of the world: ""We know how to vaccinate ourselves against
Small Pox. We are at a loss to understand as to how we should vaccinate
ourselves against your pseudo-secular small minds"".
V Sundaram, IAS, Retd.
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