Tracing the evidence of Lord Ram and his times

Mil Gaye Ram! – Part I

Tracing evidence of Lord Ram and his times

Report: Rahul Sinha

Adapted by: Deepak Nagpal

India is a land of Gods and Goddesses. India is a secular land where various religions thrive. And India is a land where people are both deeply religious and pioneers in science.

However, recent developments have shown that this trait of being both religious as well as scientific leads to clashes – clashes between those who have certain beliefs and those who don’t.

The most prominent example to cite here is the ‘Ram Setu’ issue. Who would have ever thought that one day, India will fight over the existence of its very own ‘Lord Ram’ – the most worshipped Hindu God, who is also referred to as ‘Maryada Purushottam’ or the Perfect Man. In Hindu mythology, Ram is considered to be the seventh avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu – the protector of all existence.

Zee News’ Initiative

With so many controversies around and the very existence of Lord Ram being questioned in the land to which He belonged, Zee News thought it’s worthwhile to find answers to some very pertinent questions: Is Ramayana a true story or just a mythological text? Did Ram really exist? Did he have an ardent devotee in Hanuman? Was Ram exiled from Ayodhya? Did he spend years of exile in Chitrakoot? Was his wife Sita abducted? Is there any place called Ravan’s Lanka?

What kept our hope alive was the fact that when India had Ram’s Ayodhya (in Uttar Pradesh), there must be something in Sri Lanka which will lend proof to the belief that Ram in not a myth, but a reality. So we thought we need to go back to places which are connected with Ram. The two major points our search focussed on were Chitrakoot in India and the neighbouring Sri Lanka.

A Zee News team led by Rahul Sinha then set out on a journey to find Ram. But did they find Him? Find out and judge for yourself…first hand…

At Chitrakoot

We begin our journey at Chitrakoot, in Madhya Pradesh. Here, there’s a rock where, it is believed, Ram, Lakshman and Sita used to rest during their stay as part of their 14-year-long ‘vanvaas’ (exile). This place is known as ‘Ram Shayya’.

Many tourists who visit Chitrakoot know about Kamakhya mountain, but only a handful are aware of the existence of Ram Shayya. We found three separate marks of Ram, Sita and his dhanush (arrow) on the rock. It is believed that these marks were formed when the two slept here.

According to a local priest, the hard rock turned into a soft rock when Ram and Sita slept there. It is because of this softness of the rock that the marks were formed.

While we were in Chitrakoot, local priests also took us to a place called Sphatic Shila where they showed us the footmarks of Ram, Lakshman and Sita. We also got the chance to see some footmarks at Janaki Kund which are believed to be of Sita.

Janaki Kund & Sita Kund

The place where Sita used to take bath during her stay at Chitrakoot is known as Janaki Kund. We also came across a ‘havan bedi’ where Sita used to perform ‘havan’ after taking bath. This havan bedi was built by Sita and local priests recite Ramayana even now during morning and evening everyday.

Apart from Janaki Kund, there’s a place called Sita Kund. It is located inside a cave in the mountains surrounding Chitrakoot. It is believed that Sita had taken bath here. The water in the Sita Kund is of Godavari river. What’s interesting is that the river vanishes after entering the cave and nobody has so far been able to figure out where it disappears.

Hanuman Dhara

In Chitrakoot’s dense forest, there’s a place known as Hanuman Dhara. We had to climb nearly 650 steps to reach this place. What we saw here was a very old, ancient-looking statue of Hanuman and from its right, water was flowing out of the mountain. However, a pipe has now been attached to this opening in the rocky mountain to control the flowing water.

It is believed that even after reducing Ravan’s Lanka to ashes, the fire inside an angry Hanuman remained intact. After the war ended, Hanuman requested Ram to help douse the fire inside his body. It is then that Ram shot an arrow and a fountain sprung from the mountain. Since then this place has come to be known as Hanuman Dhara.

This flowing water disappears after falling on Hanuman’s statue from the pipe. This gave birth to many questions inside the minds of our team members. We tried to find the source of the water but couldn’t find any.

Also located right above Hanuman Dhara is a small room called Sita Rasoi where we saw a small rolling pin (chakla belan) made on a rock. It is believed Sita used to cook food here.

And We Find Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas

Not faraway from Chitrakoot is Rajapur. Here, we were told, the original Ramcharitmanas written by Tulsidas is kept inside a house. A person named Ramashrya Das has been taking care of this highly important mythological text.

What made us sad was the fact that only one ‘adhyay’ (chapter) of the Ramcharitmanas is secure. All other chapters have been stolen.

We got the chance to see the text from a close range. The chapter was written on a paper with hand-made ink. Ramashrya told us that the style of writing at that time was quite different from now.

At that time, only seven lines were written on each page. The chapter, which is secure, has a total of 170 pages and 326 couplets.

Focus Shifts To Sri Lanka

Our search for Ram and the Ramayana in India’s Chitrakoot ends here, but we travel next to Sri Lanka – the same place where it is believed Ravan used to live. But how much of that is true, we find in the next part of this series.

We have told you about the evidence of Ramayana which we found in Chitrakoot. We now take our journey further – into Sri Lanka.

Across The Sea

As the team reached the coast of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, what we saw around was the blue sea – the same sea which Lord Ram and his vaanar sena (army of monkeys) crossed to reach Ravan’s Lanka, to rescue Sita. Ravan’s Lanka is now known as Sri Lanka – India’s neighbour in the south.

But as we set our foot on Sri Lanka’s soil, several questions came to our mind – Is this really Ravan’s Lanka? Is this the place where ‘Lanka Naresh’ Ravan brought Sita after abducting her? Is this the same place which Hanuman set on fire with his burning tail? Questions were many, the place unknown and nobody around to answer them. But we had a hope – a hope to find some evidence of Ram’s existence.

In Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, we didn’t find too many people around who knew about either Ram or Ravan. But we were asked to visit nearby Norliya if really wanted to find something concrete.

The Breakthrough

In Norliya, we met a Delhi-based Indian named Harinder Sikka at a popular golf course. We were on cloud nine when we came to know that Sikka himself had been doing research on Ramayana for years. It was the most unexpected thing we had ever imagined that would happen to us. It was a real breakthrough in our search for Ram.

Sikka’s love for golf had brought him to Sri Lanka and it was during his interaction with local friends on the epic Ramayana that he decided to do a research on the topic.

Ashok Vatika Discovered

We were left surprised when Sikka told us that barely five kilometres from where we were standing now, was located one of the most important places mentioned in Ramayana – the Ashok Vatika. This is the place where Sita stayed after Ravan abducted her from India.

In Sri Lanka, Ashok Vatika is known as Sita Ella.

The place had statues of Lord Ram, his brother Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman. By their look, the statues seemed to be hundreds of years old. However, a local resident, named Romilla, corrected us, saying the statues were nearly 5,500 years old. The statues seemed to have been carved out of nearby rocks.

When we enquired about the ‘Ashok Vriksh’, Romilla told us that the famous tree was no more. But standing in its place was a hundreds of years old tree.

It is believed that Hanuman first met Sita at this place.

At Ashok Vatika

Not many people in Sri Lanka know the significance behind Ashok Vatika and treat it like any other picnic spot. However, several Indians have come together and are now turning this place into a temple. Also, paintings have been put up there to help locals understand the Ramayana-related events that took place at Ashok Vatika.

We, along with Romilla, also went to a stream called Sita Jharna that flows right under Ashok Vatika. It is believed that Sita used to bathe here during her captivity at Ashok Vatika.

The stream is surrounded by huge and dense mountains. Nobody knows where water in the stream comes from and disappears after accumulating in a ‘kund’. What’s fascinating is the fact that water level in the kund remains same throughout the year.

The disappearing of water at Sita Jharna in Ashok Vatika, and at Sita Kund and Hanuman Dhara in Chitrakoot hints at some form of connection between the three – and also makes one believe that something miraculous is happening at all three places.

Hanuman’s Footmark

Romilla next took us to that part of Ashok Vatika where, it is believed, a giant footmark of Hanuman is imprinted. According to beliefs, Hanuman appeared in his gigantic form before Sita for the first time here. This footmark was formed then.

Sri Lankan government’s archaeological department has conducted a survey and found that the marks, located on a rock near Sita Jharna, are around 6,000 years old.

If viewed from a distance, the footmark resembles that of a huge monkey. It is believed that Hanuman appeared in his gigantic form before Sita to make her believe that Ram’s vaanar sena had the strength and capability to fight Ravan’s army.

Sleeping Divinity

The next place we visited in our search for Ram literally left us stunned.

Not far away from Ashok Vatika is a place where it is believed Hanuman is resting in his giant form. The place is close to Chinmaya Temple. After reaching the temple, what we saw could make any atheist start believing in God.

Hanuman was sleeping in front of our eyes – in his giant form.

Anybody coming to Chinmaya Temple can see a faraway mountain structure which resembles a sleeping Hanuman in his giant form. It is not difficult to make out the head and face of the giant body, along with the chest and huge legs.

Those who question everything can raise doubts over the footmarks of Hanuman, Ram, Lakshman and Sita which we saw in our journey so far. But it will be difficult for even those people to refute the fact that the mountain structure in front of our eyes resembled a sleeping Hanuman.

Built inside the Chinmaya Temple is a huge, 16 feet granite statue of Hanuman where hundreds come everyday to offer prayers. These include not just expatriate Indians but also Buddhist Sri Lankans in large numbers. The statue is a copy of the mountain structure. The only difference is the fact that it is placed in a vertical position inside the temple.

Another Halt

We have made two important discoveries in Sri Lanka – Ashok Vatika and sleeping Hanuman in his giant form. We now take our journey further to discover a legacy left behind by Hanuman, but only in the next and last part of the series.

http://www.zeenews.com/articles.asp?rep=2&aid=406053&sid=ZNS&sname=EXCLUSIVE-NEWS

So far, we have travelled through Chitrakoot in India and Norliya in Sri Lanka in our search of Ram. We have also found several things that hint at the existence of Ram. However, we still have to come face-to-face with several things, which will lend weight to our belief that the Ramayana and everything mentioned in this epic is true.

The Ashes

After visiting Chinmaya Temple, we were told that Hanuman had left behind a legacy in Lanka which is still present in its original form – a legacy of ashes which every child in India knows about.

Located close to Ashok Vatika in Norliya are mountains whose soil is of black colour. The researcher on Ramayana, Harinder Sikka told us that mountains located on the left side of the Sita Jharna have black soil while mountains on the right have soil which is of usual brown colour.

Sikka said that the colour of the soil is black because Hanuman had put these mountains on fire along with Ravan’s Lanka, as mentioned in the Ramayana.

It is difficult to find the end of these mountains which are spread as far as the vision goes. The soil of these mountains looks like ash but what’s striking is the fact these mountains are extremely dense.

It’s not just the soil of these mountains which is black but also the rocks. It looks as if these rocks were also burnt. When we asked the locals about any huge fire occurring in the area in recent memory, the answer was in the negative.

Monkeys With Black Tail

While roaming around these mountains, we were shocked to see monkeys whose tails are also black in colour, unlike the brown body.

As if this shock wasn’t surprising enough, what we saw next left us speechless. When we went little closer to these monkeys, who were shy unlike their naughty Indian counterparts, we found that their lips and ears were also of black colour.

Locals said the reason behind their black lips, ears and tails is linked to Hanuman.

Lanka Naresh Finds Us

With our search for proofs of Ramayana still incomplete, we decided to leave these monkeys, ashy mountains and sleeping Hanuman behind.

As we travelled further in Norliya, we came across a display board the words written on which read – Ravan Ella. What we were trying to find had suddenly appeared in front of us.

When we enquired about this place from locals, they told us that a King named Ravan used to bathe here. They also showed us a rock on which he used to sit while taking bath in the waterfall. The force with which water used to fall from the top was immense some years back but it has now subsided, as we found. However, the force was still such that we were frightened to even think about being in its way.

The board with words Ravan Ella had been put up by the Sri Lankan government, which proved that it is the present-day Sri Lanka which was earlier called Lanka and that Ravan belonged to this very same land.

One More Setu

It’s not just Ram Setu which connects Sri Lanka with India, but also a mountain which is believed to be a part of the great Himalayas. It is said the magical Sanjeevani is found on this mountain only. It is this small mountain which Hanuman brought from India to Sri Lanka.

The mountain is called Romosola, or Sumeru Parvat, which is situated on the coast of Sri Lanka. If one travels by an aeroplane or helicopter, he will find that this type of mountain is not found anywhere else on Sri Lanka’s entire coastline.

While roaming around the mountain, we met a local resident named Dharamsree. He expressed ignorance about Sanjeevani, but said people in a nearby village come to this mountain whenever anybody falls ill. The villagers use various kinds of tree leaves to cure the ill.

As we were trying to find the glowing Sanjeevani, which we unluckily didn’t find, we saw Sikka concentrating on some leaves. Then we came to know that he was the director of a famous Indian pharmaceutical company, Nicholas Piramal. He then cleared all the doubts we had about the usefulness of these tree leaves.

According to Sikka, 90 percent of the plants and trees on the Sumeru Parvat had medicinal value. He said that such trees are found only in Himalayas. Many of the plants found on Sumeru Parvat were beneficial in the treatment of heart ailments, allergies, body rashes, problems related to bones etc.

Also located at one corner of the mountain is a statue of Hanuman in which he is shown as carrying Sumeru Parvat. It was quite striking to find this kind of statue in a country which has only a handful of people who know about either Ram or Ravan. This highlighted the kind of faith which Sri Lankans had in Ram and Hanuman.

The Journey Ends, But Not The Search

Our search for Ram and the Ramayana ends here, but not the proofs which are spread across Sri Lanka and India. Many places in North Jaffna, Sri Lanka, are full of such proofs, as we are told. But due to several constraints we have to end our mission here. However, we are only halting our journey in search of Ram and hope to resume it sometime in future. Because as always, the search for truth never ends…!

http://www.zeenews.com/articles.asp?aid=406059&archisec=ZNS

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