Rama Setu: reality and evidence as experience of common life

Rama Setu: reality and evidence found as experience of common life

Simon Greenleaf, who compiled the first American treatise on evidence in 1842, praised “the symmetry and beauty of this branch of the law,” and, quoting Lord Erskine, noted : ”The Rules of Evidence are founded in the charities of religion-in the philosophy of nature-in the truths of history, and in the experience of common life”-Lord Chancellor of England, Hon’ble Justice Thomas Erskine (1794). [James Bradley Thayer, A Preliminary Treatise on Evidence at the Common Law (London, 1898), p. 508-509.]

Rama Setu is part of the experience of common life, life lived over generations. It is not without reason that Setupati Rajas of Ramnad (Ramanathapuram) called themselves the guardians of the Rama Setu. This tradition is abiding evidence. Yes, indeed, Rules of Evidence are found “in the experience of common life.”

Evidence law, like science, drew its legitimacy from observation, practice, and “commonsense knowledge” rather than simply rules and principles.

As the nineteenth-century legal scholar James Bradley Thayer opined: “The law of evidence is the creature of experience rather than logic.” William Twining, Rethinking Evidence: Exploratory Essays (Oxford, 1990), p. 86n.

This great judge, Thomas Erskine who was made Lord Chancellor in 1806, who was known for his powerful defence of the constitutional rights of thought and speech in England  noted:

“The religious and moral sense of the people of Great Britain is the great anchor which alone can hold the vessel of the state amid the storms which agitate the world; and if the mass of the people were debauched from the principles of religion—the true basis of that humanity, charity, and benevolence, which have been so long the national characteristics—instead of mixing myself, as I sometimes have done, in political reformations, I would retire to the uttermost corners of the earth, to avoid their agitation; and would bear, not only the imperfections and abuses complained of in our own wise establishment, but even the worst government that even existed in the world, rather than go to the work of reformation with a multitude set free from all the charities of Christianity, who had no other sense of God’s existence than was to be collected from Mr. Paine’s observations of nature, which the mass of mankind have no leisure to contemplate, which promises no future rewards to animate the good in the glorious pursuit of human happiness, nor punishments to deter the wicked from destroying it even in its birth. The people of England are a religious people, and, with the blessing of God, so far as it is in my power, I will lend aid to keep them so.” [The World’s Famous Orations.Great Britain: II. (1780–1861).  1906. On Limitations to Freedom of Speech by Thomas Erskine (1750–1823). Delivered in 1797 in the prosecution of one Williams, a bookseller, for selling Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason.”]

What Judge Erskine said about charities of Christiniaty are valid for all cultures and traditions including Hindu way of life. One example of this way of life is the adoration of Rama Setu as a sacred tirthasthana over several generations.

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