Thursday, April 17, 2008

Setu sacred, but not a place of worship? Wonders Supreme Court

April 15th, a day prior to the Rama Navami the birthday of Sri Rama, was when a bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan was hearing the arguments from the petitioners on the Sethusamudram project.

Justice R V Raveendran said that Ram Sethu, cannot be called a place of worship, though it may be a sacred structure. "Who says it (Ram Sethu) is a place of worship? Who goes to the middle of the sea to worship," a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran asked.

"Don't say people go there and worship," he observed when Janata Party president and petitioner Dr. Subramanian Swamy submitted that Ram Sethu has to be protected as it was a place of worship for devout Hindus.

Finally the Chief Justice tried to make peace by saying, "We don't say that it [Ramar Sethu] is not a sacred place", and adjourned the next hearing to April 29.

So, the question arises, is Rama Sethu [just] a sacred place and not a place of worship? We can present various evidences to show that the textual evidence suggests that Setu is indeed a place of worship. Here we look at one source: skanda purANa.

skanda purANa’s third book, brahmakhaNDaM, opens with a section called setu-mahAtmya and the 48th and 49th verses from its first chapter known as setu-gamana-phalAdi-varNanam are:

setusaikatamadhyeyaH shete tatpAMsukunThitaH
yAvantaH pAMsavo lagnAstasyAnge viprasattamAH (48)
tAvatAM bramhahatyAnAM nASaH syAnnAtra saMSayaH
setumadhyastha vAten yasyAngaH spR^syate-akhilaM (49)

(48) One, who prostrates in the middle of the Setu's sandbank (setu-saikata-madhye), his sins becomes dulled. And ultimately his sins are subdued, O Best of the Dvija-s. (49) (So much so), that the grimmest sin that arises from killing a Bramhana, no doubt, even that is destroyed by performing rites there - (when) every part of the (sinner's) body touches the winds in the middle of the Setu ( setu-madhyastha-vAta).

Here the text is abundantly clear in specifically prescribing the actual rituals (puja) to be performed at the very Rama Setu (yes in the middle of the sea if His Highness pleases). So absolutely, the traditional textual evidence to the contention of Setu being a place of worship is undeniable.

hits since Chaitra 7, 2064 Vikram (March 26, 2007)