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…
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.
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.