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History, Myths & Legends of Rameshwaram

Rameswara is another name for “Lord of Rama” in Sanskrit is an epithet of Shiva. According to Hindu epic Ramayana, Lord Ram, who was the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, prayed to Shiva here to forgive any sins that he might have committed during his war against the demon-king Ravana in Sri Lanka to protect his wife Devi Sita.

History of Rameshwaram – Myths & Legends

According to the Puranas (Hindu scriptures) Lord Rama took the advice of sages as to how can he ask forgiveness for his sins. So on the advice of sages Lord Rama along with his wife Devi Sita and his brother Lord Lakshmana installed and worshipped the lingam (an iconic symbol of Shiva) here to wash the sin of Brahmahatya incurred while killing of the Brahmin Ravana. To worship Lord Shiva Lord Rama wanted to have the largest lingam and directed Lord Hanuman to bring it from Himalayas. Since it was taking longer to bring the lingam, Sita built a small lingam, which is believed to be the one in the sanctum of the temple.

The above story is not supported by the original Ramayana authored by Valmiki, nor in the Tamil version of the Ramayana written by Tamil poet, Kambar (1180–1250 CE) but the support for this story is found in some of the later versions of the Ramayana, like the one written by Tulasidas (15th century). Sethu Karai is a place 22 km before the island of Rameswaram from where it is believed that Lord Rama built a floating stone bridge, the Ramsetu Bridge, with the help of Hanuman and Vanar sena. The bridge further continued to Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram till Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. According to another version of Ramayana, as quoted in Adhyatma Ramayana, Lord Rama installed the lingam before the construction of the bridge to Lanka.

Ramsetu Bridge, the bridge built by Lord Rama, is a chain of limestone shoals between Rameswaram and Mannar Island, off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka. Geological investigation suggests that this bridge was a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka. The bridge is about 30 km long and separates the Gulf of Mannar from the Palk Strait. It is believed that the bridge was reportedly passable on foot up to the 15th century until many storms deepened the channel. The temple records show that Rama’s Bridge was completely above sea level until a cyclone in 1480 CE broke it. The construction and story of the bridge was first mentioned in the ancient Indian Sanskrit epic Ramayana by Valmiki. The name Rama’s Bridge or also known as Rama Setu (In Sanskrit; setu meaning bridge) refers to the bridge built by the Vanara army of Lord Rama in Hindu mythology, which he used to reach Lanka and rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. The building of this bridge to Rama in verse 2-22-76 of Ramayana is mentioned and naming it as Setubandhanam. The sea separating India and Sri Lanka was named Sethusamudram meaning “Sea of the Bridge”.

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1 year ago

Nicely described.As it is not in Valmiki’s but in Ram charitmanas means perhaps it is narrated to bring Shaibas & Baishnavs closer. A nice work by the great Tulsidas. Clashes between different communities are always dangerous for human society..

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