The Ram Setu is back in news and so is the ruling BJP's clamour. According to the ruling party, the claim made by a US science channel that the Ram Setu is man-made and not natural has reaffirmed the BJP's stand on the issue.
But then, is this bridge - a chain of limestone shoals between Rameswaram Island off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu and Mannar Island on the north-western coast of Sri Lanka - sacred to Hindus alone? Well, no.
By whichever name you call it, Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge, the site is equally sacred to Abrahamic religions, especially Islam and Christianity.
There are myriad religious beliefs associated with the formation of the bridge. As per Ramayana, the Ram Setu was built under the guidance of lord Rama to facilitate the rescue of his wife Sita, who was held hostage in Sri Lanka after being abducted by demon king Ravana. Lord Rama built the bridge with the help of an army of monkeys led by Hanuman, to cross over to Lanka and bring back Sita.
Are the ancient Hindu myths of a land bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka true? Scientific analysis suggests they are. #WhatonEarth pic.twitter.com/EKcoGzlEET— Science Channel (@ScienceChannel) December 11, 2017
But then, there’s another story. Adam's Bridge, a name believed to have been given to it by an East India Company official, unfolds the chapter of Abrahamic belief over the issue.
Sri Lanka is home to a famous peak considered harmoniously sacred by at least four religions - Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. The 7,360 feet high peak is variously known as Adam’s Peak (the site where prophet Adam first set foot on earth) as well as Sri Pada (the sacred footprint left by the lord Buddha). Hindu belief, on the other hand, links the huge footprint to that of lord Shiva. The peak bears the unusual footprint measuring 5 feet 7 inches by 2 feet 6 inches.
Muslims and Christians believe that this footprint is that of Prophet Adam. As per Prophet Muhammad’s sayings, Prophet Adam was 60 cubits (90 feet) tall.
Many Muslim scholars believe that Adam descended on the Adam’s Peak from the heavens along with Eve. The momentum of his landing on earth was so strong that it is believed to have cast lasting impression of his footprint on the rocks.
Aerial view of Ram Sethu. (Credit: Wikimedia/PlaneMad/Creative Commons)
But then, Prophet Adam landed alone on the island. Eve was dropped elsewhere.
Mentioned by name 25 times in the Quran, Prophet Adam, when taken out of paradise and placed on earth, had cried a lot. Call it faith or coincidence, Sri Lanka resembles the shape of a tear drop.
After years of wandering and crying in regret, Adam and Eve finally reunited, presumably in Arabia deserts.
Since ages, a Saudi Arabian city continues to be known as Jeddah, meaning “ancestor of women” or grandmother. Muslims believe Jeddah is for Eve. And, in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of this city lies the tomb of the biblical Eve.
After reunion, Adam and Eve lived in Arabia where their children including Habil and Qabil were born. As per Ibn Kathir: “When Habil and Qabil (Cain and Abel) fought with each other (resulting in Habil’s murder by Qabil), Adam had gone to Mecca for Haj pilgrimage.”
So, the basic question is how did Prophet Adam reach Mecca from Sri Lanka?
Well, it wouldn’t be humanly possible for a man stuck in the Sri Lankan island to swim across the mighty Arabian Sea, because boats were yet to be invented then. So, he must have banked on the land route. But how?
The nearest land connectivity to Arabia is through the Indian subcontinent. In between Sri Lanka and India, however, there is a comparatively smaller sea. But for a man as huge as Prophet Adam constructing a bridge to connect to mainland India may not have been that difficult, that too, when he lived for around 1,000 years.
So, faithfuls strongly believe that he must have first constructed this bridge to reach the Indian mainland from where he walked on foot to Arabia.
The question is not whether we call it Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge, but about religious sentiments, which BJP leaders like Subramanian Swamy and others want to exploit to further the Hindutva agenda.
As per the Discovery Communications-owned Science Channel: "The rocks on top of the sand actually pre-date the sand. So there is more to the story."
Yes, there’s more to the story.
Religious sites across the world have been a cause of dispute between different communities, with each of them claiming their rights over the sacred place.
The claims made by US scientists shouldn’t be a bone of contention. On the contraray, it should be considered a symbol of harmonious bond among Hindus, Muslims and Christians as no temple, mosque or church is to be constructed over the sea nor demolished.
Devotees are only seeking conservation of the site. The main focus should be on conservation against wreckage by the dredging mafia, regardless of whether you call it Adam’s Bridge or Ram Setu.