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Ramayana Trail in Sri Lanka
True ‘Gyan’ from Bharath Gyan
B R HARAN | Sat, 01 Nov, 2008
On 19 January 2008 in New Delhi, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority launched a new concept called ‘Ramayana trail in Lanka’ to promote its ‘Spiritual Tourism’ with famous cricketers Arjuna Ranatunga and Arvinda Desilva as brand ambassadors.
The SLTDA has identified 50 sites relating to the history of Ramayana and decided to promote them through tourism, which would be a part of the strife-torn Island Nation’s pursuit for progress. As the Ramayana Ithihasa connects both India and Sri Lanka and as India makes up to more than 20% of Sri Lanka’s tourist inflow, the SLTDA chose to launch the concept in New Delhi.
The highlight of the function was the candid & clairvoyant like statement from SLTDA’s Director General S Kalaiselvan that, ‘the fifty sites identified in relation to Ramayana are not imaginary, but have existed since times immemorial’ . The Sri Lankan tourism department had appointed a research team for the ‘search & identification’ process, which was initiated by T Y Sunderesan of an organisation called ‘Ashoka Vatika’ and only after ascertaining the ‘facts’ relevant to the great Ithihasa, the SLTDA formally announced its promotional plans.
Sita Eliya temple beside the stream
Inside the labyrinth of Ravana caves, Istripuram
Ashok Kainath, the Head of the research team has said that, their works have actually started four years back and that they could identify more than fifty, in fact 59 sites relating to Ramayana. The sites include, Ravana’s Palaces, Hanuman’s entry point called ‘Nagadeepa’, ‘Donara’ where Rama first attacked Ravana , ‘Yudagannawa’ the main battle ground (now a wild life sanctuary) where ‘strangely’ no vegetation grows except grass. In the jungles on top of the Ramboda hills , a pond believed to have been formed by the tears of Sita has been found. The five places, where the Sanjeevani hills fell from Hanuman’s hand have also been identified. Similarly, the Ashoka Vana , Ravana’s caves and the tunnels and many other sites, over which Temples have been built symbolising the concerned episode of Ramayana have all been spotted and marked for promotion. The SLTDA has decided to restore, renovate and maintain those sites.
It is really great that Sri Lanka, an officially declared Buddhist country has taken so much of pains through its Ministry of Culture, under which the SLTDA operates, to establish its faith on the Ithihasa Ramayana. The Sri Lankan Parliament has the painting of King Vibeeshana, as he is considered by the people as a ‘fair’ king. The organisation ‘Ashoka Vatika’, which has played a prominent role in this project by initiating the search & identification process, has recognised another Chennai based research organisation called ‘Bharath Gyan’ headed by Research Scholars D K Hari and his wife Hema Hari. T Y Sundaresan of Ashok Vatika has introduced them to the SLTDA, which in turn invited them to Sri Lanka for consultation and guidance.
D K Hari and Hema Hari made a ‘multimedia’ presentation on Ramayana trail in Lanka’ to a captive audience of around hundred people comprising Scholars, Buddhist Monks, Hindu Religious Leaders, Intellectuals, Historians, Poets, Journalists, Government Officials and many other elites. The function was organised at Galle Face Hotel in July 2008 and the ‘spellbound’ audience extended the session for more than three hours through the ‘Question & Answer’ session. The delegates were so impressed that the SLTDA decided to take the help of Barathgyan to enhance the promotional activities of the ‘Lankan trail of Ramayana’ concept of spiritual tourism.
Incidentally the official logo of Hotel Galle Face is ‘Dandu Monara Vimana’ . That is, Dandu Monara (Flying Peacock) Vimana was used by Ravana to travel in and around Sri Lanka along with Mandothari. According to local legends in
Galle Face Hotel logo, Dandu Monara Vimana, 1864 Ravana and Mandodari in the Vimana
Lanka, Ravana was believed to have had many ‘airports’ out of which some five sites have been identified. Apart from Pushpaka Vimana (by which he abducted Sita from the Dandakaranya ) and Dandu Monara Vimana , Ravana also had a few other Vimanas and hence the number of airports used by him is justified. The now identified ‘airports’ are plain flat lands amidst hills, a fact, which ascertains the use of Vimana those days, which is corroborated by the book ‘Vaimaanika Saastra by Maharishi Bharadwaj’ written in Sanskrit and then translated in English by Venerable Subbaraya Sastry of Mysore in the 1880s.
Subsequently another congregation was organised for the public last week (October 2008) and again D K Hari and Hema Hari made a presentation on the Lankan trail of Ramayana. To commemorate the event, the Sri Lankan branch of Chinmaya Mission has brought out a beautiful book titled ‘Ramayana in Lanka’ with a few articles of Revered Swamijis of Chinmaya Mission in addition to Barath Gyan’s well-researched essays for more than seventy pages including colourful paintings and photographs. D K Hari and Hema Hari have written these well documented essays at the specific request, and personal support of the President of Chinmaya Mission Sri Lanka S. Mahenthiran. The book gives a detailed picture of all the fifty sites identified by the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority along with different types of proposed tour itineraries.
It is a known fact that Ramayana has been considered as the ‘Ithihasa’ of the Bharathvarsha and the then Bharathvarsha comprised of the present day Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and even Iran. So, it is quite natural that Sri Lanka also considers Ramayana as its Ithihasa. In Sanskrit ‘Ithihasa’ means ‘It thus happened’ and so Ramayana must be a true history and the same is the case with Mahabaratha.
When the ‘Rama Sethu’ protection Movement was at its peak in India, D K Hari & Hema Hari, through their Bharath Gyan, came out with a brilliantly researched and well-documented presentation on ‘History of Ramayana’, which played a vital role in creating awareness among the people on the historicity of Rama, truth of Ramayana and existence of Rama Sethu, when the very facts were questioned and denied by none other than the Archaeological Suirvey of India, Union Culture Ministry, Union Shipping ministry, Central and State governments. Bharath Gyan, after immense research, has given the complete calendar of the Ramayana events right from the birth of Rama to his coronation including those events, which have happened in Lanka. The compact disc of that lively presentation was released by Spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravisankar of ‘Art of Living’ , who said that unless Ramayana had truly happened, it would not have attained the name ‘Ithihasa’. Correct, ratrional and logical information on the historicity of Bhagwan Rama could be obtained from the website www.historicalrama.org , which Bharath Gyan has dedicated to this world.
D K Hari & Hema Hari ariHarisay, ‘Ramayana as a text is also geographically very correct. Every site on Rama’s route is still identifiable and has continuing traditions in the form of temples or other landmarks to commemorate Rama’s visit. No author could have travelled so far and wide just to concoct a story and even if so, it could not have had such a geographical credibility to become a local folklore across the subcontinent of India and Lanka’.
One cannot help comparing the two totally contradictory stands taken by the Indian and Sri Lankan governments. While the Indian government attempted (even now attempts) to deny the truth of Ramayana, the Sri Lankan government faithfully attempts to establish the truth of Ramayana. While a predominantly ‘Hindu’ country’s government questions the existence of Rama Sethu and other related sites, a predominantly ‘Buddhist’ country identifies and promotes the Ramayana-relevant sites in its territory. It is sad, unfortunate and in a way painful that the Indian government has acted in such a sordid manner insulting the religious sentiments of milions of Hindus worldwide.
D K Hari, who has just returned from Sri Lanka after a memorable and successful visit, has this to say: ‘The Buddhist Scripture ‘Mahavamsa’, which talks about the great lineage of Buddhist kings, has 49 references of Ramayana and the Buddhist Monks are also helping the Sri Lankan government in this project along with the Hindu institution such as Chinmaya Mission. It was indeed great to see all of them working together for the promotion of the Ramayana sites through the concept of ‘spiritual tourism’ and I am sure they would be successful. The book released by Chinmaya Mission has been received very well and the SLTDA has asked me to compile another detailed book, an enlarged version, on Lanka trail of Ramayana, in which we will be looking at the events from the Lanka perspective giving prominence to Ravana and Vibeeshana. After seeing our presentation of ‘date wise’ events of Ramayana, they have decided to present the ‘spiritual tourism’ concept as also a ‘historical tourism’ package. It is indeed a great honour for us and we feel proud for being associated with such a sacred project’.
‘ Bharath Gyan’ doesn’t need an introduction at all, as it has become a very familiar player now in the intellectual arena with regards to cultural aspects and their scientific truths of Barathavarsh. It is almost five years since D K Hari and Hema
Hari started Bharath Gyan and the efforts, which they have put in these five years are so great that Bharath Gyan has acquired a niche on its own. But, before the conceptualisation and intiation of Bharath Gyan, both of them have undertaken monumental activities of extensive travel, vivid reading, unparalleled visits to museums, libraries, expositions, pageants and special cultural events the worldover. These activities have encouraged them to visualise a unique concept of collecting information and distributing them in such a manner that the generation next is able to recognise, understand and appreciate the glorious past of this great nation.
Hari & Hema say, ‘Ours is the most ancient civilisation and the Vedic Heritage of our nation is beyond compare. Our ancient texts have a wealth of information, which need to be passed on to the next generation, which is slowly & steadily and unfortunately & sadly getting alienated from our cultural heritage and traditions. The present day youth must be made aware of the greatness of our heritage and they must be fed with the wealth of knowledge present in our ancient texts. What all have been told in our scriptures are being proved beyond doubt by modern science and such facts must be taken to the generation next. Bharath Gyan is one such attempt’.
Our ancestors, the Maharishis, Siddhars and Munivars have mastered anything and everything under the sun and the immense knowledge, which they have obtained through sheer grit, determination and years of penance, have been passed on to generation after generation for ages only orally. It is only a few thousand years since, a part of that vast knowledge have been compiled in the form of written texts. In fact, we are left with very little now and even that is ‘vast’ in today’s parlance!
The ancient system of education, the ‘Guru-Sishya Parampara’ has taken a heavy beating at the hands of the invaders, who have plundered this great nation. They have not only looted our material wealth, but also destroyed our wealth of knowledge. They have created divisions among the people and ruled them for over thouand years and unfortunately even after independence, we are continuing the systems, which they have established here, instead of going back to our glorious tradition. But then whatever said and done, we have to adopt ourselves to the modern methods to impart the wealth of information and knowledge available in our scriptures in abundance, to the generation next.
Bharath Gyan has taken the right step of collecting information on the scientific knowledge in our scriptures and the practical methods in our tradition and distribute them to the generation next through the modern method of ‘Multimedia Format’, so that, the targeted audience could easily and quickly grasp them for effective utilisation in future. Squarely focusing on our ancient civilisation and cultural heritage, Bharath Gyan works with a range of subjects as follows.
Tracing a civilisation: Here Bharath Gyan has studied in deep the Bharathiya culture, analysed the Puranas & Ithihasas , proved the historicity of Rama and Krishna , dvelved into the ‘pan global’ similarities, researched the evolution of Vedic civilisation along Saraswathi river and analysed the so-called Aryan Inavasion theory, Alexander-Porus episode, Tamil cultural prosperity and Hindu society and religions.
Seeking its knowledge source : Here Bharath Gyan searches for the source of knowledge going deep into the Vedas and their compilation by the Veda Vyasas and finally finds them by demystifying the Vedas and analysing the technique of transmission and ancient systems of education.
Knowing its knowledge : Here Bharath Gyan gives us a wealth of information regarding Creation, Time, Calendar, Astronomy, Om (meaning & significance), Evolution, Ayurveda, Vichithra Janana (Unusual birth), Vimana (Ancient Flying Machine)Metallurgy, Chemistry (Rasayana), Geography (Bhusastra), Architecture, Mathematics, Warfare, Engineering and Technology.
Understanding its wealth : Bharath Gyan focuses on water management and agricultural practices, the history of Ganges ( Bhagiratha Prayatna ), water grid, the jewels of India, Geology and Trade.
Learning from its governance : Here a clear comparison is made between the so-called ‘Modern Management’ (western) and our ancient systems and Bharath Gyan establishes the fact that our sages knew everything and that there are indeed new ways of identifying and implementing things based on times and its needs. It also studies Administration and Law. Bharath Gyan presents ‘Rama Rajya & its components’ through an analysis on the 56 questions asked by Rama when he taught Baratha on how to govern his empire during his absence.
Apart from the above subjects, Bharath Gyan has compiled data and is in the process of completing a few other topics such as Language, Pleasure and Harmony in connection with our ancient civilisation. The enormity of Bharath Gyan’s research and analysis could be understood from the fact that it has collected authentic and specific information on 64 different subjects concerning India’s civilisation to understand its cultural richness. Bharath Gyan has brought out the ‘science’ hidden in our ancient texts with a rational approach. It has put together the information inherent in our culture, data available with the traditional scholar community, native knowledge of the locals, authentic travelogues of the foreign visitors to our land, historical notes from the archives of other countries and research works of the modern scientific community.
When the objective is clear, achievement is certain! Bharath Gyan has clearly set its objective of focusing on the generation next and enriching them with knowledge on the ‘science’ of our ancient civilization, cultural heritage and tradition with a rational and modern outlook. The official logo of Bharath Gyan itself is a wealth of information! By looking at its logo, one can see a ‘meditating person’, a ‘bell’ or even a ‘few numbers’! Every version has its own meaning behind it and the symbolic representation of ‘zero’ and ‘infinity’ (at the top and bottom of the ‘Bell’ respectively) conveying the message that this great land has got everything from zero to infinity . Ancient Maharishis knew from creation to infinity, which they had expressed in the language and understanding of their times. We need to re-understand it in accordance to our times and use it for our own needs now.
It would be more appropriate to conclude this essay with the words of D K Hari and Hema Hari: ‘we present as is, the data and facts in a rational, logical and wholistic manner before the people and allow them to draw their own conclusions. Our main objective is to encourage people to ask their own questions and look for answers themselves. These data and facts are to help them reach towards their answers or undertake further exploration on their own. We, at Bharath Gyan, look at ourselves as catalysts by helping to bring together the inaccessible, unreadable by all and widely spread, but related data with scholars, researchers, common man and in old texts and records, together in a single platform. We go by the ancient Indian temper of, ourselves asking and triggering others to ask, questions that lead the way for exploring the universe of science, nature and knowledge. In our study, we have discovered that this has been the way our ancient knowledge grew and spread and we would like to bring back this temper amongst the Indians and rightfully we call our effort as Universal Questions, Indian Answers! Our view of the ‘I I’ of the ‘Incredible India’ slogan is ‘Inspiring Confidence in Indian Knowledge’ and ‘Initiating Applications and Inputs to Scientific Research’. That is our way of ensuring that the knowledge of the past is made available to the present to take to the future’.
Interested people can visit www.bharathgyan.com for more detailed information and for further queries can contact D K Hari & Hema Hari at bharathgyan (at) gmail.com .
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