By Shashi Shriyan.
Engineering expertise amalgamated with Metallurgical sciences were used to built bridges in those ancient times which stands to this day as the Rama Setu bridging India and Shri Lanka,it is a living example of their in-depth knowledge.
You must be familiar with our Epic Ramayana, let us reach that part of the epic where Sitadevi is abducted and taken to his kingdom in Shri Lanka,days of searching leads Rama to a clan of super heroic beings having the traits of monkeys called Vanaras.
Within no time,it was discovered that Mother Sita was kidnapped to across the sea ,vouched by Vibhishana, brother of Ravana,who was expelled from his country Shri Lanka, for advising him to return Sita to her husband Rama.
Thiruppullani,in Tamil Nadu is the place where Lord Rama agreed to shelter Vibhishana ( a beautiful Temple stands there as witness to this Holy Setu)
Vibhishana, became a very trustful and worthy advisor to Rama,he told Rama,in order to cross the shark infested ocean and reach the enemy side,Rama needs to pray to Lord Varuna who rules over all water on this planet.
Laxshman, Rama’s obedient brother prepared a bed of Terpai Grass as per agama rules ,sitting on which, Rama sat in meditation invoking Varuna day and night for three days.
Varuna did not respond, so in a fit of anger Rama used his” Agneya Astra” and burnt up the ocean. ( you will ask why did Rama not run across to Shri Lanka and get back his wife? ,that would mean tampering with nature ,this drying happened for a fraction of a second)
Varuna realised His mistake and came along with his wife and begged for forgiveness.
Varuna ,gave Rama a clue to cross over the ocean,he said ,there is a vanara in your vast army by name ” Nalan”,who, he said ,was the son of Vishwakarma the celestial architect in his previous birth ,so would provide the knowledge to get all of you across.
Nalan,he further said, was cursed by a sage for having thrown his holy shaligrama into the Ganges, on the banks of which he was meditating .The sage had cursed the boy,that whatever he throwed in the water will float!!!!( This is called blessings in disguise !!).
Rama asked the Vanara king Sugreeva to call Nalan,who was given the status of an Overseer to the construction of the bridge
Nalan,along with his brigade started work by first building a Temple for Lord Ganapati which stands today as ” Veiyillugantha Vinayagar”, and invoked His Blessings to mitigate any obstacles in the construction of the bridge
Next he installed nine stone’s in the sea ,made up of “Navapaashanam ” ( which is a mixture of Poisonous ,medicinal herbs mixed with minerals in a particular ratiio,to not only emit medicinal properties to the surrounding areas but also strong enough to withstand the ravages of Time and Nature ) these were initiated by Rama as the Nav Grahas and worshipped before the commencement of the bridge building.
These navgrahas are till date worshipped ,wading into the sea in the beautiful place called Ramanathapuram and the place is called Devipattinam,the waters surrounding the navagrahas cure a number of diseases.
Rama prayed to Lord Shiva at Rameshwaram on the Indian side,on reaching ShriLanka he offered prayers to Shiva at Ketheswaran Temple on stepping into ShriLankan soil.
This Temple was visited by Ravana and Mandodari his wife
Nalan and his troop scientifically surveyed and planned to start work of construction from Dhanushkodi , Pampa to reach Shri Lankan Mannar Tallai, a distance of eight miles which according to Valmiki Ramayana was finished in five days.
Under Nalas supervision, millions of Vanaras got together and brought huge trees,rocks and boulders which were got together to make a hard bedding under the sea over which were placed floating rocks inscribed “Ram ” by Nala and Neel on top of which was a layer smooth to walk on but non slippery thus,using the science of physics and chemistry and ofcourse engineering expertise, 200 Vanaras could walk into enemy territory at one time
The bridge was according to ancient parlance ,100 yojanas length and 10 yojanas in breadth
On the fifth day, having finished the feat, Nalan along with his comrades asked Sri Ram to Bless the Setu, so they could march into enemy territory
Thus Rama accompanied with brother Lakshman,Hanuman,Sugriva and the vast army marched towards ShriLanka
Temple records say the bridge was much above sea level and was a bridge between the two countries for a long time
A cyclone struck in AD 1480 damaged the bridge and sea water started coming over it, even now ,during low tide water level reaches chest level for a man of average height.
As one rides parallel to the bridge by sea route we see eight mini dwipas or islands which are actually pillars to the bridge under the sea which over time have been covered by sand and formed small sand islands
This is the oldest man-made structure in the world ,pictures from NASA show it as a threadlike connection between these two countries , the location matches the description and so does the time scale as being constructed one half million years ago.
We see that building the Setu ,a humanly impossible feat was made possible by our ancestors.
Engineering skills apart, diplomacy, psychology, philosophy, knowledge of medicine all the arts and sciences were put together to build the Setu and unite Rama and Sitadevi
Epic Ramayana is not just a Holy Book ,,but provides us with a mine of information and educates us in all aspects of life and living
Gives us an insight to our noble heritage