“Those who goes to Rameswaram and seek my blessings shall always resides in Sivaloka. They will never have to be born in this world again and Suffer”.
– As told by the Lord Rama in The Ramacharitamanasa of tulasidas
Millions of pilgrims made their visit to the holy land of Rameswaram throughout the year, they believes that the sins of a person washed away , when he/she took a bath in the Theerthas (holy water bodies ) and worship the deity named Ramanathaswamy in the Rameswaram island.
Rameswaram – The name of this island is a Sanskrit word , if we split it as Ram + Eswaram.,it gives us a literal meaning “The place where Eswara was worshiped by Rama”. The ancient indian epic Ramayana depicts this very event , the worship performed by lord shri ram and his wife Sita with their team in this island. This story is the main reason for Rameswaram to become a holy place and to attract millions of pilgrims , let us see that story a little brief.
Rama is the seventh avatar (incarnation) of the Hindu God ‘Vishnu ‘ and a prince of Ayodhya .It is said that Rama is born on Treta Yuga (1.2 million years ago) , Rama is referred as the noble man , and the embodiment of self control, virtue and Dharma and his wife Sita is considered as the embodiment of perfect womanhood and the avatar of goddess Lakshmi. Sita-Ram together referred as an ideal royal couple among the Hindus.
Rama’s father Dhasaratha had four sons from his three wives. Rama was the eldest and his mother was Kaushalya, from his second wife Sumitra the twins Lakshmana and Shaturgana were born,Bharatha was the son of his third wife Kaikeyi.
Lord Rama brought up with all of his brothers ,and while they grown up as Rama is the eldest among four, he is all set for coronation , but by means of his step mother Kaikeyi’s secret plot (plot was actually planned by kaikeyi’s maid Manthara alias kooni) , instead of being crowned as a king Rama is sent in to a 14 year exile, and Bharatha was crowned as King of Ayodhya . Rama’s wife Sita, and his brother lakshman also joined with Rama for exile , as they don’t want to live in Ayodhya without lord Rama.
They three leave Ayodhya and went for exile.
After this incident Rama’s father Dhasaratha fell ill and died, then the coronation was done to kaikeyi’s son Bharatha as per kaikeyi’s plot.
Rama’s brother Bharatha won the throne by means of his mother’s secret evil plot, Baratha got a feel of guilt for being a part of his mother’s evil plan and his mind continues to tortures him for his mistake. He rushed into the forest to meet Rama and pleads him to return to the capital, but Rama refused it, and he said that, he don’t want to break the vow that he made to their father, Bharatha gave Rama a pair of sandals and ask Rama to put his foot for a while in them, as Rama put his foot in them Bharatha said “ I’ll rule the kingdom on behalf of you , by placing your sandals on the throne till you return, if you fail to return after the exile, then I will put myself in the funeral pyre“.
Then he took the sandals of Rama and go backs to Ayodhya , there he places Rama’s sandals on the throne as the symbol of Rama as a king of Ayodhya and did his rule.
During Exile Rama diminishes many demons (Rakshasas) in the forests and brings peace and happiness among the Rishis and other inhabitants in the forest.
He led a simple yet happy life with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana . For 10 years they lived there , after he had killed all the demons in the forest he thank the holy saints and left the forest.
One day Rakshasi Surphanaka, a female demon come across Rama and fall in love with him , she asks Rama to marry her but Rama refused it , and said , “ I am married , and I love my wife sita, it is good for you to search and find your husband elsewhere “.
Surphanaka got angry and try to kill Sita, Suddenly lakshman protects Sita and attacked that female demon, finally he cut her nose and left her. Noseless Surphanaka flees to her brother khara and asks him to avenge Sita. Khara went with his huge army to kill Rama but khara and his army was defeated by Rama and Lakshmana ,all the (rakshasas) demons were killed except Surphanaka.
After the defeat , the angry Surphanaka thinks of her elder brother Ravana the king of Lanka, Ravana was born to Brahmin father and demon mother, and a great devotee of Lord Shiva, she reaches Ravana with bursting angry , Ravana surprised to saw her sister in a condition of bleeding nose and ears and ask her what happened. Surphanaka told him the story of her love with rama , and the war , she adds “ I want to suck the blood of the lakshman who had cut my nose , and Sita who is the reason for my trouble”. And she said to revenge Rama by kidnapping his wife Sita and marry her, at first Ravan hesitated after he heard about the beauty of Sita by means of Surphanaka, he think a while and decided to capture Sita.
He rushed to panchavati , the place where Ram, sita and lakshman were living.
Ravana approached his uncle named Marich to help him with the mission of “kidnapping sita”, first he refused but Ravan threaten him and compelled his help. They both devised a plan to kidnap Sita.
According to their plan Marich took the shape of a golden deer to grab the attraction of Sita , as he went near her as she was picking flowers in the garden.
The deer with his beautiful shining big eyes continuously gazed Sita. Sita attracted by it and asks Rama to catch that deer for her.
Ram try to catch the deer, but it ran off . Ram told to Lakshmana to protect Sita and follow the deer to grab it for his wife Sita.
When Rama’s pierce arrow hit the deer , It made a loud cry with Rama’s Voice, as “Lakshmana” . When Sita heard that voice she thought Rama may have some trouble and ask lakshman took a look on Rama and ordered Lakshman to go .
But, Lakshman confused to left Sita alone , So he drew a magical circle around their hut and ask Sita not to step out of that until they return.
When sita was left alone in the hut , Ravan took a shape of a saint and asks Sita for food, while she bring food to him , she stepped out from the magical circle, Ravana suddenly grab her and flew away to lanka with his flying machine Pushpaka vimana.
on their way Jadayu , the friend of Rama’s father and king of birds tried to stop Ravan, but he cut off its wings and heavily attacked it.the jatayu fell down and held in pool of blood.
As they flew sita threw some of her jewels on the way as she think that it may help Rama, when he comes in search of her. In that some of her jewels were captured by the monkeys in that forest.
Rama and Lakshmana travels all over the forest in search of Sita, they saw jatayu in the pool of flood, they went near him and asks what happened he reports Ram that Ravana kidnapped sita and flew in his vimana, and died.
In the forest they come upon band of monkey men (vanara sena) with an exiled vanara king ‘Sugriva’, from Kishkindha, with his minister Hanuman.(Sugriva was cheated by his brother bali alias vaali, he grabs sugrivas wife and the throne and drives out him In to the forest).Sugriva asks Rama to help him to get his throne and wife back. Rama promise to help them and told them about kidnapping of Sita They pledge Rama that they also helps rama in the search of Sita.
After the meet Rama helped sugriva to regain his lost kingdom from his wicked brother Vaali. After regain the kingdom sugriva sent vanara sena in all the direction in search of sita, meanwhile hanuman admired by Lord Rama and becomes his devotee. The vanaras seek out the traces of sita and concluded that she has been taken to the Lanka. Hanuman, Angada, Nala and others travel southwards and land on the Gandhamadhana Parvatha (a place in rameswaram) along the south-eastern coast, There they rest for a while.
From there Hanuman flies to the lanka and search her all over the lanka, finally he found her as a captive in Ravana’s Ashokavana , there he confirmed that sita was imprisoned there , He meets sita and shows ramas ring and admit him as Ramas messenger, and informs her about Ram lakshman then he promise her that Rama, lakshmana and their army will be back soon to rescue her. he got Choodamani (diadem) from her as a proof of meeting her.
By the way back Hanuman destroys the Ashoka Vana and gets himself captured by Ravana’s son Indrajit. As a punishment Ravana orders his soldiers to set fire to the tail of Hanuman, he sets the whole of Lanka ablaze with his burning tail and flew back to the Gandhamadhana parvatha where his team mates camped. After that the vanaras take a flee to reach kishkintha to meet Lord Rama.
Hanuman meets Rama and gives him the Choodamani (diadem) with the news that Sita is safe. Rama is immensely pleased with Hanuman and embraces him warmly. After that Sugriva organizes a big retinue of vanaras to proceed on the mission to rescue Sita. Headed by Rama and Lakshmana, the army traverse towards the Lanka.
Before proceeding to Lanka , on the way they stopped on the place named as uppoor , There Rama prays Lord ganesh (Veyil Ugandha Vinayaka) and ask his help to remove the obstacles on his mission.After that he offers puja to Navagrahas (Nine planets) at the present Devipattinam or Navapaashaanam by installing nine stones in the sea with the help of vanaras. He then reaches a marshy land known as Dharbaaranyam alias dharba sayanam (because the place was full of grass named as dharba) there he worships Adhi Jagannatha, the presiding deity, and receives Divya astras (powered arrows) and the Lord’s blessings for his mission.
After that they reach Gandha madhana parvatham, and took rest near that place, from there they reached Dhanushkodi.
At the Dhanushkodi , Nala – the son of vishwakarma (The great architect and a sculptorof devas) build a floating bridge with the help of vanaras in the sea to reach sri lanka. It is mentioned in Ramayana that the bridge is 100 yojanas leghth and 10 yojanas width. The bridge Athi sethu (alias Ram sethu, Adams bridge) started 3 miles from the Adhi jaganatha temple at dharabasayanam. By using this bridge only the crew reach Lanka.
On the way to lanka ravana’s brother vibhishnan joins with Rama (because of the disrespect given by his brother Ravan about the talk of releasing sita) and accepts to help Rama in the battle field . The surrender of vibishna happens at the place called Gothanda Ramar Temple in Dhanuskodi (it is also said that Rama declare vibishna as a next king of Lanka in this place).
In a battle that follows, Rama, accompanied by Lakshmana , the Vanara Sena and the Vibishna Ravana was defeated and killed , After finished the battle Rama, Lord Rama coronate Vibishna (younger brother of Ravana ) as the King of lanka after the Ravana. Then Ram accompanied by Sita, Lakshmana and the army, flew to the shores of Rameswaram by the help of Ravana’s flying machine pushpaka vimana.
After the rescuing of sita Rama told her “ Sita I’ve rescued you from my enemy Ravan, I’ve done my duty and satisfied the demands of honour, you have been touched by Ravan, How can I know that you are pure”.
Sita got angry and say “Lakshman put a funeral pyre I intend to enter into the flames” Rama didn’t stop it and say nothing. Lakshman put a fire, and the Sita stepped into it.
She prays “ Protect me Agni for you know that I’m pure of heart and body”.
The fire god Agni appeared before Rama and said“ Ram sita is pure, Chaste, Sinless, you took her to ayodhya with you and rule the country with her”.
Because of touching a chaste, pure and sinless pure women fire god Agni got a sin, He prays to Lord Shiva and took a bath in the sea in Rameswaram to vanquish his sin. The place he diminishes his sin by took a bath is called as Agni theertham .
Ravana is believed as a great grandson of Brahma, and also he is a son of Brahmin . According to ancient holy scriptures because of killing a brahmin, Rama got a sin called Brahmahathi dhosha (sin of killing a Brahmin)
As advised by by rishi (saint) agashthya Rama decides to install a shivalinga on the shore of Rameswaram and perform the rituals mentioned by saint to wash off the Brahmahatti dosha,. The auspicious time for performing the rituals are fixed , Rama sent Hanuman to The Mount Kailas to fetch a shiva Linga. The time moves on , the auspicious time for the installation of linga was getting nearer, But Hanuman was not yet reached.
At the mean time Sita makes a Shiva Linga out of the sand with her hand, as the fixed time was reached , saint agashthiya said to rama to perform the rituals to that sand linga built by sita. Pooja had been performed within the stipulated time.
After the rituals had completed Hanuman returns from Kailash with two Lingas. He is disappointed that the ceremony is already over. In anger, he tries to uproot the sand Linga with his tail, but he can’t able to did so, He fell in the ground with his tail broke (the place he fell in the ground with damage in his tail is called as Hanuma kund , The idol named “Abaya Anjaneya” is installed there) Rama pacifies Hanuman and installs a Linga brought by Hanuman from Kailas to the left of Ramalinga, and ordered that all pujas be first performed for this Linga, called Vishwalinga. This priority in puja is followed till today. The second linga brought by hanuman is installed near the Hanuman Temple inside Ramanathaswamy temple and referred by the name “Athma linga”. The linga installed by Rama is called as Ramanathaswamy , and the moolavar (main deity) of the temple .
On their return Ram, Lakshman, Hanuman, Sita installed separate theerthas and performed pooja to them They respectively on the places Rama theertham, Lakshmana theertham, Hanuma theertham, sita theertham.
After performing the rituals and taking bath in the theerthas Rama with his crew flew to Ayodhya by pushpaka vimana, on the way the crew asks for water in thirst , rama shot his arrow into the sea there emerged a spring by which the crew quenched their thirst., the good water spring is still present inside the sea called as villoondi theertham.
After that they have reached Ayodhya , Bharatha welcomes them all , he was very happy to see their return, The sage vasista coronate Rama as a king of Ayodhya., Rama performs his rule and protect the Dharma, and righteousness among the people.
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