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Oh! coronated king of Ayodya !

Oh! coronated king of Ayodya !

I find myself grappling with the challenge of deciding where to begin. The surge of emotions, unchecked since the consecration of "Ram Lalla" in the new temple, has left me in a contemplative state.

To embark on this journey, I'll start by recounting my initial visit to Ayodhya. On October 10th, 2017, as I travelled by bus, a loud announcement stirred me awake, declaring, "Ayodhya has come." The distant sounds of Ram bhajans and the sight of a few monkeys in the dim light accompanied my awakening. As I fully emerged, the enchanting view of the sun-kissed River Sarayu awaited me.

The name Ayodhya, translating to "beauty that cannot be described," was aptly defined by Sri Vedantha Desikan in his ‘Garuda Panchasat’, likening the sight of Periya Thiruvadi's (Garudan) thiruvadi to a beauty that can never be won.

Previously, the term "Ram Janma bhoomi" associated with Ayodhya instilled a small nervousness, a residual effect of the various narratives ingrained in our minds. It is because of the history that we have learnt all these years – a distorted history that was thrust on us. This filtered history, emphasized the role of Mughals and Britishers in various developments. However, such emphasis overshadowed the continuous invasions, devastations, and plundering evident in our pilgrimage sites. Ironically, these aspects were conspicuously absent from our history books. The irrelevant talks of some our  retired grandfathers  claiming that our railways, postal system is as result  of British rule is a direct consequence of the incorrect history that we have been taught.

A book titled "Vandargal, Vendargal" by Madan, is familiar to many. I myself have read this twice and when I recently read this again, I was shocked with its depiction of Ayodhya.

Babur, after being mesmerized by Gwalior and Chanderi palaces, brought in Turkish architects to construct palaces and mosques in Agra. None of those structures exist today. The only ones remaining are the mosque that was built after the victory in Panipat war and another mosque built by Mirbaki at Babur’s wish in Ayodhya. (and this is also destroyed as a result of Hindu extremism)

So he did not write that the mosque was built over Sri Rama temple. There was a further dubious assertion that the mosque was destroyed by Hindu terrorists!!! In my opinion, “They came, they plundered” would have been a better title for the book.

In 1528, Babri masjid was built  on the very place where little Sri Rama’s once stood. It was built by Mirbaki one of the commanders of Babur army. There was a huge rebellion, and British with their quirky justice system attempted to bring a compromise by allowing mosque in one part and a temple on the other part of the same site. In 1949 the idol of Sri Rama was consecrated inside the temple. And then you will all remember the visuals on the television of the bringing down of mosque and subsequent re consecration of Rama inside in 1992.

My earliest memories of Ayodhya Sri Rama date back to my school days. My father’s friend Sri. Paul Pandian had a printing press and I still remember the process of printing from there. He was a member of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and I recall him being very thin. His conversations with my father always centered around Rama Janma bhumi. During one of his visits, my father advised him that his family will be deprived of his support if he were to indulge in protests for this cause. His vociferous stance for the cause made me wonder whether he lost his own personal land.

Once he came to our house, collected money for the bricks for Ayodhya temple and promptly gave the receipt as well for the money taken. After this visit he was not seen for a while. The printing press  remained closed and we came to know from various sources that he had gone to Ayodhya.

Several years later, he returned home and engaged in a conversation with my father about police encounters, incarceration, and the sealing of his printing press. Following that discussion, he vanished without a trace, and his whereabouts became a mystery to everyone. As life progressed, we swiftly moved on, forgetting both him and thoughts of Sri Rama.  At that age I considered his efforts inconsequential and pondered at the necessity of such endeavours. Although the significance of the cause eluded my understanding at that time, I am grateful to him for providing my young self with an initial exposure to the complexities of Ayodhya.

As I grew older, various articles in newspapers shed light on the Ayodhya issue. The demolition of Babri Masjid( In reality it is not a mosque), darkened the covers of magazines like "Tuglak," with editorials reflecting a centrist stance - “Ayodhiyil Ayogyathanam”( அயோத்தியில் அயோக்கியத்தனம்’).  Cho Wrote, “There has been a frenzy in Ayodhya. Hindus believe in peace. They are justified in their desire to have a Sri Rama built in Ayodhya. However, they would not prefer it by bringing down a mosque”.

On the front cover of the magazine dated May 15, 1990, a thought-provoking cartoon caught my attention. The illustration depicted Sri Rama inquiring of Hanuman, "Hanuman, where are the rest of the monkeys?" to which Hanuman responded, "Most of them have become politicians in India and are now debating whether to build a temple or not for you." This cartoon portrayed the sentiment prevalent at the time.

While I hold a great deal of admiration and respect for Cho, I find myself respectfully diverging from his views on Ayodhya. I cannot align myself with his perspective and would not subscribe to it.

Traditionally, celebrities and writers in Tamil Nadu refrained from vocalizing their desire for a temple in Ayodhya. Their innermost thoughts and sentiments found expression in their fabricated and adulterated writing.

The various sentiments expressed as below resonated through various forms of media -

Sri Rama needs a temple
Babur needs a mosque and
What we need is a clean toilet!!

This apathetic attitude in Tamil Nadu exposed us to diverse issues such as Sethu Samudhra thittam and peculiar questions like, "Was Sri Rama an Engineer?" that clearly reflected the disconnect.

In that era, it was solely Jayalalitha who vehemently proclaimed, "It is possible to build Sri Rama temple only in India." She dismissed various counterclaims such as "there are many Sri Rama temples in Ayodhya" and "What is the necessity for another temple?" Today, after the realization of the grand temple in Ayodhya, not a single individual from ADMK has reiterated Jayalalitha's purported desire. On the contrary, they have taken steps like removing religious symbols, such as vibuthi, possibly with an eye on the upcoming 2024 election. This shift in stance raises questions about the consistency of political commitments over time.

In Tamil Nadu, people were familiar with Sri Rama but not Ayodhya. They have visited the relatively recent Taj Mahal, built just a few hundred years ago, but Ayodhya, the sacred land trodden by Sri Rama thousands of years ago, remains unexplored. A false perverted narrative in Tamil Nadu perpetuates the notion that Sri Rama is a North Indian deity, an absolute misconception that could have been dispelled had people visited Ayodhya.

In 1952, the first lesson in the 3rd-grade history book in Tamil Nadu was dedicated to Sri Rama. However, as time progressed, Sri Rama vanished from our history books. Reflecting on my school days, I struggled to recall what I had learned about Sri Rama. And that earliest memory is simplified to the point where in an English grammar class “Ram killed Ravana” was the example for active voice, while “Ravana was killed by Ram” was the example for passive voice. Is this not this limited version of Rama that we were acquainted with during our studies?

Political manipulations were responsible for the disappearance of our connection with Rama from both our lives and educational materials thus distancing us from our cultural roots. Why not use the same political manoeuvres to reintroduce Sri Rama back into our collective consciousness?

L.K. Advani's "Rath Yatra" played a pivotal role in bringing Ayodhya and Rama Janma Bhoomi back into the forefront of Tamil Nadu people's consciousness. While some may assert that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) turned the Rama issue political, it can be argued that doing so was justified to reclaim a crucial piece of lost history. The political dimension infused into the Ayodhya debate, particularly through events like the "Rath Yatra," served to amplify the significance of the Rama Janma Bhoomi issue across the nation, including Tamil Nadu.

There is a verse(Verse 358) in Purananuru, which is celebrated as Sangam Tamil. It extols the virtues of penance, and the poet of this verse is mentioned as "Vanmikiyar." It's noteworthy that the name "Vanmikiyar" appears to have roots in Sanskrit, and it emphasizes the historical connection and linguistic interplay between Sanskrit and Tamil.

While the identity of this "Vanmikiyar" may not be definitively linked to the sage Valmiki, the presence of such names and the intertwining of Sanskrit and Tamil highlights the shared cultural and linguistic heritage of the people who were familiar with both languages. This historical context reinforces the idea that those proficient in Sanskrit often had a deep understanding of Tamil as well, showcasing the interconnectedness of these languages in ancient times.

The first verse of Srimad Ramayanam goes  like this – “thapas vadhyaya niratham thapasvi vaakvitham varam” (‘தபஸ்வாத்யாய நிரதம் தபஸ்வி வாக்விதாம் வரம்’) - In this verse Sage Valmiki primarily talks about the virtue of penance.

Our preceptors assertion that Sage Valmiki's proficiency in Tamil contributed to the composition of simple yet powerful verses in the Srimad Ramayanam is an interesting perspective. How many in Chennai know that Sage Valimiki has visited Thiruvanmiyur? In earlier days that place was “thiru valmiki oor” that has emerged as Thiruvanmiyur with linguistic shifts, local usage and passage of time.

From Thiruvanmiyur,  Valmiki went to Pallavaram. The perumal there in Thiruneermalai appeared as Sri Rama to him. Sri Rama is symbolised as Gunavan, embodying auspicious qualities, particularly his egalitarian nature or "Sowseelyam," is beautifully connected to the nature of water, reflected in the name "Neer vannan" given to Thiruneermalai Perumal. Another interesting aspect in this divya kshethram is that Sage Valmiki himself is present in Sanctum Sanctorum. The additional information is Thirumangai Azhwars waited for months together to have a darshan of this Perumal that emphasises the profound significance of this place.

The Srimad Ramayanam indeed contains significant details, including references to the river Cauveri and the deity Sri Ranganatha reclining on its banks. According to the narrative, this deity is considered the perumal (deity) of Sri Rama, and it is said that Sri Rama himself performed aradhanam (worship) to this deity. These connections and beliefs have been hidden and is not well publicized to the people of Tamilnadu. However, Prime Minister Modi's recent visit to Sri Rangam has brought these connections and historical details back into the limelight fostering a renewed interest in inherent spirituality of the region.

It is indeed true that online resources can provide news, pictures, and books about Ayodhya. However, there is a unique and immersive experience that comes with being physically present in Ayodhya. The whole place permeates with Sri Rama. The prevalent singing of Sri Rama bhajans, the constant chanting of Srimad Ramayanam by elders, the ubiquitous monkeys, and the persisting perception that every structure could be a Sri Rama temple contribute to the ambience of Ayodhya as a sacred and deeply connected space. This kind of atmosphere provides a tangible sense of the cultural and religious heritage that Ayodhya embodies.

Nammazhwar – The story of Nammazhwar and how we got him emphasises the role of Sri Rama’s grace and significance of Ayodhya. Madhurakavi Azhwar's journey from Ayodhya to Thirukurugur, following a mysterious light in the sky, eventually leading him to discover Nammazhwar meditating under a Tamarind tree, highlights the divine orchestration of events. This spiritual significance attributed to Ayodhya reinforces the fact that Ayodhya holds a unique place in the hearts and stories of devotees.

The presence of armies of monkeys in Ayodhya is a characteristic feature that adds to the unique ambience of the city. The monkeys in Ayodhya are generally viewed with respect and are not considered disturbances by the locals.

In 1986, the District Judge of Faizabad, India, Sri. K.M. Pande ordered the opening of the locks on the Babri Masjid premises to allow Hindus to worship there.

On the day we were scheduled to issue the order to reopen the locks of Babri Masjid for the benefit of Hindu devotees, a huge black monkey made its presence known by occupying a branch in the tree directly above my room within the court premises. A sizable crowd, numbering in the thousands, had gathered anxiously to learn about our decision, a matter of great significance to them. As a gesture of reverence, they offered peanuts and fruits to the monkey. However, the monkey declined any offerings, refusing to partake in them. Following the announcement of the decision around 4:40 pm, the monkey relocated from its perch.

After the proceedings, I was accompanied by the district collector and police officials back to my residence. To my surprise, the very same monkey was found seated in the courtyard. Recognizing the spiritual resonance of the moment, I respectfully bowed to the monkey, acknowledging its presence as a divinely orchestrated occurrence.

In another notable incident, we are all well acquainted with advocate Sri Parasaaran, who, at the age of 92, stood barefooted in the courts while passionately presenting arguments on behalf of Sri Rama. The name "Parasaran" carries a significant meaning: "Para" signifies enemies, and "Sara" refers to arrows. According to Swami Desikan, Parasaran is the individual who triumphs over all adversaries through his arguments akin to arrows. Here are the words expressed by Sri. Parasaran –

During my youth, I served as an apprentice under a prominent lawyer involved in numerous cases. One day, seeking guidance on whom to pray to, I asked him, and his response was Hanuman. From that moment onward, a small sandalwood replica of Hanuman, accompanied by a picture of Parthasarathy, became a constant presence in my coat pocket.

Throughout his illustrious career, the brilliance of Sri. Parasaran's arguments often led observers to ponder whether Hanuman himself might have advocated for him on certain occasions. In one case, when his arguments seemed to falter, causing speculation among those present, Sri. Parasaran reached into his pocket. Unable to locate the Hanuman replica inside, he promptly sent a junior to retrieve it from his room. Astonishingly, once the replica was back in his possession, the courtroom witnessed a resurgence of his remarkable and brilliant arguments.

When the Rama Janma Bhumi case reached the Supreme Court, the opening statement from this 92-year-old Sri Rama devotee resonated with deep conviction: "Mother and motherland are greater than heaven." On the evening of the decision, an unusual occurrence unfolded as some 30-40 monkeys ascended to the terrace of the building where he was residing. Much like the joyous havoc caused by monkeys upon hearing the news of Sita's safety in Sri Lanka from Hanuman, these monkeys too created a commotion on the day of the decision, breaking branches of nearby trees.

In the courtroom, Sri. Parasaran eloquently expressed, "I have ascended in life simply by reading Srimad Ramayanam, and this is the least I owe to Sri Rama." These profound words reflect his deep reverence for the teachings and influence of Srimad Ramayanam in shaping his life's journey.

You may be familiar with the recent incident of a monkey entering the grand new temple sanctum sanctorum on the day of Sri Rama's consecration. Another intriguing ‘monkey’ story involves Ramanandhacharya, a key witness in the Rama Janma Bhumi case. Unfortunately, people in Tamilnadu are not widely aware of him.

Ramanandhacharya possesses the remarkable ability to speak 22 languages and is an instant poet capable of composing in multiple languages. His literary contributions include over 100 books and four Kavyas. Additionally, he has provided detailed Sanskrit commentaries on Tulsidas's Ramacharitamanas and Hanuman Chalisa, establishing himself as one of the foremost authorities on Tulsidas. The irony lies in the fact that, despite these extraordinary accomplishments, Ramanandhacharya is blind.

In his youth, Ramanandacharya, experienced an incident at a juggler's monkey dance show in his village where monkeys were dancing. However, the situation took a frightening turn when the monkeys began touching the children, causing panic and a rush to escape. Ramanandacharya, caught up in the commotion, ended up falling into a dry well. Fortunately, a teenage girl came to his rescue. Ramanandacharya attributes his timely rescue to a line from Sri Ramacharitamanas that his grandfather had taught him that very morning. This incident left a lasting impression on him, connecting the teachings of Sri Ramacharitamanas to a moment of personal salvation.

The meaning of that line of Sri Ramacharitha manas is  below –

Those who chant and sing the praises of  Rama attain the divine feet of Hari and do not fall back into the well of cyclical life and death. And from that moment onward, Ramanandacharya began to recite this line from Sri Ramacharita Manas daily.

"Karpar rama-piranai allal mattrum karparo" (கற்பார் இராம-பிரானை அல்லால், மற்றும் கற்பரோ? – (Anything other than learning Sri Rama cannot be considered as learning). Ramanandacharya embodies the essence of this verse from Nammazhwar.

Before delving into the single most significant evidence presented by Ramanandacharya in the Rama Janma Bhumi case, it is essential to acknowledge the invasion of Sri Rangam and the tragic loss of thousands of Sri Vaishnavas during that unfortunate event.

Uluk Khan, popularly known as Muhammad Bin Tuglaq, harboured intentions of invading South India in 1321. The primary intention for this invasion lay in the temples, abundant with priceless jewellery and precious diamonds. Setting out from Delhi with a formidable force of 60,000 soldiers and a massive cavalry, Uluk Khan posed a significant threat. At around the same time fearing the invasion a group led by Sri Pillai Lokachariyar journeyed southward with Namperumal to safeguard HIM from the impending invaders. Swami Desikan erected a substantial wall in front of Periya Perumal and concealed Thaayar beneath a Vilva tree. Despite the valiant resistance, the invaders penetrated, resulting in the tragic loss of 12,000 Sri Vaishnavas. Swami Desikan, feigning death, lay among the deceased. Once Uluk Khan and his army departed, Swami Desikan made his way to Melkottai through Sathyamangalam, thus safeguarding "Sruthaprakasikai" and the two children of Sudarshana Suri Bhattar.

Writer Sujatha wrote in a 2005 edition of Anandha Vikatan as below –

The traditional folk songs sung by the people of any region not only reflect but also become integral components of the culture of that region. Considered as historical inscriptions, these songs vividly capture significant events such as famines, floods, natural disasters, and invasions. Through a thorough exploration of these songs, there is likely to be a distinct emphasis on the tragic massacre of 12,000 Sri Vaishnavas in one of the compositions. Additionally, these songs may illuminate other distressing incidents, such as the suicides of two Jiyars and Azhagiya Manavala Dasar, who climbed onto the Vellayi Gopuram.

Many individuals vehemently opposed this, expressing their disapproval with some of the harshest comments. Numerous critics went so far as to categorize this writing as unfounded and unsubstantiated, registering their protest its validity.

There is no need to search folk songs and, instead, turn our focus to Swami Desikan's Abhidisthavam.
(Gist of the slokas are given below)

"Thiruvaranga! In your incarnation as Sri Rama, you safeguarded those who surrendered to you—a pledge you solemnly upheld. I too am a recipient of your boundless mercy. Presently trapped and anxious at the thought of losing your protection and the joy derived from communion with you, the people of Thiruvarangam place their reliance solely on you, seeking nothing else. However, the current conditions have instilled fear, depriving them of the cherished experience with you.

Sri Ranganatha! The Turks, Yavanars, emissaries of Kali Purushan, are responsible for the prevailing fear and terrorism in this world. I implore you to vanquish them, along with the ensuing fear, using the five supremely potent weapons at your disposal. Your weapons merely require a moment to destroy these threats. Without delay, please rescue your devotees from these malevolent forces.

These adversaries, mightier than asuras, wreak widespread destruction. We are concerned that they might harm the revered Sri Ranga Vimanam cherished by all your devotees. My once-dark hair has now turned grey, and I yearn for a serene existence, whether in Sri Rangam or any other place filled with the bliss of exclusively experiencing you." This is the lamentation of Swami Desikan.

In 2003, while presenting a counter argument in the Rama Janma Bhumi case, Ramanandacharya brought attention to the eight verses of Tulsidas’s "Doha Shatak." Much like Swami Desikan’s Abhidistavam, these eight verses are rich in historical content and gives a running commentary of the demolition of Ayodhya temple. The essence of these eight verses can be summarized as follows –

In these eight verses, Tulsidas vividly portrays the events where Muslims, led by plundered the Rama Janma Bhumi and erected a mosque on the sacred site. He details how the invaders showed disrespect and mockery towards Hindu scriptures, including the Upanishads. Additionally, Tulsidas depicts the removal of religious symbols such as the sacred thread and the hair tuft (குடுமி) worn by Hindus. The verses further narrate the incessant attacks on the Hindu community's hope, describing the constant onslaught.

Furthermore, the verses delve into the role of Babur in the extensive Hindu genocide and the subsequent destruction of the temple at the Rama Janma Bhumi by Mir Baki, Babur’s commander. The mosque was then constructed on this sacred ground. Tulsidas expresses deep sorrow and anguish due to such devastation, highlighting the transformation of the once resounding with Sri Rama Bhajans to a place filled with the sounds of the Quran.

Both Swami Desikan and Tulsidas have employed the term "Yavanar" to characterize the Mughals or the barbaric invaders.

Due to the devotion of Acharyas like Pillai Lokacharya and Swami Desikan, along with the conviction expressed by Swami Desikan through his Abhidisthavaam and the assistance of Gopanar, Namperumal returned to Sri Rangam after 48 years. Similarly, following the sacrifices and struggles of numerous devotees in reclaiming the Rama Janma Bhumi, much like Gopanar, Indian Prime Minister Modi also consecrated Ram Lalla back to the rightful place that belongs to him.

After nearly 500 years, the celebration of Ram Lalla's return to Ayodhya was marked by tears of joy and happiness across India, resembling the joyous homecoming of Rama after his 14-year sojourn in the forest.

Unfortunately, our society, instead of heeding the words of great men like Ramanandacharya, is engaging in the translation of Babur's daily chronicle, known as Babur Nama. Uttering the slogan "Jai Sriram" can lead to being labelled a Hindu extremist, and in Tamil Nadu, even chanting "Jai Hind" instantly categorizes someone as a "Tamil Traitor." With the homecoming of Rama, the shackles that bound us for the past 500 years were cut, and the emotional chants of "Jai Sriram" filled us with pride as Hindus and Indians.

Nammazhwar expresses, "நல்-பால் அயோத்தியில் வாழும் சராசரம்" ("nal pal Ayodhiyil vazhum sara saram"), signifying that residing in Ayodhya automatically leads to devotion to Rama. Alternatively, it implies a place where each of Rama's auspicious attributes is displayed. Therefore, when I visited Ayodhya last year amidst the pouring rain, I walked barefoot around all the places where Rama might have trodden, seeking to be part of that divine connection.

"Srimad Ramayanam is a perennial river that had its source in the mountain called Valmiki, and it flows towards a mighty ocean called Sri Rama. Let that sacred river purify this vast universe" – This is the Ramayana Dhyana Slokam.

Thus, this slokam does not restrict itself just to the earth but extends to the whole universe. We all have a puja room at home, and there is also a temple near our residence. Moreover, there are many such temples in every part. Sri Rangam, Mathura, Ayodhya, Tirupathi are some of the sacred worshipping places in India. For the whole world, India is the temple, and Ayodhya can be rightly described as its epicenter.

Thondaradipodi Azhwar in his Thirupalliyezhuchi says, “Ayodhi em arase! Arangathamma! Palli ezhundharulaye” (”Oh! coronated king of Ayodya ! wakeup!”) and after 500 years Sri Rama has woken up!!

Rama is also known by the name Sathyaseelam. Here, Sathyam not only signifies truth but also denotes permanence

Jai SriRam
- Sujatha Desikan
75th Republic Day
( English translation by Smt Sridevi Varadarajan)