We have got a plan to visit Kasi alias Varanasi. Before that we wanted to visit Rameswaram. Actually, I don’t have any idea about the city Rameswaram. It is in Pamban Island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is about 40 kilometres from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. It is in the Gulf of Mannar, at the tip of the Indian peninsula. Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge. Rameswaram is the terminus of the railway line from Chennai and Madurai. Together with Varanasi, it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus.
We had already booked a room in Uttaradhi Mutt. After takng bath and doing Theertha Sankalpa there, the mutt people arranged for a guide. He took us to have the theertha snana. Rameswaram has 22 Theerthams in the form of wells in various parts of the temple. They are Mahalakshmi Theertham, Savithri Theertham, Gayathri Theertham, Saraswathy Theertham, Sethu Madhava Theertham, Gandamadana Theertham, Kavacha Theertham, Gavaya Theertham, Nala Theertham, Neela Theertham, Sangu Theertham, Sakkara Theertham, Brahmahathi Vimochana Theertham, Soorya Theertham, Chandra Theertham, Ganga Theertham, Yamuna Theertham, Gaya Theertham, Siva Theertham, Sathyamirtha Theertham, Sarva Theertham and Kodi Theertham. Taking bath in all these Theerthams purify the body as well as the mind. It is believed that this water is holy and also having medicinal qualities.
The guide took water from each well with the help of a small bucket and rope. Then, he poured it on our head. There were lot of pilgrims everywhere. All were taking bath very happily. Even small children were enjoying. Then, the guide took us to the Samudram to do Samudra Snana. We took a handful of mud and preserved for our Kasi yathra trip. We returned to our room, by walk, changed dress and moved immediately to the temple again.
Adi Shankaracharya propagated the idea of Hinduism through Advaita Vedanta and the town of Rameshwaram stands as a testimony of his faith. One of the four pilgrimage places, Char Dham of India, it modestly invites followers of Lord Shiva from everywhere to pay visit at least once in their lifetime to the Jyotirlinga installed in the Ramanathaswamy Temple. Vaishnavites are also not left in their devotion to come to this place which is believed to be associated with Lord Rama, incarnation of Lord Vishnu as well.
The temple and the island of Rameswaram have acquired this name because, Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva, the God of Gods here on return from Sri Lanka. According to legend, after killing Ravana Lord Rama returned with his consort Goddess Seetha to India first stepping on the shores of Rameswaram. To expiate the “dosha” of killing a brahmin, Lord Rama wanted to offer worship to Lord Shiva. Since there was no shrine in the island had despatched Sri Hauman to Kailash to bring an idol of Lord Shiva.
However, Hanuman couldn’t return with lingam on time owing to which Goddess Sita has created a lingam herself. Lord Rama then worshipped Lord Shiva at the pre decided auspicious moment. Pleased, Lord Shiva blessed Lord Rama and upon his request also manifested himself in the lingam. It is the believed that the same lingam is now present in the sanctum of the temple. As per the legend, the lingam brought by Hanuman from Kailash has also been kept in the temple. The lingam is known as Vishwalingam or Hanumalingam. As per the instructions of Lord Rama, prayers are offered at Hanumalingam first before offering prayers to the Lord Ramanathaswamy.
There are shrines of Goddess Visalakshi, Parvathavardhini, Lord Vinayaka and Lord Subramanya and Perumal as well. Another important idol is of Nandi, this massive statue with a height of 17.5 feet and a length and width of 23 and 12 feet respectively moves devotees not only with its religious aura but also with incomparable sculpting excellence.
After having the darshan of all the Gods, we returned to our room. I will describe the remaining details of Rameswaram trip in my next blog.