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All Ram naams satya hai

All we can say is that there are many Ramayans out there with their various versions of a ‘mother’ story.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2008 00:54 IST

If the devil can quote the scriptures, why can’t Fali Nariman? The ruckus over whether the Ram Sethu existed or not has shifted to more textual matters ever since the opponents of the Sethusamudram project insisted that the mythical/mythological/historical bridge reportedly made by Ram’s vanar sena existed simply because enough people believe that it did.

So we have the senior counsel for the central government now trying to beat the faithful in their own game: by throwing forth a nugget supposedly from the version of the Ramayan written by 9th century Tamil poet Kamban. Already, scholar of Kamban’s divine Tamil six-volume epic have started casting doubts about this, but Mr Faliman maintains that the Kamba Ramayanam states that Ram broke the sethu that was made in his name to cross over to Lanka “with his arrow in two”. If the God himself busted his own bridge, who are mere mortals to insist that the bridge still exists, is Nariman’s point.

With our limited knowledge of 9th century Tamil, we’ll sidestep this debate. All we can say is that there are many Ramayans out there with their various versions of a ‘mother’ story. So if in Valmiki’s text Ram justifies his killing Bali from behind a rock while Kishkinda’s monkey king was duelling the upstart Sugreev by simply stating that Bali’s a monkey and he’s a human king, there’s Kamban’s version in which Lakshman explains that Ram was hiding because he wanted to avoid the embarrassing possibility of Bali asking Ram to bump off Sugreev. In other words, it all depends on whose Ramayan you’re spouting in and out of court.