In the midst of a political controversy over the Sethusamudram project, the Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that there was no historical evidence to establish the existence of Lord Ram or the other characters in Ramayana.
In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the Archaeological Survey of India rejected the claim of the existence of the Ram Sethu bridge in the area where the project was under construction.
The multi-crore rupee project proposes to provide a shorter sea route from Rameshwaram to Sri Lanka.
Referring to the Ramayana, the affidavit said there is no "historical record" to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the character, or the occurrences of the events, depicted therein.
ASI in its affidavit filed through ASI Director (monuments) C Dorjee stated, "The petitioners while seeking relief have primarily relied upon the contents of the Valimiki Ramayana, the Ram Charit Manas by Tulsidas and mythological texts, which formed an important part of ancient Indian literature, but which cannot be said to be historical records to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters or the occurrence of the event, depicted therein."
Whereas it is submitted that the ASI is aware of and duly respects the deep religious import bestowed upon these texts by the Hindu community across the globe, it is also submitted that the study of human history, which is the primary object of the ASI, like other sciences and fields of study, must be carried out in a scientific manner using available technological aids, and its findings must be based on tangible material evidence."
Earlier, Marine and Water Resources Group, Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad, which had conducted the study had said, "The Adam's bridge/Ram Sethu is believed to be constructed by Lord Ram to cross over to Sri Lanka."
The period of Ramayana is considered as Tretha Yug (more than 17,00,000 years ago). The study, however, concluded that the Adam's bridge is not man made in nature.
The views expressed by the government and ASI are also same.
It may be noted here that the petitioner has sought declaration from the court that the formation known as Ram Sethu/Adam's bridge is a protected and ancient monument and it should not be demolished while constructing Sethusamudram which is going to connect Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka in order to save navigation time for the ships.
The apex court is going to hear the petition on September 14.
Hindus believe that Ram Sethu was built by Lord Ram with the help of Hanuman's Vanar Sena to free his wife Sita from the captivity of 'demon king' Ravana.
Wednesday's affidavit filed jointly by Central government, ASI, and other government agencies virtually puts a question mark against authenticity of the epic called Ramayana and even questions whether the incidents mentioned in it including the battle between Lord Ram and Ravana ever took place.
The apex court had earlier directed the government not to damage 35-km-long Ram Sethu.
The Centre and state of Tamil Nadu are hell bent on removing Ram Sethu as they have refused to take any of six alternative routes suggested for Sethusamudram.
Additional Reportage: UNI