Updated: May 12, 2020
Storyteller: Ram Setu is symbolic to Muslims too
The Corona pandemic has been a test of our secularism. The enemy that we as a nation face today, is one that does not differentiate on the basis of religion, caste or creed. In the most unexpected of ways, it has united the people of all religion in a common cause. It binds us across all beliefs in solidarity.
A while back, when the contagion of the Corona pandemic was in the early stages of spreading, the Indian Government had launched the Arogya Setu App in early April. Through this app, the government is looking at fervently tracing and curtailing the spread of the disease by contact tracing. The app that is designed to be used on mobile platforms, alerts the users if they come in contact with a COVID 19 positive patient and the measures they need to take in case that happens. Now, of course, there are cons to the whole idea of an app tracking your whereabouts all the time, it could be misused as a surveillance tool and is an infringement of privacy. However, for now, I am choosing to look at the pros and have downloaded it on my phone.
Arogya Setu translates to- "The bridge to healthcare." What does it remind us of? The former land connection between India and Sri Lanka, of course, the famous Ram Setu bridge.
Now, there are a number of beliefs about the existence of that bridge. One consensus that the Hindus and Muslims come together upon, is that the Ram Setu bridge is the outcome of human creation. On one hand, where we consider the bridge to be built by Bhagwan Sri Ram with the help of his monkey friends, on the other, the Islamic school of thought also has an interesting story to explain the existence of this megastructure. Sri Lanka is home to a 7,360 feet Adam's peak considered unanimously sacred by both the Hindus and the Muslims. The peak draws its name from the fact that Prophet Adam, first set his foot on Earth here. We all know the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit. Many Muslim scholars opine that when Adam and Eve were banished from the heavens, they were forced to come and live on Earth. A heartbroken Adam had cried his eyes out, for he did not wish to leave the comforts of the celestial world. Also because he had wept so much, all the tears had fallen on the Earth and co-incidentally was formed a large tear-shaped island called Sri Lanka.
While Adam landed in Sri Lanka, Eve landed in the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The name Jeddah in the Arabic Language means ancestor. It is believed the city is the ancestor of all the women on the planet. Prophet Adam and Eve eventually found each other and decided to set up home in Sri Lanka, where Eve gave birth to her two sons, Abel and Cain. While Abel was god-fearing and righteous, Cain was full of pride, arrogance and jealousy. One day the two brothers were debating over some issue. What started as an argument quickly turned into a big ugly fight and in a fit of rage, Cain murdered Abel. This is also the first incidence of the commitment of sin on Earth. Adam was crushed when he learnt of the gruesome act committed by his son. He decided to go to Mecca for Hajj pilgrimage.
Now Mecca is a city in Saudi Arabia and it was virtually impossible for Adam to swim through the Arabian Sea. The only other land route to Mecca is through the Indian subcontinent. Prophet Mohammad writes in the Holy Quran, about Prophet Adam being 90 feet tall.
So for a person of that stature, it was very easy to line up the limestone shoals, that floated on water and build a bridge for himself. The bridge was built by Prophet Adam and hence got its name as per the Islamic scriptures.
This reminds me of a quote by Shakespeare.
”What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet, CA. 1600
Ram Setu or Adam's bridge, the structure has stood the test of time for so many years, never once favouring one ideology over the other. God created belief, not religion. Belief unites and religion divides. In due course, this storm shall pass. Among the many lessons that we will take from this pandemic, let us also not forget that sometimes the enemy could be another species. We as a race have a better chance at survival,if we stop assassinating each other's religious sentiments. Let us learn to be respectful and accommodating. We are too minuscule to claim anything on this planet.
In Paulo Coehlo's words "Save the planet" is just an expression of arrogance. The planet was here before we arrived, and will kick us out if we don't respect it.
The world is one family- वासुदेव कुटुंबकम. That is exactly how God created it to be.