Kathasaritsagara (the Ocean of Story)

by Somadeva | 1924 | 1,023,469 words | ISBN-13: 9789350501351

This is the English translation of the Kathasaritsagara written by Somadeva around 1070. The principle story line revolves around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the Vidhyādharas (‘celestial beings’). The work is one of the adoptations of the now lost Bṛhatkathā, a great Indian epic tale said to have been composed by ...

Note on the bridge built by Rāma (Adam’s bridge)

Note: this text is extracted from Book III, chapter 19.

“When they heard that, his ministers approved of his performing austerities, as the chiefs of the monkeys did in the case of Rāma, when he was intent upon building a bridge over the ocean”.

This well-known incident occurs in the sixth book of the Rāmāyaṇa, known as the Yuddha-kāṇḍa (“Battle Section”). Rāma, having concluded an alliance with Sugrīva, king of the monkeys, is advised by him to build a bridge from the mainland to Laṅkā (Ceylon), where the Rākṣasa, Rāvaṇa, is holding Sītā (Rāma’s wife) captive.

Accordingly a huge army of monkeys assembles on the seashore. Vibhīṣaṇa, Rāvaṇa’s brother, advises the surrender of Sītā, but is insulted by Rāvaṇa. He thereupon joins Rāma and advises him to propitiate the God of the Sea, before starting building the bridge. This is done, and then, tearing up rocks and trees, the multitude of monkeys construct a bridge across the straits. A fearful battle ensues, Rāvaṇa is killed, and after Sītā has proved her purity she is joyfully received back by Rāma.

Thus the Hindus have given the name Rāma’s Bridge (Rāmasetu) to the row of islands and sandbanks stretching from the island of Manaar, near the north-west coast of Ceylon, to the island of Rāmeśvarman, just off the Indian mainland. It is a famous place of pilgrimage, and contains a wonderful carved temple, 700 ft. long, with pillared corridors.

The English name Adam's Bridge is in all probability adopted from the Arabs, who regard Ceylon as the place of Adam’s exile after he had been driven from Eden. The well-known depression on Adam’s Peak, the most prominent, though not the largest, mountain in Ceylon, is considered to be Adam’s footprint by the Mohammedans, Buddha’s footprint by the Buddhists, Śiva’s by the Brāhmans, while the claims of the Portuguese Christians are divided between St Thomas and the eunuch of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia.

For further information on this subject reference should be made to T. W. Rhys Davids’ “Adam’s Peak,” Hastings’ Ency. Rel. Eth., vol. i, pp. 87, 88, with the references given; Yule and Cordier, Marco Polo (1903), vol. ii, pp. 321, 322, 328n, and Cathay and the Way Thither, vol. i, pp. 171, 172, vol. iii, pp. 233, 242.— n.m.p.

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