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The Ancient Temples and Tolerance of Ramateertham Village, India

The Ancient Temples and Tolerance of Ramateertham Village, India


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India is blessed with an abundance of ancient historic and religious sites, but the small village of Ramateertham is unique. Nestled in its hills are sites that are sacred to Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus. This area has been a sacred landscape since ancient times and as a result, a rich heritage of archaeological sites remains. Ramateertham has been an area of pilgrimage for over two millennia and possibly even longer. Today, it is increasingly popular with tourists.

The Rich History of Ramateertham in India

Although Ramateertham has traditionally been associated with the god Rama, one of the major Hindu deities , this locality was once part of the Mauryan Empire and Buddhism became popular in the area at the time. It likely flourished because of the patronage of emperors such as Ashoka the Great (304 to 232 BC) who promoted the spread of Buddhism throughout Asia. The Buddhists built a large monastery complex in the locality.

1000-year-old Sri Rama temple on top of Bodhikonda. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Hindu kingdoms emerged in the area after the fall of the Mauryans in 185 BC, but they continued to patronize the Buddhist and Jain monuments in the area. This was typical of the tolerance and religious pluralism of the time, with mutual respect between the Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus.

The Buddhist monastery was abandoned in the Middle Ages, likely because of a revival of Hinduism in India. It may also have been deserted as a result of the constant Muslim raids after the 11 th century AD.

Today, the Buddhist and Jain sites are no longer in use as these communities have virtually disappeared from the area. Hindus continue to make pilgrimages to the ancient temple dedicated to Rama and the new temple dedicated to Shiva which was built in 2007. It is only in recent years that a systematic archaeological review of the area has been conducted and many important objects have been unearthed.

Gurabaktakonda Buddhist Monastery remains at Ramateertham, India ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The Many Wonders of Ramateertham

The village of Ramateertham is set in hilly country and there are numerous historic ruins in these basalt hills. The Rama Temple, which dates back centuries and is based on a classical Indian design, is situated nearby. There are several important idols and statues in the temple, which is often busy with tourists and followers.

The southern hill known as Bodhikonda has Buddhist, Hindu and Jain remains. The caves contain historic ruins and examples of rock art from various religious traditions. On the south-west of the hill stand the ruins of the Jain temple. Also, on the Bodhikonda hill, is the 1000-year-old temple dedicated to Rama. The square shaped building is topped with a Shikhara, a pyramid-like structure that covers the central shrine of the temple. This brick structure was adorned with reliefs and sculptures.

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A view of ruined Jain temple on Bodhikonda, India ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The northern hill called Ghanikonda (also known as Durgakonda) has a temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga . There are various mounds on this hill that were built by Jains and Buddhists in the past.

The most impressive remains are on the central hill known as the Gurabaktakonda and it is on the north side of this that the Buddhist monastery stands. At the summit on the south side is the perennial spring, where a brick mound is decorated with Jain images.

All that remains of the Buddhist monastery are foundations and walls and it is estimated to have been 180 feet (60m) in length. Near the temple is a remarkable water reservoir that was constructed on the hill to supply the needs of the Buddhist monks. Also, to be seen is a stupa and a chaitya, or shrine, and not far away are the remains of several other shrines and a stone platform.

A Journey to the Temples of Ramateertham

The historic area is in Vizianagaram, in the state of Andhra Pradesh . Public transport to the area is available and it is possible to visit the Sri Rama Temple and the ruins. They are located high up the hill and can be difficult to access, depending on the weather conditions. There is no fee charged, but visitors need to act appropriately and respect the cultural and religious sensitivities of the local people.


Ellora Caves

Ellora (e-ˈlȯr-ə, IAST: Vērūḷ) (Marathi: वेरूळ) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest rock-cut Hindu temple cave complexes in the world, featuring Hinduism in particular and few Buddhist and Jain monuments with Artwork dating from the 600–1000 CE period. [1] [2] Cave 16 features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailash temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Kailash temple excavation also features sculptures depicting the gods, goddesses found in Hinduism as well as relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics. [3] [4] [5]

There are over 100 caves at the site, all excavated from the basalt cliffs in the Charanandri Hills, 34 of which are open to public. [3] These consist of 17 Hindu (caves 13–29), 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, [6] [7] each group representing deities and mythologies prevalent in the 1st millennium CE, as well as monasteries of each respective religion. [6] They were built close to one another and illustrate the religious harmony that existed in ancient India. [2] [8] All of the Ellora monuments were built during the Rashtrakuta dynasty, which constructed part of the Hindu and Buddhist caves, and the Yadava dynasty, which constructed a number of the Jain caves. Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals, traders and the wealthy of the region. [3] [9]

Although the caves served as temples and a rest stop for pilgrims, [7] the site's location on an ancient South Asian trade route also made it an important commercial centre in the Deccan region. [10] It is 29 kilometres (18 miles) north-west of Aurangabad, and about 300 kilometres (190 miles) east-northeast of Mumbai. Today, the Ellora Caves, along with the nearby Ajanta Caves, are a major tourist attraction in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra and a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India [ASI]. [11]


By Charukesi Ramadurai ( 7 October 2015) Source: BBC

India has been a particularly conservative country for the last few hundred years, influenced by the puritanism of several groups, including Islamic dynasties, British overlords and the country’s own Brahmin priestly caste. But India was not always like this. Sexual norms were far more liberal before the 13th Century, giving equal importance to the secular and the spiritual. Sex was taught as a subject in formal education, and Kamasutra, the world’s first sex treatise, was written in ancient India between the 4th Century BCE and the 2nd Century.

In fact, if you look closely, reminders of these more liberal times can be seen across the country. They’re literally carved in stone in the form of erotic motifs on the lower walls of the 13th Century Sun Temple at Konark in the east Indian state of Orissa. Nudity is prominent in the paintings and sculptures of heavenly maidens at Maharashtra’s Buddhist rock-cut monastic caves, Ajanta (2nd Century BCE) and Ellora (5th to 10th Centuries).

India’s most graphic example of erotic temple art
However, the best-preserved and most graphic example of erotic temple art can be found in the small town of Khajuraho in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Its elegantly carved Hindu temples were declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1986. Built by the Chandela dynasty between 950 and 1050, only 22 of the 85 original temples remain.

When I entered the 6sqkm site late one winter afternoon, the sandstone glowed a burnished gold. Local women carried fresh flowers and incense sticks for their prayers, while visitors perambulated the outer corridors, gawking at the profuse and intricate sculptures that covered every inch of the walls. There were images of gods and goddesses, warriors and musicians, animals and birds. It could have been a scene from any temple in India.

But on closer inspection, many of these carvings were of an intensely erotic nature, featuring men, women and animals. There were depictions of threesomes, orgies and bestiality. Although I knew what to expect, I was still taken aback by shapely maidens and virile men contorting their bodies in impossible sexual positions, right next to sculptures of divine beings smiling blissfully at the devout. Although a few stones were chipped and several limbs broken, the carvings were incredibly pristine, considering that the temples are more than 1,000 years old.

There are various theories about the existence of such graphic erotic motifs. One of the more exotic ones propounds that since Chandela kings were followers of Tantric principles, which dictate the balance between the male and female forces, they promoted their faith in the temples they created.

Other theories have to do with the role of temples themselves in those times: they were considered places of learning as well as worship – especially of the finer arts, including the art of lovemaking. In addition, some believe that the depiction of sexual activities in temples was considered a good omen because it represented new beginnings and new life.

That apart, Hinduism has traditionally considered sex an essential part of life, which could be why the carvings are casually interspersed between others that portray activities as varied as prayer and war. The fact that they are set in plain view and not tucked away in an obscure corner seems to suggest that their creators meant for them to be seen by all.

Isolation helped these graphic motifs survive
Bizarrely, there’s no reason why these ornate temples were built at Khajuraho, since there’s no clear record of whether there was even a kingdom in this location. The survival of these graphic motifs can likely be attributed to their isolation for hundreds of years in the region’s once-thick forest, only rediscovered by Englishman Captain TS Burt in 1838. In fact, Burt himself had to be persuaded by his Indian attendants to make the journey he didn’t believe anything of interest would be found at the remote spot. These charmed temples have also managed to evade the wrath of India’s moral police, who in recent years banned or destroyed a range of cultural artefacts, ranging from Salman Rushdie’s books to MF Hussain’s paintings.

But what I found even more interesting than the explicit carvings and the history behind them was the fact that entire families were quietly engrossed in the guide’s speech as he analysed the spicier carvings high on the walls of the magnificent Kandariya Mahadeva temple. No eyebrows were raised, no embarrassed looks were exchanged, no giggles escaped young lips. Perhaps the art is unobjectionable when crouched within a religious context – but I came away believing that Khajuraho holds within its walls a larger lesson on tolerance for India.


Andhra Pradesh: Shri Ram idol at Ramateertham temple found ‘beheaded’, opposition attacks Jagan Reddy govt

In another case of temple vandalization in Andhra Pradesh, the miscreants targeted the famous Ramatheertham in Vizianagaram district and desecrated 400-year-old idol of Bhagwan Ram. In the past year, several such incidents have happened in the state. The opposition is blaming the Jaganmohan Reddy government for inaction against the miscreants in the past for repeated attacks on temples.

The incident

As per the reports, when the priest reached the temple on Tuesday morning, he found that the doors of the ancient Sita Lakshmana Kodandarama temple on the Bodikonda hillock in Ramatheertham were broken. When he entered the sanctum, he found the desecrated idol of Bhagwan Ram. The idol of the Lord was beheaded. The authorities at the temple immediately informed the police about the incident.

Since the incident, several portions of the idol have been retrieved from the nearby temple pond. Vizianagaram district police are investigating the case, forming five special teams. Raja Kumari, SP, Vizianagaram said in a statement that they are investigating the case, but no arrests have been made so far. He said, “We are probing from all angles to know if this is an act of treasure hunters or involves communal angle or a miscreant act. We have not made any arrests so far.”

The opposition blames Jaganmohan Reddy government for the increasing incidents

The latest Temple vandalism case is being seen as a failure of CM Jaganmohan Reddy to maintain law and order in the state and the failure of the state administration in bringing culprits of previous cases of temple attacks to justice. TDP, BJP and Janasena have blamed Reddy government for the increase in such attacks.

Sunil Deodhar, the National Secretary of BJP and co-in charge of Andhra Pradesh compared the incident to Taliban’s destruction of giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan. He said, “Repeat attacks on Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh are reminiscent of actions of 16th century ruthless St. Xavier in Goa who destroyed temples & carried out forced conversions & Taliban’s destruction of giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan.”

On Tuesday night, Bharatiya Janata Party workers staged a protest at the temple. Somu Veerraju, Andhra Pradesh BJP chief has demanded stern action against the culprits.

Former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said, “The destruction of Ram idol at the four centuries old Ramatheertham temple is resultant of the negligence of the ruling party.” Naidu said that for unknown reasons the CM is just watching the attacks as a silent spectator.

“In the last 19 months, over 120 attacks took place on temples. These attacks were going on as per a premeditated plan. Over 23 idols were demolished in six temples at Pithapuram. Durga temple was brought down in Guntur,” he said.

Pawan Kalyan, Janasena Party chief, said, “At a time when the construction of Ram mandir is going on at Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, the idol of Lord Ram is destroyed in our state. Separating the head of the idol cannot be an act of an insane person. It is an act of some religious maniacs.” Kalyan has urged Union Home Ministry to look into the matter and demanded CBI probe covering all attacks on the temples in the state. He added, “Why is the CM not responding to the spate of onslaughts on Hindu temples? He may have faith in any religion, but he should respect the sentiments of other religions.”

Past incidents of temple attacks in Andhra Pradesh

In February, a 50 feet tall ancient chariot of Prasanna Venkateswara Swamy temple at Bhogolu village of Bitragunta Mandal in Nellore district was set on fire. Several Hindu god and goddess idols and flex banners in Pithapuram city in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh were desecrated by unknown miscreants in January this year. In September, a similar incident took place in Antarvedi where the six-decade-old, 40 feet high wooden ratham of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha went up in flames. Amidst public pressure, the case was handed over to CBI by the state government.


Rock-Cut Architecture


Image Credit: www.ghumakkar.com

The Rock-cut structures present the most spectacular piece of ancient Indian art specimen. Most of the rock-cut structures were closely associated with various religions and religious activities. In the beginning, remarkable Buddhist and Jain rock-cut structures were built in areas such as Bihar in the east and Maharashtra in the west. Numerous caves were excavated by the Buddhist monks for prayer and residence purposes. The best example of this is Chaityas (prayer halls) and viharas (monasteries). Inside these rock-cut structures, windows and balconies and gates were carved as huge arch shaped openings.

Rock-cut architecture occupies a very important place in the history of Indian Architecture. The rock-cut architecture differs from traditional buildings in many ways. The rock-cut art is more similar to sculpture than architecture as structures were produced by cutting out solid rocks. Let's have a look at various specimen of rock-cut architecture in ancient India. Some prominent rock-cut structures of ancient India are Chaityas, Viharas, temples etc.

Early Caves

Natural caves were the earliest caves used by local inhabitants. The natives used such caves for different purposes like places of worship and shelters. The Mesolithic period (6000 BC) saw the first use and modifications of the early caves, a fact manifested by archaeological evidences. The overhanging rocks embellished with petroglyphs or rock-cut designs that were created by carving, chiseling and abrading part of rock surfaces forms the early instances of such rock caves. The Bhimbetka rock shelters inside the tiger reserve called ‘Ratapani Wildlife Santuary’ located on the verge of the Deccan Plateau in Raisen District in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, illustrates the settlement of human life in these rock shelters some hundreds of thousands years ago as also of the initiation of Stone Age in India. UNESCO declared this place as a World Heritage Site in 2003 which bears several Stone Age rock paintings, some of which are more than 30,000 years old. Early manifestations of dance art are also palpable from these caves.

The oldest surviving Indian rock-cut caves are the Barabar Caves that are situated in the Makhdumpur Block of Jehanabad district in the Indian state of Bihar. Some of these caves, most of which trace back to the 3rd century BC during the rule of the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE), bear Ashokan inscriptions. These caves from the time of the great Indian emperor Ashoka and his grandson, Dasharatha speak volume of the policy of religious tolerance undertaken by the two emperors who were otherwise Buddhists. Different Jain sects thrived under their rule. Ascetics from Ajivika sect, a ?rama?a movement that remained a major contemporary of early Buddhism and Jainism, which was founded in the 5th century BCE by Makkhali Gosala, used these caves. Many rock-cut Hindu and Buddhist sculptures are found in these caves.

Cave Temples

The Western Deccan region consists of many early cave temples that date back to a period between 100 BC and 170 AD. Most of these cave temples stood as Buddhist monasteries and shrines. Presumably these caves had wooden structures that decayed with time. The Bhaja Caves tracing back to the 2nd century BC that include a total of 22 rock-cut caves situated in city of Pune, Maharashtra the Bedse or Bedsa Caves dating back to around 1st century BC, located in Maval taluka, Pune, Maharashtra the Karla or Karle Caves or Karla Cells that developed as ancient Indian Buddhist rock-cut cave shrines between 2nd century BC to 5th century AD, situated in Karli, Maharashtra the Kanheri Caves comprising of a group of rock-cut monuments dating back between 1st century BCE to 10th century CE, situated within the forests of the ‘Sanjay Gandhi National Park’ in the western outskirts of Mumbai, Maharashtra and some of the famous Ajanta Caves comprising of 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments dating from the 2nd century BCE to around 480 or 650 CE, located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra are counted as the earliest surviving cave temples in India.

The Buddhist missionaries employed the caves as shrines and shelters conforming to the religious concepts of asceticism leading a monastic life. The ancient Buddhist and Jain cave basadis, monasteries and temples are instances of early rock-cut architecture. The caves at Kanheri and Ajanta saw eventual occupation by the Buddhist monks. Indications of association between the religion and commerce are palpable from the relics of the caves. Sources mention that traders many a times travelled the active international trade routes through India in company of the Buddhist missionaries. For instance the Bhaja Caves situated 400 feet above the Bhaja village lies on a significant age-old trade route that ran from the Arabian Sea eastward to the Deccan plateau. Buddhism ideology advocated trade practices and these Buddhist monasteries often provided lodging facilities for traders who stopped over in these Buddhist abodes while on trade routes.

According to sources the natives of Indus Valley commenced on maritime trading contact with Mesopotamia during the 3rd millennium BCE and as such trade prospered between South-East Asia and the Roman Empire, some of the cave temples witnessed inclusion of elaborate facades, arches and pillars courtesy patronage of wealthy traders. Royal and mercantile endowments soon started pouring in which saw elaboration of cave interiors including embellishment of interior walls of the caves with exquisite carvings, reliefs and paintings. The exteriors of the caves were face-lifted with facades and the interiors were apportioned for different purposes like developing areas for cave shrines called chaityas which are the congregational worship halls and viharas or monasteries where the monks resided. As centuries passed the skilled artisans turned the more simple caves into elaborate structures that looked more like free-standing buildings. The wood-like themes embellished on these ancient rock-cut caves showcase the craftsmanship of artists of those times who skilfully etched timber texture, structure and grain in these caves. The pillared inner circle chamber of earliest rock-cut garbhagriha, that is the sanctum sanctorum, allowed devotees to circumambulate around the stupa.

Many cave temples were later developed under the patronisation of southern Indian Hindu kings and were dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses. The earliest known examples of Hindu temples are the Badami Cave temples that comprise of four Hindu cave temples apart from a Jain and presumably a Buddhist cave temple situated in the town of Badami in northern Karnataka. These cave temples date back to the 6th century and are regarded as fine examples of Badami-Chalukya architecture that adorn decorative pillars, intricately carved sculptures, embellished brackets and finely chiseled ceiling panels. Striking sculptures adorning these cave temples including that of Tandava-dancing Shiva as Nataraja in Cave 1 and relief of Vishnu as Trivikrama in Cave 2 among others illustrate Hindu themes and divinities.

Although several ancient stupas, monasteries and temples were destroyed due to several reasons including degradation and vandalism, the cave temples stood the test of time and survived presumably due to less visibility as also because of the fact that these were constructed out of more durable material compared to masonry and wood. Most of the cave temples that exist today, which counts to around 1200, are Buddhist temples.

Monolithic Rock-Cut Temples

The architects of the Pallava Dynasty initiated rock carving to create monolithic structures that resemble temples. A monolithic rock-cut temple is chiselled out of a single colossal rock in the shape of masonry or wooden temples including embellishment on walls and other areas showcasing fine work of art and engineering. The Pancha Rathas or Pandava Rathas of Mahabalipuram situated on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal are the most excellent architectural edifices typifying monolith Indian rock cut architecture. The five structures shaped as rathas or chariots chiselled out of large block of stone of granite dates back to the 7th century and are named after the five Pandava brothers and their common spouse Draupadi from the great Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’. Marked as ‘Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram’ by ‘UNESCO’ and enlisted in its World Heritage Sites list, the site showcases varied Dravidian architecture. It has reflections of the Buddhist Viharas and Chaityas and became templates to temples of much higher dimensions built later in Tamil Nadu.

The Kailash temple considered as one of the most colossal age-old rock-cut Hindu temples forms cave temple number 16 of Ellora, which is counted among the largest rock-cut monastery-temple caves complexes of the world and marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Maharashtra, India. Among the 100 caves of Ellora, 34 caves are open to public of which the Kailash temple shaped as a chariot is regarded as one of the most magnificent cave temples in India. Construction of this megalith is attributed to the 8th century king Krishna I of the Rashtrakuta dynasty in 756-773 CE. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple showcases fine architectural works including relief panels depicting the two main Hindu Epics namely the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Pallava and Chalukya styles of architecture are noticed in this cave temple which is decorated with carved sculptures including that of gods and goddesses from the Hindu Puranas, mystical beings such as divine musicians and nymphs and figures depicting fertility and good fortune.


Ramanarayanam Temple Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh

Ramateertham is a panchayat village in Nellimarla Mandal of the Vizianagaram district in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is located about 15 km from the city of Vizianagaram. The temple is located on the banks of the Champavathi river and next to the Neelachalam mountain with pleasant scenery and also attracts pilgrims. The temple is located near a lake, which is why it is called Theertham. It is a famous pilgrimage and also an ancient historical site from the 3rd century BC.

Bhagavan Sri Krishna politely declined the request of the Pandavas to be with them when they went to Aranyavasa and were blessed with the idols of Sri Sita-Rama-Lakshmana from their previous incarnation and commanded the Pandavas to worship idols as their own form.

It is one of the holiest places in India, Ramathirtham, it is a unique temple where three main religions are represented: Jain, Buddhist and Hindu. The complex is spread over three hills, Bodi Konda, Gurubhakta Konda, and Durga Konda, which contain both Jain and Buddhist relics. These hills are believed to have been the abode of Lord Rama during his exile in the forest. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Rama and is believed to have been consecrated by Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandava Princes of the epic Mahabharat.

History

At Dwaparayuga, when the Pandavas were roaming this region during their Aranyavasa, they asked Sri Krishna Paramatma to be with them. Bhagavan Sri Krishna politely declined their request and was blessed with the idols of Sri Sita Rama Lakshmana from his previous incarnation and ordered the Pandavas to worship idols as their own form.

During their Aranyavasa, the Pandavas regularly performed Archanas to the idols of Sri Sita Rama Lakshmana and when they moved to the other region, they entrusted these idols to Srivaikhanasa Vaishnava Swamy alias Vedagarba to continue performing Archana’s to these idols. Later, due to the growing influence of the Buddha in this region, and in fear that the followers of the Buddha might destroy these idols, the Vedagarba servant clan hid these idols underground and left the place. Later, during the 16th century, Sri Poosapati Sitharama Chandra Gajapathi Maharaja of the present Vizianagaram Maharaja dynasty built this fort in Kumbhilapuram (present-day Kummili village) and ruled his kingdom from there. People under his rule used to come to the forest area to cut wood and earn a living. Meanwhile, one day there was a strong storm with thunder and lightning that was very destructive.

While all the people around this place were running around in fear, a mute old woman among them, took refuge under the shade of a banyan tree and was praying to Lord Ramachandra, the lord appeared before her and wrote the beejakshara “Sri Rama” on her tongue. After which She immediately received her speech, prostrated herself before Lord Sri Rama Chandra and the Lord asked her to inform the king that the idols belonging to the Dwaparayuga are submerged in the water around this region and they must be taken out and build the temple. Having said this, Lord Sri Ramachandra disappeared.

From then on, the rain subsided and before the old woman could even inform the king, the king had a dream in which Lord Ramachandra told the king that the lady was mute from birth and now She has recovered the speech, so Therefore, everything that she advises must be carried out. . The king immediately ordered his guards to bring the old woman to the palace. Consequently, the guards brought the old woman to the king and the old woman narrated the whole event.

From then on, Sri Pusapati Seetharamachandra Maharaja came to this area together with his men and found the idols of Sri Sitharama Lakshmana under the water of the pond. On the auspicious day of Bheeshma Ekadasi, idols were established and enshrined in this Swethachalam, as Lord Rama found himself in Theertha (water), the temple was named as Ramatheertham. Near his palace on a hill called Neelachalam, one can find traces of Pandavas movements such as the head and cave of Bheemas, the resonating rocks, the fiery furnace, the places where the Pandavas stayed, the turmeric stones, the Seethammavari puritimancham can be found even today. Therefore, on this hill, a Sri Sitharama Lakshamana temple was also built and Archana etc. are performed even today.

Transport

By Road:

Sri Rama Swamy Temple is 15 KM away from Vizianagaram. APSRTC provides number of Buses to Nellimarla. Nellimarla to Ramatheertham Temple Nubmer of Autos

By Train:

The nearest Railway Station is Vizianagaram Station.all Express are standing in the Railway sation

By Air:

The nearest Airport is Visakhapatnam. Ramatheertham to Vizianagaram 15 Kilometers


400 years old idol of God Ram was beheaded in Andhra Pradesh, while more than 120 attacks on Hindu temples already committed in the state under the regime of Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy

An anguished priest retrieved severed head of idol of God Ram and AP CM Y.S. Jagmohan Reddy. Photo credit: twitter and Wikipedia

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On 29 December 2020, a 400-year-old idol of God Ram was beheaded at the Sita Lakshmana Kodandarama temple in Ramatheertham in Andhra Pradesh. When the priest reached the temple in the early morning of 29 December, he found door of the ancient temple broken open, the sanctum sanctorum vandalised and idol of God Ram beheaded. The decapitated head of God Ram’s idol was found in temple pond the next day.

Attack on Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh is not a singular act, but it has been repeated offences after Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy took oath as the second Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 30 May 2019 post its bifurcation. In the last 19 months, more than 120 attacks were committed on Hindu temples and their properties in a systematic plan.

  • On 21 January 2020, 23 temple idols at six temples in the temple town of Pithapuram in East Godavari district were desecrated. Goddess Puruhutika resides at Pithapuran, which is one of the 18 Sakti Peethams, holiest for Hindus.
  • On 13 February 2020, an ancient wooden chariot of Sri Prasanna Venkateswara Swamy temple in Nellore district was burnt to coal pieces much before the locals were preparing for Bramhotsavam festivities to be held from March 4. The chariots had been poured inflammable liquid and set it on fire.
  • On 28 March 2019, two old Hindu temples in Suryaraopeta, Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh were demolished by Church authorities using a JCB machine. Then they stole the antique idols of presiding deities. The villagers identified the culprits as Church Pastor Prabhudas and three others, who had been converting Hindus under the banner of “Christu Sangam” for the last five years.
  • On 6 September 2020, a 62-year-old chariot of presiding deity Sri Lakshmi Narsimha Swami was burnt down at Antarvedi in East Godavari district. What can be more anguishing than that the chariot was reduced to ashes!

Chariot of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple was caught with fire at Antharvedi, EG Dist, AP. This is 1 among series of suscipious incidents happenig for last few months.
Urged intervention of Hon'ble @governorap & sought directions to AP Govt to provide protection to Temples. pic.twitter.com/gjStw0FMd8

&mdash Legal Rights Protection Forum (@lawinforce) September 6, 2020

These continuous destruction of Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh is tip of iceberg as there has been attacks after attacks on Hindu temples. What is miserable is that Hindus are in majority, still they are treated as second class citizens. Why has Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh remained mute spectator to every attack on Hindu temple? He is a devout Christian. From the day he has become Chief Minister, he has opened the treasury of the state to the Christian community to encourage conversion drive on fast track. Surprisingly, his administration hardly took any action against the culprits, who have been attacking not only Hindu temples but giving a clear signal that they would suppress their religious sentiment at their will.

When Islamic attackers had invaded India in medieval period, what they first did was to destroy and demolish as many ancient and magnificent Hindu temples as they could have, in order to establish Islamic rule. Next, the Islamic barbarians brutally converted Hindus to Islam. Pakistan has been following the same formula to wipe out other minorities since independence with a clear intention to establish absolute Islamic dominance and control on its land, as hundreds of Muslims attacked a historic Hindu temple, Shri Krishna Dwara Mandir and set it on fire in Teri village of Karak district in Peshawar on 30 December.

Thread-
Repeat attacks on Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh are reminiscent of actions of 16th century ruthless St. Xavier in Goa who destroyed temples & carried out forced conversions & Taliban's destruction of giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan.
Join me & #CondemBeheadingLordRamIdol pic.twitter.com/hbeRhv17Qi

&mdash Sunil Deodhar (@Sunil_Deodhar) December 30, 2020

When St. Francis Xavier landed in Goa in May 1542, he ordered Franciscan missionaries to destroy as many Hindu temples as they could have. A campaign by Franciscan missionaries demolished more than 300 Hindu temples in Bardez, which is North Goa, and equal numbers of Hindu temples were destroyed in Salcete, which is South Goa. With destruction of temples, it was bloodiest massacre of Hindus.

What is a disgusting is that small incident of theft in a Church in Delhi made India intolerant, but more than 120 brutal attack in Andhra Pradesh hardly made even national news. What can be more humiliating for Hindus in India?

The biggest fraud that has been committed to India’s Hindus—who have been brutalised by Islamic Invasion and Christian subjugation—were injected the falsehood of secularism that Hindus can co exist with descendants or converts of Islamic attackers and Christian subjugators, while these two left no occasion to bleed India and Hindus


Andhra Pradesh: Shri Ram idol at Ramateertham temple found ‘beheaded’, opposition attacks Jagan Reddy govt

The Ram idol at the temple was broken into pieces and parts were thrown in a pond, image via Yahoo news

In another case of temple vandalization in Andhra Pradesh, the miscreants targeted the famous Ramatheertham in Vizianagaram district and desecrated 400-year-old idol of Bhagwan Ram. In the past year, several such incidents have happened in the state. The opposition is blaming the Jaganmohan Reddy government for inaction against the miscreants in the past for repeated attacks on temples.

The incident

As per the reports, when the priest reached the temple on Tuesday morning, he found that the doors of the ancient Sita Lakshmana Kodandarama temple on the Bodikonda hillock in Ramatheertham were broken. When he entered the sanctum, he found the desecrated idol of Bhagwan Ram. The idol of the Lord was beheaded. The authorities at the temple immediately informed the police about the incident.

Since the incident, several portions of the idol have been retrieved from the nearby temple pond. Vizianagaram district police are investigating the case, forming five special teams. Raja Kumari, SP, Vizianagaram said in a statement that they are investigating the case, but no arrests have been made so far. He said, “We are probing from all angles to know if this is an act of treasure hunters or involves communal angle or a miscreant act. We have not made any arrests so far.”

The opposition blames Jaganmohan Reddy government for the increasing incidents

The latest Temple vandalism case is being seen as a failure of CM Jaganmohan Reddy to maintain law and order in the state and the failure of the state administration in bringing culprits of previous cases of temple attacks to justice. TDP, BJP and Janasena have blamed Reddy government for the increase in such attacks.

Sunil Deodhar, the National Secretary of BJP and co-in charge of Andhra Pradesh compared the incident to Taliban’s destruction of giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan. He said, “Repeat attacks on Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh are reminiscent of actions of 16th century ruthless St. Xavier in Goa who destroyed temples & carried out forced conversions & Taliban’s destruction of giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan.”

‘Beheading’ of 400 yr old sacred Lord Ram’s idol in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh y’day is horrific. Authorities have not arrested anyone responsible for attacking “Uttarandhra Ayodhya” temple so far. @ysjagan‘s inaction in temple attacks shows tacit [email protected] pic.twitter.com/ZmbZFD4dmZ

— Sunil Deodhar (@Sunil_Deodhar) December 30, 2020

On Tuesday night, Bharatiya Janata Party workers staged a protest at the temple. Somu Veerraju, Andhra Pradesh BJP chief has demanded stern action against the culprits.

Former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said, “The destruction of Ram idol at the four centuries old Ramatheertham temple is resultant of the negligence of the ruling party.” Naidu said that for unknown reasons the CM is just watching the attacks as a silent spectator.

“In the last 19 months, over 120 attacks took place on temples. These attacks were going on as per a premeditated plan. Over 23 idols were demolished in six temples at Pithapuram. Durga temple was brought down in Guntur,” he said.

Pawan Kalyan, Janasena Party chief, said, “At a time when the construction of Ram mandir is going on at Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, the idol of Lord Ram is destroyed in our state. Separating the head of the idol cannot be an act of an insane person. It is an act of some religious maniacs.” Kalyan has urged Union Home Ministry to look into the matter and demanded CBI probe covering all attacks on the temples in the state. He added, “Why is the CM not responding to the spate of onslaughts on Hindu temples? He may have faith in any religion, but he should respect the sentiments of other religions.”

Past incidents of temple attacks in Andhra Pradesh

In February, a 50 feet tall ancient chariot of Prasanna Venkateswara Swamy temple at Bhogolu village of Bitragunta Mandal in Nellore district was set on fire. Several Hindu god and goddess idols and flex banners in Pithapuram city in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh were desecrated by unknown miscreants in January this year. In September, a similar incident took place in Antarvedi where the six-decade-old, 40 feet high wooden ratham of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha went up in flames. Amidst public pressure, the case was handed over to CBI by the state government.


Religious Tolerance in Ancient India

Truly, the new generation of Hindus is the gift of India to the mankind. We hope that their lives and actions become a source of inspiration to others to follow.

Many people tend to believe that since the present day Hindus exhibit a greater degree of religious tolerance, the same must be true in the past also. It is true that today, many Hindus display a rare degree of religious tolerance, which is very much in harmony with their religious beliefs and practices.

But this concept was evidently not present to the same degree among the Hindus in the past. The secular attitude of the present day Hindus is a product of their recent past, of their modern education, of their increased sense of responsibility and of their awareness of their great heritage and ancient religion. In some ways, it is also a social and political compromise, something which they do not like, but cannot wish away or avoid in the light of the realities that confront them.

The ancient Indians were hardly tolerant of other religions or religious sects that opposed their faith in some way. The vedic people used the most derogatory epithets to describe those who were different from them either in their body color or in their religious beliefs. Perhaps the word kafir might look less objectionable compared to the epithets the Vedic people used to describe their opponents who practiced different religions or worshipped different gods.

The situation did not change much during the later vedic period or during the post Mauryan period. A number of religious sects headed by new religious teachers came into prominence during the seventh and sixth century B.C. These sects preached radical philosophies. Some of them doubted the very existence of God and the possibility of any after life.Some believed in the existence of soul, but not in the existence of a Creator.

No amity existed among these diverse sects. They hardly tolerated each other and tried their best to prove each other wrong. They quarreled among themselves frequently and used derogatory epithets to describe each other. The vedic brahmins of this period were excessively vehement in their description of these heretics, to whom they showed little sympathy and understanding. They regarded these otherwise very wise teachers as perverted philosophers, cursing them vehemently and wishing them prolonged suffering in the darkest hells!It is true that in course of time most of these schools became integrated into Indian philosophy as different schools of thought.

Even the Buddha could not remain free from the attacks of his opponents. The Ajivakas with whom he had several debates never liked him, nor appreciated his teachings. Under the leadership of his cousin Devadutta, some of his followers formed a separate religious movement and always schemed against him. The rivalry between the two groups was so vehement that there were even attempts on the life and reputation of the Buddha.

The Mauryas came from a lower caste hindu family from eastern India. Because of this they probably never liked Brahmanism. Chandragupta Maurya became a Jain during the end of his rule, while Asoka became an avowed Buddhist. We do not have much information about the religious tolerance of the Maurya kings, though we have reasons to believe that the Mauryas might have been very practical in their approach to religion. We have definite information that the religious policy of Asoka annoyed the brahmins of his time and contributed to the down fall of his empire after his death resulting in the emergence of Sungas as the ruling dynasty.

The Sungas were brahmin kings. They supported Brahmanism and had little sympathy for any other religion, especially Buddhism. They opposed Buddhism and even persecuted Buddhists, destroying some of their monasteries and forcing them to leave their empire.

The post Mauryan period was characterized by the emergence of many new religious sects in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.The most prominent sects of Hinduism were Saivism and Bhagavatism or Vaishnavism. Hardly any amity existed among these two sects. Rivalry between the two sects often led to serious religious clashes, which generated a great deal of ill will and religious tension. The rivalry between these two sects continued for very long, for several centuries, until recently, often dividing the Hindu society vertically into two sections. Some form of subtle rivalry between these two sects exists even today!

The followers of Saivism quarreled not only with the followers of Vishnu, but also with the Buddhists, whom they criticized and ridiculed in several ways. Some of the south Indian saints of Saivism were particularly vehement in their criticism of Buddhism and Jainism.

Great rivalry existed between the Mahayana and Hinayana sects of Buddhism. Besides these two major groups, there were other groups with in Buddhism, which did not tolerate one another. Some of them had to remain secretive for fear of reappraisals. The different sects of Buddhism expelled those from their respective Order who did not agree with their views. Same kind of tension prevailed between the Svetambara and Digambara sects of Jainism also.

The Brahmins of ancient India never appreciated the foreign rulers, who invaded India and established their rule in the country. They placed the aliens on par with the untouchables of their society, unless those in positions of power and authority converted themselves to the Brahmanical faith and gave them rich grants. They described the foreigners in the most derogatory way and considered them as unclean people. They personally avoided all form of contact with them and abhorred any kind of social relationship with them such as marriage.

The Guptas were great worshippers of Vishnu and we have reasons to believe that during their time Saivism must have suffered a set back in the north! By the end of the Gupta period, the conservative sections of Hindu society grew weary of Buddhism. Sasanka, who ruled some parts of eastern India during the reign of Harshavardhana was so intolerant of Buddhism that he even burnt the temple at Bodhgaya as well as the sacred bodhi tree itself! One reason why Buddhism disappeared from the land of its origin completely was because of the high degree of intolerance displayed by the majority of the orthodox Hindus during the post Gupta period.

The religious rivalry remained strong in the post Guptas period. The conservative sections of Hindu society never accepted Tantricism whole heartedly and condemned it as a perverted and demonic practice. Neither in the past nor in the present, Hindus ever accepted Tantricism whole heartedly. For a majority of them sex as a way of salvation, or worship of the physical body as a means of self realization was abhorrent. Even in modern times, teachers like Acharya Rajneesh, who preached sex as the way to salvation, remain condemned by the conservative Hindus.

Sri Adi Shankaracharya is considered by many as the most prominent reformer of Hinduism in ancient India. His life is a story of intense struggle against the orthodoxy and superstition of his times. in his short life span of 32 or 33 years he had to cope with a lot of opposition from various Hindu scholars of his time. Any one who is familiar with his life and teachings understand the extent of trouble he took to convince people to accept his views and ideas.

It is fact that he died a mysterious and sudden death at a very young age of about 32 years. It would not surprise us if some modern historian comes out with an unquestionable proof that he did not die a natural or sudden death but was killed by some fanatic of a different sect!

The religious attitude of the Hindus during the medieval and the British periods remained mostly suppressed because of the fear psychosis created by the aggressive policies, politics and tactics of the foreign rulers. But in their hearts of hearts a majority of the natives never liked or accepted the ways of the Muslims or of the Christians. Since they had little scope to express their inner feelings without risking their safety and security, most of them remained innerly hostile, unwilling to make any reconciliation with the outsiders. The upper caste Hindus abhorred the very idea of any personal contact with these groups and regarded them socially on par with the untouchables.

It is true that the Hindus never subjected other religious groups and sects to either inhuman treatment or physical torture. They believed that religion was a matter of an individual's life style and his past karma and that each individual should be left to follow whatever dharma that suited him best. They also believed that it was better to follow ones dharma, however inferior it might be, rather than adopting another's dharma. So they did not appreciate the idea of forcing any one to change his or her religion and they never appreciated any one who tried to convert people from one religion to another in a an organized manner, under the pressure of some material gain or physical threat.

But it does not mean they appreciated the new religions that came from outside and challenged their own. In the face of stiff opposition from these religions, they willingly underwent great suffering or withdrew into a shell. They distanced themselves physically as well as socially from these foreigners and also from those who succumbed to the pressures andjoined the new faiths.

Thus we can see that secularism was never a common practice in ancient or medieval India. The people of the subcontinent hardly behaved tolerantly towards the other faiths in the past. They neither approved the new faiths nor accepted them socially. In their opinion, the emergence of theses religions was a sign of Kaliyuga, a product of their past collective karma, which could be resolved only by becoming more religious.

The following points further prove our argument that the Hindus in the past were rarely tolerant of other religious groups.

1.The Brahmins never allowed the lower castes to enjoy equal status. They had little tolerance for the lower sections of Hindu society, their very people. Till modern times, these unfortunate souls were not allowed to read the vedas or other important religious scriptures. They were not allowed to enter the temples, where the brahmins also worshipped, and worship the gods. They had no permission to draw water from the same well from where they also drew water or share food with the higher castes sitting in the same line during a social or religious function. We have little doubt that higher caste Hindus in the past were racist and casteist in many ways, cruelly and inhumanly intolerant of their own people who belonged to a lower strata of the society. Some of the hindu law books even hinted that killing these unfortunate people for some valid reason was not a ghastly crime, especially when such a crime was perpetrated by a Brahmin!

2.The ancient Indians never appreciated the ways of the tribal people who lived in the forests and whose practices were in many ways were different. They also did not permit any one other than a Brahmin priest to recite mantras on important religious occasions. The punishment prescribed for those who recited mantras against the prescribed injunctions was to pour hot lead in the mouth of the reciter and in the ears for those who were not authorized to listen!

3.The Parsis who fled Iran and came to India to escape persecution, did escape persecution but found dealing with the conservative elements of Hindu society a really tough option. If the Parsis survived in India subsequently and prospered, it was not because of the tolerant nature of the Hindus of western coast, but despite of it. Those who doubt this are advised to read the early history of Parsis in India. We have evidence to suggest that some degree of tension existed between the Parsis and the Hindus even during the early British rule.

4. We are made to understand that when St.Thomas, one of the apostles of Christ, landed in Kerala and began preaching a new religion, he was met with a strong resistance and ultimately killed by the local people.

Our aim in presenting this article is not to prove that hindus were bad because they were not secular or that religious intolerance is acceptable. We want to state that the present Hindu is a better Hindu, whose approach to other religions is in line with his religious beliefs than his ancestors who hardly tolerated other religions and beliefs.

Religious intolerance is an undeniable reality common to all religious groups. There is hardly any religious group in the world today, other than the Hindus, who are willing to let other religions coexist peacefully without any organized attempt to convert them or coerce them. The wars are still fought in this world more frequently in the name of religion.


Temples and Sacred Places of Vrindavan

The Madan Mohan Temple. Built by Kapur Ram Das of Multan, this is the oldest temple in Vrindavan and associated with the saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

The Radha Vallabh Temple. Built by the Radha - Vallabh tradition, it houses the crown or Radharani next to the image of Lord Krishna.

The Banke-Bihari Temple. Considered to be the most popular shrine at Vrindavan, it is historically associated with Swami Haridas and Nimbarka tradition.

Sri Radha Raman Mandir. Constructed around 1542, it houses the saligram deity of Krishna and Radharani, revered by the Goswamis.

The Rangaji Temple. Built in south Indian style with an elongated tower, it houses Ranganatha in his resting pose on the coils of Seshanaga, the primeval serpent.

The Jaipur Temple. Built by Sawai Madho Singh II of Jaipur in 1917, the temple is dedicated to Shri Radha Madhava.

The Govind Deo Temple. Built in 1590 by Akbar's general Raja Man Singh, the temple was destroyed by Aurangzeb.

The Sri Krishna-Balrama Temple. Built by the ISKCON, it houses the images of Krishna & Balaram, in the company of Radha-Shyamasundar and Gaura-Nitai. The samadhi of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, is located nearby.

The Radha Damodar Mandir. Established in 1542 by Srila Jiva Goswami, it houses the deities Radha and Damodar. The bhajan kutir of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is also located here.

The Shahji Temple. Built in 1876 it houses the images of Chhote Radha Raman. The temple is known for its architectural beauty with twelve spiral columns, Belgian glass chandeliers and fine paintings.


Watch the video: Historical RamatheerthamTemple. ramalingeswara swamy templeNellore district (May 2022).