Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
One need to free one’s mind from any prejudice while reading any literature, epics and their characters. Then only one would be able to understand them and connect with the writer, space and time of that literature. After connection and understanding, comes takeaway from that literature. It is really sad that people, nowadays, pick up one incident from an epic and start judging the character, writer and epic from that. How they could not think that human actions and situations are myriad in nature and intentions play a major role in deciding aptness of a particular act.
Recently, I read a blog having problem with Guru Dronacharya, I keep on reading things like “I would love to have a brother like Ravana”, and few explain Sita as a victimized lady. Few people are so furious that Ram asked Sita to perform Agni Pariksha. In that way we act no different than Ram who listened to the others despite his faith in Sita. Despite our faith in Rama that he is maryada Purushottam and incarnation of lord Vishnu, we still think he (God) would do bad. In that sense we are doing the same mistake. Why we see this episode disconnected from another episode of the same epic where writer says that it was shadow of Sita that Ravan abducted and Agnipariksha was an act to bring back Sita. Also, if Ram had doubts then he would have asked for Agnipariksha in privacy. Why a well reputed prince (future king) will make a public drama of his personal life? Was it for Ram or for the public that Sita went through that trial? How else the couple could have won public trust, which is very necessary for a king and a queen? How could have Ram saved Sita's dignity in public view? It was not trial for Sita only, but it was a trial for the couple and it was a joint decision. Still, feminists of our time find Sita as a victim and Ram as a responsible person for her victimization. I guess, maybe, negative conditioning is responsible for such misinterpretations.
People condemn Ram for sending Sita to jungle. Ram’s rejection of Sita is almost universally condemned while her rejection of him is held up as an example of supreme dignity. While making frivolous comments based on impaired judgments, we completely disconnect ourselves with the time and space of the epic and society at that time. In the Ramayana, it is reiterated that for Rama there can only be one consort, Sita, who is irreplaceable. Despite being in jungle, Sita narrated stories to her twin boys, Luv and Kush, of how she met and married their father, about how great and brave he was, about his family, about Ayodhya and its people. The boys really loved and respected their father, despite being away from him since birth. How people could neglect such observations in an epic before commenting on a husband-wife relationship? Anyone, be it Ram, Krishna, Radha, Kaikayi or a normal human from any other era, do you feel it is correct to judge his/her actions and intentions in contemporary scenario?
The epics were not written to facilitate ditto mapping in any coming era. Rather they were written in metaphoric sense, with examples and situations that the common man can understand. They were written to give an insight to common people that even Gods are not free from nature’s laws and pain, once they decide to incarnate as humans. Pain and happiness, good and evil are implicitly essential for a human and what really matters is ‘how gracefully a human accepts and lives with it.’
There are people who start questioning their belief in God after any misfortune. People generally tend to think ‘how a God can be cruel and let wrong things happen to a good person or a child’. It is written for them to understand that God never promised any human a life free of pains and misfortunes. God was not liberal with himself/herself when he/she came as a human on this earth. Ram had to go to Vanvaas, did he deserve that? Laxman was separated from his wife for 14 years, did he deserve that? Urmila was left alone with three MILs for 14 years, did she deserve that? Sita faced so many problems, did she deserve that? Luv and Kush raised by single mother in a jungle, did they deserve that? But they all faced these situations and never complained that how can God do this to them. Instead they faced everything with grace, courage and dignity. Writer never depicted them as victimized people, not even once. Then how come people of our time read parts of these epics and come up with such a drastically narrow and one-dimensional view of its rich literary heritage.
This is what a great scholar Swami Vivekananda learned from Ramayana “Rama was the Paramatman and Sita was the Jivatman, and each man’s or woman’s body was the Lanka. … The Jivatman which was enclosed in the body, or captured in the island of Lanka, always desired to be in affinity with the Paramatman, or Shri Rama. But the Rakshasas would not allow it, and Rakshasas represented certain traits of character.’
There is this beautiful line in the epic
Jaki rahi bhavana jaisi, prabhu murat dekhi tin taisi.
How true it holds even after such huge time difference! Don't underestimate the genius. :)
Please, read the literature once more with a pure intention of learning and with a faith in writer that he was a great writer, who was not bothered about likes, shares and comments on his writings or making his work as best seller epic. He wrote with very pure intentions, far from materialistic mentality. He tried to present his ideology with great details. Constructive criticism is good but please refrain from judgmental criticism. It does no damage to the epic but reflects limitations and true self of a critic.