“Ram didn’t exist” said the Congress, before Madame Sonia made them retract; “How dare raise such an issue?” roared the BJP/VHP/Saffron guys. “Who is this Ram? Which engineering college did he pass out of?” asks TN CM Karunanidhi.
Enough people, much more qualified than me, have raised enough opinions on the issue. Then, why am I bothering to put up this post? Maybe because I have a vested interest in this issue. After all, ‘Rama’ makes up 25% of my name… how would you feel if the Government suddenly tells you 1/4th of your name is invalid? Not to forget that according to them, even the remaining 3/4th is myth. What do I do with a mythical name?
People have raised serious issues:
Who is the government to question the existence of Ram (be it myth or history)? Why can’t they just concentrate on the basic issues of governance?
‘Rationalists’ thunder – “How can you oppose a development project on the basis of some mythological character?” Believers have their own reasons to object and they make sure they do it.
I intended to write a serious post on it, but then better people have put it in better ways. So, I decided to goof around as usual.
Let’s analyze the Ramayana from two different points of view – to understand how anything, fact or fiction, can be twisted around to suit your purpose.
Believers (me included) believe that ‘Rama’ is a symbol of ‘ideal living’. (not for nothing is he called ‘maryadapurushottam’). The epic, through the story of Rama, teaches mortals like us, how to lead a life of virtue. Although there are countless instances, a few top-of-the-mind ones are:
Rama walks away from power just because his step-mom wanted – if only our politicians could learn from this and not use the same Ram for their political power games.
Rama remains loyal to one wife – in an age when the measure of a king’s stature was the number of wives in his harem. Although I do not fully endorse monogamy (after all, I am an MCP). This also shows why Mr. Karunanidhi mocks Rama – after all, he has two wives.
Rama offers Ravana an offer of peace, and not war – in spite of the fact that the demon king abducted his wife.
Rama sends back Ravana after disarming him once – gives him one more chance for a peaceful settlement.
Rama accepts Vibhishan when he defects from the enemy – shows great judgement of character, by not stereotyping a person just because he happens to come from the other side.
After conquering Lanka, he crowns Vibhishan the king – not keeping the throne for himself.
And so on and so forth.
In fact, when I was a kid (read: brain-washable age), my parents and grandparents narrated the Ramayana and Mahabharata repeatedly, just so that I may pick up some values from them. The fact that I didn’t pick up much reflects more on my corruptness than the failure of Ramayana. In fact, the whole appeal of Ramayana to me was that this is an instance where ‘God’ comes and lives as a ‘human’ and does things as a human, not by magical powers. I mean, if I were God, I wouldn’t be building bridges to cross oceans.
Now, the non-believers will say:
This is the same guy who walked away from his father when he was in his deathbed.
The same guy who shot Vali from the back – and who taught politicians the idea of back stabbing.
The same guy who asked his chaste wife to undergo a ‘test of fire’ – the original male chauvinist, the feminists would scream.
The same guy who accepted an enemy's brother into his camp – and initiated ‘horse trading’.
The same guy who left his pregnant wife alone in a jungle just because someone passed some lewd remark – male chauvinist again.
And so on and so forth.
And a third view... To my vanar dimaag, this is the original bollywood story-cum-Ekta Kapoor soap… I mean, just look at the script yaar…
Old man has 3 wives and 4 kids. Second wife wants more power, so schemes to send eldest son to the jungle for 14 years. (I have always wondered – why 14 years? Why not forever?). Eldest son is the epitome of virtue – he agrees to walk away from his rightful throne. Younger brother is no less – he follows elder brother into the jungle, leaving behind his newly married wife. Another younger brother, not to be outdone, carries elder brother’s sandals on his head and offers him the throne.
Eldest son (hero) has a beautiful wife. Even though some devil-turned-sex bomb tempts him with an item number, he just gives her a nose-cut. Devil goes mad and informs her brother (the villain), who is more interested in the heroine than any revenge motive. He kidnaps her, not for ransom, but for keeps. But, he is decent enough not to rape her, but wait till she forgets the hero and agrees to marry him. (they had such nice villains then).
Villian has a virtuous brother, who cautions him first, then defects to the other side.
Meanwhile, hero goes out in search of heroine. On the way, befriends a gang of monkeys, who turn out to be loyal soldiers. Sends one super-monkey to Lanka, who returns after burning the entire place. He offers to take the heroine back, but heroine wants a more dramatic climax scene with the villain dying at the hands of the hero. So, she refuses.
Hero goes to Lanka, by building a bridge with stones, and fights a larger army and returns victorious.
I mean, this epic has romance, family drama, action, even an item number (Soorpanka). Which modern script writer can come up with such imagination?
So, u see, the same story and the same guy can be viewed in ‘n’ different ways… some people believe, some don’t, and others like me believe but have learnt to take life a little less seriously.
And, finally, did Ram exist? I don’t care. He is an inspiration to many, and that’s all that matters for now.
PS: I know, I have not provided any serious insights, but then, with politicians like ours, how can you be serious?