Friday, November 11, 2011

Curious case of Ramayana

In childhood we were refrained from arguing, criticizing or analyzing the incidents/stories illustrated or said or taught to us. We believed such stories/incidents with at most respect instead authenticating the roots of the story. Most of these stories were interesting and catchy for a raw mind and due to such impacting nature of these stories, these stories were settled in our mind.

Each childhood story had two extreme ends. Daemons, bad guy, who will try to rule the world in improper manners. These bad people will harm people, promote injustice in society and provoke many other inhumanly acts. At another end of the string was Gods, good guy, who will finish the daemon to restore justice, truth, and humanity. Almost 99% part of the stories would demonstrate devil power and at the end a God would overpower devils who were equipped with enormous powers.

In our childhood these stories were written to manipulate our trust, to exploit our fear and carelessness. Restrictions were imposed on us at the name of religion. We were blinded by the hot rod of religion.

Though I am not quite familiar with other stories but, thanks to television, incident of Ramayana and Mahabharata are quite fresh in my mind. As Mahabharata is quite near to realities (Human characteristics) so I am bringing up questions, related to Ramayana, which disturb me most of the times.

Why do we have Ramayana? Why was it composed altogether?
When Lord Vishnu wanted to kill Raavan, why did he not kill Raavan in the same way he killed other devils? Why did he not choose his fast forward incarnations to kill Ravana? Why did he choose a war which costed lot of lives, money and time? Whether it was Hiranyakashyap or Pritikshit, Vishnu reincarnated just for one day and saved the world just in one day. He killed Hiranyakashyap as a Narsimha, Pritikshit as Bona Pandit and he distributed Amrit as Mohini. Then why did he reincarnate as a normal human being to suffer from earthly pain to demolish another devil?

Did Ramayana justify Vishnu’s incarnation as a human?
Even Ram, rebirth of Vishnu, was a human being but writer could not justify it. He left many loopholes to show Ram more than a human. As per the author everything was well thought and well set before he could take first step on earth. Among many loop holes few were
1.     Hanuman was planned to meet Ram to assist him in his search.
2.     Sugreev was planned to roam around in forest so that he could meet Ram.
3.     Jamvant was assigned the task to enlighten Hanuman about his power.
4.     A traitor was sent to Ravana's home.
5.     Raavan was cursed to not touch any woman though he was allowed to drag any woman into his flying machine.
Do not you think, Ram did not live perfect human life. Gods, super Gods kept assisting him in each and every step. This incarnation can be termed as buggy as it did not depict Ram either God or human.

Assuming Vishnu reincarnated himself to depict the suffering of human being and to show case the right attitude/path/direction in adverse situations, there were few things which were not written@humanity front.

Why did Kaikayi chose 14 years for exile? Why did she not choose life time exile for Ram?
How did it help her cause? Did she want to see her son to sit on throne just for few specific years? Because she knew once Ram is back, he should be handed over the state's charge as he was eldest brother of all. Then she should have asked for lifelong exile to erase any possibility of dethroning his son.

Why did Ram let his father die?
Even though Dashrath did not accept Kaikayi's demand then why did Ram accept these demands? Even though Ram knew his father would die but he chose Rajput Dharma over his father. Which is prior? I think father, who has taken his care for years, should not be left behind to die.

Why did Ram take Sita with her?
Ram could have avoided Sita from his own suffering but he chose otherwise. Did he reduced his own suffering by taking her as a companion or was she 'hukm ka ikka' for God’s plan or was Ram weak enough to sustain the strain of forest?

Why Laxman?
Next comes Laxman who acceptable exile with no logical reasons without his own wife. First of all, why did he suffer the pain of forest? Why did he not take his wife along with Sita? She(Urmila) would have been Sita's better companion and Laxman would not have discarded from worldly pleasures.

Did Ram n company survived on vegetarian food in forest?
As per the Ramayana, Ram and company lived on fruits and roots during his exile. If it was true then why did Sita need the golden deer so desperately? Was not it another misconception or confusion created by interpreters here? Ram was kshtriya and he followed his Kshtriya path rigorously then why did he change his eating behavior?

Why did Ram kill Bali from a hidden place?
Why did not he face and kill him. Ramayana says Bali used to suck 50% strength of the opponent. Is this not the incorrect and unethical behavior? If this is the right human behaviour then we all, following Ramayana, should not care while deceiving someone else.

Why did they need to construct a bridge?
How much time would it have taken to construct the bridge on 100 miles? It was huge efforts and times involved. Why did Ram not take Hanuman’s help to carry all the monkeys by aerial route? It might have solved the issue faster.

Why did Ram ask Agni Pariksha from Sita?
Did we hindus not acknowledge it as a torture on females? Why was a female counterpart asked to prove herself? Ram also stayed few years away from her and knew lot of ladies in between, cannot someone(Any Pandit or Sita herself) ask him to prove himself. Was not it another display of disparity between 2 important genders of society?

On what grounds was Sita sent to forest again?
Once they moved back to Ayodhya, everything was perfectly fine. But one day one messenger saw a washer man cursing his wife and cursing Ram to accept Sita after living in some else’s house for so many years. After hearing this Ram decided to send his better half to Jungle. This incident created lot of questions in mind.
1.     Was this the first time someone had made such derogatory comment?
2.     Was messenger stupid enough to communicate this stupid comment to the emperor?
3.     Was not there any hierarchy where some intelligent people could refrain messenger from delivering such comment at the hour of washer man’s rage?
4.     Was it necessary to keep public and private life so open to world or Was Ram not able to convince himself about purity of his own wife?
5.     Was Ram looking for some chance to throw his dear wife away because she was a dirty spot in his public image?
Possibly there may be not any of the reason but is not this something which made you rethink about the condition of female protagonist. She had faced all the adversity of the world and still she never got chance to live her as an empress. Was this the right attitude toward a specific gender in Ram Rajya?

Significance and process of Ashvamedha yagna has been altered in Ramayana. As per the other information available this yagna was to sacrifice the horse after completion of the yagna whereas our altered epic tells about releasing the horse after yagna is completed.

Anyways I am not saying every story needs to be perfect without any humanly mistakes but when a story has such a huge significance then it has to be nearly perfect, otherwise society may lead to wrong directions. We should question our epics to make them better and bring them next to perfect. When epics were written they were perfect, then they evolved, modified, tweaked and currently we are following the tweaked versions of those stories. Let’s put across our questions and try to achieve the near perfect epic back to stores.

PS: This blog is medium to understand some mysterious circumstances or find answers of unasked questions, Influencing or hurting religious sentiments are not the intentions here.
PS1: Deepika Ji was my favourite actress at the time of Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan.