I just saw this post by Mumbaigirl. She says that the Shiva Tandava Stotram composed by Ravana sounds fantastic. I have not heard it and hence cannot comment. But, she also says that she somehow admires Ravan more because he was a better person than Ram who abandoned his wife after doubting her chastity. I have a lot to say. But before that, you must look at the comments section. One of the commentators says that Ram is God and therefore we must refrain from commenting about him. Another, further down the page advises people to ignore our comments because we are "girls" and "girls nature to gossip. This whole site is a gossip site." Wow! Talk about male chauvinism!
I have linked to Mumbaigirl before. Her posts are excellent. They are concise, and very persuasive. I might not always agree with her, but I certainly think she makes a lot of sense. It is the case with a lot of other women bloggers I read. But, back to the Ram-Ravan issue. Mumbaigirl was abused and insulted for saying what she believed was right. That's not fair. I repeat what she said. In fact, I state categorically that Lord Ram was very far from being a complete man. I will not insult or ridicule those who believe, but I think we must read the epics as interesting stories set in a certain time and place rather than as rules by which we must abide and live. Like Mumbaigirl, I too have problems with Ram's treatment of his wife. He made her undergo a trial by fire because she spent years away from him. But, he too spent the same number of years away from her, didn't he? So technically, he should have undergone a trial by fire to show that he remained chaste too. Right? But no. He is a man. He does need to prove anything. His chastity is a sacrifice by his wife Sita's chastity is a sacred duty. What the hell? I am sorry. I don't agree. I am Hindu too. I believe in God too. But, I refuse to endorse or accept such regressive ideas simply because some king, believed to be God himself, said so.
Then comes the issue of the washerman. He cast aspersions on the character of the Queen of the land. And what does the King do? Send the queen away to the forest. Because the word of a subject is greater than the feelings and sentiments of a wife. You call this godly behaviour? I don't even call this human. Ram is a controversial character. I don't care if people choose to believe he is God. I am indifferent to what he means to the right-wing Hindus. To me, he was a man. That's all. A very famous, and even interesting man. But an imperfect, normal, albeit confused man.