Saturday, September 06, 2008

On Ram and Ravan

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.

10 comments:

mumbaigirl said...

I'm regretting the fact that I lost about ten comments on that post while shifting blog domains! Previously I was a bit upset by the comments, but some are informative and now I am just amused by the aggressive ones. The gossip one certainly took the cake! Thanks for the compliments by the way.

Ms Cris said...

I agree and its got nothing to do with the fact I am an agnostic. Even if I were a believer I could distinguish between stories of great men who lived and God himself (or herself). Jesus Christ is admirable cause he was a great human being who lived all those centuries ago and did a lot for the world and its people. So was Buddha. So are a lot other people whose stories we learn in all epics. And they are so great because they were mere human beings who proved and inspired the world with goodness or holyness.
What I mean to say is being people can be a great deal, you dont have to be God to be great.
Oh well, now to mumbaigirl's post.

Thought Room said...

Hi

I love to read your blog, thought never actually replied here. Hope you don’t mind. I agree with you that Ramayana reflects the social and political life of that particular time more than the nature of the divine, or a just king. I have always come to view it from merely a literary point of view. I wonder if you would like this?
http://thoughtroom-whatsnext.blogspot.com/2008/05/ramayana-and-me.html

Amrutha said...

mumbaigirl: I am amazed that you kept your cool. I would have been extremely pissed off.

cris: I agree 100%. I am a believer. Not even agnostic. But the Ramayana is beyond tolerance.

Thought Room: Thanks. It is poetic license as you call it. Sadly, we are unable to distinguish fact from fiction and that's what causes all the heartburn.

@lankr1ta said...

oh my gosh, you just said Rama was a man, o gosh, how could you..
its laughable how that thing holds and how it is supposed adults who would lynch you alive for saying thus.

Thanks for introducing me to this new blog, Amrutha

Indian Home Maker said...

Love this post. Unfortunately Ram is quoted and used as an example for Hindu men to follow, just like Sita is! If only he had stood by his wife!
About Ravana, it is said that he did try to woo Sita, he tried persuasion not force - so for that he does deserve some appreciation ... but the fact that he kidnapped her to settle scores with her husband and her brother in law shows how much a woman's HONOR meant even then... Lakshman rekha is said to mean a woman must not step out of her house!
And what I also object to is how Ram finally claims his two sons. He had NO right on them. Imagine abandoning a pregnant wife! What kind of husband would do that? She was a princess, and then a queen!
Ramayana is full of injustice ... mainly to women.

Amrutha said...

The Ramayana is the most sexist of Hindu stories. Contrasts with the Mahabharat where each character is complete, with varying shades of grey. That's probably why I could never identify with or appreciate Ram's character. To me, he was a very flawed human being.

Indian Home Maker said...

Yes Amrutha I agree with that too...

DewdropDream said...

Hey it's my first time here and I'm commenting on this post rather than the new ones because for the longest time I've been having the same thoughts regarding Ram and haven't actually been able to voice them much, nor found people who share my views. I fully agree with your views in Ram's character as a man.

And true, the Mahabharata is more real thanks to the shades of grey in every character, but the whole Draupadi thing disgusts me. I think Kunti might have been the worst mother-in-law ever.

I stopped reading Ashok banker's version of the ramayana because every sentence I read only irked me more!

Amrutha said...

DewdropDream: Welcome! Great to get your post. The Draupadi issue may be condemnable, but that is why I think the Mahabharat is realistic. Nobody is a saint. The five husbands were helpless. The mother-in-law was mute. The learned men of the council were useless. They may be great warriors, but they failed in their most fundamental duty of upholding justice.