Navratras start and Durga Bashing Starts.
A new mahishasur narrative has been created by Anti Hindu forces with even booklets being printed and distributed. The advent of WA has set up a ‘alternate mythology churning’ factory which becomes hyperactive before any Hindu Festivals. I am writing this article in response to the rash of WA forwards lamenting why we burn Ravan instead of venerating him. One WA forward has a little girl wanting her unborn brother to be like Ravan not Ram as Ravan protected his sister, avenged her disfiguring and respected chastity of Sita, while Ram made Sita go through Agni pariksha and banished her on a washerman’s word.
Another WA mythology doing rounds is that Ravan protected ‘pavitrata’ of Sita. Both are ingenuous spins designed to make us self hate and self flagellate. The task becomes easier as most Hindus are unaware of the depth and contexts of Ramayan. First let me counter the Surpnakha as the helpless victim and Ravan as the loving Brother who went out to avenge her humiliation narrative. Valmiki Ramayan’s Uttrakaand describes Ravan differently.
Ravan had murdered Surpnakha’s husband Vidhyujivha. Surpnakha was a widow living with Ravana. Then ignoring advise of Mandodari, he told Surpnakha to go to Dandakaranya Jungle and choose her mates. Who went after Ram, Lakshman? Surpnakha! Did Ram or Lakshman Molest her? Tease her? Touch her? No! They both professed loyalty to their wives! Who lost control of senses? Surpnakha! When Surpnakha saw Sita she was consumed with jealousy and tried to attack her. To prevent harm to Sita, Lakshman stepped in, Kshatriyas would never attack a woman. The intellectual interpretation of naak Katna is symbolism used for Humiliation which Surpnakha was subjected to-especially when Lakshman and Ram tore away her outer beauty to expose the ugly lust, greed and unholy desire to possess what was some other woman’s. When Surpnakha narrated her humiliation to Ravan, he was initially uninterested, but as Valmiki Ramayan narrates, when she described the beauty of Sita he became obsessed with desire to possess her. He overrode his wife’s pleas of not abducting another man’s wife and abducted Sita with cunning and disguise- not as a brave warrior from the front.
Now we examine the ‘Nobleness’ of Ravan keeping her unharmed in Lanka.
Valmiki Ramayan narrates in Uttrakand the Lustful nature of Ravan. After getting the boon from Shiva that only a lowly human can slay him, Ravan went around molesting and raping women. He molested Vedvati, daughter of Rishi Kushdwaj. He raped Rambha- an Apsara, inspite of her pleading to not touch her. Rambha was the wife of NalKuber, son of Kuber. Kuber was half brother of Ravan. So Ravan raped his own daughter in law. Rambha cursed him that if he ever touched any woman without her consent his ten heads would explode. It was due to this curse that Ravan did not touch Sita. He tried to coerce her by subjecting her to mental and physical tortures like isolating her in Ashok van, intimidating her and by constant persuasion to consent.
Ravan’s treatment of his wife Mandodari was very bad. He held her in contempt and never heeded her advise. She lived a life of suffocation. Ravan was son of Pulatsya Rishi and a Brahmin. He was very intelligent and accomplished. His shiv bhakti made Shiva grant him a boon that only a lower human than him can kill him. He became arrogant. AaranyaKaand of Valmiki Ramayan narrates the wanton killings of Rishis and Brahmins and mounds of skulls in the forests around Tungbhadra river and Pampa lake. It narrates how Ravan would disrupt Yagnyas when they were about to be completed. Lankans indulged in debaucheries including consuming human flesh, Women were not safe from Ravaan.
Is this to be Glorified?
Ram on the other hand, was always patient, tolerant, kind, brave, courageous. He had no greed or lust for any material object. He set high standards as a son, brother, friend, King, leader-he gave up his throne and went to vanvas-he helped all he met, he improved the lot of every person he met. after abduction of Sita he did not use any resource from Ayodhya, but built his own Army. He revered Ravan for his accomplishments, but punished him for his trespasses. After winning the war-Lanka was his as a victor-but he never took over Lanka-gave it to Vibhishan.
He never doubted Sita- but to preserve her Dignity He asked her to take Agni Pariksha. Sita too was no lesser being. She had Divine powers too. Now we come to Ram banishing Sita. Ram had established Ram Rajya. His prime duty was Raj Dharma as mentioned in scriptures. In ancient India each citizen had a voice equal to the king. As a king he had to listen to his subjects. It was tragic but he had to obey the demands of his subjects.
Did Sita resent it-she understood her duties as a queen. Did Ram banish her out of anger, to humiliate her? Did he reject her for another woman? Did he indulge in womanising?
He sent her to an ashram within his kingdom where she lived under his protection in safe and healthy environment, respected by all and where she bought up her children as future kings.
After Banishing her to a forest Ram never ate Royal meals but what Sita would be eating in an Ashram.He never slept on beds but on a straw bed on the floor. As a king he acceded to the demand of his Praja, as was the custom that time, but as a husband did penance too. Many call Ramayan ‘patriarchal’ to them I would say-fathers were known by their daughters and daughter too by their father even after marriage-eg – Sita as Janaki, Kaushalya as princess of Kaushal etc. Women made their own decisions, chose their husbands and how and where to live. Curse of a wronged woman superseded even the boon by Shiva.
Valmiki Ramayan ends with Ram’s accession to Ayodhaya’s throne and establishment of Ram Rajya. The Banishment of Sita is in another Ramayan. There is another interesting episode in one of the Ramayans. Surpnakha visits Sita in the Ashram to gloat over her as she too had been ‘rejected’. She wanted to enrol Sita as her co victim. Sita has no resentment, no victimhood.
Rather she has accepted her situation. She advises Surpnakha to give up victimhood. She tells her that after humiliating her Ram and Lakshman too have never had peaceful lives. People of Ayodhya too have a sense of unease over Sita’s banishment. Same with Lanka- disrespecting Sita bought ruin to Lanka and Ravan.
These are some contexts and insights into the Greatness of Ram and Sita. Hope this article has helped in countering false narratives on WA. Let all little girls pray for Ram and let them be strong as Sita.
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