Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ramayana: Version n+1: Chapter 1

Once again,..I am not trying to sit on a throne and throw random judgements on an age-old epic. I know that it's mythology. I know that it's related to belief. All that I intend to do, is to hold the mirror in a different angle. For always multidimensional!
Ramayana, at large, is a story filled with misfortunes. It's a tragedy, so to say., except for the part filled with Hanuman's heroic deeds, the 'Sundara-Kaanda(m)' with the epic courtroom encounter between Hanuman and Ravana. But for this portion, it is more like a screwed-up mega-serial version of Devdas. It's like every character in it earnestly tries to make this an epic-tragedy. The characters cautiously avoid doing stuff that would set things right. Like when Sita turns down Hanuman's offer to fly her back to her husband, saying the world might then stay unaware of Rama's might and valour. Hello??! Wake up! You're kidnapped.

Now this might sound redundant, considering that many have said similar stuff. I tend to find Ravana more interesting. Personally, I kinda like that guy, not because of his enormous talents or powers described, but for the fictitious fact that he apparently turns out to be the only sane person(relatively!) of all the prominent characters I know in the epic. (And here, I must mention that Hanuman is out of this discussion because, to me, he's like the superstar of epic times.) And everyone else is a weirdo. In a bird's-eye-view, in a way, the Ramayana is the story of a bunch of weird guys doing weird things, where a relatively sane person  unfortunately gets caught up and killed, maybe because he couldn't match up to the weirdness-overdose.
This is why, sometimes it feels like the Ramayana, in the form we know, could  have been a parody of some serious epic written in those days. 

Let us, for once, set aside our religious prejudice, and look at what we actually have been believing in.
Rama, the protagonist, is the eldest son of King Dasaratha who has three Queens.Okay, let's just say he's married to three women....polygamy....which is totally against Rama's principles, because as per popular belief, Rama is hailed as a one-woman-man. The point here is not the correctness or incorrectness of polygamy, but the fact that Rama--the righteous superhero revered for this particular quality by many--doesn't seem much bothered about these evident differences between him and his dad. Instead, he respects his father blindly for the fact that he's his father, because you know, that's how righteous people behave.
And as we know from the way the story goes,...Rama respects his father so much that he does anything he says(or for that matter, anything that the other 'elders' say).
"Son,...go to the forest with this sage and fight the monstrous demons..."
"Aye Aye Captain!"
"Son I want you to be the next king."
"Aye Aye Captain!"
"Son, can't be the king"
"Aye Aye Captain!"
"Son, you gotta get outta this kingdom too"
"Aye Aye Captain!"
"And that will be did she say??..ah..fourteen years!"
"Aye Aye Captain!"
And as we see, questions, nothing. Absolute heroism!

And he does not fail to respect the others as well.
After the forest outing to kill those menacing demons, sage Vishwamitra says:
"Dude, there's some competition going on in a nearby kingdom....."
"Aye Captain!"
"In case you win it, you get to marry the King's daughter, the princess..."
"Aye Captain!"
"You need to win it, and marry that girl,...despite the fact that you're supposed to be a one-woman-man and hence can't get another shot at your marriage like your dad, and you don't know a damn about this princess you may get to marry, in case life with her screws up, you're screwed for life....,And you'll do all this because you're supposed to respect me for the sage I am and the age I possess..."
"Aye Captain!"
"And also let's do all this without caring to inform anyone in your family...Of course, this brother of yours will know because he sticks around with you always"
"Aye Aye Captain!"

And as we know, Rama breaks the mighty bow and hence gets to marry Sita-the princess of Mithila.
And brings her home gift-wrapped like a school kid brings a prize won after a competition.

Isn't this romantic?!

And with the weird turn of events(obviously, everyone is weird), Rama is pushed into going in exile. His wife Sita accompanies him,...and of course Lakshman too. Lakshman is to Ram, what Watson is to Sherlock Holmes--a companion who always keeps ranting 'Dude you're awesome! Dude you're awesome!'.
We should also remember that Lakshman leaves his wife Urmila at the palace. I remember reading a poem once on Urmila's loneliness.

The golden rule that rules these characters is : The elder ones dictate the younger ones. Even if not, the younger ones blindly follow the elder ones, no matter what.
The saddening truth is that, these are more than just character flaws!
(let's talk more....)


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