Okay.. This shall be the last time I’m putting you through this. I am damn sure RS is going to have questions after this post too. But, I don’t think I’d want to address those. We will agree to disagree. And no, we are not disagreeing on the ‘agreeing to disagree’ thing again. Deal, RS? 😉
I’ll address RS’ queries point by point.
Vali’s killing is (has been the only) a big grey area as far as Ramayana is concerned.
From whatever versions I’ve read till now, the story of Vali and Sugreeva is this. The brothers, Vali and Sugreeva, were given the kingdom of Kishkinta to rule together. And so they did, until a demon, Maayaavi, challenged Vali for a duel. So, when Vali accepted the challange, the demon went and hid himself inside a cave. When Vali left for the duel, he told his brother, ‘Either me or the demon, only one of us, will come out of the cave!’. Sugreeva waited outside the cave for days together and finally, he saw blood coming out of the cave. He assumed that the demon would not have human blood and so Vali has lost his life in the duel. To avoid the demon coming out of the cave, Sugreeva closed the mouth of the cave with a huge rock. However, while dying, the demon to deceive the monkey brothers had turned his white blood to red and died. And, it was Vali who was trapped inside the cave. Sugreeva assuming that the brother had died, took away the kingdom and Vali’s wife, Tara, ‘cos the rules of the jungle state that the brother’s wife, after his death, belongs to him. Finally, after a lot of struggle, Vali came to find out that the kingdom was being ruled by Sugreeva in his absence. He wouldn’t listen to any explanations and set off to kill Sugriva. And, so Sugriva fled to the mountain of Rishyamukha ‘cos by a previous curse, Vali was cursed to death if he ever set foot on Rishyamukha. Vali took Ruma, Sugriva’s wife away too, although the brother was yet alive.
Okay.. From a completely mythological point of view, the answer is this. Vali is Indra’s son and Sugriva is Surya’s son. And, Indra and Surya are considered to be staunch enemies. So, in the Treta Yuga, as Rama, Vishnu sided with Surya’s son. While, in the Dwapara Yuga, as Krishna, he sided with Indra’s son, Arjuna; while the poor son of Surya, Karna, was doomed to death even from his birth.
From a very practical point of view, I think Vali was very impulsive and instead, could’ve heeded to Sugriva. Sugriva was not wrong completely. His intention wasn’t to deceive his brother. So, that is the reason why Rama chose to support Sugriva. As against Krishna who knows from his birth that he is Vishnu incarnate, Rama doesn’t know till he dies that he is God’s son. He doesn’t know the end. He just goes with the flow. That is why, in many places in the Ramayan, he behaves like a normal man with his shortcomings. Like, when he wails for Sita and Lakshman will have to admonish him to bring him back to his senses. So, Rama could’ve killed Vali if he had known he was destined to. He didn’t.
The jungle law is simple – the predator is stronger than the prey. It doesn’t matter how the prey is killed. Cunning foxes live in the jungle too, don’t they? So, as per the ‘vana dharma’, Vali’s killing holds good.
Again, I think, we as a generation, are more engrossed in nitpicking and over-analyzing things, that we forget what exactly the end is about. We are more into this ‘Rama-bashing-spree’ that we forget what Valmiki wanted us to know. Just imagine a Ramayana without Vali? How different would it have been? Nothing much. Rama goes in search of Sita; finds Sugriva; Sugriva offers help; he finds Sita and they live happily ever after. So, what purpose does Vali serve? Nothing, except that fact that by learning about Vali’s life, we should learn not to be impulsive. An impulsive life will only lead to an impulsive end.
I am going to put this entire Vali business behind now. We’ve discussed him enough now. So much that SJ Surya is going to be proud of us. If you still believe, Rama was wrong, so be it.
(A small note – The last part of sending Sita to the jungle while was pregnant called the Uttara Kanda was not written by Valmiki but a later addition to it. Source – Wiki. For all that you (and I and Rama himself) know, the Sita being banished to the forest might not have even happened.)
Now, on the business of being a king. Being a king is not like being a Manmohan Singh, to do nothing for
five ten years and then hoping that the historians judge him ‘kindly’ later. Being a king is one of the most toughest job in the world. For one, you inherit your throne by heredity. Which means, your entire family honour is at stake. And, imagine a rule-book scion like Rama being at the helm! He has to lead by action. So, you say, Rama could’ve led by action by believing in his wife and caring a damn about what a petty washerman says. Right? If he had done so, the entire concept of Rama-Rajya would’ve been a farce. Agreed. Rama would have been the best husband, but not the best of kings. And, he, to save the Dharma and honour of his Raghu-kul, put his and Sita’s emotions behind and acted as a king.
Now, what proof was there to believe that Sita was pure. Except, for the fact that she says it? (That, I, personally, do not believe in this purity thing is a different matter all together. That, I am a sort of twisted pseudo-feminist should not be considered here. Because, we are talking about Sita and Ram in the Satya Yuga!) No.. I am not questioning Sita here. For me, she is a role model like no one else. But, if it was not Sita and Rama? If it was a normal husband-king and a wife, who could’ve lied of her virginity? Then, how else does one prove that Sita was pure?
As auditors, there is one word that we will never forget. Proof. Yes.. We trust our clients. Of course, they give us our bread and butter. But, just because the client says his books have no discrepancy, we cannot declare to the entire group of investors that the client’s book are fine. Because, in the end, it is the investor’s money which is at stake. We need proof. We need documented proof. What is not documented is not done. And, the documented proof here is ‘Agni Pariksha’! The investors are the people. The auditor is Rama. And, Sita is the client. Her virginity is the book of account. Because, unfortunately, this was the Satya Yuga. Not the kali! That is why the Agni Pariksha!
As a king would he be preaching to all men in the kingdom to question their wife? Not at all. But, he was not only a husband. He was not a part of the group called ‘all men’. He was the king. Again, if we compare Rama with our Karunanidhis and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s, then I think we are comparing apple with rotten oranges. Ram’s stand was never the ‘I don’t care if I have a thousand wives and you shouldn’t too, because I am the king!’ See.. My husband and yours do not have a moral obligation about our personal lives to anyone. So, if people around us talk ill of us, we can choose to ignore it. But, a king can’t.
I am saying this not just talking about Rama. There have been so many kings as much till the 4th century who felt that a small blemish against their name could ruin their reputation and have done unimaginable things. There was this story we in Tamil Nadu have read in schools. About a king called Manu-needhi-Cholan. He was such a rule book oriented king. His kid-son once, while on his chariot, accidentally, hit and killed a calf. There was, in this king’s kingdom, a bell that is out there in the middle, which is used to sound for any grievances. So, the mother of this calf, a cow sounded the bell to have audience with the king for getting justice on its killed-calf. And, guess what the king ruled? That his own son be hit by the same chariot wheel and killed like how he did to the calf. Unbelievable? Believe it. Here is the wiki link. This is not mythology. This is history.
Honour was more important to a king then than family. So, now, who are we to judge this mythological Rama, who we never knew if he ever existed or was just a figment of Valmiki’s imagination?
The next point in RS’ post is about Rama’s duty to protect the wife and not throwing her out at the mercy of someone else in the jungle. Yes.. Rama’s duty was to protect his wife. But, before that, he had the duty of the king. That was that time’s Dharma. If you read the Ramayana carefully, when Ram decides to banish Sita, Lakshman is startled. He argues with Rama. But, when Bharatha comes to know of it, he accedes to it silently. Because, Bharatha has been a king. He understands Rama’s plight as a king. While, Lakshmana doesn’t.
Of course, Sita could’ve stayed in the palace in the midst of all her luxury when Rama went to the forest. But, what could she have done with all the luxury when her Rama was not around? Do you empathize with Sita’s love? Yes. Thank you. Then, when Sita is banished to the forest, do you think Rama actually enjoyed living in the midst of all the luxury when his Sita was not around? Wouldn’t he have longed to go the forest and live as a hermit along with her raising his sons? But, he couldn’t. No.. He was not hungry for power. People were hungry to have him as a king. Do you recall how he (,Sita and Lakshman) had to escape to the forest initially without people’s knowledge ‘cos they refused to let them go?
**Takes a deep breath**
I think I’ve tried to address almost all the points that RS has made against Rama. I’m not a very religious spiritual person. I have no faith in idol worship. I do not believe in religion or caste. I read Bible as much as I read the Gita. I am not a patriarchal person; I am not an open feminist either. I just believe what is right to a man should be right to a woman and vice versa. Why am I making all these confessions? Just to be clear that I am not supporting Rama because I worship him. No. I do not worship any God. In fact, I just went around the house and realized that although there are a lot of images of Krishna around, not one of Ram is here! Then, why do I support Rama? I really think his character is one that has been needlessly painted in grey for no fault of his. A kind of a negative image has been formed about him that everything that he did in the epic has come under immense scrutiny; while the intention of the epic and the character was just to impart good and nothing else.
I do not hope this one post of mine will sort out all doubts about Rama. It definitely wouldn’t. But, this is my humble attempt at making you come out of the image that Rama is a villain. He is not. Circumstances made him a villain in the eyes of others. If you ask me to defend Krishna with the same vigour as Rama, I wouldn’t. Because, for me, Krishna has more faults than Rama. He was one who believed that the end is more important than the means; while Rama had to justify both the ends and the means. Different people; differing job descriptions!
Anyway, for all the defense that I’ve offered Rama, I hope he gives me a healthy 2014 as a meager lawyer-fee! **wink** Thank you for reading this if you are still sticking around reading this!
P.S. – I’ve proof read this post thrice and I know there are still some grammatical errors. As this post is too long and I’ve thought long and hard for coming out with these explanations, my head has shrunk by a centimeter. So, what am I trying to say? Ignore those grammatical errors, will you? Please!