Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Height of nonsense - Rama is not historical!

Centre denies existence of Rama or Ramayana-India-The Times of India

"Rama is not a historical character"

I've been doing "Whoa!" too many times since last week. But I can't check myself from doing it as each time, it comes out involuntarily. But this time, it is very serious.

The characters of rAma and sItA (and several others from the rAmayaNa) have left an indelible imprint on the Indian psyche for millenia. Temples celebrating them across the length and breadth of the country are ample proof for this. Works that are off-shoots of the vAlmIki rAmayaNa have occurred in almost all Indian languages. Why, the kannada poet kumAra vyAsa laments that "the serpent bearing the earth struggles with the weight of poets retelling the rAmayaNa"! There are several works which describe actual places associated with the rAmayaNa. For example, kAlidAsa (at least a couple of millenia old) narrates in his meghadUta that "his yakSha lived near the waters that were rendered holy by that fact that sItA, the daughter of Janaka took bath in them" (janaka-tanayA-snAnapuNyodakeShu).

While classical and folk literature is replete with the references to the characters of the rAmAyaNa, our countrymen over the years adore and respect rAma. "rAmarAjya" - they say when they want to describe an ideal kingdom.

rAmeshwaram, dhanuShkoDi and Lanka are real places and they are all steeped in legend.

Consciously or not, all Indians are affected by Rama's character. So, if somebody asks about the historicity of such a character, isn't it right to exhibit righteous indignation?

Did vAlmIki the "Adi Kavi" (first poet) compose the rAmayaNa out of thin air, so to speak? He specifically states that he based his work on a real king.

Anyway, what makes a character historical? If Rama is not a historical person of flesh and blood, he is a historical Ideal that is much stronger than anybody could have ever been with just flesh and blood. So for me and a billion Hindus across the world, Rama is more historical and real than several people who are alive.

What the government has done by its statement is dangerous and irresponsible. The Government is moving in uncharted waters. Never before has an
Indian Government, AFAIK, gone blatantly on record making such a statement.

Just consider the equivalent of this statement in other religions. It is like saying "there is no historical record to incontrovertibly prove the existence of several Biblical characters such as Adam, Isaac, Moses and even Jesus". What will the Christians/Jews and even Muslims feel if they are subjected to such a statement? What if the Government says that the "Genesis in the Bible is bogus as there is no "historical record" to prove that God created the world in seven days?" Will the Roman Catholic at the helm of affairs allow such statements to be made at all?

The sentiment of the Hindus in the face of such a statement is not only one of pain and anguish but one of offense. "How dare you!" will be the reaction of several people.

Why does the government repeatedly snub the majority by making such offensive statements?

The Rama setu is a symbol of what Rama stood for. It may or may not be man made - but who cares? It is the belief of a billion people that it was built by Rama. That should be sufficient. I am normally not for activism for anything but this action is taking it too far. I feel incensed enough to take part in a protest march.

Post Script: Last week, I bought a Kannada translation of the vAlmIki-rAmAyaNa. I am also reading shrI rAmayaNa darshanam by Kuvempu (A profound and beautiful poetic work, I wish to add). Several friends and relatives I know are reading various versions of the rAmAyaNa. This is not because of any rAma setu stuff but just out of interest. When Rama is thus alive in the hearts of his devotees, how can the Government say he is not historical? Anyway, do we care if he is historical or not?

8 comments:

Vijay said...

That was such a STUPID thing to say and do... I read this thing in complete disbelief..

I am not a religious fanatic but by doing these things they'll turn people into fanatics...

I hope they pay dearly...

Aram said...

As far as I am concerned, they are playing with my name.

I am going to vote for BJP this time - the party that gave us one of the finest Presidents: Dr. APJAK - a muslim and one of the best men as MP: Sangliana - a Christian.

- Hey Ram

December Stud said...

You have summed it up perfectly....it is sad that the IAS officers (and dumb ministers) didn't see such a simple thing.

And yes, this is uncharted waters and it is quite scary....look athe round about turn from UPA govt. It is just the beginning my friend.

neelanjana said...

And now the lousy politicians are praising Sonia for 'saving' Setu!

-neelanjana

nIlagrIva said...

Thanks for the comments.

@vijay,
Yes. That was a really STUPID thing to say. They will convert moderates to religious fundamentalists if they do this further.

@Aram,
Looking at the way Madam is playing this, it might be an anti-BJP wave.

@DS,
This is still scary. I don't know where these guys get their motivation from to indulge in such dangerous things.

@neelanjana,
Madam is very shrewd. Poor Ambika Soni will be bleater-in-chief for the complete fiasco.

Such actions just prove what the BJP is trying to convey - that the majority is given this treatment.

I wonder if the government is doing this to harm the minorities rather than protect them. Ghetto is a dangerous word with ominous portent. But this is what the government seems to be driving at. Divide and pit one group against another. I hope we don't end up like Germany of the late 1930s with a backlash against all minorities just because the government caused that perception.

Varun K R said...

hey,good work in ur blog man!
I'd like to point a flaw in karunanidhis arguement
rama doesn exist he says on one day and on the other day he says rama was a drunkard!?isnt it oxymoronic?????

Srik said...

Karuna also says that Rama was an Aryan and came down south to defeat Dravidans!!

Man....why are we having such morons at the helm of our affirs? Do we deserve not the better people?

Aram said...

Columnist Rajinder Puri said,
Bull's Eye
Karunanidhi, and the garbage he wants to spread, does not merit rebuttal. He deserves prosecution under the rule of law.


"Did Ram study engineering in college? He was a drunkard. There is no historical evidence that Ram ever existed," Tamil Nadu CM M. Karunanidhi has said. It matters little what Ram was or was not. What matters is that this veteran politician has violated Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code by creating disaffection among communities. Under law, he can be prosecuted and sent to prison for three years.
Arguments put up by rationalists defending Karunanidhi are irrelevant. There is no historical evidence that Ram did not exist. There is no historical evidence that Tamilians are a Dravidian race. There is no historical evidence that the Prophet Mohammed traversed the moon and stars to ascend to heaven. There is no historical evidence that Jesus arose to resurrect himself after his crucifixion. There is no historical evidence that Jesus was born of Immaculate Conception. There is no historical evidence that the Sikh Gurus ever raised their souls to experience Sachkhand. There is no historical evidence that Lord Buddha achieved nirvana after his meditation. There is no historical evidence that the Red Sea parted for Moses....

However, there is plenty of historical evidence that the DMK government has been charged with corruption. There is historical evidence that Karunanidhi’s own name is of Sanskrit origin to which he has never objected. There is historical evidence that Karunanidhi has no loyalty to ideology and has changed his political alliances to suit rank opportunism. There is historical evidence that the UPA government to which his party belongs has unashamedly covered up various corruption cases, including the Bofors case while Karunanidhi maintained a cowardly silence.

There is historical evidence that supporters of Karunanidhi’s sons were accused in cases of rioting and violence against a TV channel which was critical of the Karunanidhi dynasty. There is historical evidence that Karunanidhi’s son, Azhagiri, is facing a murder charge in court. There is historical evidence that while Karunanidhi waxes eloquent about job reservations for Other Backward Classes, he has reserved the plum political posts in his party for his immediate family members. There is historical evidence that Karunanidhi supported the expulsion of Jaya Bachchan as MP because she occupied an office of profit but protected over 40 other MPs who also occupied offices of profit.... So, should devotees of Ram at all bother about responding to the garbage that a person of Karunanidhi’s calibre wants to spread? He does not merit rebuttal. He deserves prosecution under the rule of law."

(http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20071008&fname=ZCol+Puri&sid=1)