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Splashes – 41/72 – Prosperous Social Living

At the time when people of developed countries were clad in animal skins, ate taste-less food and lived in dug-holes, ancient India was a heaven on Earth, and a military power too. People lived a luxurious, contented and refined social life. To Aristotle conquest of India implied conquest over world. Till eighteenth century no Indian desired to go abroad, but people from other countries desired to reach India.

Importance of Married Life

According to Hinduism individual goal of life is attainment of total satisfaction. Moksha can be enjoyed any time after the stage of Brahmcharya (studentship).  However one is not required to betray obligation towards others while pursuing his individual total satisfaction through Moksha.

Those who fail to discharge their obligations or desire to enjoy at the expense of others cannot attain Moksha. They live discontented life. An issue-less person is not appreciated in Hindu society, because duties towards continuity of creation are not performed. Donning Sanyas, skipping duties of Grahastha Ashrma is not desirable.

House holders sustain studentship, Vanaprastha and Sanyas ashram. Thus they play a pivotal role in generation of resources. Similarly they maintain continuity of creation. Therefore any person who hops towards Vanaprastha or Sanyas is viewed as escapism; barring few out-standing exceptions.

Person deprived of sensory pleasures due to forced circumstances, shall always be attracted towards his unfulfilled desires. It is significant that all Hindu sages entered in Sanyas Ashrama voluntarily along with their spouses after saturating their desires.

Enjoyment cannot be without income and resources. Even a hermit would require about fifty items for his personal use even in forest. Therefore he ought to have lived an active life to earn some living through righteous means.

Recently coined living in relationships also cannot lead to satisfaction in life. These are escape routes from discharging obligations towards society and future generation. Institution of marriage is the only proper forum to enjoy sensory pleasures and attainment of total satisfaction by discharging obligations.

Kamasutra

Hinduism allowed indulgences and enjoyment of all worldly pleasure but within Dharma and Grahastha Ashrama. In contrast to the Puritanical view that the sole purpose of sex is procreation, Hindus believe three purposes of life – Dharma, Artha, and Kama. The erotic is regarded as the seat of earthly beauty. The pursuit of sexual pleasure is revered as a religious quest.

Tantra is a sub-sect of Hinduism that has several rituals associated with coupling as part of religious practice, besides other practices based on Tantrik philosophy. However it must be clarified that Tantra is at the extreme in indulgence and certainly not the life style of Hindus in main stream.

Kamasutra by Rishi Vatsayana is world’s first comprehensive guide to living erotically. The classic has fascinated imagination of the western world as much as Indian philosophy, science and Yoga. Over and above, the theme of this treatise has inspired the sculpture of thirty temples at Khajuroho where tourists flock from all over the globe to watch the beautiful stone carvings depicting all the possible fantasies of the erotic mind.

Practical towards Sensuousness

There is no Taalibani type moral policing in Hinduism, but one is expected to abide by the decency of Dharma. Sometimes foreign couples display sensuality at public places. When protested by locals, either they cite the example of Khajuroho sculptures as precedence, or call the Indians hypocrites and conservative.  The fact is that foreigners do not understand the depth of Hindu philosophy at all. For the sake of argument alone it can be said, that European pornographers have nothing to match even the eroticism that Hindus carved in stone more than ten centuries ago!

Kama is not only confined to mere satisfaction of biological sex desires, but its scope covers all the pleasures related to human senses like hearing, smell, tasting and touching. It includes enjoyment of music, fine arts, delicious food, perfumes, sports and all aesthetic material and comforts. In this pursuit the observance of Dharma and availability of resources owned by efforts are the limits.

Valmiki Ramayana depicts several situations of materialistic pleasures. There is a vivid description of protocol and etiquette when King Dasrath is awakened from his sleep. The feast arranged by Rishi Bhardwaja to welcome prince Bharat and his army on way to Chitrakoot, would pale the luxuries of any state banquet organized today. Hanuman‘s searching peep for Sita in Ravana’s bed chambers is another pictorial depiction of the luxuries of the time. But whatever the sage has described is within the limits of decency and aesthetic quality.

Eating Options

Health and Hygiene have always been given paramount importance in Hindu living. Food is classified in to Satvik, Rajsik and Tamsik categories, keeping in view the physical activity of the individual. The classification perfectly matches recommendations of dietitians of our times. Individuals have the choice to pick any food packet according to the desire, affordability, occupation, and appetite.

Comprehensive instructions have also been documented in Manusamriti regarding service and consumption of food; right to the last activity of cleaning of teeth. These kind of written procedures are in vogue today in most of the manufacturing organizations certified according to the standards of quality control.

Hinduism does not approve wanton killing of animals for food but Hindus have the choice of eating vegetarian or non-vegetarian diet. Procurement of meat by hunting is commended for non-vegetarians. There is a difference in attitude of Hindus preferring vegetarian food than that of others. While in other faiths individuals turned vegetarians for their personal considerations of health, Hindus stay vegetarians for compassion towards animals.

Multiplicity of Food Items

European learnt growing pumpkins from Red Indians after reaching America in seventeenth century. Even today pulses are not an item on their table and they get proteins from animals. But ancient texts reveal that Hindus were proficient in the field of agriculture and cultivated variety of cereals, pulses and fruit. Cultivation of Rice, wheat, maize and corns was known. They owned fruit orchards to produce mangoes, bananas, coconut, and melons. Holding of cow herds was a symbol of prosperity. Cow milk, butter, ghee, curd, and cottage cheese were items of daily use in homes.

Art of Cooking

Cooking was considered an art, out of 64 art forms. Indians could prepare food in many ways such as baked, grilled, steamed, dried or fried. The medicinal properties of spices were known to house-wives and the same were included in daily diet. To ensure a perfect and balanced diet plan, every meal included at least one item to taste sweat, salty, sour, astringent pungent and bitter. Offering of Tambul Patra (Beatle nut) was sophistication at the end of food. There were no restrictions on consumption of wine and other intoxicants while in Grahastha Ashram as long as the individual could afford and hold.

India invented sugar

Sugar from sugar cane was pre-eminently an Indian discovery. Rest of the world derived equivalent of sugar from the Indian Sakara or Shakkar. The origin of the word can be traced to Arabic Shakar, Latin Sacharum, French Sucere German Zucker, and English sugar. Hindus prefer sweats and regard them Satvik food. Prasada offered at temples is generally sweat. Rice cooked in sweetened milk as Kheer (payasam) is considered most pious, and a most soothing pudding in all respects. There is an endless variety of sweat dishes handed down to generations since times immemorial.

Textiles and Costumes

India is the original home of cotton. Indians were the first to perfect the art of weaving. The discovery of several spindles, and a piece of cotton stuck to a silver vase, revealed that cotton-spinning and weaving was practiced in Harappa. References to weaving are found in the Vedic literature also.

The variety in Indian fabrics ranges from homespun Khadi to complex brocades flaming with gold, from picturesque pajamas to the invisibly seamed shawls of Kashmir. Every garment woven in India had a beauty that came only of a very ancient and instinctive art.

Indian Textile Trade

The foundations of the Indian textile trade with other countries were laid as early as the second century BC. Soldiers of Alexander carried cotton to Europe as a curiosity in the 4th century BC. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in Indian muslin 2000 years ago. Hordes of block printed, resist-dyed fabrics of Gujarati origin, found in the tombs of Fostat in Egypt prove Indian export of cotton textiles to Egypt in medieval times.

Indian artisans created such fine fabrics that British characterized them as ‘the work of fairies or insects rather than of men.’ Bengali weavers produced delicate cotton muslin so sheer that they were named ‘running water’ and ‘evening dew’. Silk brocades from Benares in northern India glittered with threads of gold and silver.  In Kashmir, enormous shawls – so finely woven that they could be passed through a ring – were made from the inner fleece of a rare mountain goat, which left its hairs behind while rubbing against shrubs on Himalayan peaks.

European nations had initially been drawn to India by the spice trade, textiles and gold. In matters of taste and refinement, Hindu females were equated with Apasra, the heavenly beauties. That is enough to prove that India was a heaven on Earth.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 42/72 – Etiquette and Social Norms)

Splashes – 25/72 – Sati and Female Infanticide

Accusations are often made against Hinduism for abetting widow burning in the guise of sati practice and female infanticide at birth. Many Hindus are made to feel ashamed for such brutal acts alleged against their faith and ancestors. Ignorant of facts they tend to turn apologetic and accept the accusations. They do not know that the allegations are contrary to the facts. This misleading propaganda is carried out to engineer conversions out of Hindu faith by citing stray incidents of crime out of context to malign Hindu faith.

Scriptural Evidence about Sati

There is not even one statement advocating Sati in four Vedas, 108 Upanishads, 18 Puranas, or in Manusumruti. The incident of Shiva’s consort Sati had nothing to contribute towards the suicidal act of Sati. In brief, King Daksha Prajapati, had 100 daughters and the youngest of them was named Sati. She had married Lord Shiva against the wishes of the king.

Daksha organized a yagna and with the intent of ignoring Shiva, he did not invite Him. Sati went to witness the Yagna un-invited, contrary to the advice of her husband Lord Shiva. As King Daksha ignored her presence, Sati felt humiliated, and ended herself by jumping into sacrificial fire of the Yagna. Thus, Sati ended her life when her husband was very much alive and is still an eternal God! This incident is narrated in Shiva Purana to underline a social norm that a married woman must not visit her parental house, if her husband is insulted.

The incident of Sati cannot be related to the allegation of widow burning as well. In Hindu society, every married women faithful to her husband is referred as Sati – Savitri. The suffix ‘Savitri‘ is generally used as a metaphor to respect the wife of wood-cutter Satyavan, who died at young age and his wife Savitri, a princess, brought him back to life after impressing Yama, the god of Death by her wisdom.

This Sati episode also exposes the propaganda about the allegation of female infanticide at birth. If female infanticide was patronized by Hindu scriptures then King Daksha would not have nourished one hundred daughters to grow up.

Allegations belied by historical Epics

The historical epics Ramayana and Mahabharata also support that practice of Sati had no sanction from any of the Hindu scriptures. Here are some facts:-

  • In Ramayana, when King Dasratha died, none of his three queens committed sati.  They lived full life and blessed Rama at his coronation as King when he returned from exile.
  • When monkey-king Baali died, his wife Tara did not perform Sati, but was married to his younger brother It is a proof of widow rehabilitation by re-marriage.
  • When Ravana died, his wife Mandodari did not perform
  • When King Shantanu of Mahabharat epic died, his wife Satyawati did not perform Sati.
  • Similarly when his successors died, none of their wives performed sati.
  • There is only one incident in Mahabharata. Queen Madri, the second wife of King Pandu had held herself responsible to be the cause of her husband’s untimely death. Out of guilt and remorse, Madri, jumped into the funeral pyre of her fallen husband and committed suicide. The elder wife Kunti did not follow the act of younger wife. Except that incident, in the whole epic poem in which thousands of men got killed on the battlefield, there is no incident of Sati. None out of the 100 wives of the Kaurava warriors committed Sati.

Sati was an Alien Practice

On the contrary, the practice of wife burning had its roots away from India. Columbia Encyclopedia states: ‘The strange practice of killing a favorite wife on her husband’s grave has been found in many parts of the world; it was followed by such people as the Thracians, the Scythians, the ancient Egyptians, the Scandinavians, the Chinese, and people of Oceania and Africa’.

The practice of Sati came to India through Kushanas. In the later period as Rajputs, remained constantly occupied in wars, the invaders used to rape their wives again and again till they would die. Thus Rajputs resorted to the practice of Jauhar as a solution forced upon them out of socio-political necessity.

Jauhar of Rani Padmini

The episode of Rani Padmini reflects that she did not perform sati, but to save her dignity and honor, she had opted for Jauhar along with seven hundred brave young wives when their husbands volunteered ‘Saka’ (suicidal attack) on the camp of Alluddin Khilji. Thus the warrior husbands were alive on their chargers at the time of Jauhar. They bade farewell when their young spouses walked to the pyre singing bravely and escaped anticipated indignity.

The glorification of Jauhar was necessary to motivate young women to the option of choosing between a life of sexual slavery or glorified death as a Rajput widow. It was indeed a tribute to young widows who were brave to walk willingly towards death rather living dishonored.

Rule of East India Company

Harping about the practice of Sati is intended to malign Hinduism. In some provinces under the rule of East India Company, certain greedy families indulged in criminal act of widow burning to usurp the property of the widow, but that had no religious sanction. It also goes to the credit of Hindu reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy that they asked the British rulers at their own to severely punish the criminals.

Allegation of Female Infanticide

Similar to the allegation of Sati, the allegation of female infanticide also stands refuted by facts provided in scriptures and practices in Hindu society.

Besides epics and Purana, volumes of literature depicting the social life of ancient India is available under the titles Jatka Tales, Panchtantra, Hitopdesha, Betaal Pachisi, and classics of Kalidasa and others. There is no mention of any such practice or incident.

  • On the contrary, there would not have been inspiring female characters in our literature like Sita, Draupadi, Kunti, Devaki, Yashoda, Shakuntala and All of them are respected in Hindu society. Such strong-willed females would not have lived if female infanticide was patronized by scriptures and regularly practiced by Hindus.
  • It is regarded as a privileged sacred duty of the parents to perform Kanyadana (donning of daughters) at the time of marriage. Such society cannot indulge in or approve heinous crime of female infanticide.
  • Out of love and affection, Hindu parents voluntarily gift household items, colorful dresses and ornaments at the time of marriage to their daughters. Stray cases of dowry demands have no sanction from scriptures and are a social evil.
  • Hinduism does not support abortion even for limiting the family. Hinduism advocates self-restrain. Sex determination tests and abortion today are the unholy gifts from Western culture.
  • The range and variety of attractive female garments, beauty products and ornaments since ancient times in India is a reflection of love and prominence given to daughters in the families.
  • The unique festival of Raksha Bandhan is dedicated to the sentimental bond between brothers and sisters in Hindu family. No other society in the world has similar festival earmarked exclusively for this kind of relationship.

Islamic Brutality

In furtherance of his imperial designs, Mughal Emperor Akbar had initiated one-sided matrimonial alliances with Rajput families. In return when Rajputs sought reciprocal relationship, Akbar on the sly had debarred Mughal princesses getting married to anyone. Consequent to ban, both the daughters of Emperor Shahjahan, Princess Jahanara and Roshanara, had lived as spinsters. It was finally Emperor Aurangzeb who lifted the ban, because he was not interested in having matrimonial relationships with infidel Rajputs.

Such brutal practices resulted in infanticide and under-cover abortions to off springs born out of rapes, adultery and intrigues to eliminate successors to the rulers. It is still shrouded in mystery how many illegitimate infants would have been killed in the dark basements of forts during Mughal period on account of Akbar’s inhuman dictate. To counter Mughal atrocities certain Rajput families also indulged in honor killings of their daughters, but Hinduism does not support that also.   

Hinduism Pioneered Equality 

Hinduism did not make any discrimination in the society on the basis of color, race or gender. Every person is respected equally in individual capacity. As fore-runners of Human Rights, Hindus have promoted universal well-being, equality and global brotherhood through customs, traditions, rituals and festivals. Hindus must not hesitate to refute baseless propaganda hurled at them from any quarter.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 26 / 72 – Temples and Rituals in Hinduism)

Splashes – 24/72 – Status of Women in Hindu Society

The importance and respect accorded to women in Hindu society can be gauged from Hindu icons that all Hindu gods have their spouse besides them on the same pedestal as theirs. They enjoy the same reverence as that of the God and are not mere objects of pleasure. Verses have been composed in the scriptures in praise of goddesses, and they are equally empowered to grant as much blessings and inflict curses as their spouse!

Individual Freedom

Since nomadic period, all over the world, by and large, females continued to look after indoor responsibilities, while males managed the external environment, but in Hindu society women had plenty of indoor as well as out-door freedom, since the Vedic and Epic age.

Females in Hindu society had equal opportunities and scope for individual development, especially in the field of religious, spiritual, social and artistic activities. They could study Vedas, become teachers or even ascetics if they wished. They could pursue study of subjects such as medicine, mathematics, astronomy, or achieve expertise in performing arts like music, dance and drama. They could learn even martial arts and could accompany the males in battlefield. One noteworthy reference is available in Ramayana, when Queen Kaikeyi protected her wounded husband King Dasrath on battlefield, who made two standing promises to her. Even during Sanyasa Ashrama Sages and Rishis were accompanied by their wives. Arundhati, Gargi, Savitri, and Anusooya are few names of learned women mentioned as samples of feminine wisdom.

Special status granted to women in Hindu society can be gauged from the following verse of Sage Manu, the law giver: 

यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवताः। यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफलाः क्रियाः।।

– (मनु स्मृति 3-56)

(Meaning – Gods reside in the abode where women are respected, but where women are insulted, all noble deeds and knowledge get destroyed)

Status of women in Hindu Society can be compared in contrast with some other faiths where women are nothing but confined to harems for the purpose of pleasure, and cannot be relied upon as a witness to testify an atrocity alleged against a man. They cannot join the men-folk even in prayers at public places. They are debarred from education also in certain faiths.

The Institution of Marriage

Nowhere women were sold, or forced into marriage in Hindu society.  Unlike other societies, physical love and attraction do not form the basis of husband – wife relationship, but it the duty of each partner to love and care for the person one is married to. This is the stark difference in Hindu marriage and that in other societies. There was no divorce. Hindu marriage is not an act of contract, but a bond of perpetual relationship expanding the span of several lives of the couple.

In Hindu families, wife is called Dharampatni, since she is a spiritual partner of her husband.  No religious ritual is complete without her participation. Hinduism considers Moksha as the ultimate goal of human life including women. The paths prescribed for the attainment of Moksha is identical for males and females. Purity, self-control, devotion and austerity are as much necessary for women as for men.

Mostly parents arranged the marriages for their sons and daughters, but Hindu women had right to choose their life partner through Swaymvar also. However, in Hindu society, a shameless woman is considered to be a Sarupnakha, despite her physical charms and family status. Women violating the norms of their society and family suffer, and the same has been well depicted in Ramayana. Sita, the ideal home-maker also had to suffer when she stepped out of the limits of the house-hold dictate, even for giving alms to Ravana in disguise as a hermit. She had to undergo Agni-parikhsha for making re-entry to the household.

Since ancient times, Hindu society was liberal enough to have recognized Gandharva Vivah, implying marriage without formal rituals, but there is no sanction for living in kind of relationship even today.

Inter-caste marriages

There are instances of inter-caste marriages also in Hindu scriptures. Maharishi Ved Vyasa, the compiler of Vedas was a love-child of Rishi Prashara and Satyawati, the daughter of a fisherman. Satyawati was subsequently married to King Shantanu, on the condition that the eldest son born to the couple shall succeed Shantnu on throne, instead of Shantanu’s previous son Bheeshama. In another incidents, Demon Guru Shukracharya’s daughter Devyayani was married to Kshatriya king Yayati; and Rishi Kanva’s adopted daughter Shakuntala was also married to King Dushyanta through Gandharva Vivah. Similarly Pandava princes Bheema was married to Rakshasa girl Hidamba, and Arjuna was married to Naga princess Ulupi.

Role of Homemaker

Hinduism does not shut its eyes to the differences that do exist between men and women, biological as well as temperamental. In reality women differ profoundly from men. Every one of her body cells bears the mark of her sex. Thus Hindu society has divided the areas of activity between males and females, depending upon their physical characteristics resulting in slightly different modes of life and discipline.

As per Hinduism the family sustains the strength of every society, and women play the pivotal role in the family. The role model placed before the Hindu women is that of the ideal Home Maker (Grihini), who is expected to be an ideal wife, an ideal friend, and an ideal mother – all rolled into one. Role models for Hindu womanhood are of Sita, Savitri, Damayanti and Gandhari, and not the likes of Helen, Juliet or Laila. Women can mould themselves as Lakshami, as a householder, as Sarsawati in the form of learned, and Durga as social reformer and defender of the oppressed.

There are several incidents in Purana as well as in history, where women such as Shakuntala, and Jijabai raised their sons against odds, when separated from the husband.

Conflict with Western Culture 

The impact of western civilization has caused confusion on the role of women today. Some women seem to be getting discontented with their role of child-bearing and home making. They wish to devote to some other outdoor activity. Consequently, hotels are slowly replacing homes. In the name of economic independence, life is tending to become more and more hectic, irregular, and even vagrant. Children are being brought up in child caring centers and thus being deprived the affection of caring mothers.

Modern Hindu woman is coming into conflict with her own inner nature. One can look around in his neighborhood to assess for himself that the upbringing of children is better organized where wife has donned the role of home maker, in comparison to the couple in external competition.

Companion, not Competitor

The division of duties all over the world followed a pattern that while males generated resources, females conserved and put them to optimal use of the family. However, of late some activists propagating gender equality between males and females are misleading Hindu society towards aping of Westernized identity for the role of women. Thus instead of being companions, women are being put up as competitors to men.

The irony is that every ‘liberated woman’ also desires to have a husband who is ‘superior to her’ in all attributes. This reality proves the point!

The remedy lies in resorting to the kind of female education with natural role of women as its center. All other training should be secondary to this role that nature has prescribed for their gender. In Hindu household freedom for development was available to Women in India since Vedic age. Such facility was not available to women in other parts of the world till beginning of twentieth century. Today Indian women can contest for all the seats in Parliament and can enjoy total empowerment.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 25/72 –Sati and Female Infanticide)

Splashes – 13/72- Ramayana is First Historical Epic

Rishi Valmiki composed Ramayana. It is regarded as the first epic not only for Hindus, but of the entire mankind. Even Sage Ved Vyasa had studied Ramayana. Following request from King Yudhishtra, Sage Ved Vyasa wrote Ramayana Tatparyadeepika as a commentary on Ramayana before he composed his own mammoth epic Mahabharata. Other epics of the world such as Mahabharata, Iliad, Odyssey, and Paradise Lost were composed centuries later.

Literary Importance of Ramayana

Valmiki’s Ramayana has served as the fountainhead of inspiration not only for subsequent epics on the same theme, but has been a global trendsetter in the style of epic writing, and has influenced other formats of literature. The theme of this epic continues to attract dancers, musicians, story tellers, dramatists, cinema and folk arts in India, South East Asia in particular and the rest of the countries in general.

Ramayana has been translated in all the languages of the world. The original Ramayana inspired many subsequent writers to compose different versions of the same story, of which Shri Ram Charit Manas composed by Saint Tulsi Das in Hindi (Awadhi dialect) is most read. Besides many other salient features, Tulsidas’s literary masterpiece stands out for being the only epic in the entire literature of the world, where feminine beauty of the heroine has been described by the author visualizing her in the image of his own mother, rather than beloved. Though Sita is projected as the most beautiful women of the universe she is virtuous and reverend and referred by the poet from beginning to end in the form of his own mother.

The pictorial quality of Valmiki’s descriptions is superb. His description of a feast arranged by Sage Bhardwaj to welcome Bharat’s army would dwarf the arrangements of any five-star hotels of our times. When entire Europe did not know the existence of Pacific Ocean till sixteenth century, Sugriva‘s briefing given to his subordinates for tracing Sita has listed all the four major oceans and prominent land marks existing on the surface of the globe today. The take off by Hanuman to cross ocean for going to Lanka in search of Sita contains all the details of future Concord Air plane taking off. These are treats to the imagination yet to be surpassed in literature and convince scientific mind as well.

Conceptual Effect of Ramayana

The environment depicted in Valmiki’s epic is not of a primitive human society, but that of a well-developed civilization. It contains geographical references, dynastic charts, social customs, diplomatic protocols, and political concepts that are being followed even by advanced nations of the modern world. Description of military organizations, weaponry, tactics, intelligence gathering system, and military maneuvers are valid even today. It preceded even Sun Tzu’s military doctrines, Aristotle’s theories, and Arthashastra of Kautillya, which are regarded today as authentic texts on Military Science and Diplomacy.

Ramayana has influenced and affected social customs and Indian society in every walk of life for thousands of years. Hindu society is molded that way. Rama and Sita represent an ideal couple for every Indian household. The story of prince Rama living an ideal life has inspired millions of Indians as a model for the roles that a person has to perform in life under different situations. The illustration of Rama discharging his obligations in the roles of an obedient son, a caring husband, an affectionate brother, a loving father, a sincere friend and an ideal king have universal appeal irrespective of religion to every human being of the civilized world today. While Rama has been projected as ‘Maryada Purshottam’, the other characters of Ramayana are mixed of human strengths and weaknesses found in every society.

Historical Importance of Ramayana

Ramayana with her characters and sites makes every human proud of this universal heritage of mankind in general and to every Indian in particular since we are closely related to it. This epic contains early history for the mankind.

Some Westerners and few Anglicized Hindus regard Ramayana as fictional literature on the pretext that its historical substance cannot be established according to the parameters set by western historians. They purposely ignore the fact that in ancient India historical records were kept by way of epics as well as chronicles like Puranic stories. It was much later that some Kings had chronicles written by foreign travelers also. The authenticity of historical events of past thousands years cannot be established as per European standards today.

In the style of epic writing the descriptions used to be metaphorical, and to some extent the poets could be biased to favor or denounce their patrons and rival kings. The same custom continued all over the world. Even Mahmood Ghaznavi in Medieval period had his biography written by Persian poet Firdausi. All such records are taken into account for linking the past where fool-proof evidence is not available. History is nothing but a legend agreed upon. It is also an indisputable fact that much of Hindu historical evidence in the form of literature, chronicles and historical sites has been destroyed during Muslim rule.

How ironical it was that we had to wait till twentieth century to be told by British historian Sir John Marshal that we were the oldest civilization on the globe after the excavations of Harappa and Moein-Jodaro. Efforts are needed to trace and connect the missing links in our past, but due to vote bank politics and anti-Hindu politicians, the same has been kept in abeyance. On the other hand vested interests had contemplated destruction of our ancient heritage. The plan to destroy Ram Setu was a treacherous step in the same direction. The recorded evidence about Nala Setu ( as Ram-Setu was constructed under the supervision of Engineer Nala) is available in Valmiki Ramayana.

While returning to Ayodhaya after libration of Sita, Rama pointed out to Sita from his Pushpak Vimana the bridge that he had got constructed to transport his army across the ocean. It goes as under:

ऐष सेतुमर्या बद्धः सागरे लवणाणर्वे।

तव हेतोविर्शालाक्षि नल सेतुः सुदुष्करः।। (16 Yudhakand 123 sarga)

Meaning – “O large eyed Sita, to rescue you there lays the bridge to be remembered by the name of Nalasetu. With great difficulty the bridge had been laid across the saline water of the ocean on my orders”.

Biased Misrepresentations

The ongoing controversy about the authenticity of Ramayana, the existence of Rama, and Rama-Setu is a nefarious plan to destroy the cultural pride of India.

  • Can any person deny the existence of his grandparents’ grandparents? Certainly NO, but in spite of having own great grand parents lived about hundred years ago, no person can provide any historical proof about the existence of great grandparents. Every living person is a conclusive proof to support the fact that not only he had his parents, but also had a chain of great grandparents; otherwise he would not have come into existence. Similarly the faith and belief about Rama and the Rama-Setu named after Him do not require any proof to be given. Rama-Setu stands out as the first man-made, and recorded archeological land mark for the entire mankind. It has been referred as Adam’s Bridge, in Atlas published by other nations also.
  • Another mischievous theory was advanced to justify British colonial rule that the story of Rama symbolized the Aryan aggression over Dravidian This is absurd. Ravana was also a part and parcel of Aryan culture. Ramayana tells that Ravana was a Brahmin, son of a reverend Rishi Vishweshrava from Somalian mother Kaiksi, and was well versed in Vedas. He performed Yagnas, worshiped Lord Shiva of the Trinity of Gods and had obtained his blessings. How can he be a non-Aryan? Ravna’s flag insignia depicting a human scalp has come to be regarded as a warning sign for ‘danger’ all over the world!’

Historical Record of Human Civilization

Valmiki Ramayana opens up a window to peep in the past of our cultural heritage. It contains valuable data on multiple subjects to include Ayurveda, Tantra, Astrology, Music, Evolution of life on Earth, History, Geography, Diplomacy and protocols, Economics and Military Science. The instances can be corroborated to match other ancient accounts given by different saints and learned persons on different occasions and places. Every one cannot be suspected to have fabricated history through identical narration of details. All of the account put together suggests the existence of a well-developed human civilization in ancient India.

Ramayana is therefore the historical record of mankind, but having been living in close proximity Hindus have deep sentimental attachment for the epic. The attributes of this great classic can be known properly by reading the original text.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 14/72 – Mahabharata is Grand Panorama)

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