Posts Tagged ‘Rama’

‘Ram, a bad husband; Lakshman, a worse brother’

9 November 2012

The Ramayana, reinterpreted by the renowned criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani, in The Hindu:

Ram was a bad husband. I don’t like him at all. Just because some fisherman said something, he sent that poor woman [Sita] to exile.

Lakshman was even worse.

“When Sita was abducted, Ram asked him to go and find her as she was abducted during his watch. Lakshman simply excused himself saying she was his sister-in-law and he never looked at her face, so he wouldn’t be able to identify her.”

Image: courtesy India Forums

Also read: Rama, Krishna, Shiva and political correctness

Ramayana, Mahabharatha, and the women’s bill

Should gods, godesses have caste identities?

In Ayodhya, Dasaratha‘s wives gorged on idlis

If Lord Rama was here, there, everywhere…

CHURUMURI POLL: Lord Rama, man or myth?

Rama, Krishna, Shiva & our political correctness

8 December 2011

Delhi University does not want a certain kind of Ramayana to be heard or read by its students. Well, for altogether different reasons, so do many parents writes the author, speaker, illustrator and mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik, chief belief officer of the Future group, in Star of Mysore:


“Often I am approached by well-meaning people who want stories to be told to their children. So which story must one tell children? ‘Tell the Ramayana.’ So I begin—Once upon a time, there was a king with three wives…. And they interrupt, ‘Skip the three wives part. How can one talk about polygamy to children?’

“And then I come to the part where Ram abandons Sita following gossip in the city. And they interrupt again, ‘Can we end the Ramayana with the coronation part and skip this tragic ending?’

“In fact, many parents feel Ramayana should not be told to children as it is a patriarchal narrative. They feel I should tell the story of Krishna. Which part? ‘The childhood part when he is so sweet and naughty.’ And do we tell the story of how he stole clothes? ‘No, no, that is awkward.’ And the part about Raas-Lila. ‘No, no, that is difficult to explain.’

“So shall I tell the story of Shiva? ‘Yes, except anything about the Lingam and the consumption of Bhang.’ What about story of Durga? ‘Yes, Yes.’ But the moment I describe how Kali drinks blood I see eyebrows rise and gestures begging me to stop. ‘We are vegetarians.’

“Every parent wants to control what their children must hear. Every celebrity wants to control what the media says about them. Is there a difference?”

Read Devdutt Pattanaik’s articles: here

Also read: Dasaratha‘s wives gorged on idlis, dosas

Should gods, goddesses have caste identities?

USHA K.R.: The delightful feminism behind Ganesha‘s birth

Should gods, goddesses have caste identities?

19 October 2011

In a roundabout sort of way, Mysore is at the centre of a raging debate in the seats of learning in the nation’s capital.

The Mysore-born A.K. Ramanujan‘s classic essay “Three hundred Ramayanas” has been dropped from the history syllabus of Delhi University because it could hurt the feelings of the super-sensitive folk who have a firm and clear idea of how their gods and goddesses ought to be portrayed.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated move, a section of students of Jawaharlal Nehru University are planning to celebrate “Mahishasura Day” next Tuesday in honour of the demon-king to whom Mysore owes its name and whose statue (in picture) adorns the entrance of the temple atop Chamundi hills.

What gives “Mahishasura Day” an additional edge is the attempt to give Mahishasura a caste identity, the contention that he belonged to a backward community, which, if true, gives Mysore’s already strong reputation as the seat of social reforms a monumental push.

The journalist-author Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a JNU alum, wonders if it is OK for humans to see gods through the prism of caste.



Do Hindu gods and goddesses have caste identities? Can one bring in the divisive issue of caste when talking about them? Would it be right to say that one particular god or goddess is a Brahmin while the other is a Kshatriya, a Vaishya or even one of the OBCs?

These thoughts surfaced in the mind after reading a news report mentioning that a section of students in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University have decided to “observe ‘Mahishasura Day’ on October 25 to reiterate that the demon killed by Goddess Durga belonged to a Backward Community.”

The report elaborated that the All India Backward Students’ Forum “decided to honour Mahishasura after a tussle with another section of students who had allegedly taken the forum head-on for putting up ‘blasphemous posters on the campus during Durga Puja that hurt religious sentiments’.”

Having been the only university in which I ever enrolled, I have an overt interest in developments related to JNU. The report led me to speak to friends which, though not adding much on the incident per se, sharpened stray thoughts sparked off by the report.

I have been aware of the academic discourse on the caste profiling of mythological characters – especially from the Ramayana. At the level of popular culture, I have tracked Dalits celebrating ‘Ravana Melas’ to protest the burning of his effigies on ‘Dussehra’ and his portrayal in mainstream Hindu culture as the epitome of evil.

The step in JNU to observe Mahisasura Day is something similar, so prima facie there should not be any opposition to it since Ravana Melas have been held at various places for years. But spreading the trend elsewhere and to other mythologies would dilute the symbolic nature of the protest.

It also has the potential to boomerang.

Mythologies have portrayed Lord Krishna as a Yadav king but I have not come across any Upper Caste Hindu refusing to revere him.

If we extending caste profiling of mythological characters, gods and goddesses, a situation may arise when any OBC group may suddenly declare that Upper Caste Hindus do not have the right to include Lord Krishna in their pantheon.

Instead of eliminating the caste order, that would only widen the existing schism.

There is also the added problem of ‘fitting’ in the gods of the ati-Shudras or Dalits. Will OBC groups allow Dalits to consider Mahisasura to be their god also and allow entry into temples?

We have caste-based parties or political parties that draw their strengths primarily from one caste. Gods have not yet been split on caste lines. Instead of doing so, it would be best to allow people to follow their own gods – and if any group has a ‘problem’ with the mythology of one group then it’s best to shut one’s ears.

After all, the bulk of these gods and goddesses either wake up once a year or come visiting just the once. Thereafter, it is a matter of routine personal religiosity with no community participation.

(Journalist and television anchor Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay is the author of Demolition: India at the Crossroads. This piece originally appeared on the Asian Correspondent and is reproduced here with permission)

Photograph: The Mahishasura statue atop Chamundi hills in Mysore (Karnataka Photo News)


Read the full Ramanujan essay: Three hundred Ramayanas

Also read: In Ayodhya, Dasaratha‘s wives gorged on idli-dosa

A.K. Ramanujan: the old woman and her keys

How our buddhijeevis became one-tongue ponies

Is Samskara a little too sexy for post-graduate students?

Hindutvavadis have gorged on Ayodhya since ’47

28 September 2010

On the day the judiciary put an end to the dilatory tactics of the executive in the Ayodhya title dispute , by ruling that the Allahabad High Court can go ahead and pronounce its judgment, Mukul Kesavan writes in The Telegraph, Calcutta, that the Babri masjid issue has travelled in the direction of the Hindutva-vadis since Independence.

And the smuggling in of the Ram idol into the masjid in 1949, the opening of the gates by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1985, the demolition of the mosque in the presence of the presiding deities of the BJP, A.B. Vajpayee and L.K. Advani in 1992, the acquisition of the land by the Centre in 1993, all have had the shameless complicity of the State:

“In the context of the demolition, not only is an existing mosque first encroached upon, then razed, not only does Hindu worship continue on the site, but one of the consequences of this vandalism is also an apex court judgment that suggests that mosques, all mosques, are no longer protected by Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution because they aren’t part of the basic furniture of Islam.

“It’s worth noting that this was a majority judgment from a five-judge bench; in the words of Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn, a constitutional scholar: ‘[T]he two dissenting judges, both of whom were Muslims, had an understanding of the obligations of Islamic practice that differed sharply from their three Hindu colleagues in the majority.’

“”So, instead of a majoritarian campaign of violence and destruction (which led to the mosque being razed and thousands of Muslims being attacked and killed in the wake of the demolition) being punished, Muslims found themselves a) minus one mosque, b) the victims of vicious, orchestrated violence and c) at the receiving end of a judgment that made their places of worship an optional extra, not sacred places protected by their constitutional right to religious practice.”

Read the full article: Closure in Ayodhya

Also read: The man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred

L.K. Advani offers nothing creative, only resentment’

CHURUMURI POLL: Who will win Ayodhya title?

Does BJP have no decency left to defend its own?

In Ayodhya, Dasaratha‘s wives gorged on idli-dosa

CHURUMURI POLL: Lord Rama, man or myth?

And the milk man is pure, positive and virtuous?

4 May 2010

As it is, there was little to be said about the suspected virtues of God’s Own Party with a Difference when an MLA’s wife (Raghupati Bhat) was “half-kidnapped” and the State’s home minister V.S. Acharya was promising she would be reunited with her family in a “matter of hours” only to report her death in a matter of hours.

As it is, there was little to be said about the suspected values of God’s Own Party with a Difference when another MLA (M.P. Renukacharya), whose public display of affection with a “nurse” were plastered all over the front pages for months, was promoted as minister in a tradeoff to keep a tottering government alive.

It stands to unreason, therefore, that God’s Own Party with a Difference should see a minister (Hartalu Halappa) caught with his pants down with a friend’s wife, not as a further affront to women by the shameless snakes who earn their votes in the name of Lord Rama, but as a political conspiracy aimed at weakening  an already beleaguered chief minister.

But not for nothing does B.S. Yediyurappa continue to be the chief minister of Karnataka.

Shortly after Halappa resigned, even though Vijaya Karnataka, the newspaper that outed him did not name him, Yediyurappa was dipping into his pocket dictionary to offer an extraordinary defence of the scum from his home-district Shimoga, calling him a loyal party worker—and a satvik” person.

Satvik, as in noble?

Satvik, as in pure, positive, beneficial?

Satvik, as in virtuous?

Satvik, as in a true devotee?

Any wonder, why politics is no longer the last refuge of scoundrels but the first, and any wonder why politicians engender such mistrust and cynicism (for which they then blame the media)?

Photograph: Chandravati, the housewife allegedly molested by minister Hartalu Halappa, with her husband Venkatesh Murthy at Vinobhanagar police station in Shimoga on Monday to file a complaint (Karnataka Photo News)

Ramayana, Mahabharatha and the Women’s Bill

19 March 2010

Union law minister Veerappa Moily while receiving an award for his five-volume Shri Ramayan Mahanveshanam, yesterday:

“It is instances like Sita‘s fire ordeal which firmed our resolve for the women’s reservation bill.”

“In Sita’s ‘fire ordeal’, Ravan‘s wife, Mandodari, talks to Sita: “Are you not satisfied with the fiery ordeal of life we have tolerated and endured as women till now? Only a man of the epoch can put an end to women’s ordeal.”

Moily did not of course reveal who the “man of the epoch” was on 9 March 2009. Was it him, who moved the bill? Was it P. Chidambaram, who is rumoured to have said the dissenting MPs must be marshalled out?

Or, was it you-know-who?

Meanwhile, the veteran editor T.J.S. George too adds a touch of the mythological to decipher modern-day male chauvinism.



Draupadi had five husbands, each with unsurpassed capabilities. None of them came to her rescue when she was dragged into the royal court for disrobing.

The political Yadavs of our time seem to have taken a self-serving lesson from this episode and resolved that women are unworthy of protection, let alone promotion. Either that or they have forgotten the double curse—pronounced by Gandhari, and then by Viswamitra, Kanva and Narada—that the Yadava race would destroy itself.

Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav have already reduced their parties to tottering relics. Their opposition to the women’s reservation bill and, worse, the hooliganism of their men in the Rajya Sabha betrayed a 19th century mindset.

The hooligans brought such shame to the country that they would be better off under the waters that swallowed up Dwaraka.

But what do we see beyond the fossils of Yadu Kula?

Two realities are clearly visible. The first is the politics of the bill. The Yadavas talking about Muslim women’s quota is a desperate move to regain some of the Muslim support they have lost. Mamata Banerjee”s visceral hatred of Bengal communists made her an odd woman against women.

The Congress also put its internal politics on display. Singularly lukewarm about the bill on Day 1, it suddenly became determined on Day 2. In the Congress nothing happens until partymen know what Soniaji wants and once the signal comes, nothing can stop them from carrying out her wishes.

A parliamentary system is unhealthy when it adheres to the letter of the Westminster model, without heeding the spirit of it.

The other reality that looms large is that the women’s bill, even if it crosses the obstacles in its path and finally becomes law, will have only symbolic value. It will not by itself give women the human rights they have been denied for ages. That will require social reform and no social reformers are anywhere in sight.

If and when 33 per cent seats in legislatures are reserved for women, around 30 per cent of that will likely go to wives, daughters, nieces and girlfriends of male politicians.

Lalu Prasad himself put his unlettered wife in the chief minister’s chair while Mulayam Singh could only find his daughter-in-law to contest a Lok Sabha seat. The Kanimozhis and Supriya Sules will multiply when reservations become law.

And what will happen when they sit as law-makers?

Will it mean an end to the killing of newborn girls in the villages of Tamil Nadu and Haryana?

Will it stop crimes against women which increased by 30-40 per cent in recent years as against 16 per cent increase in general crime?

Will it bring down dowry killings which doubled in the last decade?

Will it make a difference to one-third of married women in India being children below 18?

In one sense India has already led the way in women’s empowerment. Women occupy top positions in corporate houses, financial institutions and in the arts. They have reached these positions through merit, not the favour of reservations. This will continue, making India an exemplar of women’s advancement.

But it will be foolish to close our eyes to the social debris that has collected over the centuries.

The tendency to treat women as beasts of burden is all too prevalent. Inside a family, discrimination is carried to the extent of feeding sons properly while daughters are kept on starvation diet. This has led to half the married women in India being anaemic.

The largest number of illiterate women is also in India—200 million. It’s all very well for Sushma Swaraj and Brinda Karat to forget ideologies and perform a celebratory embrace. But what about India’s social reality? Yaduvamsha still has a grip on that reality.

Also read: Goodbye democracy, say hello to Quotocracy

CHURUMURI POLL: Sonia Gandhi, smarter than Indira?

‘Women’s bill will only increase State’s power’

CHURUMURI POLL: Impact of women’s bill?

‘3 Idiots’? What about the other 100 cr, maamu?

8 January 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ajji was reading Vijaya Karnataka.

Suddenly, she flung the paper in disgust.

Her face, a seething crimson, resembled  a cross between Vidhu Vinod Chopra at the press meet over Mooru Mutthaaalaru aka 3 Idiots, and Kumara Sangakkara at the Ferozshah Kotla grounds after being hit above you know what by a round missile.

“What’s the matter? The New Year has just started. More or less everybody has resolved to be good and nice in 2010. You have already broken your resolution in 10 days!” I asked.

Yeno anyaya idu! The price of thogari bele (tur dal) is Rs 105 a kilo. ‘Super’ togari bele, the one without rubbish, is at Rs 109 a kilo. And nobody, just nobody, neither the ‘polticiansu’ nor the TV and paper peopleusu are raising hell over this. What is the matter with our country?” Ajji demanded to know.

She was as distraught as Angelo Mathews walking back to the pavilion after getting run out at 99.

Ajji! In spite of the recession all over the world, our economist-turned-prime minister is happy our GDP has grown at 7% in the year gone by. Next year he feels we will bounce back to our regular 9% growth rate. That is what our President Pratibha Patil also said sometime back.”

“Some years back, Vajpayee government almost got thrown out because they couldn’t control the price of onions. Earlier, whenever the price of rice or wheat went up, Mrinal Gore would descend on the streets of Bombay and bang the thali as a mark of protest. The admiring public called her ‘Thaliwali’ because she fought for them. What would our Rashtrapatiji know about the thogari bele or its price? She doesn’t buy these things and cook any more as she is busy flying Sukhois and cruising in Navy fleets.”

Ajji! She is showing what a woman of her age can do.”

“I salute her. But who is raising a voice against price rise? ‘Polticiansu’ are busy with Telangana fasts. Where is the BJP these days? I haven’t seen them for ages except when they fight among themselves which is promptly shown on TV. Are there Leftists left in our country any more or have they all fled to China? As far as TV is concerned, all of them without exception are busy with Ruchika’s molestation as if it happened yesterday! Sure, you must catch and punish the guilty, but that is not going to happen because you show it over and over again after 19 years! Allow courts to do their job.”

“The TV networks are just making sure the issue remains in the public eye.”

“I am all for catching and punishing the guilty kano. But tell me, who is going to protect us from chain-snatchers and terrorists etc?’ Ajji suddenly changed the topic.

“As if you don’t know that? It’s the police!”

“I too thought like that! But aren’t they busy attending New Year parties thrown by underworld netas!  Police are dancing to the tunes of bhai log! What is happening, Rama Rama? Beli-ne yeddu hola maithya-idiyallo!!”

Ajji! That  happened in Bombay. We don’t have to worry about it.”

“Why not? Wasn’t Bombay the place the terrorists bombed the hotels, shot people in the railway station and the pub just a year back? If the police are doing tango with the ‘bhais’ some of whom are friends with terrorists, what is our national security coming to? No wonder, nobody saw Headley come in and go all over the country, attend Bollywood parties while planning the Bombay siege. You know what that means..?”


Namma deshana Shivane kapadbeku antha ankondidde. Eega anisutthe, avangu swalpa  kashtaane!! Even God can’t save us at this rate.”

Can these venomous buffoons spell Bharatiyata?

22 March 2009

pramod_muthalik_20090209 2_279373_1_2481

A distressing feature of Indian public life today is the ease with which “hate” has become an integral, almost acceptable, part of the discourse. A thick cloud of hate—on the basis of region and religion, caste, culture and creed, language and sex—now hangs heavy.

In this exclusive, T.J.S. GEORGE, founder-editor of Asiaweek magazine, editorial advisor of The New Indian Express, and the author of the acclaimed biography of M.S. Subbulakshmi, writes on the ground that is shifting beneath our feet.



In one respect this election season differs from previous ones: Incitement of religious hatred has become cruder and more reckless than before. Perhaps politicians see this as an easy way to win populist votes.

It certainly helps some pygmies to appear like giants.

Remember, till yesterday Pramod Mutalik (in picture, left) was an unknown frog in an unknown well. Today, he is a national figure, his face gracing every front page and every channel. That is the power of vulgar religious politics.

Similar is the case of Varun Gandhi (right), the spoilt son of a spoilt father.

When the boy was enrolled in the Rishi Valley School in Madanapalli, he wouldn’t eat for three days because neither the food nor the atmosphere suited the privileges he was accustomed to. Only because the staff and fellow students ignored his tantrums, and because hunger has a logic of its own, the privileged Gandhi reconciled to the culture of Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Kids born with a proprietorial attitude to everything around them rarely shed their air of superiority. Even his mentors in the BJP found Varun Gandhi to be egoistic and lightweight; his only “merit” was his surname. Then he came up with this new message of venomous religious hatred. Suddenly, the immature bambino was on every front page and every channel. Another Nobody turned into Somebody.

This is a political game where the players do not lose because they have protectors behind them. The citizen loses because he was no recourse when laws are broken at his cost.

Mutalik’s thugs could beat up citizens and walk proudly away because those who were supposed to protect citizens were inclined to protect the thugs instead. The court has banned this illegal moralist from entering certain areas. What if the police does not stop him? The system collapses when the state is party to evil.

The game, as played, is full of humbug and internal contradictions. Varun Gandhi announces that Pilibhit is a “violence-prone” constituency where Hindus are subjected to injustices. This is a serious charge against his mother, Maneka Gandhi, who has so far been representing Pilibhit in the Lok Sabha.

Clearly, the son is looking for what the original Gandhi, the Mahatma, called “the hasty applause of an unthinking public”.

He will not succeed, for never in history have hatemongers won the day. Three centuries of religious crusades by European Christianity gained nothing despite all the bloodletting, murders and cruelties. Hatred between Palestinians and Israelis continues to sacrifice generations without helping the cause of either. The mutual antipathies of Shias and Sunnis hold back the progress of all Arabs. Nazi Germany’s pogrom against Jews eventually destroyed the Nazis, not the Jews. Even the bond of Islam could not unite the Sindhi-Punjabis of West Pakistan with the Bengalis of East Pakistan.

Those who spew venom in the name of Bharatiyata are unworthy to speak of India’s civilisational greatness, let alone defend it. They take Rama as their mascot without knowing that Ramayana begins with a call by Valmiki in defence of two love birds.

When a hunter shot down one of the birds, the poet cried out Ma nishada. Brahma himself then appeared and urged the Adi Kavi to compose the story of Rama in the same poetic form.

Who represents Bharatiyata‘s beauty and greatness: Valmiki, who was outraged by the tragedy that struck two birds in love, or today’s petty men who hate love itself in the name of morality?

Ma nishada!

Photographs: courtesy Outlook (left), The Hindu

Also read: ‘The man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred’

How Karnataka is becoming the Gujarat of the South

How girls pissing in their pants protect Hinduism

Is this all that pooje and archane could achieve?

30 January 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Will somebody please explain just what is happening to B.S. Yediyurappa and his BJP government?

The CM mentions there won’t be power cuts and just after few hours the power minister contradicts him saying there would be massive power cuts all over the State. Apparently somebody is talking and doing things exactly opposite to what the CM wants to say or do.


The CM is known to be very meticulous in what he says or does. Yet, he misses the flag-hoisting ceremony on Republic Day and sneaks in last and sits next to the Governor, when the Governor was already half-way through his speech.

For practically any other item of the day, the CM makes sure there is no rahu kala, guli kala, yama gandakala so on and so forth. He makes sure there are at least half-a-dozen swamijis of various mutts to go with him for other functions.

Yet, on the 60th Anniversary of the Republic, is there nobody to tell him the exact kala or time when he should be present when his Governor is doing the flag hoisting?


There’s a public bashing of girls in a pub in the largest port-city of the State during daytime.

Goons of  Sri Rama Sena bash up girls; their leaders go on the air, give interviews saying they are the custodians of Indian or Hindu culture. Yet, there is no word from the CM or the ever-amiable Shivraj Patil-like home minister, V.S. Acharya.

This is more than a law-and-order issue when innocent women are thrashed about and the home minister says the press is blowing up the whole situation. Sri Rama Sena is supposed to see women as embodiment of Sita, yet they beat up women and show no sign of remorse.

The hoodlums more looked like members of a modern Vanara Sene out to do monkey business.

Instead of acting quickly and show it means business, action starts after a series of denials as if the administration is in a state of deep collective slumber.

Is it a stable Government when it fails to act, protect its citizens, and then blames it on “pub culture”?

The CM and his team, particularly the Home Minister goofed up sometime back when they failed to act when churches were ransacked all over Mangalore.

Again, were they looking for rahu kala to pass before taking any action?


Is it merely a coincidence that a CM who was tripping administratively and politically, has started doing so literally?

Recently, his belt got caught with the ropes of a chariot-pulling ceremony in a Nanjanagud temple and he had to be saved in the nick of the time by Shobha Karandlaje and others.

While addressing the national press along with his party’s national president Rajnath Singh, he tried to sit on a non-existent chair which had just been pulled back by one of his security guards! He got up red-faced with a bruised bottom to meet the press again.


Has all the pooja done to his chair and office for days and months when he took office, and the daily archane plan across the State which was announced and hastily withdrawn, gone to waste that “instability” stares on his face and feet every second day?

Why is Karnataka saddled with a stumbling CM and a mumbling home minister when it calls for action at the highest level?

Does administration begin and end with planning and executing only Operation‘Kamala and Operation Vimala?

Senior citizens are hacked in their homes during daytime, on an average twice or thrice a week in Bangalore. Yet, the bungling duo has hardly said anything to allay the fears of senior citizens.

Has the administration failed totally?

Are they busy playing ‘defection’ games and only spending their time for parliamentary election when more such games have to be devised and perfected to come and stay in power?