Another Ram Navami has just gone by and given the cacophony of Indian politics around Sri Ram, it’s only natural to look again at the Ramayana and our relationship with this epic. Indians seem to have three kinds of reactions to the epic – faith, critique and political ploy.
The faith part needs no spelling out, ranging from the literal to the allegoric. Beyond religion, it’s about culture. The way the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are entrenched in language, literature, visual and performing arts, we would be cultural orphans without our shared epic heritage.
Many character flaws can be attributed to Rama as described in Ramayana by modern moral standards. However, that would be a futile exercise. Without understanding the intent of the storyteller, if you try to interpret the story by your own convictions, you can always cherry pick some excerpts call them ‘negative qualities’ of Rama while ignoring the moral questions that those excerpts grapple with.
For example, let’s take the exile of Sita.
Is the author talking about issues like rights of women, gender equality etc. ? NO. Rama was sure about the fidelity of Sita, and so were Laxman Hanuman and others. The Agni Pariksha was to silence the ‘wagging tongues’. The story goes further than that. ‘Wagging tongues’ didn’t stop even after Agni Pariksha. Then Rama is forced to exile Sita against his heart’s desire. Here the author is talking about desires of his subjects taking precedence over desires of a king and of course ‘Caesar’s wife to be above suspicion.’
This anecdote from Ramayana can be a good conversation starter, and by means of it several moral issues can be discussed. The moral one-upmanship that ‘we are better than Rama’ would serve no justified purpose
A huge amount of literature and opinions have come up in reference to Sita, her plight, and Ram’s action’s against her. It is thus not a new facet to us when I say that when Ram kicked Sita out, he lost the right to be called the ideal husband. And then there are other statements, if Sita were not kidnapped then Ramayan wouldn’t have happened and Ravan could not have been killed. That even when Ram sent Sita to exile, and eventually to her death, he pined for her and never married again.
I feel this act of Shri Rama is not correct.
After the war, Sita Ji gave an Agnipariksha for proving her purity. She crossed the fire without any wound. When Shri Ram and Sita Ji returned to Ayodhya, on just hearing a conversation between dhobin and her husband he refused to accept then pregnant Sita Ji. He asked Lakshman to leave her in the forest all alone. I think this was inhuman towards a lady who has proved he innocence