Got pre-Diwali blues, have we? The country’s going to Patal and taking us with it? Time to read the Ramayana and I don’t mean the baby stuff.
That doesn’t give us gory details, we’d rather read ‘Twilight’ (Go, Bella!). If we’re prisoners of the English language and can’t read a bhasha or, omg, Valmiki, well then, let’s thank God that we can get our inner Ayodhya back through TV.
The Ramayana is both a Book of Ghouls and a love story gone so wrong that nobody can stop crying, or wants to. Asia agrees that it’s a ten-hanky experience. So we disagree with a bunch of things in there.
But don’t you think a huge take-home from the Ramayana is that the Prince of Ayodhya and Paramvir Hanuman stoutly uphold the view that it ain’t over till it’s over? If we think about it, Sri Ram had only short good spells. Overall, he went from one demoralising situation to another. Comparisons are odious, but purely in story terms and only because he was another great Indian prince who became a faith-focus like Sri Ram, consider Lord Buddha. The Prince of Kapilavastu had his cataclysm all on his own, nobody showed him the door. His first-ever reality check hit him so hard that he voluntarily gave up being Prince, went out there and found another way to be. But there’s Ram with life happily on track, about to be crowned heir. And overnight he’s told to go away? Not to Rangoon or Ratnagiri or a nice dak bungalow, but to the jungle? And he’s so forgiving about it all, he never leaves off being polite, no matter how nasty, vulgar or boorish others are. That’s amazing, already.
And then he gets that bridge built (400 kos) though Ravan keeps breaking it, he can’t get through the four gates of Lanka city because of the bounce-off resistance of the Panchavaktram Yantra (way before Bella’s force-shield), he and Lakshman are stolen away by Ahiravan and Mahiravan to the Underworld, from where they escape being sacrificed only because Hanuman goes after them, fighting rakshasas and asuras at every step. Like Hanuman, Ram has setback after setback after setback, but he never stops trying. The Ramayana worked for Bapu, it told him to hang in there and it could be telling us now that there’ll be no Gotterdammerung until we’re all dead. Or stop trying.
Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture