‘Ravana more learned than Ram’: Jitan Ram Manjhi jumps in on Ramcharitmanas row in Bihar
Jitan Ram Manjhi's comments came amid the fresh political row on the Ramcharitmanas controversy -- triggered by the Bihar's education minister's late last year's remarks --which he tried to defend in the Assembly earlier this week.
Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi Friday waded in the row over Ramcharitmanas in the state, triggered by the remarks made by the state’s education minister Chandrashekhar last year. Speaking to the news reporters on his views on the controversy, Manjhi said though Ram and Ravana are mythical characters, Ravana does come across as far more well-versed in ‘karma kanda’ (rituals) than Ram.
The controversy erupted after the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader made remarks that certain verses in the 'Ramcharitmanas' – a popular version of the Ramayana penned by Tulsidas – had caste overtones that were derogatory. The minister stirred a fresh political row earlier this week when in Bihar Assembly, he continuously made observations on Ramcharitmanas in a bid to defend his statements, despite repeated interjections from Chairman Devesh Chandra Thakur.
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Manjhi, who is a part of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ government in the state, said “…Whenever Ram faced any troubles, he had the backing of supernatural powers but that was not the case for Ravana….”
When asked on what basis Manjhi made the observation that Ravana’s stature higher than Ram, the Hindustani Awam Morcha chief said, “It is subjected to personal interpretation.” “We should ponder why is it that Valmiki, who is credited with having penned the oldest Ramayana, is never revered like Tulsidas,” he added.
Manjhi maintained that the controversial parts that condone social discrimination must be expunged from the book. Defending his ‘imaginary-figure’ remark, Manjhi said, “I have always held that Lord Rama is an imaginary figure and not a historical one. I am not the first one to have said so. Similar views have been expressed by scholars like Rahul Sankrityayan and Lokmanya Tilak. But since they were Brahmins, nobody took exception. When I say it, people have problems."
(With PTI inputs)