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Stories of Indian Mythology have always been intrigued my interests. Their magic, mysticism, and their morals, unfold a layer of human psychology and history. Stories are written to seduce human mind with the rights and wrongs. Stories about curses and boons.
My recent read was Sita- an illustrative retelling of Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik,

I like the way Pattanaik gives a very unbiased version of Ramayana in this. I am more of a  believer in Karma than dharma so for me this book was about getting to know Ram and Sita and while reading I felt that hero of the story was actually Hanuman!!.
So I finished the book in about 8 days, the book was very gripping till the end and left a lasting impact on me.
Ram has never been the god of my choice. I respect him for being a great king, a righteous leader and a good son but not so much for his divinity as I always looked at him as a failure when it comes to being a husband or a father so this book was to know more about someone I had a little prejudice for.
Refraining myself from judging a religious scripture, I chose this version of Ramayana over Valmiki’s
The Book, like the traditional Ramayan, is divided into seven Kands or chapters, which narrates the story of Ram from birth to death. My most favorite was Sunderkand and now it makes more sense why this particular chapter is most popular among the devotees. That’s because Sunderkand is about “hope” when Hanuman is sent to Lanka and the preparations of war start.
“In hope to get the best out of the worst situation”.
The story of Ram his loyal brother and chaste wife. Is loyalty really a virtue?The story in the Valmiki Ramayana questions this popular notion. Lakshman’s  action are based on his love for his brother. He does not care for the rules or Ayodhya. For Rama, Ayodhya is most important. The Dog is a loyal, lovable animal but Hindu scriptures do not treat it auspicious perhaps because loyalty feeds on fear.
Few things I liked about Ram after reading the book.
Ram believes in Tapasya more than Yagna- Yagna is when you sacrifice something for the gods in order to attain something higher usually the sacrifice is in the pious fire while chanting hymns whereas tapasya is when you burn the fire within to sacrifice internally to attain a higher objective. Tapasya is for hermits while yagna is for householders.
This comparison left a huge impact on me and I couldn’t resist relating the charity, donations, fasts and feasts done in the modern day scenario are the modern day yagnas.
Quite clearly it is to impress the gods but will the gods be impressed ?? whereas expanding the human potential, going beyond your comfort zone is tapasya. Ram chose tapasya over yagna and that impressed me about his character.
Ram never believed that there is ever any victim or villain in any situation.It took me a whole book to understand that. What about Ravan then??
Pattanaik very beautifully explains that very philosophically ‘where a banana tree is planted next to the thorny bush of berries and with the gush of wind berry bush thorns tear apart the delicate leaves of the banana tree. So who is to be blamed here? The wind, the thorns or the banana tree. No one is the victim or the villain in this situation and it’s whereas it is easy to be victims of the situation in real life. Was Sita the victim of Ravana? Ram did impress me in the book when he expressed that nothing or no one is ever right or wrong, it’s just the perspective. I was also impressed with the king who did not discriminate on the basis of caste…Ram is too righteous and you do fall in love with his Mr perfect personality.
Prakriti is above Sanskriti– simply explained how ” nature is above all the rules of culture”. Why adultery was considered a sin? If we as humans are animals born out of the same elements as other animals then why we impose rules on self and are not in sync with nature?? Sita being the daughter of earth was closest to Prakriti yet she followed rules made by society for a chaste wife. Was it because an adulterous woman gives an impression of being unsatisfied and it imparts failure on the male partner? and in a male dominant society that is simply not acceptable?? It was very interesting to know that even in treta yug there has been mention of homosexual relationships between queens which gave birth to bhagirath, the one who got Ganga on earth.Someone should tell this to supreme court!!!
Ramayan is too much about rules, too rigid too intense and most of them not for benefit of society.

Laxman & Hanuman
– I think Laxman & Hanuman were also the heroes of this epic but too devoted to even get a heroic recognition along with Ram. Hanuman had power, wit, intelligence, wisdom and no pride or suspicion. His faith was much bigger than his fears. Laxman was a perfect brother and a brother in law too for he was the one who never wanted Sita to leave Ayodhya and live in the forests.As much as he knew his brother was not right he could not do a thing about it.
Ravana the mighty king with all the knowledge in the world yet an anti-hero. If it wasn’t for Ravana’s one foolish decision Rama wouldn’t have been the hero. Heroes are made because of anti-heroes and in this case it was the clash of two people with the similar caliber and potential but one with the gods on his side. Ravana who did everything right except abducting Sita.
When the mind is knotted in fear, the problem is always outside never inside. Ravana was too proud to admit his faults. Too proud to submit but was he the only one who fell prey to his own pride. I have often heard it from the Hindu scholars that it was for Ravana’s pride that brought him trouble but what about Sita then, she could have gone with hanuman but she wanted the war to restore Ram’s honor or may be her own.  What about Ram’s pride who was waging a war not as a husband whose wife was abducted but as a king of Raghu clan whose honor was at stake. Pride made all of them lose in life eventually. Ram lost his wife, Sita lost her husband and status.  Ravana even after all the wisdom lost his recognition and if it wasn’t for Kaikeyi’s pride, the story would have been different.
Ramayana’s last kand called the Uttar kand is not read in public as its a sad end to a hero’s saga and they often say it brings in sadness.I have never seen devotees of Ram worshiping his sons Luv Kush the way Shiva’s sons are worshiped. Is it because the society still has a question in their head for Sita? Gomti never accepted Sita living with her and her husband Valmiki in their hut and sons of Sita grew up believing that Valmiki was their father until Sita explained that she is a single mother and they should not ask about their father again.Is it that people still have a doubt??Or Gomti and other women of her time were just too envious of her??Sita is a  godly character and a metaphor in herself to explain the ever doubted woman in society?
Or may it is hard to believe the commitment of a woman with such wisdom and beauty. Hey stop! I am not being a feminist here, I am just empathizing with the abducted and then abused heroine of this saga,
Ramayan in a lot of ways revealed the failure of our society and the way we treat our women. Now at least can say we get that from our ancestors and this will remain for centuries to come.
I like Pattnaik’s version of Ramayana which identifies and lays importance on different versions of Ramayana, right from Valmiki  to bhil, Bengali to Odishi to Thai to Malaysian so many more unheard versions of how people wanted to see their gods and  Pattanaik compares the story of Ayodhya with story of Troy where a wife is abducted and the brothers fight, there are good and bad men on both sides and they die fighting for honor and pride.
So it was good to know about you Lord Ram, I was too judgmental for you for all these years, I think you were the greatest king of your time and times to come. Your could expand your potential beyond the ordinaries but I like you more in your next birth as Krishna where you could bend the rules, fight for Draupadi’s honor, let no one raise a finger on her Chasity and still emerge as a hero.
Best lines from the book ” Fear is constant and faith is a choice, Fear comes from karma and faith arises from dharma. Fear creates Kaikeyis and Ravanas, streets full of gossip, the family with rigid rules and fragile reputations. This will always be there. Faith creates Ram &Sita. They will come into being only if we have faith that the mind can expand until we do not abandon the world even the world abandons us.”
Disclaimer: Recommended to free minds only, Read it like a book more than an epic and have no “knots” in your head

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