Thus Stumbled Ramanandsagar

In my previous post, I had spoken about my Linguistic Journey in Sanskrit. Taking cue from the last few lines of the post—“Why reading an original version of any epic is important and of what relevance it is to the present day world”, I am starting a new series called—“Thus Stumbled Ramanandsagar”.

To answer the question, let me take a recent news article that was published in a national newspaper.

On July 14, 2015, The Times of India published a news article (see below) on BJP national President, Sri Amit Shah’s address at the inauguration of the BJP’s Maha Jansampark Abhiyan in Madhya Pradesh.

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Minutes after the news was out, BJP started crying foul stating that Amit Shah had been misquoted and it also released the video of the speech. The same newspaper clarified itself on the next day (see below).

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What we can understand from the above incident is that

  1. The actual speech was something but what was published was a misinterpretation of the same thing.
  2. If not for the video clipping, the party could never have proved that TNN had twisted Amit Shah’s statement.
  3. Do not rely on second hand news. Reach for the source.

On the other hand, what would have happened if the party had not attended to this article seriously? Very simple,

  1. Public would have felt betrayed about the promises made during elections.
  2. With many such unauthorized news coming to light, people would gradually lose trust in the government.

The conclusion is—Whatever you see, whatever you hear, do not consume as you get. Reach for its source. Dig for truth.

Coming to the topic of our interest—“Ramayanam”. If there is one epic which is abused and misunderstood widely today, it is Ramayanam. It has become a fashion to condemn Srirama and glorify Ravana. Intellectuals may argue that the freedom of free speech of contemporary writers and artists to bring out creative works based on epics is unquestionable. One such creative work that I came across Sujay Ghosh’s short film—Ahalya, a story loosely based on Ramayanam.

Looking at Ramayanam from a story point of view is one perspective, looking at it as a living example of human and social values is another perspective and looking at it as a book which guides a mumukshu (spiritual aspirant) through his path of sadhana to the ultimate moksha (realization) is a totally different perspective. Maharshi Valmiki who lived during the period of Ramayanam was the only one who recorded the entire story. Having been blessed by Chaturmukha Brahma himself that he shall narrate the Ramayanam as it had occurred, Maharshi Valmiki brought it out as a collection (काव्य) of 24,000 shlokas.

रहस्यम् च प्रकाशम् च यद् वृत्तम् तस्य धीमतः || १-२-३३
रामस्य सह सौमित्रे राक्षसानाम् च सर्वशः |

वैदेह्याः च एव यद् वृत्तम् प्रकाशम् यदि वा रहः || १-२-३४
तत् च अपि अविदितम् सर्वम् विदितम् ते भविष्यति |

Ramayanam being attributed as a literary work of the highest order has several folds of meaning and is equated to the Vedas. Unless a learned person, a Guru, an Acharya deciphers the paradoxical shlokas through discourses and kalakshepams, one can never understand Ramayanam in the light of Vedas.

Giving wings to one’s creative fantasies, if he/she changes the story, the kind of message that reaches people thus, will be very far from what Maharshi Valmiki intended to say. Maharshi Valmiki can never be improved upon.

The upcoming series—“Thus stumbled Ramanandsagar” is going to be a comparison of the famous TV serial on Ramayanam by Sri Ramanandsagar ji and the original text. Though Sri Ramanandsagar ji has done a commendable job in bringing out Ramayanam to laymen, there are certain areas which he could have done better by sticking to the original. This series is an attempt to show the difference between the two and definitely not to demean the work of Sri Ramanandsagar ji.

Let the beauty of Srimadvalmikiramayanam permeate everywhere.

Jai Sriram!

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