Monday, September 28, 2009

Before you celebrate Vijaya Dasami

1. Bride snatching was one of the most common ways of getting married in the ancient times. Krishna helped Arjuna to snatch Krishna's own sister.
2. After Krishna's death, when the royal entourage vacated ancient Dwaraka (not the one in Gujarat), the women folk, both married or otherwise, had to be protected from bride snatchers.
3. Ravana is worshiped by Jains as a man of honor who didn't touch Sita without her consent. Contrast this with Rama who supposedly banished her to the jungle as an 'impure' woman.
4. Ravana is ofcourse celebrated as a great Saivaite. The greatest 'Hindu' temple ever built in the history of mankind (?!!), the Kailasanatha temple, cave 16 in Ellora has a gigantic sculpture of Ravana moving Mount Kailash. The Chalukyas and several other dynasties celebrated Ravana in their temples.
5. People who celebrate 5 men sleeping with Draupati and then gambling her away, criticizing Ravana is quite hypocritical. Remember, one of those five was the recipient of Bhagwat Gita, 'the god's own words' (?!!).
6. Some versions of Ramayana mention Sita as the sister of Rama. Contrast the way Ravana treated Sita and Lakshmana treated Surpanaka (Ravana's sister).
7. When Rama met Sukriva in the jungle, he had been driven away by Vali. Why? becos Sukriva had earlier taken his elder brother Vali's wives and kingdom. Rama helped that Sukriva by killing Vali from behind.

Applying 21st century morals on ancient stories is a dubious exercise. Especially in a country where men marrying 4 women is legal for nearly 1/6th of the population.

Somebody supposedly returned triumphant on this Dasami day. But Dharma most certainly wasn't accompanying him. Victors write histories and epics. Celebrating victors, irrespective of whose side Dharma was on, tells a lot about us.

Disclaimer: I believe Krishna, the philosopher mentioned in the Chandognya Upanishad and who likely wrote the Gita, must have lived several hundred years after the flood of Hastinapur.

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