Meena Sethu ·
Meena Sethu - Piyush, since it is the Kambaramayanam that was staged by us at school you are talking about I have a moral responsibility to give you a reply.
Look at Ramayana without prejudice. It is just a story that was written thousands of years ago and reflects the traditions, beliefs and customs of those days. Ramayana has all the elements of a gripping drama – a little bit of romance, deceit, sorrow, a villan, a savior, and finally a happy ending. No wonder it caught the fancy of millions and spread all over the south east Asian countries - each adding a little or changing the story to suit their culture.
Kamabarmayana was written by Kambar in Tamil and he too has made subtle changes to suit the Tamil customs and to make it acceptable to the Tamil people of those days.
My intention is not to analyze whether it is history or mythology, true or fictional, a piece of literary work or a scripture. It is for each individual to interpret as he chooses.
What we enacted at school was ‘Kambaramayanam’ one of the best works of literature written in Tamil. Kambaramayana is a treasure trove of beautiful awe -inspiring verses and the plot is intriguing.
When we take up a piece of literary work we just present is as it is.
True some of the events which happened thousands of years ago may not be palatable today – but that does not mean we should not share those stories with our children. They have a right to know about the great epics.
True Rama being a human being had his own blemishes, so did Dasaratha and Sita. And if you are familiar with the Tamil literary world you will know that the (Kamba)Ramayana characters have been the most analyzed, criticized and discussed ! All their shortcomings have been debated on at length and it still continues.
But the people who do that, understand that the story is not at fault – They know that it is made up of people like us who have their own imperfections and based on the story they enjoy reviewing the characters and discuss their merits and de merits.
Rama has been criticized by scholars for killing Vali the way he did, and for many of his other actions but he also has a lot to his credit!
And as you rightly said even children discuss his actions. My six year old grand daughter does not like Rama because ‘He was so mean and wanted to burn his wife’. She loves Hanuman because he is super hero who saves Sita. She is free to have her own views and she may change her perceptions as she grows older!
Discussing each character and event of Ramayana can be a great literary experience and can can bring a deep insight into human behavior. As for Kamba Ramayana – Kambar himself talks at length about his characters – that makes real great reading for those who greatly relish his poetic genius.
But Ramayana and its characters also teach a lot of values even if you chose to overlook it. Respect to elders and parents, subservience and devotion to the gurus, affection between siblings, forgiveness, gratitude ……What better way to teach these values to the children than through such an engrossing story!
You have said “Every goodness is humanity is turned out to be monstorous & every evil is turned into the divine.” Nothing can be farther to truth.
If Monarchy was celebrated it is because of the period the story was set in.
It may be patriarchal but then we were and are still a patriarchal society and how can we ignore the fact? Maybe it can be a topic to be debated upon!
You have said “Betrayal and crookedness is upheld.”
There is betrayal and there is crookedness in the story but where has it been upheld ?– rather it has been condemned.
Hanuman is like the superman of today - he did what an ordinary man cannot do and so he is extolled – for his bravery, his great intelligence, his devotion and his humility – aren’t these characteristics to be extolled? Why should that irk you?
Please tell me the connection between Ramayana and the decline of nature worship? True Rama went on to be worshiped as God and many temples have been built –– and just condemning Ramayana will not revive nature worship - it will only get the people on the defensive – rather let us learn and understand the epic in depth and find ways of reviving nature worship through this story – I am sure we will be able to find a lot of relevant valuable information.
I feel really happy and proud that our children staged the show and in the process learnt about the great epic.I know the children enjoyed it. They also were exposed to a lot of pure and chaste Tamil and have learnt almost 40 beautiful Kamabaramayana songs which we had set to contemporary music.
It gave an opportunity for my students to hear, learn about and enjoy the beautiful Tamil verses and appreciate the greatness of the poet and the beauty of the story!I am also glad that Kambaramayanam gave a wonderful opportunity for our schools to experience the many nuances of theatre.
Personally it was a great experience for me. It was enjoyed by people of all faiths and religions for the pure entertainment it provided. They appreciated the awe inspiring sets and props and the amazing performance by the children and I really wish you too learn to appreciate things for their face value without trying to be cynical and judgmental about everything.
Piyush Manush ·
Adding as a response to the questions raised..
To explain in further ..
1. i am not claiming it to be a fiction a tale or reality that is not the point ..the point is Ramayan and Mahabharat determine the way the society has been framed even more so in these times with BJP and its gang coming to power..Hindu Rastra it is henceforth even if not formally accorded for now.
2.The whole saga is a excuse for the supremacy of the system of Monarchy ( if one were to suport monarchy my sincere advise would be to keep as far away from me as possible)
3. Dasarth and his multiple wives aspired for sons and performed yagnas and pujas and they got sons as per their wish ( ram and co / pandavas in mahabharath too) enforces the idea of only son preference ..thanks to the real divine the priestly class prescription does not work when it comes to choosing male or female child but the relevance is most stark today ..one can go to the IVF centres and choose the gender of the child -- Rohtak in haryana a very small town has 39 centres.
4. war mongering and sense of justice ..for one surpanaka nose if sita was kidnapped and for one untouched sita it meant deaths of thousands and burning of a entire city and only to be thrown out later inside the forests alone at the mercy of a dacoit cum saint who went on to pen the tale .. please let us sit back and reflect why did we all not respond to the killing of millions of people in afghanisthan / iraq / sri lanka & back at home we will get a answer /..
2.You have considered their beleif in their myths and rituals as 'foolish'. I would say that your (or my) judgement of practices needs far deeper understanding before rejection. the nuances are so many. No, you have nowhere considered the people themselves as fools.
3. I (and most others I know) have only the deepest respect for your deep and sustained engagements - but still I think that there is this one aspect we need to look into deeply someday.
Piyush Manush i repeat again ..did i mention any sect of people as fools & do not force down sumthing which is not thiers as thiers ..pls / Their belief is unquestionable and cannot be taken for a ride ..which is my anguish all about ..or why should i bother with a bunch so crooked as ram and his croonies