Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Lessons of Ramayana for Malaysia!

Dirgahayu Malaysia.

On this very special day (where we expatriates overseas still have to work, lucky you all) what do I want to write. I thought of blogging in Bahasa, which for me and my lack of fluency requires time and an alert mind to do a decent job, but it has been a long day, so perhaps another time.

What then?

I came across an old book in my place called "Cheritera Seri Rama" by Farid Mohd Onn published in 1965 by DBP - note the old fashioned spelling! I thought on this Merdeka Day, there may be a very special lesson for us Malaysians in that story.

The Ramayana is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, epics of Hinduism to come out of India. To many, it's a religious story akin to biblical tales, while to others, it's a wondrous Indian classic.

It's more than a tale of good versus evil. The most interesting aspect of the saga is that of the relationship between Rama and Sita, or in Bahasa, Seri Rama and Sita Dewi. Many Ramayana scholars have acquired their PhD from analysing the relationship a million ways, upside down, downside up, sideways and every which way.

The lesson for us Malaysian today is the inexplicable nature of that relationship, particularly from Rama's behaviour, which has puzzled scholars throughout the centuries. Why did such a so-called righteous hero like Seri Rama treat his partner Sita Dewi with such distrust, lack of respect and injustice, not once but on two separate occasions?

Rama was the hero of the saga, an avatar of Vishnu born on earth to save the world and the heavens from Ravana or in Bahasa, Rawana. Dewi Sita was his loyal partner. Together, with Seri Rama's brother, Laksamana, the three left Ayodha on a pre-destined mission.

They went through trials and tribulation. In the course of their mission until their eventual triumphant return to Ayodha, Seri Rama accused Sita Dewi twice of infidelity, even though she was innocent. Each time Sita Dewi was forced to prove her purity by ordeal.

But inspite of her repetitive demonstration of virtue, she was considered a tainted partner. Sita Dewi was never accepted by Seri Rama as a loyal and full member of the Ayodha family.

That was what had puzzled scholars, that such a man as Seri Rama could be so narrow minded and succumb to acts of injustice. Some of the scholars wrote interesting views on why Rama acted like so, but that's how they obtained their PhDs. The reality was that Rama acted unjustly.

Tell me, why does this story of the initially happy trio that finally came to a grief where a loyal member was treated unjustly, and with distrust and disrespect, has a moral lesson for us? Why so on on this particular day?


  1. I'm not a learned Hindu but in I've come across a similar question like yours one day while surfing the net. I apologise that I've forgotten the URL to the site (it was a hindu discussion website), but what was mentioned( it was apparently written in one little known Hindu scripture...again, I do not know the exact name as it has been a while and like I said my knowledge despite being a hindu is very little on this particular subject matter )

    Oh yes, let me get back to the story. It was mentioned that when Sita was about to cross the line which was drawn by Letchumanan (while in the hut where he went to aid his brother who was chasing a deer for his wife), she was 'replaced' by another heavenly being of the same look. Now fastforward to the incident where he disowned her and ask her to prove her innocence, it was postulated that he did so because he knew that the lady is not his wife. So when the 'being' when into the fire, the original Sita -Ma was returned.

    That's one version and it may be true. Scholars may write all sorts of things, some in a very parochial view point just to get their theses.

    Now if you read further into Ramayana, you'll come to know of an incident where Rama commands his brother to abandon Sita -Ma just because one day while going on rounds in the city a laudry man chastised his wife and asked her to go back to her home. The wife pleaded to him to accept her back but the laundryman said he is not as generous as Lord Rama to accept a woman back. This had Lord Rama fuming with anger and thus ordered Letchumanan to abandon Sita Ma in the forest.

    now this I can not agree. I totally disagree with Rama. But the fun does not stop there, u see Sita Ma was pregnant and to cut the story short, the children of Rama grew up and kicked Rama's and Hanumans heavenly a@@ until Rama himself apologised to Sita.

    Nevertheless two wrongs do not make a right and What Lord Rama did the second time was unpardonable. I guess we have to remember that despite being an avatar of Vishnu, he was born on earth. Thus in hinduism he will take on new Karmas (in his course of action) So I guess by following this view of thought, Sita had to finish of her karma and so did Rama.

    That's one way of looking at it. I think. I would recommend you to ask a learned person, perhaps someone who is actually well versed with hinduism. The above is just my humble opinion and some of my little research which I unfortunately do not have the link to point you too.


  2. Ktemoc, if you did read the above comment, would appreciate if you tell me what you think about it. perhaps e-mail me. My profile should have my e-mail add. Or you may just drop me a line via my blog(hosted on Friendster)