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Exceprts from the book Sita – Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik – Part III

Posted on: December 27, 2013


Here are some excerpts that appealed to me from the book Sita – Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik.

Shabari

Shabari meets Rama and Lakshmana. She finds them hungry and asks them to sit down and share the berries she has gathered. She bites into a berry and gives it to Rama who eats it. She bites into another and throws that away. She then bites a third one and gives it to Lakshmana.
Lakshama objects: “How dare you feed me a fruit that you have bitten into? I am no servant to eat such soiled food. I am Lakshman, prince of Ayodhya, and this is Rama, its king. Don’t you have any manners?”

Shabari apologizes. But Rama says “Clearly, what I saw is not what you saw. We are two men walking in the forest carrying weapons. We make a fearsome sight yet this woman comes to us. She is surely a brave woman. She stops us for our sake, to feed us; she is under no obligation to do so. She is clearly a caring, generous woman. And she bites into the berries to ensure they are sweet enough. She is a good host. This is what I saw, but what did you see? A woman without manners, manners you learned at the palace. Look at her, Lakshman, she is a forest woman, what does she know about the palaces and its manners, its princes and its kings? You judge her by your standards. You don’t even look at her. You have eyes, but you are blind”

When Hanuam recites this incident to Sita she comments “I am like Shabari’s berry. I belong to Rama but Ravana wants to taste me. Will Rama still accept me when I am thus contaminated?”

Hanuman: “In nature, nothing is contaminated”

Sita: “Ah, but Rama is a king, not a sage. He does not care for nature as much as he cares for culture. In culture, the polluted are cast out”

Rama’s view on Sita’s abduction by Ravana

Hanuman tells Lakshmana: “Long ago, the devas and asuras churned the ocean of mil and out came many treasures. Amongst them the wish-fulfilling tree Kalpataru, the wish-fullfilling cow Kamadhenu, the wish-fullfilling gem Chintamani and Amrita, the nectar of immortality. Vishnu took the form of Mohini, enchanted everyone and promised to distribute these treasures freely but gave Amrita only to the devas. This made the devas so powerful that they claimed all the treasures for themselves and turned their abode Amravati into Swarga, paradise of pleasures. The asuras thus cheated never forgave the devas, attacking them repeatedly in various forms, like the buffalo demon. So who are the real victims? Devas or Asuras?”
Rama: “Why do you assume that Vishnu sides with the devas. Is it because he grants them the nectar of immportality? Yes, after drinking Amrita no logner do the devas fear death. Why they are they still insecure? What are they afraid of losing? Why do they cling to their treasures? Yes, Vishnu gave the devas prosperity, but did he give them peace, for they still grant themselves an identify through things? And yes Shiva gives everything to the asuras and to the rakshasas and yakshas, everyting they ask of him for. But what do they ask him for? They ask him for wealth and power – things once again. They never ask him to help them outgrow their hunger. They never ask him to expand their mind with thoughts. And so hunger gnaws at their being as fear gnaws at the being of the devas. The fight continues endlessly, with victory following defeat with unfailing regularity, led by those who believe they are right and those who believe they are powerless.”
Rama: “Know this: Durga is strenght that we get from the outside. Shakti is strength that is inside. Nature gives us Shakti. Human society is designed to grant Durga through tools, rules and property. But having lived in the forest this long, for over thirteen years, both Sita and I have learned to value Shakti, not Durga. For strenght from within is always there; strength from without may or many not be there. Ravana, however, seeks strength from outside. He seeks to punish the man whose brother mutilated his sister. He sees my wife as my property; by stealing her he wants me to feel deprived. He does not see Sita as a person, who did him no harm.  I do not blame him. I am not angry with him. I see his point of view. I do think he is wrong. I do not begrudge him his power. I just see to rescue my Sita, restore her freedom to her.”
Sugriva: “You do not judge Ravana?”
Rama: “No one understands where he is coming from, just as I understood where Kaikeyi came from. Ravana is capable of so much more. But he refuses to be what he can be. So he imagines me as his enemy, and refuses to see me for who I am. Like Kaikeyi, he is consumed by his own notion of what is reality.”
Hanuman: “Hearing Rama speak thus, I realized Rama was a true brahmin, he who expands his mind and of those around him, a householder with the mind of a hermit. He does not need a kingdom to be a king.”
Sita: “He does not need control over a wife to be a husband”.

Justification of killing of Vali

Hanuman is relating the fight between Vali and Sugriva to Sita. After Vali is killed, Rama reveals himself as his killer and Vali asks why did he do it surreptiously and why did he support the coward Sugriva.
Hearing this Sita: “Vali grabs the kingdom he is supposed to share and now demands rules of civilised conduct be followed in war. Is it not strange that the most unfair people in the world often demand fairness?
Hanuman: “Fairness is a human concept. It does not exist in the jungle. All that matters is survival, one way or another. Sugriva has found his way. To be outsmarted by his weaker brother, that was too much for Vali to handle. So he argued by appealing to humanity and civilization.”

Hanuman proceeds on how Rama replied to Vali.
Rama: “You lived by one code of animals: you used force to get your way. Your brother has used another code of animals: he used cunning to get his way. Why do you then cry foul? Why do you speak of human values? You who lived like an animal all your life should accept being killed like an animal. I am the hunter and you are my trophy. And Sugriva is the beneficiary of this sport of kings”

Was Lee Falk the creator of Phantom inspired this when he gives Phantom the slogan “Rough with roughnecks”

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