The Rape of Our Epics: Part 4

shurpaRead the previous parts: 1, 2, and 3.

So where were we? Popular discussion? Niyoga? No…well, yes, we were at the three princesses: Amba, Ambika and Ambalika. Pardon my confusion. I mean, confusion happens when Nilanjana Roy mixes up timelines.

Imagine my plight: she begins with Sita, then moves to Draupadi. Correct: from Treta Yuga to Dwapara Yuga. Then she spends some time in Dwapara Yuga. Suddenly she reverts to Treta Yuga, she reverts to Shurpanakha. But does she stop there? No. Without warning, she drags in Hidimbi. 

That leaves Surpanakha, the woman in the forest; like the rakshasi Hidimbi, she sees herself as a free agent.

Let’s focus on “like the rakshasi Hidimbi” in that sentence. What Nilanjana is saying: “Surpanakha is like the rakshasi Hidimbi.” We’ll get to the “free agent” bit in more detail later. Now, here again, Nilanjana gets the chronology mixed up. Dwapara Yuga occurs after the Treta Yuga. So, the correct comparison would be “Hidimbi was like the rakshasi Surpanakha,” not the other way round. Also, it’s pretty interesting that Nilanjana Roy doesn’t mention Hidimbi’s real name: Saalakatankati. “Hidimbi” is the feminine gender (sister of) the rakshasa, Hidimba. I mean, Saalakatankati had a feminist identity of her own. “Why should her name be derived from the name of her brother?” asks a committed feminist. Also, please forgive the nitpicking.

But let’s get to the crux of Nilanjana’s characterization of Surpanakha. Line by line. Line 1:

Different versions of the Ramayana are uneasy about her looks — in some, she is an ugly rakshasi; in some, she takes on a deceptive, beautiful form; in some, she is beautiful to begin with.

We can’t help but simply marvel at Nilanjana’s disclaimer about the “different versions of the Ramayana.” The “different versions of the Ramayana” is the Classic Manual of Intellectual Dishonesty laid down by A.K. Ramanujam. We wonder why only Homer is considered to be the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey but when it concerns the Ramayana, multiple versions and authors are held to be more authoritative than the original author, Valmiki. We also wonder why a crucial fact is concealed—the crucial fact that the author of every single “version” of the Ramayana pays reverential tributes to Valmiki. We are of course, talking about the “versions” of the Ramayana written in regional languages in an age where a thing called feminism hadn’t been introduced yet. These “versions” do contain the input upon which the likes of Nilanjana Roy base their creative interpretations. And I repeat, all of these versions invariably have at least one invocatory verse that addresses Valmiki in nothing less than a reverential tone. From Kamban to Tulsidas to Kuvempu to the tens of Ramayana works in Telugu and Kannada, every single poet has worshipped Valmiki; every single poet has explicitly expressed his/her debt to the Adi Kavi.

And so, how does the Adi Kavi, Valmiki describe Surpankaha at the very outset?

sumukham durmukhii raamam vR^itta madhyam mahodarii ||
vishaalaakSam viruupaakSii sukesham taamra muurdhajaa |
priyaruupam viruupaa saa susvaram bhairava svanaa ||
taruNam daaruNaa vR^iddhaa dakSiNam vaama bhaaSiNii |
nyaaya vR^ittam sudurvR^ittaa priyam apriya darshanaa ||
shariiraja samaaviSTaa raakSasii raamam abraviit |

She that demoness, endowed with an unpleasant face, (she with the) pot-belly, (she with the) wry-eyes, (she with the) coppery-hairs, (she with the) ugly features, (she with the) brassy voice, the crooked-talker, the ill-mannered, the uncouth, the abominable, and she whose body had aged prematurely saw [Rama], the pleasant faced, the slim-waisted, the broad-eyed, the neatly-tressed , the charming, the [one endowed with a] gentle voice, the pleasant-talker, spoke besieged by lust.
(Aranya Kanda Sarga 17, Sloka 11)

In other words, Valmiki had no doubt in his mind about how he conceived the character of Surpanakha. Her complete story therefore needs to be told. Ravana himself kills her husband and in a bid to pacify her, makes her the governess of a province in his kingdom. He lets her have her way in pretty much everything including her unquenchable appetite for carnal pleasure with every other man. This relentless abuse of her body is what leads to the premature aging of her body (mentioned in the verse above). And it is this unquenchable appetite that makes her put out an indecent proposal to the much-married Rama and an equally married Lakshmana.

In many ways, it is Surpanakha who caused the destruction of both Ravana and Lanka. After getting her nose cut off, she approaches Ravana, seeking revenge. When Ravana inquiries about the cause of her mutilated nose, she lies. She says that she went to the forest to gift the beautiful Sita to Ravana but found that both Rama and Lakshmana were coveting her amorously, and that because she proved an obstacle in their quest, they cut her nose off. And then she begins an elaborate description of Sita’s beauty, which is enough motivation for Ravana to not only avenge his sister but to kidnap a married woman.

Perhaps the best estimate of Surpanakha comes from the women of Lanka during wartime:

dR^iShTvaa shrutvaa cha sambhraantaa hatasheShaa nishaacharaaH |
raakShasyashcha samaagamya dInaashchintaapariplutaaH ||
vidhavaa hataputraashcha kroshantyo hatabaandhavaaH |
raakShasyaH saha saMgamya duHkhaartaaH paryadevayan ||

Seeing and hearing about the slain demons, the surviving demons, horribly scared, looked sad and were overwhelmed with anxiety. They wailed when they met their wives. All the demonesses who had lost their husbands, sons and kinsfolk met at one place, stricken with sorrow, and wailed as follows.

katham shUrpaNakhaa vR^iddhaa karaalaa nirNatodarI |
aasasaada vane raaman kandarpamiva rUpiNam ||

How did the old and ugly Surpanakha, of sunken belly, approach, in the forest, Rama who is charming like the god of love?

sukumaaraM mahaasattvan sarvabhUtahite ratam |
tan dR^iShTvaa lokavadhyaa saa hInarUpaa prakaamitaa || 

How strange it is that on seeing that Rama of tender youth, endowed with extraordinary strength and devoted to the welfare of all created beings, that ugly woman (Surpanakha) who deserved to be condemned by the people, was stung with excessive lust?

(Yuddha Kanda, Sarga 94, Sloka 4-6)

tannimittamidan vairaM raavaNena kR^itaM mahat |
vadhaaya nItaa saa sItaa dashagrIveNa rakShasaa||

For the sake of that Surpanakha, Ravana built this huge enmity. For his own destruction, Ravana the demon brought that Seetha.

(Yuddha Kanda, Sarga 94, Sloka 11)

Here we have a lust-crazed liar who eventually causes the destruction of her own brother and is directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent citizens of Lanka. She has nary a redeeming quality. But we need to address Nilanjana’s point about Lakshmana cutting her nose off.

It bears repetition that Surpanakha lusts after one married man first, and then the other. What that tells us about Surpanakha: any man will do for the moment. The relevant portion in Aranya Kanda has tens of verses devoted to how Rama and Lakshmana try to dissuade her: first by polite talk, and then sarcasm. But the final straw is when she charges ahead to eat Sita. Which is when Lakshmana cuts her ears and nose off as per Rama’s orders as we shall see.

But how does this metamorphose in Nilanjana’s  world?

But what we know about her is that she is Ravana’s sister and, by extension, probably as learned as her brother; that she is free enough to express her desire for the brothers Rama and Lakshmana; and that she is indeed free to roam the forests without protection. The story of Surpanakha is filled with tangles and diversions — how much deception does she practise; does she merely terrify Sita or actually attempt to attack her; do Rama and Lakshmana toy with her, or are they more polite, or are they consistently hostile, before they cut off her nose, her ears, and, in some terrible versions, her nipples?

Sure she is Ravana’s sister but does it make her as learned as him? Nilanjana answers “probably,” which means she’s building her case based on something that can potentially be false. Even admitting Nilanjana’s thesis that Surpanakha is learned, does her learning justify her inherently immoral desire? Does her learning justify the barefaced lie she tells her brother about Rama, Lakshmana and Sita? Does her learning justify her kindling of Ravana’s lust for Sita?

But let’s look at the exchange that leads to the mutilation of Surpanakha’s nose:

shruuyataam raama vakSyaami tattvaartham vacanam mama |
aham shuurpaNakhaa naama raakSasii kaamaruupiNii ||
araNyam vicaraami idam ekaa sarva bhaya.mkaraa |

I will tell you the truth, Rama, nothing but the truth, I am a guise-changing demoness named Surpanakha, and I am freely moving in this forest in a solitary manner and unnerving all.

(Aranya Kanda, Sarga 17, Verse 20)

aham prabhaava sa.mpannaa svacCha.nda bala gaaminii |
ciraaya bhava bhartaa me siitayaa kim kariSyasi ||

"I am endowed with such preponderances and I can operate with my independent might, and as such, you become my everlasting husband; by the way, what will you do with (someone like) Sita?

(Aranya Kanda, Sarga 17, Verse 25)

vikR^itaa ca viruupaa ca na saa iyam sadR^ishii tava |
aham eva anuruupaa te bhaaryaa ruupeNa pashya maam ||

Unlovely and unshapely is this one, such as she is, this Seetha is unworthy to be your wife, and I am the lone one, worthy to be your wife; treat me therefore, as your wife.

(Aranya Kanda, Sarga 17, Verse 26)

imaam viruupaam asatiim karaalaam nirNata udariim |
anena saha te bhraatraa bhakSayiSyaami maanuSiim ||

Shall I eat up this disfigured, dishonest, diabolical human female with a hallow stomach along with him, that brother of yours and set you free?

(Aranya Kanda, Sarga 17, Verse 27)

kR^ita daaro asmi bhavati bhaaryaa iyam dayitaa mama |
tvat vidhaanaam tu naariiNaam suduHkhaa sasapatnataa ||

[Rama spoke] Oh, honourable one, I am married and this is my dear wife, thus it will be distressing for your sort of females to live with a co-wife.

(Aranya Kanda, Sarga 18, Verse 2)

adya imaam bhakSayiSyaami pashyataH tava maanuSiim |
tvayaa saha cariSyaami niHsapatnaa yathaa sukham ||
iti uk{}tvaa mR^igashaavaakSiim alaata sadR^isha iikSaNaa |
abhyadhaavat susa.mkruddhaa mahaa ulkaa rohiNiim iva

“Now I wish to eat up this human female right before your very eyes, and then I can blithely make merry along with you, without the botheration of a co-wife," said Surpanakha to Rama. Speaking thus, she, the torch-eyed Surpanakha rushed towards the deer-eyed Seetha in high exasperation as a great meteor would dash towards Rohini, the brightest star in the sky.

(Aranya Kanda, Sarga 18, Verse 16-17)

iti ukto lakshmaNaH tasyaaH kruddho raamasya pashyataH |
uddhR^itya khaDgam cicCheda karNa naasam mahaabalaH ||

Thus said [by Rama] to the mighty Lakshmana,  Lakshmana furiously drew his sword and chopped off her ears and nose before the very eyes of Rama.

(Aranya Kanda, Sarga 18, Verse 21)

I suppose this clearly answers all of Nilanjana’s questions and probabilities around Surpanakha: was she pretty? was she ugly? did she practice deception? did she terrify Sita? did Lakshmana cut off just her ears and nose or nipples? As for the last question, Nilanjana falls back on that readymade insurance of “multiple versions” of Ramayana.

However, what she glosses over—while accusing traditionalists etc of glossing over—is the heart of the Surpanakha issue: the immorality of her “free expression of desire” and the violent length she goes to in order to satisfy it—including attempting to murder Sita. But no, in Nilanjana’s world, “free expression of desire” is all that counts. “Critiques” like hers aren’t willing to even admit two crucial questions: is the man married? is the man interested in you? What compels such “critiques” to ignore the cause but wholly focus on only the consequence? Nilanjana’s defence of Surpanakha reminds of a Kannada proverb: you cannot sow a neem seed and expect a mango tree to grow.

And it doesn’t stop at that. Surpanakha’s disfiguration becomes an atrocity. And anybody who calls out this selective reading and the dishonesty necessary to paint Surpanakha as a victim is branded as someone who’s uncomfortable with the feminist critique etc.

In the end, what Nilanjana says about Surpanakha is nothing new. If I recall correctly, the whole Surpanakha as the wronged woman theme was widely publicized in a horrid dance-drama choreographed by Mallika Sarabhai. Ever since, it’s been a free for all. It’s therefore not a coincidence that Nilanjana Roy picks up the same theme.

Rajeev Srinivasan says it best:

Surpanakha’s Daughters…That was the name of a dance-drama choreographed by Mallika Sarabhai: the title, and the performance, were meant to tell modern Indian women to no longer look to the traditional Hindu role-models, such as the pancha-kanyas: Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari….No, these are passé, retrogressive figures, and today’s with-it Indian woman should rather emulate a lust-crazed Titan/Asura woman who relentlessly pursued a married man who showed no interest whatsoever in her! A very fine exemplar indeed!…Indeed, the Asuras are winning: Surpanakha would be proud of her daughters. All that remains is to make it a criminal offence for a man to rebuff the unwanted romantic advances of any woman.

To be concluded in Part 5

33 comments for “The Rape of Our Epics: Part 4

  1. Amol
    January 22, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Excellent, The review by Nilanjana Roy in BS was infact in bad taste and is a case of selective reading and biased coverage. No wonder why our culture has stressed upon need of “GURU” to help one understand and interprit things correctly. In absence of one to enlighten, the society will stumble upon disasters like Nilanjana.

  2. January 21, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Thanks for the article. Stories are just stories and is not at all necessary to be true. Ramayana, as a story is magnificent, but one should also take into account the liberties the first author took to depict his version. Even accounting for the fact of existence of a small king who may have lived in antiquity, how can one be dead sure and defend one version of accounts from another? If you can quote a version of the epic (which in millenia must be quite changed from how it was originally conceived) and put all the puerile analysis, I think it is equally valid if I take another version and argue for it, which I would rather not do (I am not a cultural historian). Let feminists have their own way of interpretation, as no one is authority enough to be true custodians of Ramayana. So why the heck of a shadow fight and waste of time, when you could as well have written volumes on some hate speech issue or other?

  3. ramgun
    January 21, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    Brilliant, Sandeep!

    But I can’t help feel you are wasting your energies here. I believe the feminist hijack of the post-Delhi rape discussion is a planned way to shift attention from the law and order failure. Having Congress governments both in Delhi and at the Centre has left them with no place to hide and no blame to shift.

    Thus, you find a two pronged diversionary tactic, using whatever half-baked literary write-ups and evidence they can find:
    1. Go back to our epics with a view to paint this as an Indian cultural phenomenon. In other words, diffuse the blame instead of pointing it where it stands squarely – at the Congress governments. This also has a side-benefit of boxing the right-leaning and culturally conservative BJP

    2. Focus on (heavily distorted) sound-bytes of motley people, as if that is even relevant to the rape and its aftermath.

    So trying to find too much logic and consistency in such arguments being put forth to divert attention from the Congress failures is a waste of time

  4. SB
    January 20, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    Dear Amarshiam,
    I am not the author of this blog but may I be permitted to a response ?
    I’ll try to be as generous with you as possible.

    >> Are you what would be called a Hindu-supremacist?

    Eh, since when did the depths of intellect sink so low as to use language deemed fit for a predatory cult like Islam (and not even Christianity with it’s few unsavory parts) be applied to Hinduism ? I guess the mindless repetitions of modern day idiots which, too lazy to read any religion in depth, and too cowardly to face squarely the ire of the Muslim mob, had one last resort: pick on easy targets while pretending moral high-handedness.

    >> You’re a nasty mirror image in a parallel universe of the muslim fanatics you despise.

    Nope, the author isn’t. The disease that clouds your vision is called “pseudo-secularism” (in India) and “liberal hypocrisy” (in the West). The cure for this disease is direct contact with Muslims (of any stripe) and you will realize the difference between the most liberal of liberal Muslims and the most ignorant Hindu is one between night and day.

    >> If you used 1% of your intellect on addressing your own biases you’d probably be a totally changed man and the same applies to your muslim fanatic mirror image of a half brother in his parallel universe.

    Honesty and ruthless self-examination are indeed virtues and they should be called to whenever necessary. Could you point out how the author fails to see his own biases ? I see in this article and ones preceding it an excellent rebuttal and expose of the mindless, misleading and grossly erroneous rants of a pseudo-intellectual like Nilanjana Roy. Isn’t it time you examine your own biases (use 75% of your intelligence as you may need it) that you refused to even examine ONE of the actual points raised in this blog and article.

    >> In an amusing sort of way you are both brothers separated without any hope of ever seeing eye to eye yet entangled in your visions founded on religion and religious exclusivism.

    Okay, I had to laugh at this one. Do you even know the basic doctrines of Dharmic faiths vs. Abrahamic faiths. The latter are built on exclusivity, with Islam being the most brutal of the lot. Hinduism, if anything, has the fault of being too inclusive and this has been the cause of our misery for 1000 years.

    >> You’re probably a little more intelligent but perhaps not intelligent enough to spot the similarities.

    Don’t flatter yourself by claiming to be more intelligent than you are. Sitting on castles made out of air may give a high feeling. (The air is after all thin and rare up there) but when reality hits you, the fall will be hard and you will get hurt.

    >> Egged on by your little group of exclusively “hindu” cheer leaders you spin intricate webs of words but all of it can be reduced down to some very basic simple minded ideas.

    Why don’t you list down those ideas and rid us of our misery ? LOL

    >> Ideas that if you swapped Hindu for Muslim or Christian or whatever would be indistinguishable.

    Haha, no you freak. Tell us some more jokes next time.

    >> Along the way lets also bash anyone who isn’t hindu or questions any aspect of it!

    Actually, Hinduism, of all religions, has NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING bad to say about those who subscribe or don’t subscribe to a faith system. It isn’t faith that is problematic. It’s when self-proclaimed intellectuals (pseudos) like Ms Roy in this case deliberately misinterpret our epics.

    >> … your frantic yet futile attempts to defend it against the marauding hordes of “others” …

    Futile ? You must be drinking Kool Aid.

    I’ll let the author of this blog reply to your other inanities below, though I doubt he has the time for every freak that spits and runs:

    1. You could achieve so much more. You certainly have the intellect for it but perhaps you’ve suffered at the hands of intellectuals and you’re taking refuge in hindu fanaticism.

    2. Did you get booted out of an American University? What’s your beef with the West? Or is it just that they’re not Hindu? Are you Xenophobic too or just a Hindu or are they the same thing?

    >> Xenophobia raises it’s ugly little head in every state and every neighbourhood in a hundred million different ways across every region of India. Re-evaluate. IT’s all a crockofshit any way you look at any of it. What we need are people who can challenge religion, religious fundamentalism dogmatic cultural tradition and xenophobia in all its varied forms and not another frakking xenophobic religious nutjob of a fanatic.

    Looks like you lost your nuts here, buddy. Your spelling started getting affected ! Did xenophobia affect you directly ? Did you get kicked out a Western university ? Did thugs from down under Aussie-land beat the shit out of you ? Or wait, were you sodomized in a Muslim country just like the ex ambassador of US to Libya (who was subsequently killed) but unable to identify the source of that hatred against you, you decided to come here and rant against people who can otherwise do you no harm. Please re-evaluate.

  5. Menon
    January 20, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    @ Amarshiam,

    Bravo, completely agree with what you’re saying. You took the words out of my mouth.

  6. gajanan
    January 20, 2013 at 5:34 AM

    “We also wonder why a crucial fact is concealed—the crucial fact that the author of every single “version” of the Ramayana pays reverential tributes to Valmiki.” Somyaji , exactly . You are right.
    I hope Sandeep or some scholar take up the task of critiquing Ramanujans Ramayana write up. I have written a piece below. There are holes after holes in Ramanujans Ramayana ( How many?).

  7. Arvind
    January 20, 2013 at 2:32 AM

    @Amarshiam, you show that you not only have a low IQ but also suffer from inferiority complex which is why you try to parrot the arguments of the White leftists and in the process contradict yourself.

    The fact that you are unable to distinguish between the peaceful nature of Hinduism and the violent nature of Islam shows you have low IQ. “All religions” do not have an identical history or political agenda. Just because Islam and Christianity have a violent past and some Whites have opposed the violence of Christianity, your inferiority complex makes you take their arguments and substitute Hinduism for Christianity. This is as stupid as it can get.

    Imperialism happened due to Christianity and Islam, not Hinduism. I bet you are confused because your sole aim is to please the Whites and assuage your inferiority complex.

    More evidence of your low IQ: you claim that all religions should be opposed, but the moment someone opposes Islamic violence, you label it xenophobia instead of feeling happy about it. See how you contradict yourself? Clearly, you do not mean that Islamic terrorists should be opposed! See how stupid you are?

    When White people oppose “all religions” they usually mean the various denominations of Christianity because Hinduism is not usually present in their society. You blindly ape them and display your stupidity.

  8. January 19, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Where does the Nilajana mindset come from? In this summary of a February 2012 discussion in Rajiv Malhotra’s forum
    http://beingdifferentforum.blogspot.com/2013/01/rmf-summary-week-of-february-6-12-2012.html we can read this:

    “..Here’s a sarcastic working definition from me: Postcolonialist Indian intellectuals are those who practice the art of supplying “the authentic India” to guilt-ridden whites on one side, and simultaneously carry the burden of inserting guilt into young naive Indians making the case that all Indian civilization is abusive and is best abandoned. In return they are rewarded by the white intellectual establishment as the Indian voice opposing white hegemony.”

  9. Dhruva Somayaji
    January 19, 2013 at 10:08 PM

    You make two very important points here :

    1) We wonder why only Homer is considered to be the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey but when it concerns the Ramayana, multiple versions and authors are held to be more authoritative than the original author, Valmiki.

    2) We also wonder why a crucial fact is concealed—the crucial fact that the author of every single “version” of the Ramayana pays reverential tributes to Valmiki.

    These two points are enough to shut the case of Ramanujam.

    Good job overall !!

  10. January 19, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Sandeep,

    It also helps if you add “Contac Me” / “About Me” tabs in your site. Keep up the good work. Remember AK Basham (The Wonder That Was India) quote:Sanskrit works are most secular.
    I am guided by that.

    -Vasu-

  11. amarshiam
    January 19, 2013 at 3:15 AM

    Are you what would be called a Hindu-supremacist?

    Your blog appears to be just one endless rant. Pro-Hindu, Pro-Indian in as so far as it relates to Hinduism and anti-everything else.
    You’re a nasty mirror image in a parallel universe of the muslim fanatics you despise.
    If you used 1% of your intellect on addressing your own biases you’d probably be a totally changed man and the same applies to your muslim fanatic mirror image of a half brother in his parallel universe.

    In an amusing sort of way you are both brothers separated without any hope of ever seeing eye to eye yet entangled in your visions founded on religion and religious exclusivism.
    You’re both saying the same things. You’re probably a little more intelligent but perhaps not intelligent enough to spot the similarities.

    Egged on by your little group of exclusively “hindu” cheer leaders you spin intricate webs of words but all of it can be reduced down to some very basic simple minded ideas.

    Ideas that if you swapped Hindu for Muslim or Christian or whatever would be indistinguishable.

    You could list these out in a couple of sentences. But then you wouldn’t have much of a blog!

    Along the way lets also bash anyone who isn’t hindu or questions any aspect of it!

    All one that person would need to do to provoke you would be to question any aspect of Hinduism or Indian culture in relation to Hinduism. It appears that bias runs so deep that all of Hinduism and cultural tradition based around it are flawless… and in no need of any sort of examination… or so it would seem from your frantic yet futile attempts to defend it against the marauding hordes of “others” where other is anyone who doesn’t subscribe to your hindu fanatical view point.

    You could achieve so much more. You certainly have the intellect for it but perhaps you’ve suffered at the hands of intellectuals and you’re taking refuge in hindu fanaticism. Did you get booted out of an American University? What’s your beef with the West? Or is it just that they’re not Hindu? Are you Xenophobic too or just a Hindu or are they the same thing?

    Xenophobia raises it’s ugly little head in every state and every neighbourhood in a hundred million different ways across every region of India. Re-evaluate. IT’s all a crockofshit any way you look at any of it. What we need are people who can challenge religion, religious fundamentalism dogmatic cultural tradition and xenophobia in all its varied forms and not another frakking xenophobic religious nutjob of a fanatic.

    Amarshiam

  12. Hemant
    January 18, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    This is the kind of stuff that makes sense, detailed, precise.

    For too long, mediocrity, idiocracy and ill-intent (don’t know Nilanjana category) has been screwing Bhartiya literature.

  13. January 18, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Sandeep,

    I appreciate your effort. You are well-read. I invite you to my blog on epics (at present, only Ramayana):
    precisionzen.wordpress.com

    -Vasu-

  14. SB
    January 18, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Excellent. I hope Nilanjana Roy reads and responds. It would be good if she acknowledges all the inconsistencies and falsehoods in her poorly written piece.

    But I think I know the standard response from these types. They will have “moved on” to something else by now their only line of defence will be to hurl abuses if pushed.

  15. Vig
    January 18, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Ravana kills surpanakha’s husband by mistake – “in the thick of war”. He accidentally falls upon and kills her husband.
    Lakshmana only disfigures surpanaka as she is a lady.If it has been any male rakshasha who was attempting to kill Sita, he would have been killed.

  16. nash
    January 18, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    ganapathy

    I get the sense of your writings here,you are putting the questions in the form to deride the Ramayana.You are Tempting Ramayana,It is time you start writing your life’s diary.

  17. ganapathy
    January 18, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    shall we have the verses about the 100s of women given as gifts along with sita by her father after marriage.do they count or not. are they meant for the purpose similar to vidhurs mother when the queen is not interested in satisfying the king or the noble souls taking ugly form to perform niyogam

  18. Rex
    January 18, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Dear Sandeep,
    I hope you’ve seen the latest issue of Outlook – carrying excerpts from a new book that paints Swami Vivekananda as a Hindu supremacist. Looking forward to your evisceration of the author :)

  19. January 18, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    In Telugu we have a saying : “chuppalati surphanaka”. Elders use it to describe ladies who speak lies for no reason whatsoever, instigate one person on the other to satisfy ego, use “cosmetic beauty”, spend hours in front of the mirror admiring oneself. I am just wondering, may be “chuppalati nilanjana” is also appropriate?

  20. gajanan
    January 18, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    You have quoted AK Ramanujans Ramayana text . I would like to my take on this.

    One interesting aspect of Buddhism and Jainism do not sing paens about Rama but are charitable to Krishna. Remember the controversy over AK Ramanujams Ramayana. He relied on Buddhist and Jain sources. The idea of Buddhism and Jainism was to oppose the Kshatriya class , since war had taken a heavy toll of lives. In fact there is plenty of borrowings in Buddhism from Upanishads and Rishi Atharvans treatise in Jainism. Buddhism has different take in Jataka tales are given from the perspective of Buddha’s previous lives (as well as the previous lives of many of Buddha’s followers), Krishna appears as one of the lives of Sariputra, one of Buddha’s foremost disciples and the “Dhammasenapati” or “Chief General of the Dharma” and is usually shown being Buddha’s “right hand man” in Buddhist art and iconography. IN jainism Krishna was a cousin of the twenty-second Tirthankara, Neminatha. The stories of these triads can be found in the Harivamsha of Jinasena (not be confused with its namesake, the addendum to Mah?bh?rata) and the Trishashti-shalakapurusha-charita of Hemachandra.

    Even though Buddhism and Jainism were an anti thesis over Kshatryias , they take in Krishna as their Biradari , though hard to believe that Krishna existed during or after Buddha and Mahavir as both Buddhism and Jainism are faiths of Kalyug and Krishna had left his mortal coils ages before them in Dwapar Yuga. Is it that both Mahavir and Buddha and their followers liked Krishna for His great chivalry to keep in semblance of Kshatriya activity.( since Mahavir and Buddha were kings, Naipaul comes in handy here when he says that converts reject their origins by impulse in Among the Believers ). Jains had problems with Krishna as they believed in pacifist and non violence , but later made Krishna the cousin of Neminatha and Buddhism accommodated Krishna as Buddhas disciple ( a kalpa difference in time , how could Krishna be Buddhas disciple or how could Krishna be the cousin of Neminatha?)

    This shows that even though Buddhism and Jainism were in Kalyug , it could not forgo Lord Krishna , but accommodated Krishna according to their convenience. otherwise a yug in difference , how could such an interpretation come to force.

    See here.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K

    Now both Buddhism and Jainism have a different view of Vedas , but when it comes to Krishna , they embrace Him ( Krishna in Gita says He is Sam Ved) and for Rama there is heavy conjecturing by both Jainism. The question is did AK Ramanujan consider Valmiki the narrator of Ramayana was himself present throught the Ramayana to write about it ( remember the Lava Kusha episode when Valmikis advice is sought). it is very strange that AK Ramanujan relied on Buddhist and Jain sources from Kali Yuga ( a term very well used to explain evolution by Krishnadas in one of the postings) , which had no connection to what happened in the Treta and Dwapar Yug. Buddhism and Jainism is a diatribe on Kshatriyas. Being uncharitable to Rama and embracing Krishna by Buddhists and Jains requires questioning of AKRs work since Rama was one yug before Krishna. Sandeep, if you have the time and if you know Sanskrit well ( very well) then you should publish these great anomalies in AKRs work as a critique book.

  21. R. D. Choudhary,
    January 18, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Well done Sandip, your articles will definitely make” Niranjanas ” to correct their perspectives and utilise them in Nation building processs, brick by brick, rather than spreading wrong, perverted opinions for our timeless and ageless scriptures. However one may try to distort these epics it will ultimately stay erect in readers mind and heart. Why cannot we develop a submissive approach and attitude while reading such epic? Because we are completely possessed by our mind which takes pleasure in creating something different even if they are clearly deviated from the reality. Mind unless subdued wants to
    fantasise and create false sense of pleasure, an illusive one.The solution lies in delving deep within ourselves to be with our inner self even for 15 minutes daily. There may be many names and processes to enjoy this bliss but the fundamental aim is the same and that is to subdue the mind with it’s nature of endless plans, fantasies and attractions towards outer world. In scriptures it is said that mind is our friend and enemy both. Therefore we all should strive to keep our mind subdued and get the best use of it’s intelligence.

  22. CHANDRA
    January 18, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    @d2thdr

    Why use foul language against women even if they are your opponents? If you have an argument try to articulate it in better words. Using foul language will only harm your case.

  23. January 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    @d2thdr

    What makes you think this kind of foul language helps the argument against Mallika Sarabhai’s dishonesty?

  24. sjcetux
    January 18, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Great article Sandeep. I have been an admirer of your blog for a long time now.

    All this discussion on Ramayana/Mahabharata prompted me to start reading the original myself. The website http://www.valmikiramayan.net is a very helpful source.

  25. January 18, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    Great one, Sandeep. Probably the weekly column writer did not realize a scholar is closely reading every word and what’s more that scholar knew what he had to do and did it with style.

    In modern day terminology, Surpanaka was stalking 2 married men, attempting and forcing others to committ adultery, abused another woman on her looks and derogativey commented on another woman’s personality and finally threatened to murder two people and could have possibily murdered if she was not stopped by Lakshmana as a self-defence. Feminists should be up in arms with Surpanaka. why are the modern day feminists blaming the victims (sri ram’s family)? What is really wrong here? Is it hatred for people that idiolize Sri Ram?

    @virtualpresence: great script and screen play :)

  26. Rama
    January 18, 2013 at 5:02 AM

    Wow, Sandeep, the best so far. Kudos.
    @VirtualPresence, great follow up comment!!! Got bellyache from laughing!

  27. d2thdr
    January 18, 2013 at 4:57 AM

    Mate well done. Would be wonderful if you also tackle the sarabhai bitch sometime. She may have a dick but dunno for sure.

  28. VirtualPresence
    January 18, 2013 at 4:18 AM

    Cut-to scene 1, interiors – Nilanjana’s study, a cold night’s breeze cracks through the open window, a confused feminist reading rebuttals of her “erudite, authoritative” piece by some no name guy. Says to self “He has command over English, I will give you that”. Confused as to whether it is better to read the posts randomly or chronologically. For once decides to do the logical thing.

    After reading post 1 the feminist in her says “Awwwww….. so cute…. he, a man, thinks he can take on a stalwart like me. SIGH!!!!!”

    —- A while later —–
    Post 2 has been published. Nilanjana says to self “Lemme read it anyways… just to make sure he is not out of line. OK got to post some comments that will surely intimidate him and he will back off. Oh! he replied… What the hell? He advices me to be patient? Grow up boy, hope you rot in hell. Will never come back to this damn blog…. Rediscovering India? Rediscover this…”. Saying so she grabs her balls (figuratively speaking), gives the finger and exits scene. Else where Sandeep shudders and a strong feeling of disgust runs through his spine.

    Readers all around the world take notice of her involvement but don’t read too much into it. They eagerly await for the next post all along thinking “Damn, now I have got to wait for the next post. Why doesn’t he post more frequently? Doesn’t he know what we want?”

    —- A while later —–
    Post 3 is out. “Should I get the raspberry-dark chocolate ice cream before I read his one? Let me just read it and get it over with. “Niyoga”??? WTF is that? Is it like some kind of new yoga style? Let me read further. Husband giving consent to wife to have sex with other men to continue lineage? That is messed up.” Chuckles, ROTFL style. “This is more messed up than I thought. Abduct a woman and marry her if she had no objection?” Whispers slowly to self with a tiny pearl of a tear in her eye “how romantic, literally sweeping her off her feet, if only someone would do that to me. SIGH!!!!!” “Shades of grey, wohooo!!! oh yeah!!! ammmazing book. Now this oldie is talking my language. Oh! he doesn’t approve of Bhishma’s doing too? Damn there goes my line of attack. Well I still think it was rape, need to re-read the posts 1,2 and 3 and try to understand where he is going with this?”

    Sandeep says to himself “OK, I have laid the foundation, time for the silver bullet. I don’t think she realizes my strategy and how I am deconstructing her post brick by brick. Whats the American expression… Duh!!!”

    Readers around the world read the post and can’t contain their eagerness to read more. One of the many ABCDs go “Never leave a brother hangin daaawwwg!!!”

    —- A while later —–
    Post 4 is published. Nilanjana picks up a few paper napkins and settles down with her iPad on her lap and a bucket of raspberry-dark chocolate in her hand. Reading the post “Is this in English? Did the browser change the setting or something? He wants to insult me in a language I don’t know to get away with it?” Rage boiling, veins popping out all over her face and then “SIGH!!! Chill down sister, stop playing victim, its just Sanskrit transcribed in English.” Gets a refill for her ice cream and continues to reads further “OH HELL NO…. HE DIN SAY THAT… NO HE DIN.” Furious at how he was able to cite original text and demolish her stance completely throws the half empty bucket of ice cream at the iPad. She starts sobbing uncontrollably. Calls all her like-minded friends for consolation and notices how people with common sense are starting to avoid her and treat her as if she was the very embodiment of Shurpanakha. IRONY fills the room.

    Readers cant contain their admiration for the Ram…errr… man who humbled the beast.

    —- A while later —–
    Post 5 is published. Seeing how her post, ideology and people of her ilk were completely decimated by logical, coherent and well researched arguments she leaves a single comment:

    “Aum Asato m? sad gamaya| Tamaso m? jyotir gamaya| M?tyorm? am?tam gamaya| Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi||”

  29. vinakam
    January 18, 2013 at 3:14 AM

    From Sarga 17 verse 20 you move straight to sarga 17 verse 25, 26 & 27. Then you move straight to Sarga 18 verse 2, and then Sarga 18 verse 16-17 and then again straight to verse 21. What happened to the intervening verses ?? Where are they ??

    You did say that you were going line by line, weren’t you ??

  30. Sandeep
    January 18, 2013 at 1:34 AM

    Murli,

    Thanks for the kind words. And STOP trying to teach me English. The word “much” is used as an adverb here. It means: “To a very great degree or extent.” It’s used to emphasize, not in the sense of quantity. And no, it doesn’t “typically” imply that.

  31. Murli
    January 18, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    Excellent! Friendly suggestion: “much married” typically implies married more than once. Consider changing.

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