Sunday, April 17, 2011

The political genius of Sri Rama - Part 1

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Disclaimer: liberal usage of Occam's razor here. Raama is no longer the supreme vishnu here.. He is young prince who did something stupendous. 


Journey of Raama in during his exile

There are various races described by valmiki in his treatise. Manavas, vanaras, devas, gandharvas, rakshasas, asuras, daityas, yavans, hunas and what not.. Now, instead of taking literal meaning of the terms, one has to understand that Manavas are not human beings here, but descendants of Manu. Rakshasas literally mean "the Protectors". The negative connotations to the word rakshasa is later in origin, IMHO. Vanaras is the power-block in Deccan region (the Krishna Godavari region) with the headquarters somewhere in Karnataka and alternative power-seat (sugriva's exile) near Hampi in Karnataka. 

From descriptions  of Vanaras, they appear to be technologically superior to Manavas and almost comparable to Rakshasas.. They can speak grammatically correct "BHasha" (Sanskrit), well versed in Vedas (or was it just Hanuman), ability to build make-shift bridges, ability to fly (although not flawlessly like Rakshasas). The only faction which has defeated Rakshasas (Vaali defeating Ravana). Currently in state of anarchy with fight between two brothers for throne. 

Rakshasas are the power block from Kaveri  river basin and Lanka. Headquarters on the island of Lanka. They have their colonies in various places in Central and North India (Western MH and Marathwada where divisions of Rakshasa army is placed under generals Khara and Dushana). This army maintains a colony in modern day western MH-Marathwada region with headquarters at Janasthaan (modern day Aurangabad) near Pratisthaana (modern day Paithan and later capital of Saatavhanas). this has led to many historians suggest that elephanta island near Mumbai is real Lanka. anyways, there are many suggestions by many "Eminent historians" about site of Lanka. But tradition, Valmiki and primary sources are clear about Sri Lanka as actual Lanka. Nonetheless, this region was held by Rakshasas. 

Controlling Kalyan region (which is known ancient port of India) suggests Rakshasa's attempt to control western trade. Being from Kaveri basin, they have been inevitably linked to maritime ventures and trade. Furthermore, they are known to maintain an airforce. Vanaras although control part of Konkan and Malabar coast, are not suggested to be interested in holding any territory outside Deccan.  It is possible that Rakshasas controlled considerable region of Konkan from Bharuch downwards. Bharuch (known as Bhrigu Kachchapa) was the place from where Bali was dispatched to Patala. 

Manavas (descendants of Manu) seem to be vulnerable faction of all three. numerous kingdoms of manavas existed from Gandhar to Bengal and MP. There is no description of any bridge or any attempt to build a bridge over ganga or yamuna or sindhu river. Rama used the services of a "Kevata" to cross Ganga. 

A separate faction which is mandatory here to mention is the faction of Sages (Rishis). Now Rishis (intellectuals, professors, scientists, poets, researchers, spiritually awakened individuals) are the upholders of Dharma. They are known to motivate and enable and mobilize various forces keeping in mind the long term goal of Dharma's protection. Here, Vishwamitra gave Raama all sorts of weapons which are not possessed by any Maanava. It is primarily because of these weapons that Rama defeated such huge adversaries. Of course, OTOH, Vishwamitra gave Rama these weapons because he was suitable and Dharmik. 

Furthermore, one has to look in context of Parashurama's cleansing. Ikshwaku lineage was spared by Parashurama. This kshatriya culling is one of the reason of vulnerability of Manavas. Furthermore, Rama had proved himself to be successor of Parashurama by breaking both shiva dhanushya and Vishnudhanushya, thereby reducing the role of Parashurama as mere sanyasi teacher. There is some symbolism in making Rama break both dhanushyas (which are considered invincible). 

Marriage (at age of 17-18). By age of 17, he got all the weapons from Vishwamitra, had killed Subahu and injured Maarich, killed Tratika, liberated Ahilya, broken both dhanushyas, dispatched Parashurama to sanyasa. Thus he was set to be one of the interesting figures to watch and follow. He was set to do something stupendous in his life. 

Continued to Part 2

2 comments:

Common Hindu said...

jai ho........

ysv_rao said...

Wonderful geo political and strategic interpretation of the Ramayana.
Much more of this vein is desperately needed. I think the Bhakti movement was bane on Hinduism and geo political thinking as any analysis of Ramayana and Mahabharata was effectively reduced to mindlessly chanting "Hare Rama Hare Krishna".
Is it any coincidence that equally mindless hippies find this aspect of Hinduism as appealing?
Thus we have the sorry state of Hindus who are actually effectively unimpressed by Rama and Krishna's accomplishments as due to the bhakti movement they are so far removed from earth and its restrictions that their actions were viewed as inevitable since they were incarnations of Vishnu and any such difficulties they faced were simply "Maya" they performed in order to impart a moral lesson
What a disgrace!

Again thank you for this.


You neglect to mention that Vasishtas almost single handed creation of Central Asian political powers such as Saka and Pahlava and Vishwamitras(Indic) war against him

To this end Rama's post exile conquests of the Northwest and taming of the resurrected Central Asians (emasculated and tamed by his ancestor Sagara) follows the same pattern.

I will also add that Rakshasas contrary to Amar Chitra Katha/Ramanand Sagar description as dark skinned uncouth savages were actually considered quite beautiful.

Their fall from Vedic grace was due to not following proper rituals or engaging in adharmic conduct

In this context they were likely Vratyas.

In another post you pointed how Southerners were into total power consolidation.
It was so the past( Chola Chalukya wars were incredibly brutal and bloodthirsty).
The LTTE intolerance for rival Tamil organizations
Kamma vs Reddy Factionalists slaughter for sole propietership of ruling Andhra etc

IMO the truly dharmic civilization in Southern history was Vijayanagara. Not coincidentally it was a self consciously Vedic culture with Yadava lineage as with Shivajis mother.And even they had to compromise with the realities on the ground and install Nayakars in Tamil Nadu.