Sunday, April 17, 2011

The political genius of Sri Rama - Part 4

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Continued from Part 3

Journey of Sri Rama during his exile

This is where something weird happens, although it is not seen directly. Rama starts going southwards and crosses Krishna river. The support from Ashrama network which  Rama received in previous 13.5 years is suddenly lost. Were there no Ashramas in South? Or were they not willing to support Rama's endeavour which had become personal now? As far as I know, he only Ashrama which welcomes Rama in post Seeta abduction phase was that of Shabari (which is an abandoned Ashrama). And Shabari was not a rishi in classical sense. 

As we see from the map, the path of Rama suddenly becomes well defined and straight and fast. He meets Sugriva and befriends hanuman. He kills Vaali by a sneak attack which is totally adharmik (according to prevailing ideas of dharma yuddha). The justification which rama gives to Vaali is that Vaali was an animal (Shakhamriga) to which Vaali replies in a caustically sarcastic manner and Raama has no retort to answer. Vaali was indeed a capable King and had defeated Ravana before. Although Vaali had taken Sugriva's wife as his wife, thus showing adharmik tendencies, he was  known to be a just king towards his people. As Vaali rightly says, if Raama had only asked for his assistance directly, he would have willingly brought back his wife along with Ravana to Rama's feet.

But Rama decided to back his renegade brother who was less possessive and more inclusive in mentality. He removed Vaali by crook  and installed Sugriva on his place. Sugriva took Tara, wife of Vaali has his wife, as revenge. Tara is one of the most intelligent ladies of Indian narrative. She is extremely underplayed and she speaks rarely. But whenever she opens her mouth, heavily concentrated wisdom pours out. Rama does not allow Sugriva to make his son as his successor but Vaali's son "Angada" as his political successor. This again shows the ruthlessly dharmik side of Raama. When Sugriva starts becoming indulgent and forgets the promise given to Rama about seeta's search, Raama sends Lakshmana to remind him that it would not be difficult for Raama to send him to meet his brother. Sugriva never misbehaves thereafter. The counselling of Sugriva by Hanuman and Tara is worth reading and ruminating for everyone interested in political science. 

One has to understand that all the intelligence, guidance from rishis to Rama has stopped. From MH onwards, Raama had become completely self-guided. And yet, apart from Vaali incident (which was necessity), he never looses his understanding of Dharma. He uses resources and technology of Vanara and Deccan to launch expedition against Kaveri basin and Lanka. He did not use or ask for single penny, a single soldier and a single word of advice from his homeland. Perhaps, it is logistically impossible, or perhaps out of moral high-ground OR perhaps due to refusal of his people to provide assistance. May be all of these. 

The technological superiority of Vanaras over Rama's people is seen in their ability to fly (many vanaras had capability of flying individually). Maybe something like gliders. They could built a bridge over favourable topography of Dhanushkodi (which also suggests their excellent knowledge of geography). Their superior knowledge of geography is seen in the guidance given by Sugriva to Vanara contingents which are dispatched in all 4 directions to search seeta. This chapter is one of the earliest records of India's version of geography. Sugriva describes north pole, deserts in west, pacific ocean and trident of pisco in peru (most probably). His descriptions get vague as he ventures away from India, but are fairly accurate descriptions of flora and fauna in nearby regions around India. anyways.

Taking advantage of Vibhishana's defection, he defeats Ravana. This is the only assistance provided to Rama by Devas when Rama is about to fight Ravana after killing indrajit, kumbhakarna that Indra sends his chariot and charioteer at service of Rama. What were devas waiting for? Devas here is the metaphor of power centres from Indo-gangetic plains which were supporting Rama's venture for first 13 years.

Continued to Part 5


Harish Kumar said...

I have dealt with the topic of the "adharmik" killing of Vaali in my book below.

Kal_Chiron said...

Thank you, Harish Kumar ji for the comment and the link..

I was aware of these explanations. But I have mentioned at the beginning of series, that I have not treated Raama as Vishnu's avatara. That is a matter of faith. As fas as my personal faith goes, I too regard him as Sri Vishnu. But the emphasis of this series is to show political scenario of India.

Hence, here, Rama is just a king.

Regarding adharmik behaviour of Vaali, Sugriva too had taken up Tara as his wife when he placed the stone on the mouth of that cave where Vaali was fighting that demon, assuming vaali's death. Although, one cannot hold him guilty and Vaali was definitely a very adamant king, this is not the point of article.

There are several historical clues in this story regarding political history of India.. I have dealt with these recurring patterns of Indian history wherein kings from different river basins have behaved time and again, irrespective of their language and time. This series too is in similar vain.

As I say at the end, there are many perspectives of this story.. The spiritual perspective is very popular.. But there is political and economic perspective too, which is not inquired.. this is merely an effort to start in that direction.

thank you

Harish Kumar said...

You are welcome Kal_Chiron ji. This is a unique and interesting perspective (Rama as merely a King, not an avatar of Vishnu) and I am happy somebody has taken up this line of inquiry. I used to think in similar lines regarding the "mess" avatars create when they come and go. But after a deeper study of Vedic Philosophy, I have come to the understanding that it is a good thing they come and we cannot prevent these avatars from coming by properly following the dharmashastras as you have recommended. Avatars indeed indulge in a lot of destruction, but this destruction is necessary, for the future spiritual evolution of mankind. This destruction is necessary for the "preservation" of the dharma, which does sound contradictory. But this is how things happen, as deemed by Vishnu and we are not in a position to change this or take control of things, as it is Vishnu who is in control of us. Nevertheless, an interesting line of inquiry.