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Maryada Purushottam Ram

The Ramayana and it’s main protagonist Maryada Purushottam Ram are almost known
to one and all in the context of our country where people have strong religious feelings and a great deal of faith in traditions. Wherever there are caves in the jungles they firmly believe that the Pandavas had lived over there during exile and Ram had come over there wherever there are feet-like imprints on stone. Myths, legends and hearsay play an important role in this.

I remember,as a child when I used to go to the temple with my grandmother whenever there were recitations from the Ramayana, ‘Sundarakanda’ or ‘prabachana’ people got emotional while listening to the same. When Ram cried remembering Sita tears rolled down their cheeks. I was really dumbfounded at the sight of people having so much of
respect for a holy book and a god incarnate. Sometimes I do ponder over the matter as to
what would have happened to the course of Indian culture without the Ramayana,the
Mahabharata ,the Bhagvat Geeta ,Shri Ram and Shri Krishna.Such a state of affairs is
really beyond imagination. Despite the profound influence that the Ramayana exerts
on the Indian psyche the idea or notion that it is imaginary is hardly an acceptable proposition.Places like Ayodhya, Chitrakoot, Dandakaranya, Panchabati, Kishkinda, Ramsetu ,Rameshwaram and Lanka as mentioned in the epic still exist. It may appear so since the incident is very old and also mostly exists in hear say, myths and legends in addition to texts. Years back during my visit to Rishikesh I came to know that a research team has been constituted to search for the ‘sanjivani’plant carried by Bhakta Hanuman to
Lanka from the Himalayas.The existence of such life saving plants can hardly be denied in
the Himalayas.

The palace of Ravana on a hillock,Ashoka Batika and airstrips for landing of Ravan’s ‘Pushpak Bimana’ are still in existence as believed and research is going on in this regard as per reports.It is also reported that certain medicinal plants of the Himalayas can be found in present day Srilanka. The incident of the Ramayana is believed to have taken place atleast seven thousand years back which speaks of a fabulous culture and civilisation. Mahirshi Valmiki who wrote the epic was Ram’contemporary. Since the incident of the Ramayana is very old myths and legends have mingled up with history which requires full-fledged evidence. But it may not always be possible to get the evidence. The character of Ram appears to be so realistic and has had so much influence on the Indian psyche and culture that it is almost impossible to consider him to be fictitious. So before calling the Ramayana imaginary a great deal of research and archaeological excavations are required which will open up new facts and unravel mysteries. There are also many a hear say,myth and legend in this regard. It is believed in certain circles that the dead body of Ravan has been kept as a mummy in some cave in the jungles of Srilanka. The birthplace of Hanuman can be seen in four to five places across the country Ayodhya,the birthplace of Ram has also been a bone of contention even in certain neighbouring countries.

This shows as to how much respect the Ramayana commands and how strongly people think it to be true. The fact is that whenever a poet or writer writes some book or work imagination plays an important role and things often get exaggerated. The Ramayana has been written in different Indian languages. The original by Mahirshi Valmiki has also been translated into different languages. During this process changes do take place. While rewriting or translating the author also keeps in mind the contemporary social scenes and values. Moreover since the incident is very old different interpolations and interpretations based on hearsay,myths and legends get mingled up with the process of rewriting the original or translating it. Rani Kaikeyi is often considered to be venomous who gets incited by Dasi Manthara in sending Ram to exile for fourteen years. At the same time it is also believed that she was a pious lady who never thought ill of Ram. Rather it was divine ordain and she did it at the behest of Ram so that he could vanquish demons like Ravan staying away from royal responsibility. Deviating from the original Ramayan these seem to be later interpolations based on traditional hearsay.

In this context one more point needs mention. In the original Ramayana by Mahirshi Valmiki Ram has not been painted as God or God incarnate. He has only been delineated as an ideal human being,ideal son,ideal brother,ideal husband and last but not the least ideal king. But when Santh Tulsi Das wrote Ram Charit Manas in the sixteenth century he has given Ram the status of God or God Incarnate. It is only natural. The older the incident the more changes and interpretations will be brought about by later writers basing on tradition and hearsay. Whatever may be the matter Ram has entered the psyche of the Indians so much so that the Ramayana being real or imaginary will have no effect. Neither will it change the course of Indian culture. Ram was endowed with so many qualities that had he been an ordinary human being he would still have put his claim to God incarnate. Today we see a great person in flesh and blood who has done something extraordinary for the country. But after ten thousand years from today when his living will be very old and hearsay will start surrounding him people may call him a God incarnate. Gradually hearsay and myths will hover around him. One more point needs mention here. Why did Ram take the decision of leaving Sita just listening to what an ordinary man said about her. The fact is that he was an ideal king. The matter was not merely confined to an ordinary man. In him could be seen the voice of the people.

It is the primary duty of a king to respect vox populi or voice of the people. Ram could take any hard decision for the sake of truth and righteousness. He loved Sita from the inner core of his heart. He has cried his heart out in her absence. He has covered all the way to Lanka to rescue her.He has been subject to a lot of pains. But when the moment has come he has been bound to leave her. Such a decision could only be taken by Ram. He has not only left Sita. He has also left his dearest brother Luxman. At the right moment he himself has taken a watery grave in the river Sarayu after sending Veer Hanuman to ‘Patala’ in search of his ring. Ram was endowed with so many godly qualities that even after thousands of years people still remember him and contemplate in terms of a Ram Rajya on the soil of our country. He was an embodiment of ‘Dharma’ and ‘Nyaya’. Though as the eldest son he had a claim to the throne of Ayodhya yet he preferred exile so that his father did not deviate from the grant of two boons granted earlier to Rani Kaikeyi. Under any circumstances he did stick to his decision. Neither Dasharath nor Bharat could change his mind. He was honest and straightforward. He led a very simple life and paid respect to one and all. He had even requested King Dasharath to forgive Mata Kaikeyi.

He respected his father,mothers and loved his brothers. He valued friendship. For his friendship with Sugreev he had to kill Bali. He had affection and sympathy for one and all. He gave importance to relations. He could deal with any kind of situation. He was humility personified. He behaved well with the angry Parshuram. Sometimes Laxman lost his cool. But Ram could make him understand. When Sugreev forgot to come to their help in rescueing Sita and spent his time in merrymaking Luxman got angry with him.But Ram could manage the situation and get things done. Ram does not even forget to respect his enemies and gives them their due. When Ravan was on his last legs and lying on the battlefield Ram sent Luxman near him to take a few tips as he was a learned man. Ram asked Bibhishan to complete the last rites of his elder brother Ravan. Only Ram could do such things which has made him immortal . There will be no end to whatever is said about Ram and the Ramayana.This epic or Mahakavya is adored throughout the length and breadth of the country. It has been written and translated in different Indian languages. Movies and TV serials have also been made on it. During the process minor changes have often been made here and there. Contemporary social scenes and issues have been reflected here and there as the poet or writer through his works holds the mirror upto the society. But the glory of Ram and the Ramayana epic has not been affected in the least. He is Maryada Purushottam Ram. Let his ideology inspire us and posterity through the ages.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own)

Mr. Prafulla Kumar Majhi,

Retd. Asst. Director(P), All India Radio.
He is an eminent Scholar and freelance writer in English & Odia. His areas of interests are sociocultural, economic, literary, historical and analytical studies and writings.

Email: [email protected]

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