Bhagwan Shri Ram, revered, worshipped and loved by Hindus throughout the world for millennia, is also a cause of much heartburn among a certain breed of people. These are the secularists, whose hatred of anything Hindu (and Indian) is perpetual and incurable. The desi breed of Marxists is innately and inextricably wedded to this psyche. Marxists in India lack any true intellect, but imagine that they shine in the glow of an alien credo.
Marxists in India have over the years, proven themselves totally incapable even deciphering the inherent spiritual depth and reach of Indian philosophy and its intellectual heritage, leave alone understand it.
Shri Ram’s persona, accomplishments and endeavour are documented for posterity by Maharshi Valmiki, who recorded the events of his age in the Ramayan. Though an analysis of the Ramayan is beyond the scope of any article of this length, one particular incident in Shri Ram’s life, namely the second banishment of Sita after Ram’s coronation as Emperor at Ayodhya has been the bone of contention for scholars, historians, the devout and the naysayer. Sita’s second exile to Valmiki’s ashram has been used by many a commentator to heap calumny on Ram.
As is well known to all those who are acquainted with some elementary knowledge of the Ramayan, Ram had to banish Sita to the forest after his coronation as emperor. The reason that brought about such a harsh step was whispered rumours in Ayodhya, casting aspersions on Sita for having lived about a year in captivity in Lanka, kidnapped by the Rakshas ruler Ravan. It was to rescue Sita and also end Ravan’s regime of tyranny that Ram with his Kishkindhan Vanar allies, undertook a huge military expedition against Ravan and the Rakshsasas, which culminated in the Lankan war in which Ram decisively triumphed by slaying the evil Rakshas ruler.
Trenchant critics of Ram — and anything Hindu, for that matter get carried away by their own opinions, which they consider to be above any criticism. Marxist and secular propagandists, in particular, are quick to brandish their ideological cudgels while discussing Sita’s second spell of exile, post her becoming the Empress.
For the uninitiated, it needs to be tutored that Rajdharma, loosely translated as the values of administration and rulership were an integral part of the lives of the rulers of ancient India. The scion of the house of the Ikshvaakus was no exception. And the renowned Graeco-Roman maxim of not only Caesar but also his wife being required to be above suspicion or reproach — which the secularists would have no problem swallowing, since it emanates from the West, their Mecca — is not only known but thoroughly imbibed by ruler and rishi alike in our civilization of that era.
Noted scholar of the Shrimad Valmiki Ramayan, and Sanskrit, Rajendra Singh says “In essence, Shri Ram, who had become a ruler after vanquishing an evil empire was now no longer just a husband and warrior, but had become a Raja, i.e., a ruler entrusted with responsibilities. And any ruler of the Raghu Dynasty had not only to be above reproach himself, but also ensure that none attached to him should ever draw even an iota of blemish”.
So, did any blemish attach to Sita on account of her captivity, which after all, was a forced one, against her will? Or did Ram suspect her in any way? Not at all. Rajendra Singh is as unequivocal as are all those who revere Ram and Sita. “It is ridiculous to believe even for a moment that Shri Ram harbored any doubts regarding Sita. But Rajdharma allows no space to a ruler for his personal beliefs or convictions. Contrary to popular perception, it was not just a dhobi’s (washerman) acrimonious comment to his wife that made Ram banish Sita. There were whispers in Ayodhya those days, emanating entirely from a very low understanding, but the whispers were there nonetheless. The washerman was merely repeating what he’d heard. The exigencies of Rajdharma demanded that Ram act in a thoroughly impartial manner. This whispered calumny was after all, affecting the royal family and the credibility of the Raghu Dynasty too, whose rulers were renowned to stake even their lives in honouring their values. There was a whispered campaign of calumny against Sita, and Shri Ram had no effective answer to it. The option of brazening it out was certainly not for him”.
“There is a lesson for all modern rulers of today in this episode,” says noted journalist and filmmaker Mayank Jain, in this regard. “A true Kshatriya (a warrior and a ruler) cannot forsake the responsibility of statecraft and take the easy way out of quitting his responsibilities when he has to make a harsh decision. Hindu tradition does not permit Sanyas (renunciation of the material world in pursuit of spiritual advancement) for a Kshatriya. No doubt, Ram’s painful decision to ask Sita to leave the royal household and go into exile was a heart-rending one for him, but as a ruler totally committed to upholding dharma and principles of the rule of law, there was little option he had. Sita was of course, beyond any reproach, but not only a ruler, but even his near and dear ones must be above any blame. This decision of Shri Ram was no less a sacrifice than his first one, i.e., giving up Ayodhya’s throne to go into a fourteen-year old exile to uphold his father Dashrath’s word. Ram’s decision reveals him to be a ruler totally committed to the principles of Rajdharma, whatever the personal sacrifice it entailed for him”.
And what about Shri Ram’s own faith in his consort? In this regard, Mayank Jain iterates, “Ram had total faith in his consort, his life-partner and indeed his very life. After making a gut-wrenching decision to banish Sita, his own life was shorn of any material enjoyment whatsoever. He wouldn’t have given up all material comforts, slept on the floor and remained a one-woman man all his life. Moreover, Ram did not throw Sita out into oblivion, but arranged for her safe residence in the ashram of Maharshi Valmiki. If that isn’t the epitome of filial love and commitment to one’s spouse, what is?”
Faced with an intractable dilemma, Ram chose to respect the principles of Rajdharma. Had he acted otherwise, one can well imagine the incessant carping he would have been till this day. The values of Rajdharma, the commitment it demands and the acme of virtues of an ideal ruler which all of us desire in our ruler, are epitomized in Shri Ram.
It is the utter lack of any respect to those values that manifests itself in ignorant, or worse deliberately misinformed abuse of our historical figures under the guise of imported ‘isms’ and creeds.
~ Author Jaganniwas Iyer is a well known writer and columnist