Present context. Click to see Times of India Article
I quote from the above article.
...Addressing gatherings at Ravan pujas organised at several places in Punjab and Haryana, Adi Dharam Samaj founder Darshan Ratan Ravan said people should recognize Ravan's respect for women and learn a few lessons from him on how to safeguard women in a society. Ravan pujas were held at Ferozepur, Kapurthala, Tohana, Jalandhar and Ludhiana in Punjab and at Uchana Mandi in Haryana on Sunday. ...
Should we worship any God of any religion, at all?
If so, for what purpose?
Getting protection is doubtful. Latest incident which proves non-availability of protection is the death of nearly 200 pilgrims in a stampede on the bridge in Daitiya District, Madhya Pradesh-Uttar Pradesh border, who had assembled there to see the darSan of Mother Goddess. If Gods and Goddesses have capabilities to protect devotees and punish criminals, the Gods and Goddesses should have a priority list. Terrorists, food-adulterators, usurious money lenders, rapists, should get first guillotines.
WHERE IS THE PRIORITY LIST
Poor villagers who assembled in ratnagaDh-datiya should not at all be in the deserve-death list. If at all, they deserve placement on death-list, their names should appear last. Not first and not ahead of murderers, rapists and terrorists, corrupt bureaucrats and politicians. Such priority lists do not exist because Gods and Goddesses (all religions) do not exist. God saving and helping devotees is only an imagination.
Question: Should we pray Gods and Goddesses without asking for boons and fulfilment of our desires
Ans: There is nobody to hear our prayers. It will be immateral whether we pray with desires or, without desires.
Question: Categorically answer, should we pray rAma or rAvaNa?
Answer: There is no historical proof of existence of rAma or rAvaNa. But, there are possibilities, that kings rAma and rAvaNa might have ruled our country. But one thing seems nearly definite. vAlmiki rAmayana may not be absolute fiction which emerged from figments of imagination of poet vAlmiki and his successors. The basic biographies of rAma and rAvaNa interwoven together, might have been colored with likes and dislikes of kings and priests, with added spices of aircrafts, 7 seven story mansions, forest-dwellers as monkeys, stone getting converted into a penitent woman with tearful eyes for washing the feet of her savior, etc. ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) has a great duty to Nation of digging up thousands of mounds for tracing real ayOdhya and real lanka. This is in addition to the present duty of digging up old forts like unnAv in UP, for tracing hidden gold. If dreams of sAdhus are compulsory for ordering then digging operations, then one of my readers has to motivate a sAdhu to get a dream. I am neither a sAdhu, nor do I get dreams.
I have made some studies on the location of ayOdhya and lanka and identified some probable places which might have been ruled by rAma or rAvaNa. Pl. see my other posts here. Examples. ayOdhya may be in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. lanka may be in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgadh, Jharkhand (bhagalpur-baidyanAth), Orissa, North of River GodAvari. Definitely not Sri Lanka.
Assuming that rAma and rAvaNa existed as kings, next question which arises is, do they deserve worship as Gods? The problem with our foremost-Scripture vAlmIki rAmAyaNa is, we can find a deliberate attempt made by those who inserted numerous verses in the Epic, to present rAma as an incarnation of God and rAvaNa as a devil. Neither of the propositions (rAma as God and rAvaNa as devil) seems tenable, if we study each verse of vAlmiki rAmAyana with reasonable care and diligence.
Forest dwellers (Present society and Govt. describe them as tribals, which is not appropriate) were depicted as monkeys wth tails. Forest Dwellers can never have tails. Nor demon women (we can't call them tribal or demon in reality) were shown to have horns, protruding teeth-tongues, etc. They were just women in rAvaNa's kingdom, as beautiful or as mediocre, as the women of ayOdhya or kishkindha.
Kings, whether rAma or rAvaNa, sugrIva or vAli, have their human strengths and weaknesses. Britishers worship Queen Elizabeth I & II with veneration, albeit not in the Indian style of building temples. We can see how Princess Diana was murdered in a cold-blooded manner because some doubts arose about her relationship with an alien.
The degree of veneration extended in different monarchist countries to kings and Queens, though not as God/Goddesses, itself seems to be larger-than-life-size.
Kings of yore appointed court-poets and court-singers to sing the panegyrics and paeans of them + their ancestors. vAlmi, apparently was a court-poet of Shri Rama. He seems to have lived in forests near to ayOdhya. He seems to have shifted his residences from bIhar-vAlmikinagar-SItAmarhi, to mIrzApur-Allahabad area, to stay nearer to ayOdhya.
Though vAlmIki rAmAyaNa does not specifically mention it, vAlmikinagar's proximity to SItAmarhi-darbhAnga-janakpuri-nEpal suggests that vAlmiki might have been a poet gifted by janaka to Shri RAma. vAlmiki's terms of reference, might have included looking after SItA's welfare, by staying as near as possible, to ayOdhya. Thus, vAlmiki seems to have developed a fatherly affinity to Sita, which might have made him to shelter pregnant Sita in uttara rAmAyaNa. Princes kuSa and lava grew up in his hermitage. It will, therefore, be natural for him to write eulogically about Shri Rama calling him "purusha vyAghram" (tiger among men). Shri Rama might have engaged vAlmiki, to write rAma's and Sita's biographical work, which he would have gladly accepted. lava and kuSa might have engaged him to spread its message, by sending balladeers all over their kingdoms.
If 20th and 21st Century rulers of India ask journalists to write their hagiographic biographies, offering them money, padma awards, foreign trips, etc etc., won't they write? Are they not writing? If I am offered some padmaShri or padma bhUshaN, won't I be tempted to write? Depending on who was patronising, journalists wrote about Javaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, rAjIv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, A.B. vAjpayee, et al. Some journalists will write about Mr. Rahul Gandhi, tomorrow. But, if biographies and panegyrics, have to survive centuries, some miracles and superhuman elements must be added. We can see how a miracle of lighting lamps with with water when merchants refused to continue providing free oil, was added to the biography of Shirdi Sai Baba.
Question: Did rAma or rAvaNa save women from being raped?
Answer: Where is the proof? When we come to rAma and lakshmaNa, Verses 3-17-7 to 8 describe rAma as an extremely handsome person.
diiptAsyam ca mahaabaahum padma patraayata iikShaNam
gaja vikraa.nta gamanam jaTaa maNdala dhaariNam
sukumaaram mahaa sattvam paarthiva vya.njana anvitam
raamam indiivara shyaamam kandarpa sadR^isha prabham
babhuuva indropamam dR^iShTvaa raakShasii kaama mohitaa
3-17-9 to 11
sumukham durmukhii raamam vritta madhyam mahodarii
vishaalaakSham viruupaakShii sukesham taamra muurdhajaa
priyaruupam viruupaa saa susvaram bhairava svanaa taruNam daaruNaa vriddhaa dakShiNam vAma bhaaShiNii nyaaya vrittam sudurvrittaa priyam apriya darSanaa shariiraja samaaviShTaa raakShasii raamam abraviit |
vAlmiki described SUrpa-nakha as a combination of both beautiful + ugly features. She is also shown as a cannibal. She asked rAma "Shall I eat SIta" ?
imaam viruupaam asatiim karaalaam nirNata udariim
anena saha te bhraatraa bhakShayiShyaami maanuShiim
As is the nature of the world, handful persons do not bother about ugly persons or persons with mixed features.
Rama did not face a situation of being astonished by a really beautiful woman. He apparently never underwent a test of overcoming temptation on seeing truly beautiful women, except SItA.
Compare this to arjuna the hero of mahAbhArata. He refused to accept the invitation of celestial woman UrvaSi and incurred a curse for rejecting her. Same self-controlled arjuna surrendered before uluci and pramIla (maNipUr Princess.
Though rAvaNa abducted SIta with an evil intent, his waiting for nearly one year without molesting her, is shown as an indication of his self-control. Some say that it was due to a curse. Anyway, this forbearance whether under curse or some other reason, is not sufficient to prove that he was a savior of women against rapists.
rAvaNa quoted the ethics of demons. According to him, it was righteous for him as a demon to take away or abdicate women belonging to others.
svadharmo rakshasaaM bhiiru sarvathaiva na samSayah
gamanaM vaa parastriiNaam haraNam sampramathya vaa.
If abducting is a righteous deed as per the ethics of demons, we can draw an obvious inference that raping was also righteous as per demonic ethics.
na hi gandhamupaaghraaya raamalakSmaNayostvayaa
shakyaM samdarshane sthaatuM shunaa shaarduulayoriva.
Sita called rAvaNa a dog.
5.22.9. Now, rAvaNa spoke like a cannibal and threatened to get Sita killed and served as breakfast.
UrdhvaM dvaabhyaaM tu maasaabhyaaM bhartaaram maamanichchatiim
mama tvaaM praatara ashaartham aalabhante mahaanase.
Now, rAvaNa spoke like a cannibal and threatened to get Sita killed and served as breakfast.
I am unable to trace anything where he threatened to rape her. May be under fear of some previous curse of vEdavati.
Anyway this set of conversation clearly shows that rAvaNa is NOT a paragon of virtue, saving women from rapes.
One pertinent question which arises is: How far the panegyrics of vAlmiki and his successors can be taken as 100% certain. Here, faith enters into picture.
Simultaneously, we do not get adequate evidence to worship rAma.
Question: Give an analogy to distinguish between rAma and rAvaNa?
Answer: We can compare rAma to pink color, which appears rosy and sweet, to look at. But its inner-core is red only, though it is softened by addition of some white. We can compare rAvaNa to blood-red. Because of its darker hue, and association with something frightful when blood flows out of injuries, it is hated. The same is the case with kings. A pink king may appear beautiful when compared to a blood-red king, if we believe that beauty is an external manifestation.
Was rAvaNa alone a cannibal as shown in 5.22.9 or could rAma also be a cannibal?
Answer: There is nothing in vAlmiki rAmAyana which shows that Shri rAma was a cannibal. But both rAma and rAvaNa performed 'yagnas (sacrifices)'.
Ancestors of rAma, ikshvAku kings performed sacrifices. One king ambarIsha performed a sacrifice in which the sacrificial animal disappeared. Leader of the presiding priests advised the king to fetch a human sacrificial animal. The great intelligent king (mahA buddhi) tried to get a human sacrificial animal paying a price of a thousand cows.
1.61.8 and 1.61.9.
praayaH cittam mahat hi etat
naram vaa puruSarSabha
aanayasva pashum shiighram
yaavat karma pravartatE
upaadhyaaya vacaH shrutvaa
sa raajaa puruSarSabha
pashum gobhiH sahasrashaH.
Now the Great ambarIsha went to one Sage called ricika, who had three sons and requested him to sell his son.
gavaam shata sahasreNa
vikriiNiiSe sutam yadi
pashoH arthe mahaabhaaga
krita-krityo asmi bhaargava
This story of ricika and his wife falling in the trap of king ambarIsha, owing to their poverty or greed is worth noting, of the times of trEtA yuga of great 3/4 righteousness, or the sacrificial culture during Gupta dynasty rule, when most of Indian scriptures got consolidated in Sanskrit. King ambarIsha gave ten million gold pieces to ricika, in addition to 1000 cows and took away his middle son SUnaShEpa. Fortunately, Sage viSvAmitra by his intelligent suggestion saved SUnaShEpa from being sacrificed. Sacrifices of yore involved smelling fumes of fat arising from the sacrificial fire. It is believed that fire God carries the offerings dropped in the fire to Supreme God VishNu (God Siva fought for a share in the offerings. Indra, varuNa et al get shares). Burnt meat is shared among the participants as sacred gift by God (nivEdana or prasAda).
This type of offerings of humans/or animals in lieu of humans, can be seen in all the major religions of the world including Christianity and Islam. Over the centuries, Humanity has gradually evolved itself to better, by discontinuing some barbaric practices. Some barbaric practices continue in the name of covenants with God.
Hence, there is nothing divine or special in worshipping an imaginary concept/entity, naming it X God or Y God.
We need not worship anybody.