2-109-33 and 34
BOOK 2 (RAMA IN FORESTS)
VERSES 33 AND 34
Nindaamyaham karma pituh kritam ta
dyastvaam agrihn`aad vishamastha buddhim
buddhyaanayaivam vidhayaa charantam
sunaastikam dharmapaathaad apeetam
yathaa hi choraha sa tathaa hi buddha
stathaagatam naastikamatra vidhhi
tasmaaddhi yah shan`kyatamaha prajaanaam
na naasti kena abhimukho budhaha syaat.
Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were in the forests. Bharata, with the ministers, people, queens, and some sages visited Rama to persuade him to return to Ayodhya.
Bharata tried to convince Rama, but could not succeed. A sage, by name Jabali, tries his hand, using a path different from customary way of conversations of handling tradition.
Rama's reply is apart from other things, directed against atheists.
I shall blame my father (Dasaratha) who had taken a staunch atheist like you into his service. You have a perverted intellect. You have fallen from the path of duty and truth (dharma).
An atheist is a mere intellectual. He is to be punished on par with thieves, in public interest. Wise intellectuals should not befriend atheists.
*Jabali used ordinary logic in his eagerness to convince Rama to return to Ayodhya. He corrected himself later 2-109-39 (yathaa mayaa naastika vaag udiiritaa nivartana artham tava raama kaaran`aat -- These atheists' words have come from my mouth to get back Rama from the forests).
*As a blogger, I shall not say that Jabali was an opportunistic courtier. The dividing line between an opportunistic courtier and a practical courtier is very thin. Had Jabali persisted in his arguments, would Bharata have removed him from the service? Courtiers of yore both in England and India, and probably throughout the world, had to adopt a conciliatory path to save their heads. "Saving one's own head should be the first priority".
*The days of Ramayana (if it were history) had an abhorrence for the atheists.
*The days of Gupta dynastic rule, during which Ramayana seems to have taken some tangible shape, seems to have an abhorrence for the atheists and the Buddhists. Buddhists were also branded as atheists, apart from full-pledged atheists. Hinduism faced a challenge from Buddhism. Authors, kings and priests seem to have used every opportunity in scriptures to denounce atheism and Buddhism.
*Jabali's advice and withdrawal are courtier-like. I do not want to go into their merits.
*Shri Rama was definitely great in some respects. His steadfastness, in refusing to disobey his father, in spite of Dasaratha's unjust instructions, was noteworthy. Probably, this steadfastness might have made him worshipworthy. Here arises an unsolvable question: Whether this steadfastness was voluntary or a result of compelling circumstances? I personally feel (only a belief) that Rama's exile to forest was not voluntary. He left Ayodhya, because his life was under threat. There was a cold war between the two queens Kausalya and Kaikeeyi for succession to the throne. Rama might have been under a strong apprehension that Kaikeeyi and Yudhajit (maternal uncle of Bharata) would kill him if he stayed in Ayodhya. Kaikeeyi's father and brother were promised by Dasaratha at the time of Kaikeeyi's marriage that her son would be made the king. Kausalya as the mother of the primogeniter, and as the first queen, had expectations that Rama should succeed.
*This 'threat to life syndrome', we can probably find in Ms. Sonia Gandhi's reluctance to her/or her son Rahul Gandhi becoming the Prime Minister of India.
*Atheism is a rebel theory based on logic and reason. It rebelled against kings, priests and the religion.
*Atheists need not be UNETHICAL. Atheists can also be MORALLY UPRIGHT.. Morality need not be the exclusive preserve of priests and princes.
*Priests of the Gupta period apparently have, through interpolations in Ramayana, used the occasion to beat the atheists, using Rama as a stick.
*I wish to correct this post further after discussions with the readers.