Sunday, May 15, 2011

#108 Why Mahabhagavata Canto 9 Chapter 10 (narrating Ramayana in Bhagavatam) is silent about Sita's fire-test?

Canto 9 - Chapter 10 - Vyasa's Sanskrit Srimadbhagavatam, contains a narration of the story of Ramayana.
It has 55 verses.
Sage Suka the narrator wanted to delineate the theme of Ramayana only briefly.
Okay, we shall appreciate his prerogative.

Verse 9.10.23 describes Rama slaining Ravana.

Verse 9.10.24 describes the wailing of ManDOdari, Ravana's wife.

Verses 25-26-27-28 -four verses describe Ravana's wives eulogising Rama and cursing Ravana.

28 Ravana's wives cursing him that he made their bodies fit to be eaten by vultures and souls to go to hell. [The previous day he was their nAtha (protector)!] Rama has become the protector today.

29 Vibhishina performs funeral ceremonies for his family members to prevent them from going to hell.

30 Rama found Sita in a cottage under a simsupA tree in asOka vanA.
31 Both Sita and Rama were happy to see one another.

32 Rama coronates Vibhishana to Lanka and asks him to rule for a period of kalpa (Creator Brahma's end--some millions of years).

ArOpyAruruhe yAnaM
bhrAtrubhyAm hanumad-yutaḥ
vibhIṣhaNAya bhagavAn
dattvA rakṣo-gaṇeSatAm
lankAm AyuS ca kalpAntaM
yayau cIrṇa-vrataḥ purīm.

33 to 55 deal with coronation of Rama and his rule.



Vyasa or Sage Suka for the reasons their own skipped the fire-test of Sita (Sita agni-pravesa).


Lack of space or time cannot be the reason. Ravana's wives after all spent 4 verses to praise Rama and denounce Ravana.

Verse 32 speaks of Bharata eating barley cooked in cow's urine. Speaks of his wearing tree barks.

35-38 describe celebrations in Ayodhya including betel nuts, chariots, flags, golden ropes, horses, jewels, prostitutes, umbrellas etc.

41 describes citizens dancing.

44 describes Rama appearing like moon among stars.

48 describes family priest getting Rama's head tonsured.

50 has two special features: 1) Highlights that citizens of Ayodhya were engaged in adherence of four caste system. 2) agrahId Asanam bhrAtrA praṇipatya prasAditaḥ -- "Having been happy with Bharata's falling down at his feet and surrendering to him and having accepted the throne..."

Why so much happiness for the supreme God, when a brother falls down at his feet? Rama was not Sathya Sai Baba or Ramdev Baba or Kalki Bhagavan to bestow 'paada namaskaaram'!

Was Bharata not his equal? Did Rama expect and suspect that Bharata would revolt and refuse to allow his accession to the throne?

It is true that happiness is not measurable. (Remember the Utility Analysis of Marshall in Economics and the criticism against his theory of diminishing marginal utility). Yet, probably , happiness may be gradable if not quantifiable in mathematical numbers.

Example : A person already has two children. He gets a third child. He may get nomral happiness.

A person has no children at an age of 45. He gets twins. He gets extra-normal happiness.

A person may get "normal happiness" when things turn out "normally as per expectations". A person gets "extra-ordinary happiness" when something "extra-ordinarily favourable" happens. What we can probably deduce here is: Rama expected Bharata to revolt. But Bharata surrendered instead of revolting. This resulted in extra-ordinary happening and extra-ordinary happiness of Rama. "Pranipatya prasaditah" gives us this perspective, though the deduction looks somewhat far-fetched and periphrastic.

52 - Hills, islands, mountains, rivers, seas everything favoured Rama's rule. 21st Century Japan should have Rama's rule.

53. Completely no bereavements, body sufferings, disease, distress, fear , fatigue, lamentation, mental sufferings, old age. 21st Century India should have Rama'rule.

Why should there be prostitutes (see 38 above) if there was no distress? Were the prostitutes delightful to sell their bodies?

55 highlights that Rama took only one wife. Exemplied citizens by his caste duties.

56 describes Sita's homely qualities: premṇānuvṛttyA (loving), sIlLEna prasrayAvanatA (submissive), bhiyA (afraid or docile), hriyA (shy) , bhAvagjna (understanding husband's ideas).

Rama's rule was so good!
But why there were prositutes in that great administration?
Why did Vyasa and Suka skip the Sita's fire-test?
Why couldn't Vyasa find space in verse 50 to say that Sita too boarded the aircraft?
There may be, sometimes, some problems with poetic meters, rhyme and rhythm. Would it not then have then been more apt, to employ prose intermittently so that essentials are not lost. I am, notwithstanding these metric and rhythmic constraints, tempted to guess that the poet VyAsa , his successors, balladeers, temple preachers and schools were under a compulsion to praise the ancestors of the contemporary rulers.

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