03 March, 2021

Ramayanam As Tragedy

Until the Left and the Centre revisit Gandhi’s Rama, the Right will continue to monopolise the religious idiom of the masses.

Ramayanam As Tragedy

Rama’s story or Sriramodantam was something that I heard first thing in the morning, every day, for many years. No, I wasn’t a child-monk or even rem­otely religious in that sense. It was a mere accident of birth. My mother happened to be a Samskritam teacher and Sriramodantam, an abridged version of Ramayanam, was a basic Samskritam text, in fact, the first one taught soon after the alphabet. And even the initial grammar lessons of Siddharoopam would begin with raamah, raamau, raamaah. So, there was Rama all around, as the Prince of Ayodhya and as an everyman who denotes gender, tense and number in grammar lessons. Yet, there was no Rama in the puja room. Probably because my mother loved Rama more as Valmiki’s brilliant character, very human and very much flawed. Sure, Rama was a great son, probably a good ruler too, but was he a caring brother, a secure partner or a responsible father? And it is in drawing Rama in such bold brush strokes that Valmiki becomes an immortal poet.

It is astonishing to see how audaciously simple the Hindutva project was...

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