Monday, April 04, 2016

Siya ke Ram: Why one shouldn’t watch it ?

Among the many things the Western world does to civilize us heathens is their effort to tamper with our Sanskriti. One of the important parts of our Sanskriti are the Puranas. As the name would suggest, Purana means something that happened at an earlier time.

That clearly means that it isn’t a work of fiction or imagination. While I wouldn’t get much into why and how here. There are many resources available on net about dating Ramayana that debunk the lies put out by Max Muller and co[1].

These thinkers consider Ramayana as a story written not by one (person) Valmiki but many, many people over a period of very many years.  They say Ramayana originated as the story of a King called Ram in the Jataka Tales of the Buddhists. The Brahmins then copied it from them and started using Ramayana as a tool for social oppression with the blessings of the Kings[2].  

The characters in Ramayana don’t have the power to think on their own, they are controlled and manipulated by powerful characters. For example, Rama is asked to go to the forest by Dasharata and without batting an eyelid he goes. He doesn’t reason it out with Dasharata which means that Rama is controlled by him and Rama can’t think on his own[3].

The other important thing they put forward is that Ramayana is the story about suppressing the “other”. The “Good” Rama kills the “Demonic”, “Other” Ravana. This is based on a Western thought called “othering” where you demonize the other person whom you don't like or want to fight against. According to these scholars, Ramayana and the cult of Rama didn’t exist in India (like today) before the Islamic invasion happened. So worshiping and celebrating Rama started only after the Islamic invasion as a tool to fan hatred against the “other” invader and encourage people to fight them the same way Rama fought Ravana. They project this theory on to the Rama Janmabhoomi dispute to show how the Hindu fundamentalists “other” the minorities[4].

There are other issues in Ramayana according to them, like oppression of the backward classes, women etc. Encouraging the fact that the ruler is god, he should be worshiped and he shouldn’t be questioned[5].

This sort of distortion of truth to infuse our literature with Western concepts and rewrite them in a "secular" or "sanitized" way is not just limited to Ramayana. This is done on all works Indian and all things Sanatana Dharma. The Western scholars call this secularizing Indian literature.

They want to remove all the oppressive elements from our literature, clean it and then give us back a sanitized, secular version for public consumption. So, Siya Ke Ram is one of the secularized versions of Ramayana which is being fed to us.

If you notice, there is a subtle women’s right, tribal oppression, regressive rituals, diabolic thinking of ancient Indians that is highlighted in the serial.

For example, to show Sita as the champion example of a free thinking, independent woman there is this promo I saw recently which shows her capturing a Asvamedha horse from Ayodhya and being shown as THE example of a progressive woman, a rebel.

If you know even a bit of Valmiki Ramayana, you will know that Dasharata performed ONE Asvamedha before Rama was born, Sita wasn’t born before Rama. And therefore Sita couldn’t have captured the Asva (horse) from that Yajna ? Logic, right ? The story has been distorted to show Sita as a rebel and an independent woman.

The next one is about the story of Shanta (Dasharata & Kaushalya’s eldest daughter who was adopted by the King of Anga, Dasharata's very close friend and his wife, Kaushalya's elder sister). Siya Ke Ram shows that Dasharata abandons his daughter in quest for a “Male” child.  And he makes Shanta sacrifice her youth and beauty (I have put it very mildly here. I’m sure those who watched the serial know how they show it) to go to the forest with Rishyasringa. All this in exchange for getting Rishyasringa to do a Puthrakameshti Yajya to beget a “Male” child. So you give away a "Female" child and pray for a "Male" child, a prime example for gender bias and oppression of women.

There are other things highlighted by many like showing the demon “Other” as a tribal. This is to create tensions among the people of India to get brother hate brother[6].

In essence Siya Ke Ram is nothing but an attempt by the Hinduphobic to discredit our Sanskriti. So that our kids (and even us) who watch this serial think that our Puranas are nothing but oppressive stories and start hating our own past and move to the more secular options that the Western world will provide.   

That is the reason why I say, Siya Ke Ram is pure poison that is best avoided. If you really want to know more about Ramayana, indulge in the Ramanand Sagar version that we saw as kids when we were growing up. That is a far superior version that doesn’t contain the many distortions that the current version has.

[2] Read The Battle for Sanskrit (2016, Harper Collins India) by Sri Rajiv Malhotra to know much more
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid
[5] Ibid

Explaining Seethaiyin Raman to a 6 year old

Saw a message from my cousin that his 6 year old daughter is confused between the Ramayana she was told by elders at home and what she watched on TV as Seethaiyin Raman (Siya Ke Ram in Hindi). My little niece wanted to understand the difference and also the reason behind it. The parent, my cousin wasn't very clear as to how he should explain the difference and he wasn't sure why there were differences in the first place.

So I embarked on a two step journey

  1. To explain the differences to my little niece the way she would understand. Something that would (close to) convince her young inquisitive mind and also be truthful. I also didn't want to go the US & THEM route that the usual Western interpretation of Indian history goes on as, so I wanted to very subtly highlight the difference and then let the kid take a call
  2. To explain why Seethaiyin Raman (Siya Ke Ram) is poisonous for anyone in the long run
In this post we will look at the first part where I explain Seethaiyin Raman to my 6 year old niece. The idea here is to get the parents, my cousin or his wife read this out for my niece so that she understands things better (so that the parents explain the difficult words for a 6 year old) like "Ancestors" etc..

BTW, you will come across two characters (which you might not be aware of... I mean, non Ramayana characters), they are 
  1. Karthik: My cousin who lives in Canada
  2. Amrita: My little niece, Karthik's 6 year old daughter
----The post for Amrita----

Ramayana is a Purana (Puranam in Tamil).

Puranam means old, a Purana means something that describes what happened in olden days, long long ago in a form you will understand, said like a story that even a little girl like you will love and understand.

How will you understand it better ?

If I write 200 pages and give it to you asking you to read it OR if it is told like a nice story ? Like a Hare & a Tortoise !!

Now, if something has happened long ago, like Ramayana how would you want to tell the story ?

Would you want to tell it as it was told by our ancestors (grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather and so on…)


Would you add your own story and tell it ?

For example, would it be good if you say…

Rama & Sita were getting ready to leave, to go to the forest. The whole of Ayodhya was sad, they were crying because their beloved Rama & Sita were going to go to the forest. Appa was watching Cricket on TV when Rama & Sita said goodbye and I was playing with my whiteboard, drawing pictures. And Rama & Sita were gone.

If I tell you that this is the correct Ramayana and put it on TV.

Would you believe it ?

Would it be nice to see a Ramayana with Karthik & Amrita as two characters there ?

So, you need to ask yourself a question.

Is Ramayana a story ?

If you ask me, I will tell you it is NOT.

It is something that happened long long ago.

In an age called Treta Yuga.

Heard about Ice Age (nice movie, right ?).

Like the Ice age they show in the movie, the age of the earth can be divided into 4 Yugas (this is for real !!). By the way, we live in the 4th part. This is called Kali Yuga.

The second part of the age of earth was Treta Yuga and that is when Rama lived.

Did you know ? The Treta Yuga part was more than a million years !!

Ramayana tells you what happened to Rama, how he lived and all that.

So Ramayana is actually like me reading a scrapbook you made during your summer vacation to understand how you enjoyed your vacation.  Cool, right ?

Now that you understand a bit of what Ramayana is. Let us see what Seethaiyin Raman is…

Seethaiyin Raman is like putting Appa, Amma, Amrita & everyone in Ramayana and making it a nice story that everyone would watch on TV.

You do many changes to the original Ramayana and make it a STORY, like the Hare & a Tortoise.
Not good, right ?

Ask Appa to show you the Ramayana they did in Hindi & showed in a TV channel called Doordarshan in India. This was shown when Appa was a small kid like you, may be smaller than you !!

That, Amrita will get you understand Ramayana a little better. And yes, it shows Ramayana without adding any extra stories.

God Bless !!