Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Ramayana’

This is about the sage Viswamitra (V) requesting King Dasharatha (D) for his young son’s (aged 12 years or less), help to conduct a sacrifice successfully – he expects two demons to disrupt the ritual with their usual fiendish antics. The sage gives the reason for his request: on the eve of performing the sacrifice, he does not want to lose control of his mind and curse the demons all the way to their hell (through such outbursts, sages often lose their power gained after enduring practice of austere tapas).

It is described essentially in Sarga 19 of Bala Kanda in Valmiki’s Ramayana.

The source used for this analysis is here.

In the 21 verses contained in this Sarga, the sage makes 13 statements (five of them are compound with two parts) as under exactly in the same sequence, reproduced verbatim from the source:

  1. Born in an illustrious lineage and initiated by sage Vasishta, this way (of speaking) befits you.
  2. Take a decision and be truthful to your promise.
  3. Rama is valiant, young and true to his prowess.
  4. (a) Protected by me and (b) by his own divine power, Rama is capable of destroying even those demons causing impediments to the sacrifice.
  5. (a) I will confer upon him, without doubt, a lot of blessings for his well-being (b) by which he will attain fame in all the three worlds.
  6. Both of them (Maricha and Subahu) will not be able to withstand Rama in any way. Rama, and Rama alone, is capable of destroying them.
  7. Proud of their strength, the two wicked demons have been noosed by Yama, the god of death. O tiger among kings they are no match for the mahathmana Rama.
  8. (a) O king, it is not proper for you to hesitate because of your paternal affection. (b) You need to know that both the rakshasas will perish. This, I assure you.
  9. (a) I know Rama who is a great soul, true to his prowess and (b) also Vasishta of great luster and these other sages who have been steadfast in asceticism also know.
  10. O king of kings, if you are seeking the benefits of righteousness, great everlasting fame in this world, it is fit and proper to give Rama to me.
  11. Kakustha, if your counselors and all other sages headed by Vasishta give their consent, then only you may relieve Rama.
  12. (a) You should spare your dear son, the lotus-eyed Rama, (b) impartial and detached, (a) for ten nights.
  13. Dasharatha, descendant of Raghu, act in such a manner that the time for my sacrifice is not delayed. Do not indulge in grief. Prosperity to you”

After speaking these words charged with dharma and artha the great sage resplendent Viswamitra fell silent. 

It’s easy to see these 13 statements fitting into a well-structured script planned by the sage V as under, set roughly in the same sequence:

  • Starts with two praises of D, (1 and 2) for him to live up?
  • Next, first mention (3) is made, rather simply, of Rama’s prowess and, not so startlingly in passing, about his divine power in 4(b) (also the word ‘mahathmana’ in 7?).
  • Follows up talking about his personal support to stand by Rama in 4(a) and 5(a).
  • Names and belittles the enemies for reassurance vis-a-vis Rama’s ability in 6, 7, 8(b) and 9(a).
  • Time to bring more pressure and ‘carrots’ for D to oblige in 5(b), 8(a), 10, 12(b) and 13.
  • Rounds up defining the duration of his demand for Rama’s assistance in 12(a) and also
  • Drawing support from other unassailable sources including his ‘arch rival’ sage Vasishta to buttress his assessment of Rama in 9(b) and 11.

Could it be better, you think?

Now for another interesting perspective: Going by the count (not by relative strengths) of the statements, it adds up to (each statement in full counts for one and part of a compound statement, half):  

  • So for D to be persuaded, there are 2 praises and 3.5 of pressures and
    ‘carrots’ for a total of 5.5 out of 13.
  • V’s personal support (‘his skin in the game’) assured for Rama makes up for 1 out of 13.
  • On Rama’s prowess, said matter-of-factly, it is 4.5 directly coming from him and another 1.5 of vouchsafing support from others for a total of 6 out of 13 on assessment of Rama’s abilities to meet the challenge.
  • Specifying duration of V’s demand is 0.5 out of 13.

Is that a good balance?

Some observations:

The sage’s assessment of Rama’s prowess is based more on his
insight than any precedent display. Nothing is said by the sage about Rama’s
equipment, no mention is made of specific astra-shastra’s
(weapons w/wo mantra’s) in Rama’s quiver – perhaps unnecessary, premature or
even inappropriate?

Rising above the family-pulls, Valmiki ends the Sarga with

‘Having listened to those auspicious words of Viswamitra, the king among kings, (Dasaratha) experienced intense grief out of fear. He became despondent.’

How could the words inducing fear and despondency in the virtuous other be considered as auspicious? Simply because the killing of those two demons – the sage had enough insight Rama would accomplish it despite being too young – was necessary (directly or otherwise) for the good of the kingdom at large, besides V himself gaining from it. Here’s a cardinal principle of well-being of a society, said not in so many words: the call of dharma is more powerful and must be heeded to than the tug of one’s heart-strings should there ever be a conflict. The same is asserted without ambiguity in different ways in statements: 8(a), 10, 12(b) and 13. This comes to us in age when the principle is made to stand on its head, when parents amass wealth brazenly thru misdeeds for themselves and, more so, their children. Or, clouded by affection, they’re guilty failing to check adharmic acts of omission and commission of their near and dear.

Interestingly the phrase ‘lotus-eyed Rama’ in statement 12(a) is unimaginably double-edged!! How? The ready explanation is: Poets often compare beautiful eyes like those of Rama to lotus flowers in bloom. No surprises there. Now to the not-so-ready: Just as a lotus folds itself up in the night and come night, the young Rama goes off to sleep peacefully. And that is exactly when the demons become hyperactive. Is it fair to the sleepy young boy to be thrown against demons when they are in their elements?

End

PS: The source is responsible for the translation of the
original verses, included here verbatim and not for the rest of the content in
the post. The interpretation of ‘lotus-eyed Rama’ comes from here.
Image from flipkart.

So you know to hurl the brickbats at whom:-}  

Read Full Post »

How was a king, preoccupied with affairs of the state, reluctantly giving time for listening into just one slokha (verse) ended up ‘buying’ a hundred thousand of them and more?

Read on to find more about this unparalleled feat of communication skills and story-telling!

Sage Vaisampayana came to Raja Janamejaya to teach him Dharma through Mahabharata (the epic) as written by sage Veda Vyasa.

The occasion:

Sarpa Satra

The Raja, a descendent of the Pandava’s, was performing Sarpa Satra, a sacrificial ritual designed to exterminate all living naga’s (serpents), to avenge the death of his father King Parikshit at the hands of Takshaka, the naga (serpent) chief.

While the sage was quite intent on narrating the story, the Raja rejected his proposal outright saying he was too busy for such stuff.

This did not dampen the enthusiasm of Vaisampayana. ‘No problem. There are 18 Parva’s (sections). I will just narrate to you only one Parva’.

Janamejya pushed him back: ‘Sorry, Sir, I have no time. I am very busy as you can see’.

The sage did not give up, ‘One chapter?’.

The Raja was curt now, ‘I repeat myself, I’m quite occupied now.’

The sage was the embodiment of patience. He insisted, ‘Won’t you permit me to tell you just one slokha from the one hundred thousand couplets?’.

“OK, Ok. That is fine, just one slokha, Sir. Hope that would not take too long. Please go ahead”, said the Raja.

Vaisampayana did not miss the opportunity. He began:

Dvaavimau purushau moodhau duryodhana­ dasaananau
Gograaham vanabhangam cha dhrishtvaa yuddham punah punah

Meaning: Here are these two fools, Duryodhana and Dashanana (Ravana, the 10-headed). Even after witnessing Gograhana and Vanabhangam, they went to war again and again (and finally to their demise).

Now this piqued the interest of the Raja: ‘I don’t understand head or tail of what you’re saying, Sir.’

He wanted to know why Duryodhana and Ravana were fools…what was the story behind Gograhana and Vanabhanga, why was the fight over mere cows (this didn’t seem right), etc. etc.

A bit of explanation is in order here:

Gograhana (seizing of cows) refers to the episode told in Virata Parva (fifth Parva of Mahabharatha) wherein Arjuna successfully retrieves all the stolen cows after defeating Kuru army, at the end of their period of exile. Vanabhangam in Ramayana refers to the destruction of forest Ashoka Vana and the great arson of the impregnable Lankapuri by Hanuman after his tail was set on fire in Ravana’s court.

The sage responded to the Raja’s mounting curiosity reciting slokha by slokha, all the time drawing the once-reluctant Raja deeper into the epic.

When the sage was finally done with his captivating narration, the Raja had listened to all of 125,000 slokha’s of Mahabharatha and 24,000 of Ramayana as well!!

Let’s pause here and go back to the innocuous slokha to see what it packed to hook the Raja so inexorably despite himself.

And herein are also the lessons for today’s honchos in corporates, teachers in pedagogy, leaders in politics and preachers in religion, all fighting for their audience’s ears.

Well, looking at the slokha,

  • It is very short and crisp – a mere two lines with 10+ words.
  • Does not make general statements like ‘Dharma always wins…’
  • It refers to some significant and very specific events and their protagonists that cannot be dismissed as a trifle.
  • The incidents are drawn from two different epics to show wider applicability of the points being made.
  • The protagonists are renowned kings like the Raja himself, immediately establishing a parallel and relevance. And one of them was an ancestor from his own family tree.
  • The events are ones where exemplary courage was displayed under difficult conditions, attributes that readily appeal to the warrior Raja.
  • The slokha is poised so tantalizingly at a point in narration, one had to find out what happened after and before.
  • What and why things go wrong always hold more interest than when things go right.

So, folks, that’s it. You may now want to revisit your elevator-pitches and stories.

As I’m signing off, I know I’m leaving a few ends loose here yet like…you’re curiouser about whatever happened to Janamejaya’s Sarpa Satra finally, did all the serpents perish in the sacrificial fire, why did Takshaka kill Parikshit, etc. etc. Regretfully I must leave you to your devices to find out (and you now how).  I’m no Vaisampayana!

Ha, Ha, in for a penny, in for a pound!

End

 

 

 

 

Sources: With many thanks, extracted and enhanced from quora.com/profile/Krishna-Koundinya-2, tamilandvedas.com, Wiki and Velukkudi Swamigal’s upanyasam on Vidhura Needhi

Read Full Post »