Hai Rama yeh Kya hua…

Posted by suchitra Category: My Thoughts

My religion gives me the right to question. .. so does my gender. The position of women in our country has been a burning concern

A few years ago, at the time of release of my first book The Summer of Cool- I was asked by a film maker to collaborate with a team of writers for a cinematic interpretation of the Ramayana. They had two male writers on the team already and were looking for a feminine perspective of the epic. Lord rama. The Ideal Indian Man. I refused. The film maker asked why. I told him not only do I know nothing of screen writing, I also do not accept Ram as the ideal man. Moreover the character of Sita that has subconsciously infiltrated our collective psyches & subliminally forced the Indian women’s servitude over the centuries is not someone I agree with either and so unwilling to eulogize.

I remember his eyes widening in shock & the vigorous clearing of his throat as he gruffly told me that in that case I am obviously not the right person for this story.

“Then why did you say you want a feminine perspective? A different interpretation?” I asked. Many women I know feel similarly. Why ask us if you don’t want to hear how we think?

“Yes yes, but I was not expecting something like this. After all Ram is a God. Don’t say what you just told me publically please” he smiled after he had got over his initial shock- “You’ll get beaten up” We laughed and parted with a namaste . I never thought of this again.

Till a few days ago when the same subject came up in a discussion on mythology and the humanization of Gods.  It was a room full of people.  A writer friend and a celebrated expert on the subject too, extolled the virtues of Ram as an ideal man. Sita the epitome of feminine virtue. Ravan is a fascinating character too.

“Ramayana is not just a religious text. Its one of the greatest love stories. After all Ram loved Sita so much he chanted his wife’s name as he committed Jal Samadhi, surrendering his life while drowning”  The writer friend rapturised. For conditions of anonymity let’s call him Mr X

“If he loved his wife so much why did he not treat her better while she was alive? A lady in the room asked. For the same conditions of anonymity let’s call her Ms Y “Was Sita ever happy in this love story? Ram had the glory of a King, what did she have except suffering? Why didnt she protest?”

Mr X looked uncomfortable and adjusted his specs “Ram was a noble king. His first duty was towards his people. Sita understood that. She was an obedient wife and sacrificing mother, the ideal woman too- Celebrated for her compliance. She trusted her husband- There was no need to question him”

“But what about Sita’s feelings?  Surely you can be a king and still not have to banish your wife to exile on the suspicion of a dhobi? Sita trusted Ram blindly but he betrayed her trust. Is that love?

Mr X looked impatient  “What do you mean “What about Sita’s feelings & why didn’t she protest?  Ram was a king for God’s sake. An ideal man.  Maryada Purshottam -The ideal follower of rules”

“Whose ideals? Whose rules? Were those rules fair? ” This time the question was mine

“Ramayan is about Ram. Not Sita. That’s the problem with you aggressive feminists Suchitra. Can’t you just keep quiet and not make trouble? ”

Huh? Aggressive feminist? Keep quiet and not make trouble? & No this celebrated writer didn’t see any misogyny in what he had just said.

Images of Indian hero’s dragging his heroine by the hair, the Nirbhaya rapist saying the victim would have been spared her life had she not protested so much,  etc etc flooded into my head. I started to feel dizzy. Drama Queen dizzy

& so I along with Ms Y and some other women quickly banished ourselves from the room . Before we started to be told things like we can’t sit there in jeans and can’t possess mobile phones etc. I mean those things were not in the Ramayana either so…

Delighted with our exit, the celebrated writer Mr X continued to regale the others in the room with the glory of the story. His version was unquestionably intact. No need for any other interpretion thank you very much.  I could see that that some of the men in the room were turning misty eyed.  Jai Shri Ram they chanted a few times

Phew… I suddenly badly needed a cigarette. Felt the insane urge to blow smoke into Mr X’s face.

But then I remembered. Hey I don’t smoke. Out of choice. Bad for health you know. Nothing to do with anybody’s notions of the ideal Indian woman.

 

 

One thought on “Hai Rama yeh Kya hua…

  1. Ms Suchitra Krishnamurti,

    I knew you would block me on twitter, as I am very much aware of that typical pschology which humans like you have, the kind which is ready to criticize and comment on anybody but cannot tolerate any inferior remark about themselves, though its true.

    When I saw you the other day on TIMES NOW, I had a very elite opinion about you till then. Since I saw you after two decades I thought, ” Ahh, here is our beloved Anna, wow she looks almost similar no change yaar after so many years !!! ” I started tweeting to you with very little number of responses from you which was obvious as you have that ” celebrity bhoot ” in your mind like so many have. I thought that by regularly tweeting to you, one day we can be good online friends, who can trust each other immensely. This I thought inspite of you being a near-celebrity and I being a common man, ( not so common as the common man, in my city I too am amongst the elite ), because of our similar interests and likings — like you I too love writing, blogging, singing ( I am a stage singer still ), painting etc.

    But when I came across your tweets, I was shocked to know about your thoughts. You remarked in such an irresponsible manner about Rama and Seeta, and I felt dejected like so many of your fans and friends would have. In a craving to show yourself as ” intelligent and smart and courageous ” , you literally lashed out at Lord Rama, whose virtues are far more in number than his shortcomings. You fully focussed on his single biggest folly, that of sending Seetaji to exile, overlooking the fact that he too had to face immense amount of injustice when he was sent to jungle for 14 years by her step mother Kaikeyi. You commented severely about the chauvinistic approach of Rama, whilst sending Seeta to exile but totally neglected how much the great god himself suffered when he had to leave the palace for 14 years with no obvious fault on his part. This punishment was given by a female and yet you went on to say that our indian society has done so much injustice to females. After reading all these, I tried to convince you through my 34 tweets yesterday and about 10 tweets today.

    I had no idea to insult you. But you became more and more aggressive. I was shocked to know that you Retweeted all the flowery comments about you and kept ignoring all negative comments !! Finally, I came to know that your character is of the one which wants to dominate all the time, whether it makes any sense or not. You donot believe in democracy but firmly believe in dictatorial dominance of some rich urban class, who according to your mind has all the right to fling any rubbish opinion about anything, or anybody, anytime. This is what Suhel Seth has been doing since a long long time.He thinks he is some great author and by his extravaganza of english knowledge, he can say anything and condemn and criticize anyone anywhere. You guys just donot want to listen to anyone except to your own minds, which are now like engines without sufficient amount of oil, lots of friction in them, and making lots of unnecessary noise you know.
    After I understood that behind a beautiful face lies an ugly mind, which is ready to spew venom even on great gods, in its immense unstoppable search for quick popularity on social media, I felt so dejected. Yet on my side, I tried to make an honest attempt to stop you from such foolishness. But today you came up with the same article, with a different headline, showing your stupid stubborn nature. Had you written something substantial and correct, I would have been the first to appreciate it. But you endorsed your earlier unfortunate behaviour, today, by putting the same article in a different website. Hence I made some more sharp comments on your irrational thoughtless article, and I knew you willnot be able to bear it. I knew you will block me and you did. But by then, I had taught you the lesson which I wanted to. A lesson that you shouldnot comment in such an unscrupulous manner about our own immortal figures, who have never been questioned by anyone since centuries. I mean look at the history of mankind madam, only those people are not considered “great”, who were bold and outspoken and protested against injustice. Even those people are considered great, who have huge amount of tolerance and patience, virtues which are totally absent from modern day society. And who doesnot make mistakes ? Rama, when he came on earth wasnot in the form of a God, he was a human, afterall and was bound to make some mistakes – and this was his biggest mistake, he also concedes to Seetaji and Laxman, in his later years. We cannot imagine that his single largest mistake actually exhibited his real character.Never. He had himself undergone injustice before and apart from this incidence of Seeta and the one in which he kills Vaali, the brother of Sugriva, he has never done any injustice to anyone in entire Ramayana. Tell me Suchitraji, have you never made a single mistake in your life or what ? Have you never been the slightest unjust to your girl or to your kaamwali bai or anybody else anytime, anywhere ? The answer is no. Even you must have committed injustice somewhere to somebody sometime. Now if someone comes out and says hey look that is the real Suchitra, the Unjust cruel woman who never loved her child/ anyone else apart from her ownself, how would you feel then ? How would the people who have known you since years like your parents/ siblings feel at that time, if a single incidence was forcibly made to depict your entire character and personality ? So your this article is like that.

    I have read your earlier blogs too. Some of them are really extraordinary and of high category, which exhibit the inborne talent you have. But by this blog, you have destroyed a lot of the image which you have built in your earlier blogs. You must take care not to repeat such mistakes, Anna.

    Like I said before, I didnot wish anything from you apart from unselfish friendship. But it seems impossible now. So this is my final response to you. After this I will never harass you, don’t worry. My Good wishes are still with you and your creative self.

    bye bye Anna,

    Kamlesh Bhatt .

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