Sunday, September 09, 2012

Sree Jayanthi

I have always seen a strong divide between the Rama camp and Krishna camp. With some friends I am often involved in a light hearted debate on who is the best. You can always tell something about a person based on whether they vote of Krishna or Rama. And as long as you can keep the subject off non-controversial topics and limit it to Kalyana Gunas, there is no other interesting debate in the world.

My personal favorite has always been Rama. I can see why Thyagaraja melted for him so much. I find beauty in whatever Rama does. The word 'Vaatsalyam'  denotes the love a cow showering affection on her calf. I find Kausalya's  vatsalyam (if this song doesn't melt your heart, I don't know what will) towards Rama is very endearing. Both Valmiki and Kamban portray Rama as grace personified. They say that his walk, talk, manners and use of words are  measured, filled with grace, enormous beauty and more than a great touch of royalty.Commentators often say that regality of Rama's persona was not limited to external beauty alone. I am especially taken in by his perfection. I regard that as the main reason why I like him. His unparalleled upholding of Manu Sastra and laser focused belief in upholding its principles and putting his people and parents before his personal interests. An austere son offering an excellent contrast to a philandering father.

Krishna on the other hand is a great contrast to Rama in many ways. While Ramayana offers Bharatha, Vibishana, Hanumana and Sabari Saranagathi, in Mahabharatha no one completely surrenders to Krishna (barring a minor debate on Draupadi saranagathi when Duchadhana disrobes her). Rama was born with pomp and grandeur under royal circumstances. Krishna was born under terrible circumstances in a jail. While Rama was disciplined, measured and attentively obeyed everything Kauslya and Dasaratha said , Krishna was excess personified. He overate, stole pretty much everything, never listened to Yashodha and in general had too much fun. The code of Manu was everything to Rama and he did exactly what the rule book said. Krishna did what he wanted and called that the rule. Ramayana was black and white but more controversial. Mahabharatha was gray end-to-end and was more acceptable.

But the admirable aspect about people and their love for Krishna is that many people I have met think of Krishna as their son. The undisputed love he gets when you visit Mathura is to be seen to be believed. I had an uncle and aunt did not have children at all. They were the most loving and affectionate couple I have ever seen. Never had an unkind word for each other or for anybody. They literally thought Krishna was their son. And for morning thiru-aradhanams they prepared food with so much love and with a bhaavam that it was for their son. I doubt if they would have showered so much love if they had a their own son. But when my aunt said "my guruvayurappan is my son" - you could see vatsalyam. Only Krishna can produce that kind of an effect.

When Shri. Velukkudi visited my house in 2008, I had a lot of questions for him. To break the monotony, I asked in lighter vein "what is your favorite avatharam?". And pat came the reply "Rama". When I probed further as to why he said "Perfection elicits different reaction from imperfect people of each era. It is interesting to see the ways in which people of each era disagreed and agreed with him. Plus he is a darling. Our acharyans love him for good reason." And during last month's visit, he suddenly said in between his Srimadh Bhavatham lecture, "we must be concerned about Krishna. Rama was a royal son. His brother was there with him in distress. He had great acharyas to teach him. Krishna was separated from his parents at a young age and during the Mahabharatha war, balarama went on a journey. We want to know if the child Krishna is allright. He is of conern to us. Rama may have obeyed Dasaratha. But he was 25 years old at that time. Krishna was 2 minutes old when he obeyed Vasudeva." I was aghast in a "how dare you" kind of way :-). And I chased down Velukkudi swamy and asked "but you said Rama..". He smiled and said "I still like Rama the most. The slokas about Rama are magnificent. But if I am parent, Ill be more concerned about Krishna".

I'll leave you with an interesting tidbit about Krishna and his so called reputation of being a ladies man. At the end of the Kurukshethra war, Ashwathama was made commander-in-chief by the dying Duryodhana. Ashwatthama in a fit of rage interprets that the Pandavas have won the war in deceit. So he unleashes the Brahma Astra. He releases the weapon with an intent that it should kill every single progeny of Pandavas and leave the Pandavas impotent. This way there is no succcessor to the throne from the Pandavas side. As the weapon systematically kills its targets - it arrives at the doorstep of its last target. the womb of Uttara. Uttara is the wife of the slain Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna and Subhadra (step sister of Krishna). she carries the last remaining descendant of the pandavas. As the weopon begins to grind the womb and destroy the foetus, Uttara gives birth to a smouldering baby. It is said that smoke was coming out of the baby as it was getting charred into ash. Krishna enters. He touches the new born almost-dying baby and says "if it is true that I have never touched a gopika. If it is true that I have been a true Bhramacharya my whole life an never had any physical relationship with anyone, this baby will survive". The baby since it passed the toughest test (Pariksha) of a person's life was named Parikshith (beat the test). In Arcahnai's to Vishnu deities only Sri Krishna gets the archanai " [pranava] Nithya Brahmacharinye namaha". No other avathara gets this.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is believed that Paramatma/Brahman has 16 divine qualities. Krishna was born with all 16 of them, and thus called "Poorna Avtar", while Ram was only born with 10, Laxman, Bharata & Shatrughan with 2 each. In the end, when the other 3 siblings took their own lives(by crossing the Sarayu & surrendering their mortal lives), they passed their attributes to Ram, which means Ram died as a Poornaavatar, but wasn't born as one. Scholars usually cite this as a reason for Ram weeping like an average human, when he lost Sita to Raavan.

False interpretations by the Krishna camp: First of all, Radha is believed to be a distant aunt of Krishna who was significantly older than him. Some scholars, possibly including the ones mentioned by Hawkeye, have deliberately interpolated factual data - divine love/bhakti misinterpreted as sexual attraction. Was Krishna killed by a hunter?(yet another misinterpretation). Definitely not. He took his life, on his own accord. A Paramatma cannot have such a painful & gruesome death, especially not at the hands of an average man. And this is why we disagree with the christians, when they say "Jesus=son the god". Had he been god, he wouldn't have suffered & died on a cross. Sadly, christians couldn't differentiate between avdhoot(messenger of god) and avtar(god incarnate).

However, no parent would be concerned about Krishna as he was poornaavtar, but Ram sobbed like a 15 yr old girl when he lost his wife(coz he wasn't born with all of brahman's attributes).

Krishna, being a 'poorna-avtar' is my personal favourite, despite all the misinterpretations by the various camps. Such completely paramatmic incarnations are indeed rare, and cannot be compared with the rest.

Anonymous said...

I mean "....compared to the rest". S'ry about the grammatical error.

I am a ComplexNumber said...

Rama and Krishna are both the same ultimately.

Krishna the avatar, stamps the authority of a god much more than Rama ever does. Bhagavad Gita when you read it you will feel goose pimples every single time.

Again, Rama and Krishna are one and the same. But in Krishna's form the lord was much more I would say "in form" ....

like Sachin vs Dravid...Yes I love Dravid...but ultimately when both are in form, Sachin it the way to go...:) or rather Saurav...for sheer stamp of authority and heroism...

White Rice Vellachami said...

Rama is my favourite but in a sense I agree with what Velukkudi says in Kannanin Aaramadu.

Rama lived for 12000 years. The only year he suffered hell without Mythili/Janaki is very small compared to his long life but Krishna left everything one by one. He left Vasudeva/Devaki when he was 1 minute old. He left Nanda/Yashoda when he was 12 years old. He left Mathura. One by one he leaves people. So his suffering is probably higher than Rama's.

Also, I don't remember hearing about the brahmachaari story wrt Parikshit.

That story comes when Rukmini takes food to serve Durvasa and comes across a river and asks her to say "If Krishna is a brahmachari the river will part" and while returning Durvasa, after a full kattings, asks her to say something along the lines of his fast the river will part.

Rajaji's Mahabharata doesn't have that Parikshit story and from various original sources seems to be an extremely faithful translation (Ramayana too).

Anonymous said...

Responding to White rice's comments:

Ram lived for 12000 years. Alright. Didn't you know that the average human life expectancy in Treta Yuga was much more than that of the Dvapar Yuga man? Next time, try to make a sensible comparison. According to the vedas, the Paramatma feels neither joy nor sorrow. Are you contradicting the teachings of the vedas? "Krishna leaving everyone who were dear to him" doesn't mean that he suffered. But Ram wept and suffered when he lost Sita, coz he wasn't "Poorna-avtar".

Read my first comment.


Reply-To "I am a Complex Number":

Oh goodie goodie buddy! Oh thank you ever so much buddie. Oh buddie, can I get enlightened? Oh goodie goodie, I will tell Jambie!!

White Rice Vellachami said...

Anon,

I was just repeating what Velukkudi Krishnan swami said in Kannanin Aaramudu explaining how Krishna left one by one behind. Relas please. Once again I didant say that Velukkudi Krishnan said that.

Less tensan more work more work less tensan. Arasiyalla ithellam satharanamappa.

I understand Rama was born a man to kill Ravana and had to go through whatever humans go through. Far as I know Rama was in Kausalya's womb for 12 months but Krishna was deiva piravi. I'd be happy to be corrected on this.

I have neither studied the vedas formally nor have I read any veda bhashyams to contradict them. I know one thing that our Purvacharyas have said. We cannot understand Parabrahmam and if you are able to understand that you cannot understand Him you are OK!!

Anonymous said...

Look at the comments. They remind me of "let's go Cena...Cena sucks".

Anonymous said...

White rice, don't take it upon yourself. 'twas 3:00 in the morning & i was all drousy. Had to finish a document for a possible senate banking committee hearing, my CEO would be facing. Don't ever take me for the religious type. As a New Yorker, I wouldn't lower myself by being one for monastic vows.

But I advise you to stop believing in self-proclaimed rogue scholars.

Wait A Nimit said...

Dei anon,

ennada CEO appadi ippadi peela vidreenga. at least hawkeye is honest enough to call himself a thayir soru and behaves like one. far better than you pseudo thayir soru pasanga. nee thayir soru dhaane da. ennamo cool guy peela vidre.

mudittu iru di nee. aduthu enna solla pore, bar ulla irunthitte nee upanishads discuss pannuviya. andha peelavaiyum serthu vida vendiyadhu dhaane.

Sreekrishnan said...

though i dont have the extent of the knowledge you have on this topic i can definitely vouch for how the parents feel. Precisely why i was named so. Mom is still very close to guruvayoor, chittor krishnan temple, Mathura and many other temples devoted to krishna ..

Sreejayanthi is celebrated with such a hype in my house that raamanavami is nothing compared to that.

The rest of the debate seems very interesting to me.

Anonymous said...

Reply-To "Wait a Nimit":

You friggin idiot, as you muse over my words, you may want to give yourself a reality check. Just because you're a smelly dimwitted middle class sod doesn't mean all desis are. Odds are your life is shit and you deserve it. It is interesting that your funny accent has got my attention & i'm responding to have a few laughs.

Because you asked for it - I'm a southie brahmin, brought up in Noida, graduated from the best B-school in India and employed in NY with the no.1 banking corporation in the U.S. I guess it's a good thing to show off, especially when I'm successful in making a lot of money. I was born a "curd rice", but a self made "LACTO-OVO vegetarian". What have you had for breakfast gas bagger peas? And yeah, I go to bars with my colleagues to try some elegant vintages(wine, not liquor) – thinks you can’t even dream of, even if you had the money.

I was flabbergasted by your absolute certainty. But then i realized that you cannot think beyond your social position or your stinky chimney fuming neighborhood. Losses suffered due to careless wagers may pave way for hiring jacka$$es like you to fulfill our needs at cheaper costs, although it's not exactly "open arms". I'll let you know when there is an opening, but promise me that you'll be a good dog and do your cleaning duties. You brought this on yourself. That was just a bit of your own medicine. Having a lot of people here in NY who would listen to what i have to say, i don't give a flying f*** about your opinion of me.

A little vedic knowledge doesn't mean i'm a practicing chickenshit. Since you seem so particular about the "thayir" identity, y don't you act like a brahmin? People here are giving a gypsy's interpretation of itihaas, by believing in the so called "rogue scholars". Do you have any understanding of the devnagari script? Yet you're a brahmin. Piss off.

I've got no idea about hawkeye or the ones who post their comments here. I've been following this blog for a long time now. The one thing that interests me about this blogpost is seeing a mistake and doing something about it, not all of the stuff around it.

Wait A Nimit said...

dei thayir soru:

are you a psycho because your thar-perumai sounds like the vettaiyadu vilaiyadu psycho's "im greates doctor in the world" rant. top bschool mayir mattai story ellam erkanave kettachu. nee onnum special illai.

it is interesting to see these psuedo bar hopping high society paapara pasanga try and act like periyar and piss all over religion. chameleon comes to mind.

just like my previous accurate prediction of you being bar hopping thayir soru, im wlling to bet you donno shit about religion. summa using your paarpana status to act knowledgeable but diss religon - kamalahasan does that already.

if you want validation that you have all vedic knowledge and still reject religion in full concousness of ur knowledge go to your paarpana saaraya mates. you can act cool there.

vandhutaanga IB, bschool peela pasanga. adhellam padicha nee periya pudingiya. anyday sincere iyeru better than you opportunistic color changing maggots

I am a ComplexNumber said...

Nice reading Wait a Nimit's response.
I am not claiming to be a scholar. At the same time Velukkudi doesnt strike me as a scholar either. But for what hawkeye quotes him, he is an expert at that.

There are two aspects to it, Tattva aspect and the puranas and the Kalyana gunas featured in their avatar. While I dont think Velukkudi has much to offer on Tattva, I believe him to know enough about their kalyana gunas.

There is a lot of allegory about Vrindavan and Krishna leela (Village life etc). They are there to give us a sense of God and his absolute power, glory mercy etc.

But this post didnt start on that. It started at a non-tattva level.

In my head, Krishna is much more of an absolute hero. [And being a brahmachari is not a virtue. ]
But different avatars appeal to different people in different time,place and circumstance. I think that is what this blog post started.


footnote: You dont need to be a brahmin or know any vedas to debate this. Anonymous is just another troll. Everyone here can quote atleast some sastra to back whatever they want to. But that is not a required trait.
Also enlightenment is all about seeing everyone as an equal. Also There is a certain level of respect accorded to others views in a debate. Throwing all that out of the window will just lead to patting on one's back.

Hawk Eye said...

lets desist from value judging scholars. i will be unable to trust that you know enough about the subject to criticise people who have been actually schooled in it and practice it on a daily basis.

and you cant convince me about your level of knowledge over the internet. so it will end up being a waste of time anyway.

lets just stick to the topic of the blogpost.

And the peela anonymous is wrong on all counts in the very first comment to the post.

Hawk Eye said...

sreekrishnan,

i have seen that difference in celebration in many houses. alwarpet rule is that both ramanavami and sree jayanthi are ekadasis. selaiyur says its pandigai.

but after so many seedais and ribbon pakodas its hard to see how one can indulge in pandigai thaligai.

austrian said...

Hawkeye,

interesting post as usual :)

I am with you, personal favorite is Rama. I think Rama's perfection is potrayed beyond human in several works (sure for a good reason), but if one can at least get a glimpse of that perfection from a human level and comprehend the difficulty of being good -- Rama will become their instant favorite.

And so many ballads composed by the Great Saint Thyagaraja.

nagumōmu ganalēni nā jāli telisi
nanu brōvaga rādā śrī raghuvara nī!

Knowing my sorry plight of being unable to see your smiling face,
can't you save me, O Best among Raghus!

Krishna is fascinating in the sense that he is central to making Mahabharata all about the inquiry into the human condition. He is central to making everything seem very gray, which is the beauty of Mahabharata.

Abinav said...

Very interesting discussion. While my knowledge on religion is very limited, here is my two bits based only on a comparison of their respective personalities.

For all the praise that you lavish on Rama, in my opinion, the only character who is completely free of any blemish whatsoever in the Ramayana is Anjaneya. Whatever may have been the law, abandoning his pregnant wife in a forest, knowing her to be innocent is not something one would expect from a king proclaimed universally to be righteous and I am not even getting started on the vows he made to protect his wife when he married her. Sita, despite being his wife and queen, was as much Rama's subject as the mouthy washerman was. After all, laws are meant to evolve. I personally think Rama was a bit of a hypocrite and was far too self righteous by half. But I suppose that Rama, being an ordinary mortal was meant to be faulty.

Whatever faults Krishna may have had, hypocrisy was not one of them. He knew exactly what he was doing every step of the way and his abiding principle for the kali yuga that anything that can be justified by one's conscience is dharma is a lot more relevant in this day and age.

So it is Krishna for me. Also he was a much bigger hit with the ladies. You cant help but root for such a man.

P.S: Most of the above is light - hearted.

Abinav said...

Also Hawkeye annatha, oru china doubtu..

What did you mean when you said "no one completely surrenders to Krishna" in your post.

For starters, in the war alone, Bhishma throws his arms down and literally surrenders to Krishna when the man sees Arjuna wavering and decides to attack Bhishma himself. This happens twice.

Even my namaskaram + abhivadaye count on poonal day pales in comparison with the number of times Arjuna surrenders and prostrates himself before Krishna. In terms of pure numbers, only the ADMK ministers would have sevichified amma more.

Or is there some deeper meaning that an gyanasooniyam like me cant decipher?

Hawk Eye said...

abhinav,

what you say is most common criticism outside of vaali.

the contemporaries of ramayana criticising him for not letting go of his wife and people of today criticisng for exact opposite reason is in many ways interesting. of course people of each era think they have got the basics of ethical behavior down to a pat.

take people who insist karunanidhi blindly supporting his family inspite of being in a position of a raja. ANd the very same people criticising rama for doing the opposite.


i am pretty sure i know what people of today would say if a bunch of dacoits kidnapped a girl, kept her for 15 days and sent her back. there is hyporcrisy in this world has always been. but I dont think its in rama.

i actually think the people who complain about hyprocrites are the true hypocrites.

Sridhar said...

abhinav,

actually arjuna never surrends himself to krishna and in most counts is known to violate many preachings of the gita.

bheeshma fought against krishna :-)

Abinav said...

Hawkeye thala,

The fact that it is a common criticism does not really justify it.

In fact, even you defend the criticism by taking it on a tangent by effectively saying that people do it all the time, so let us not hold it against Rama.

The Sita episode is one thing which I found something very difficult to reconcile with as an impressionable kid. She was innocent. By punishing an innocent person, where is the dharma? Forget her for a minute, what about his own unborn children? Even the extreme right wing, borderline-fascist, closet-racist tea-party brigade in the US do not believe in abandoning a fetus.

Call it a bias - but for all his playboy antics and questionable morals, I do not recollect Krishna condemning an innocent child the same way his immediate predecessor avatar-in-chief did.

P.S: Mentioning Karunanidhi to contrast him with Rama is not really saying much. In fact, mentioning thatha in the same breath as Rama is so wrong at so many levels.

At least, in terms of libido, he has something in common with Krishna.

P.P.S: Sundaka mundaka Visu question - If people who complain about hypocrites are the real hypocrites, then does that mean that people who complain about the hypocrites being the real hypocrites are in fact, the real hypocrites?

Abinav said...

Sridhar saar,

Correct me if I am wrong, but when Krishna decides to go full monty before the war starts, does not Arjuna and a whole host of the Kaurava warriors prostrate themselves before the paranthama?

Also does Bhishma really fight Krishna? For starters, Krishna, despite threatening to do so, never actually takes up arms in Kurukshetra. Arjuna and Yudhishtra basically calm him down by reminding him about his vow.

Also the picture that Rajaji (and AMar Chitra Katha) portrays is that Bhishma effectively falls down when Krishna charges and says that there can be no better death than at the hands of Madhava.

Hawk Eye said...

abhinav,

you missed every single point in my response to you.

how different are you from the people of the ramayana era?

Sridhar said...

abhinav,

i havent read rajaji's mahabharat. so sorry dont know what it contains. but bheeshma wages war and also gets on very interesting duels.

separately, i am litle bit surprised you sidestepped the argument with hawkeye.

hawk - that was a splendid response. words like 'innocence' are used in so black and white fashion. as if people of ayodhya had live TV that was relaying ramayana to them every single second. who in which world will be aligned to one version of the truth ever? does it happen even today? every body has their own opinion? sometimes the way people trivialise complexity is plain irritating.

Anonymous said...

I think Abhinav's point is, when you glorify a person to be perfect, it is required for them to be perfect in every way. If there is a debatable imperfection in them, then stop glorifying wrongly. Hypocrites are people who will defend everything not in view with their thoughts. Abhinav is saying, Rama may have done the right thing which falls in a "gray" area. That doesn't make him bad. But it definitely questions his image of perfection. I think its a valid point. Irrespective of whether he was gray in today's time or Ramayana's time. If dharma = okay to be in gray area so long as the right thing needed to be done, then Rama could be called perfect. But he cannot be called perfect when dharma in its perfect sense does not account for gray - which by the way is Rama lover's accusation on Krishna.

Abinav. said...

Hawkeye,

My criticism of Rama was that he punished an innocent woman.

I may have misread your point. but what I understood from your post, your response was twofold

1. In Rama's time, his treatment to Sita was a response to criticism by his contemporaries for not letting his wife go and was a justified action.

2. Secondly you seem to imply that people like me who are extremely flawed cannot call Rama a hypocrite when we ourselves have so many flaws.

If this was not your point, then please humour dumb people like me and explain yourself a bit further when you have the time.

Response:

Point 1 - A good king should not get swayed by what people around him tell him. He should protect the innocent, come what may. In one instance, Rama did not.

Point 2 - If one has to be perfect to judge/criticize someone else, no one can then even speak of comparing Rama, Krishna etc. Just because one is flawed, it does not mean that one should not point out flaws in another, so long as one owns up to his own flaws. After all, a hypocrite is someone who is blind to his own shortcomings, not someone who accepts his own flaws.

Back to the point. My problem is this:

1. Sita, Lava and Kucha was an innocent persons - Yes or no?

2. Were they punished unfairly by Rama - yes or no?

If the answer to both the above questions is in the affirmative, Idukku enna direct justification kudukaringa?

Sridhar sir,

Bheeshma wages war. In fact, he was the greatest warrior in the war in my humble opinion. Krishna does not.

Also enna solla varinga? White and black etc. Are you saying that Sita's innocence had shades of grey? Sure the washerman may not have known about whether Sita was innocent or not and hence made his comment. But Rama did - he made her go through an agnipariksha.


Also no one is side- stepping arguments. Hawkeye kitta ippadi ice podringa :) avar enna unga boss-a? :)

Abinav said...

@Anon

That is more or less my point except I dont think banishing Sita was a 'gray' area. In my opinion, it is the single and biggest slight on Rama's character.

I wish i had your clarity of speech.

Abinav said...

Hawkeye,

Just to add,

If your point was that the people of Rama's time being a part of a different yuga, had a different notion of dharma, which we cannot judge, then I am sorry - but the idea of a blameless pregnant woman being left alone to perish in a forest does not come across as something in line with acceptable sensibilities in any yuga.

If Iam wrong and if the laws of the Dwapara yuga do indeed validate Rama's actions, then I cannot reconcile such a law to any fundamental principle of what Manu has to say. Perhaps the Kali yuga is actually a lot more just.

Apologies for coming across as a troll. As you may imagine, this is one issue to which I have never been able to get a satisfactory response.

Hawk Eye said...

abhinav,

in the gzillion times that i have argued or seen this point argued things usually follow an standard pattern that this quickly becomes a waste of time because no one realstically changes their opinion because of an argument.

so let me try a different tact here. please humor me. at best both will at least have the satisfaction of experimenting with trying out a new kind of argument as opposed to a clash of egos. so help me answer a few questions. ill follow-up with another question once i know what you are thinking for the first one.

Do you think Rama, a king from a different Yuga is obligated to follow 21st century notion of ethics (let alone feminism based ethics) ? - a simple yes/no is suffecient.

Hawk Eye said...

and my only point of commenting back is to find out how different people think about these questions. it is not my interest to prove why rama is the most perfect person ever. I dont mind if others hink he is the most imperfect ever. these things cannot and should not be proved via heated arguments.

this is just a selfish pursuit of knowing why people think a certain way.

p.s: to answer one of your questions. I dont expect that in order to judge perfection, you need to be perfect. In the same way I dont expect that someone who can identify what a dog looks like must be a dog himself.

Anonymous said...

"Do you think Rama, a king from a different Yuga is obligated to follow 21st century notion of ethics (let alone feminism based ethics) ? - a simple yes/no is suffecient."

To answer this question you need to tell me if dharma is different in different yugas. Is it?

Hawk Eye said...

hypothetically assume
dharma = serving your mother.

in your previous birth you mother was Vedavalli. So your dharma = serve Vedavalli.

In this birth your mother is Komalavalli. So your dharma = komalavalli.

has your dharma changed over time or remained the same?

you can answer my original question based on your answer to this question.

Abinav said...

Hawkeye
No heated arguments at all here, just an academic debate on something I found interesting.

To answer your question - no, I do not expect a king from the dwapara yuga to follow 21st century ethics.

To answer your second hypothetical question, I would think that if dharma = serving amma, then it basically remains the same over the yugas. The only change is in the person who is the mother over different births.

But as anon said, then it boils down to a different question -

what was dharma in Rama's time? Was Rama's act of banishing Sita dharma in his own time in line with what was dharma in his time?

What would be your response to these questions?

I do not know what was the basis on which Rama made his judgement. However Rama's era was supposed to twice as virtuous as the 21st century and punishing the innocent is not dharma in any era, especially Rama's where the bar was much higher. Also, my opinion is not based on Sita's gender, but on her innocence - a fact Rama knew and made her prove.

Hawk Eye said...

fair enough. now to progress on our hypothetical Q & A. next curious question

i am sure you know it. but what is your take on why rama made a decision to banish sita ( afaik he did not know she was pregnant at the time of banishing but do think he would have banished regardless) ?

(unrelated sidenote: There is an interesting parallel there. when bharatha aska rama to set up camp just outside ayodhya and spend the 14 years, rama was specific that he spend the 14 year in a place where no one from ayodhya could trace him or know where he was. his instructions to lakshmana was to drop seetha in a place where rama would never be able to find her or reach her again. )

Abinav said...

Hawkeye

The accepted version is that he wanted to convey a sense of fairness to his subjects - the king is no different from his subjects. Hence his act was basically an extension of two things - the sauce for goose being sauce for the gander rationale and the Cesar's wife funda, to a lesser extent.

The cynical version of me however believes that Rama being only a mortal as opposed to Krishna, wanted to give an impression of fairness even if such an impression was at odds with actual justice - basically that he was much more concerned with appearing to be just than actually being just. (The counter to this, I have encountered is that, Rama was always consistent in his standards - he did not let the fact that he was innocent obscure his sense of dharma and get in the way of obeying his king's order of spending 14 years vanavasam)

Because of this, I blv Rama would have banished Sita regardless of her pregnancy. In fact, the fact she was pregnant and yet was treated as an equal of a washerwoman, would in people's eyes, have conveyed a greater sense of fairness.

Also I could be wrong - but I remember Rama being aware of Sita's pregnancy. In fact, I think Lakshmana or Bharata tries to dissuade him by pointing that out.

(On an unrelated sidenote, almost all of my Northie friends think this episode never actually happened and is a Southie/Lankan conspiracy to somehow redeem Ravana who they believe is worshipped by Southies. Go figure. )

I am a ComplexNumber said...

Hawkeye,
By the same token that you apply for Rama, you can apply the same rule for Krishna too.

Regarding desisting from talking about scholars, sorry if that hurt your sentiments. Reading your previous posts,I know you are pretty serious about pursuing this, hence i want to just point out that God is far more involved in our lives and hence pointing out the tattva aspect etc. Not to show off whatever *less* I know.
It is meant to goad you / encourage you in this pursuit.
I apologize for the same if it came across different.
I am not changing my opinions by that. Just apologizing for telling that at an inopportune moment.

There is no perfect answer to this and no one can convince the other. Since you started the post, we are all jumping and trying to come from our relevant POV and learning and our own experience in this area.

Ultimately my belief is that there is NOT much difference in any of Bhagawan's different avatars.
Each of us is attracted to different Kalyana gunas. At this TPC I am more attracted to Krishna.

There are a lot of righteous kings etc represented in various puranas and otherwise. But none like a playboy who throws out those rules and prove how he controls every single thing. it is like showing off to a friend (in a nice way).

For that fact, I am more attracted to Krishna. But everytime I listen to Thyagaraja or read Kamban my attraction to Rama and Hanuman grows.

Thanks, i loved hearing Bombay jayashree rendering Vaatsalyam....

There is nothing more to say in this regard from my POV.

Anonymous said...

if we are judging based on yuga:

Ravana was a regular villain type. Duryodhana was deceitful. Hence the differences in approach by the hero. Why is one necessarily better than the other?

Krishna's yuga many women in a man's life was the norm. Why pick on him?

arzvi said...

I am Ram when I follow strict rules to better myself and not allow attractions to take over me while I love my wife and respect the vow we made.
I am Krishna when I play wild, party and if I have the power over, will destroy the bad. We all have Rama and Krishna inside us.
Please have the intellect to know the epics show human qualities and each character portrays some facets of being human under various conditions.
Krishna/Ram might be real, might be totally fake, or might have had few qualities that were blown up by writers to earn money and lead life and there are thousands of points to debate here, but I digress.
Also the similarity between Jesus and Buddha, and many Biblical stories and Ramayan is astonishing in that we all might have been from a single continent/plane of intellect.
It's just that how people love the Gandalf in LOTR who can re-appear in other forms, have all powerful and works against the evil, than the ever correct and totally motivated warriors like the King or Legolas, and like how we like Harry who is the chosen one, unable to be beaten although he destroys only two horcruxes out of the seven we love Krishna more. He is like next door guy. This also can be debated to each part of our civilization, the current next door guy is fun, parties a lot and enjoys life with cool pics on FB, but a thousand years ago(Raja Raja Chola's period?) would've been more responsible, working for the King and more adhering to orderly life. They'd have loved Rama more.

arzvi said...

I am Ram when I follow strict rules to better myself and not allow attractions to take over me while I love my wife and respect the vow we made.
I am Krishna when I play wild, party and if I have the power over, will destroy the bad. We all have Rama and Krishna inside us.
Please have the intellect to know the epics show human qualities and each character portrays some facets of being human under various conditions.
Krishna/Ram might be real, might be totally fake, or might have had few qualities that were blown up by writers to earn money and lead life and there are thousands of points to debate here, but I digress.
Also the similarity between Jesus and Buddha, and many Biblical stories and Ramayan is astonishing in that we all might have been from a single continent/plane of intellect.
It's just that how people love the Gandalf in LOTR who can re-appear in other forms, have all powerful and works against the evil, than the ever correct and totally motivated warriors like the King or Legolas, and like how we like Harry who is the chosen one, unable to be beaten although he destroys only two horcruxes out of the seven we love Krishna more. He is like next door guy. This also can be debated to each part of our civilization, the current next door guy is fun, parties a lot and enjoys life with cool pics on FB, but a thousand years ago(Raja Raja Chola's period?) would've been more responsible, working for the King and more adhering to orderly life. They'd have loved Rama more.

Hawk Eye said...

abhinav,

one last question before i give my interpretation of the whole thing. if someone is in an 'ethical dilemma' how would you interpret the situation (i.e. what does the situation mean to you? is it a win-win? win-lose? lose-lose? clearly black and white with no doubt whatsoever about the required recourse?) and how would you expect it him to deal with it?

Anonymous said...

Same thing happens with Dushyanthan and Sakunthalai. Dushyanthan accepts Sakunthalai after he denies he wedded and impregnated her. Then divine voices vouch that Sakunthalai is telling the truth. The implied reason Dushyantha did not accept Sakunthalai immediately is that the wedding took place in private and he wanted Sakunthalai's legitimacy verified. Not to him but to the courtiers and his subjects. The king has the duty to demonstrate publicly that the queen is legitimate and virtuous.

Same thing with Rama. He had to demonstrate Sita's chastity publicly and had to put her through agni parikshai. That is not a blemish but he was merely adhering to the customs of that time and place. Pregnancy or not did not matter in this narrow context.

-S

Abinav said...

Hawkeye

First question - It would depend on the nature of the dilemma. It could be any one of any option that you pointed out.

What kind of a reaction would I expect from a person facing a dilemma ? - Again it depends on the person.

To elucidate, if that person were a typical layman, I would expect him to choose which ever action gives him and his loved ones the most utility (according to him).

But if the person concerned were someone who is considered by everyone (and himself) to be righteous, then he must take that course of actions that ekes out justice, without thinking about what it may cost him.

Anon,

You are mixing up the Agnipariksha with the banishment that happened later. The Agnipariksha may have been necessary to prove Sita's innocence to everyone. Her innocence thus having been established, there was no justifiable reason to banish her afterwards.



Anonymous said...

Good post Bharath. The one crucial difference is that Krishna knew he was Bagavan and Rama didn't. The essence of Rama avatharam is that the ultimate truth that all the vedas and shastras point to, came down as a human and led a life totally bound by the same vedas. Just to show other mere mortals that it could be done.

Ramesh

Wait A Nimit said...

Abhinav,

"First question - It would depend on the nature of the dilemma. It could be any one of any option
that you pointed out."

but how can it be any of the options. Dilemma is defined as "Dilemma is a problem offering two possibilities, neither of which is practically acceptable"

there is no win-win or win-lose. I thought hawkeye's was a trick question.

Abinav said...

Wait A Nimit,

Not Necessarily. Firstly I don't accept your definition of a dilemma that there are only two options to choose from.

Take the Karuna - Kanimozhi 'dilemma' and let us trivialize it to a politician/father facing a choice between disowning a guilty daughter to look righteous or losing his political credibility by supporting her. (a win-lose or lose-win choice)

However Karuna, if he is cunning enough, can always come up with an alternative plan of action that may allow him to not disown his daughter and yet retain his political credibility (win-win).

On the other hand if he is as astute as Mitt Romney, he could end up disowning his daughter and yet losing political face. (lose-lose)

P.S: Technically this example may not be an 'ethical' dilemma, but my brain is too sleep addled to think of a better one.

But this may be a trick question. Sometimes I get the feeling Hawkeye's moolai works like Karunanidhi's :P



Wait A Nimit said...

Abhinav,

Oh my god kid.. you need to sleep, take rest and read your comment again in the morning after a coffee :-)

So Dilemma is a greek word defined here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilemma

The karunanidhi example was particularly scary on your part. I dont want to speka on behalf of anyone else. But in answering the question you should assume the man facing the dilemma is a very ethical and morally upright person. He is not looking to getaway or escape or be cunning. He wants to do the right thing.

In your example if Rama was karunanidhi, he'd jail his own daughter. its not a dilemma at all.




Abinav said...

Wait a Nimit,

Not that sleep deprived.

Read the second part of my response to Hawkeye where I say that the nature of the person involved is very important to the discussion. Why should one take his nature as being morally upright for granted? Are you saying that flawed laymen like you and I can never be susceptible to ethical dilemma?

"In your example if Rama was karunanidhi, he'd jail his own daughter. its not a dilemma at all."

Sure, he would. But this is because the guilt of the person being accused is beyond question in the example I cited.

As I said, I should have come up with a better example. But the point stands - The reaction to a dilemma, in my view, need not be restricted to two strict choices, as you make it out to be.

Anonymous said...

I think we should seek the help of Ramanand Sagar. If at all anyone can give a fair opinion about this, it is Ramanand Sagar. After all, most opinions expressed in the comments section here stem out of watching Mahabharata and Ramayana in Doordarshan.

Btw, I have a feeling most of Rama and Krishna's qualities that we know have a lot to do with the love and devotion that the Azhwars had for them, and the extrapolation of Velukudi and the likes of their scriptures.

So I wouldn't be surprised if there is a fair amount of exaggeration just because of their bhakthi and Rama and Krishna were a lot different than how we know them as.

-Prabhu

Anonymous said...

Hawkeye,

My whole point is what you are saying above. If society, ethical dilemma, etc. are reasons to act in gray area (like do it for the sake of the public, do something even if it is wrong, etc.), and thats right and Rama is a good person as a result of that, all that is fine. In that case, Krishna was just as perfect or imperfect as Rama since thats all that he did :) Infact, the number of people Krishna was dealing with, and their deceitful nature required him being so without a choice in the best interest of the overall good.

Hawk Eye said...

dei ,

ramanand sagar didnt do mahabharatham. BR Chopra did. I actually remember very little from his ramayan. in fact i dont remember anything at all from that TV series. I suspect many here are too young and wudnt have even seen it.

There are actually people who reda books. Not many. But several people grow up reading Rajaji, KM Munshi and the likes.

Hawk Eye said...

anon,

but you are saying that there is no perfection possible in a dilemma. Basically redefining perfection to be imperfect.

And since when did palatability by common public or understandebility by common public ever become a standard to grade perfection. It doesnt even happen in olympic sports. We only take other scholar's judgement on it.

its gray area for less educated. But need not necessarily be fr a eprson who knows the shastras enough to navigate through such situations.

Anonymous said...

I am not saying perfection is not possible in a dilemma. I am saying judge Rama and Krishna in the same balance. In Rama's case, the fact that he acted based on a situation is being defended as perfection even in that circumstance. In the case of Krishna, it is being made as an accusation that he acted according to the situation. In my opinion, the characters of Krishna and Rama in both epics are equally perfect (or imperfect depending on how you see it).

Hawk Eye said...

i dont think saying X is perfect means Y is imperfect. I would never call krishna imperfect or anything like that. this is just a discuss-for-good-anubhavam type scenario. I get the fact that in a direct comparison if you call one of them to have a specific quality it does make the other look inferior in that quality.

rama gets more credit for this attribute purely because its a common theme across his life. he seems to be - for lack of better word- a rules ramanujam type geek compared to krishna. rama has more opportunity to be a perfectionist and the story lends itself for those qualities.

krishna's major events dont involve him making major personal sacrifices to adhere to a specific shastra or a dharma. rather involves krishna bringing out a new way of seeing dharma in extremely gray situations. krishna has more opportunity to play God because the story lends itself for that.

Santhanam said...

Bharat Swamin - very nicely written. Contrasting Rama and Krishna is as much interesting as enjoying Ranganathan and Thiruvenkatamudayan. Nice and enjoyable post.wanted to add one point about vatsalyam - the definition is that the unconditional love that a mother cow shows on her calf, inspite of its various impurities and imperfections. "Vats" is calf and "lepa" daathu in sanskrit denotes "licking". A mother cow licks the impurities and imperfections of her newly born, so fondly. It treats those blemishes as blessings and it loves to continue to lick the imperfections on the calf's body even after knowing its all flesh, blood, muscle, tissue that is there just after delivery. So, the definition of Vatasalyam requires that one knows what is impure and taking that same impurity as blessing. "Kutram kandu veruvaaimaiku vaathsalyam".

Raja said...

Abhinav,

Interesting exchange. All i have to add is that I can now understand why Hawkeye zeroed in on this topic with you.

A dilemma can have 50 options or 50000 options. But none of it should be practically acceptable or there is should be no win-win way out of it in order for that to be considered a dilemma. If there is such a win-win solution, the situation becomes is just classified as a difficult problem that requires a lot of mental horsepower or negotiation techniques.

I think you have trivialised the problem to think Ram didn't have the intelligence to solve a generic problem. That is what is blocking your mind.


I think

Hawk Eye said...

santh,

ranga and cheenu is a very tough choice. i know i have ben partial to one more than the other but tryng to correct that in the last few years. just like rama i somehow automaticaly gravitate towards ulagam unda peru vaaya

hurry knee said...


Seeing the condition of Uttara, Lord Krishna took some water in His palm and quenched the Brahmastra saying: "If I have had true love in religion and Brahmins, may this baby come to life. If I have continuously followed the truth and religion, may this son of Abhimanyu come to life. If I had preserved the religion by killing Kans and had not perpetuated jealousy in heart, may this baby which has died due to the Brahmastra come to life".

An extract from one of the websites.Pls let me know let me know the source of the quote where you found krishna proclaiming himself to be a person who hasn't touched gopikas.Also he has a son called aniruddh, then how could he be called a nithya brahmachari

Anonymous said...

"Neo - the one" is better than both Rama and Krishna.

Nidanam said...

Hurryknee

Oru chinna correction - Aniruddha was Krishna's grandson thru his eldest son, Pradyumna

dasyai said...

I remember Shri Velukkudi Krishnan Swami would summarise in the following words - 'Listen to Krishna and live like Rama'! :)

Balaji said...

Rama sent Sita away -
This is a cause and effect scenario. Sita's two lapses - When Rama went after the deer, Lakshman and Sita heard "Rama" shout for help. Lakshman advised against running to help giving valid reasons like Rama's prowess and pointed out that they were in a forest filled with mayavis, and hence it might be a trick. Lakshman was following his brother's orders of staying back and protecting Sita. However, Sita blinded by her love and passion for Rama, rebuked Lakshman's reasonings,and questioned his intentions, thus slandering him, who had left behind everything to serve Rama and Sita.This is the first lapse.
The second lapse was crossing the Laksman Rekha.
The effect of crossing the lakshman Rekha was capture by Ravana.
The effect of the first lapse of slandering Lakshman was the cause for her separation from her Rama, due to a washerman's slander on her character.

Also, it was not just Sita who suffered because of the separation. Rama also paid the price for his lapse, of not being there to protect Sita and going for the deer(mareecha) against his better judgement.The separation was the effect his lapse too.

This is purely from the point of view of Dharma, a kind of balancing act.

Anonymous New Yorker said...

Reply-To Hawkeye and others:

Sorry for the delayed response. Someone called me a "mocker of religion" the other day. Here's something to recalibrate your reality. Do you know about the feeding habits of cows in America that go into milking? Milk is a pro Lacto-vegetarian/Indo-vegetarian food only as long as the cattle are fed on grain fodder/crop residues. Today, cattle feed in the U.S. is often a sum of animal parts including pigs, horse blood(for protein), as well as rendered cattle parts. Under current U.S. laws, cattle feed legally can contain rendered road kill, dead horses and euthanized dogs. Even a midwest countryside pug with half a brain would know this, don’t say you don’t. Not only are you consuming these dairy products throughout the day, you are presenting the same to God in the name of ritual offering, as a part of worship. We Indian-Americans are not even Hindus anymore. Having driven religion straight down the pisser, you wackjobs still come up with rhetorical forms of religious expression. At least I’m man enough to admit I patronize upscale bars & pubs in NY, and proudly announce myself as an Ovo-Lacto vegetarian.

I did some research on the rogue scholar and I'm quite surprised to know that he is a qualified chartered accountant and/or cost accounting professional. Someone who is skilled in manipulating a company’s sales revenue, expenditure, inventory costs and assets develops a conscience and considers a career change, now am I to believe that he has not used exaggerated, distorted or false versions of religious teachings? The first thing that comes to my mind is “tradition related interpretation bias”.

Having had an early Upnayan Sanksar at age 7, I do have a little vedic knowledge. But I’m not the religious type and I wouldn’t lower myself to the ritualistic nonsense. But yoga and meditative practice have certainly improved the quality of my life, and today, I’m one of the whitest white-collar professionals in New York. I was a great student at a great school, IIM-A. With all those religious discussions you can’t buy a clue to improve your living standards or your wandering concentration. The funny thing is, I don’t get along with the Asian Indian immigrants who were born in India. I get along with the U.S. born Indian-Americans better.

Think before you make silly/flaming comments on others, you look foolish otherwise.

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Anonymous said...

Ramayana at the ACT theatre in Seattle. Essential essence is lost maybe?

http://seattletimes.com/html/thearts/2019397833_ramayana14.html?cmpid=2628

Ambi said...

I have one question for the Anonymous New Yorker:

What is your criteria for deciding who a bonafide scholar is?

Srividhya said...

Wonderful post on Rama & Krishna and surprising fact to see Krishna termed Bramachari..

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