By Dr Santosh Kumar Mohapatra*
While theists believe in the existence of God, atheists don’t believe in the existence of God and don’t accept what is written in mythology. Atheists think God is a myth. But this article does not deal with the existence of God but rather raises the question of why people’s religious faith and devotion to God is misutlised especially for political gain and religious faith is converted into religious fanaticism to divide and polarise society.
The ancient culture of India is famous all over the world, and Hinduism is considered the oldest religion. In the Hindu religion, many deities are worshipped. Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of lord Vishnu, is the central character of the Hindu epic Ramayana written by Valmiki and is considered the most important avatar of the deity in Hinduism. The original Ramayana by Valmiki is written in the form of poetic verse (shlokas), narrating the life of the legendary prince of Ayodhya, Lord Rama. It is believed that the scripture was authored based on information provided by Rama’s wife Sita, during her banishment from Ayodhya.
According to Valmiki, the seventh avatar of Vishnu did not know his divinity while in mortal form. He says, “I am only the son of King Dasaratha.” Yet there is an occasion when he “forgets” and behaves like the God he actually is. Lord Rama is believed to have lived in the Treta Yuga, 1.2 million years ago. Rama is considered to be an enlightened man, with great regard for morals and values. He has also been given the title of Maryada Purushottama, which means the perfect man.
Ram Navami is a Hindu festival that is celebrated in order to honour the birth of Lord Vishnu’s incarnation, Lord Rama. This day marks the end of the nine-day Chaitra-Navratri celebrations, which are celebrated in the Hindu month of Chaitra which falls on the cusp of spring and summer.
Wishing people, the auspicious occasion of Ram Navami on March 30, 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter, “‘Maryada Purushottam’ Lord Ram’s life was based on sacrifice, tapasya, restraint, and resolve. The life of Lord Ram will be an inspiration for humanity in every era”.
Home minister Amit Shah said that everyone should learn from Lord Ram to have “patience and a sense of kindness even in critical situations”. Best wishes to everyone on the great festival of Ram Navami. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Best wishes of Ram Navami to all the countrymen. I hope this auspicious festival brings happiness and prosperity in everyone’s life”.
But the question creeps into mind: why do most politicians especially the ruling class do just the opposite of Lord Rama’s ideals while advising people to emulate him? Why people’s devotion to Lord Rama is utilized for political gain? Why religion is mixed with politics. For the present ruling dispensation at the Centre, Lord Rama and the building of the Rama temple are used for the electoral dividend.
The concept of Rama Rajya as envisaged by Gandhiji is a far cry.
Let’s take a look at the best of his qualities He has even been defined as, “the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, and above all, the ideal king,” by Swami Vivekananda. He was the epitome of kindness, sympathy, truthfulness spirituality, humility, and sensitiveness .Lord Rama is revered in Indian mythology for his exemplary leadership and his commitment to the values of truth, justice, and compassion. Rama is the embodiment of chivalry and virtue. For millions of Bharatiyas, Lord Rama’s life is seen as a life of holy compliance, purity, simplicity, self-sacrifice, and renunciation. Lord Rama was famous for visionary leadership, ethical decisions, empathy and compassion, effective communication, adaptability, and resilience. But the present ruling class who cites the name of Lord Rama lacks all the above qualities
However, Lord Rama is being criticised on three aspects: the way he banished Sita and asked her to testify chastity that led to her immolation; the deceptive way he killed Bali; killed Shambhuk, a shudra ascetic, for attempting to perform tapas in violation of dharma, resulting in the bad karma. Another speculation behind the killing of Shambuka is that he wanted to get killed by Lord Rama so that he could attain salvation. Dr B R Ambedkar was a great critic of Lord Rama.
However, Lord Rama was loyal to Sita and never thought of a woman other than Sita in his entire life when polygamy was the order of the day. Even after Sita vanishes, he never married again. Ram was a one-woman man with great love for his wife Sita. He resisted any temptation that could come in the way of his love for his wife. But now people worship Lord Rama, but extramarital or illicit sexual relation is rampant. People are changing life partners frequently even like clothes.
He was satisfied with whatever he had, even a little less couldn’t have bothered him. For one, his lack of greed, when he promptly accepts being exiled. But today, human beings have become greedy especially powerful, and rich, and politicians have become avaricious for any wealth and power. They want to accumulate power and wealth at any cost or by hook or crook transcending all moral values. Human beings have become so greedy, and rapacious that it is overexploiting nature leading to natural catastrophe.
Most of the time, the Rama temples are overcrowded with devotees but you will find many of such devotees neglecting their parents just contrasting to Rama’s ideology who voluntarily embraced the punishment of a self-imposed exile and ascetic life of fourteen years to uphold the honour of his father’s vow. Even though Dashrath refused him to go, Rama obeyed his step-mother Kaikei’s order because he cannot see his father’s image getting low in front of the public.
Today, nobody is prepared to share others’ problems. But Rama’s decision was braced by his younger stepbrother Lakshmana, and Rama’s wife Sita, who willingly accompanied him to the forest. They led ascetic lives while today rich/powerful/politicians want to lead a cosy life at any cost.
Further, Lord Rama had a kind and forgiving nature while people especially the present ruling class is found to be vindictive. Despite the great wrong she has done to him, Lord Rama behaved Kaikeyi politely, and humbly and told Sita and Lakshmana to do the same.
Lord Rama was encouraging dissent so as to address people’s problems. He was trying to know about people’s feelings about his governance so as to remedy the same. Now politicians are totally insensitive to people’s suffering and impoverishment of the masses.
He never talked about his goodness or greatness or achievements but rather tried to know where his weakness was in his governance. But, now ruling dispensation at the Centre is always resorting to advertisement blitzkrieg to magnify their achievements and camouflage failures. Every day, there is a new slogan, shifting the goalpost. Neither attempt is made to know the weakness in governance nor effort taken to address the problems of the masses.
Now dissent is treated as treason, hatred is created against those who expose failures of government or make a critical analysis of government policy. Deliberately scurrilous, abusive language is used against dissenters or critics. Media is not allowed to express independent views and is battered, and pounded to present a rosy picture about governance and obfuscate failures of government
Lord Rama was against corruption and criminal activities. But now corruption and criminal activities are rampant. According to a report by an NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), people having criminal activities are more likely to win the election. The chances of winning for a candidate with declared criminal cases in the Lok Sabha 2019 was 15.5 per cent whereas for a candidate with a clean background, it was 4.7 per cent.
According to a report by ADR, as per the details mentioned in the self-sworn affidavits, out of the 539 winners analysed in Lok Sabha 2019, nearly 43 per cent or 233 MPs had declared criminal cases against themselves.
This is an increase of 44 per cent in the number of MPs with declared criminal cases since 2009. Out of the 542 MPs analysed during Lok Sabha elections in 2014, 185 (34 per cent) winners had declared criminal cases against themselves while out of 543 winners analysed during Lok Sabha elections in 2009, 162 (30 per cent) had declared criminal cases against themselves.
There is an increase of 109 per cent in the number of MPs with declared serious criminal cases since 2009. There is an increase of 109 per cent in the number of MPs with declared serious criminal cases since 2009.
Among the new Lok Sabha MPs, there are 10 who have declared convicted cases against themselves. There are 11 MPs with declared cases related to murder (Indian Penal Code Section-302) and 30 winners with declared cases of attempt to murder (IPC Section-307). There are 19 MPs who have declared cases related to crimes against women. Out of these, three have declared cases related to rape (IPC Section-376) and six have declared cases related to kidnappings.. Around 29 winners have declared cases related to hate speech.
Anybody believing in philosophy of Lord Rama will never allow people with criminal records in Cabinet. He/she will never allow rich to dominate or garner major share. According to ADR, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new Cabinet, which comprises of 58 ministers, has a total of 51 crorepatis. While the average assets of all the ministers’ account for Rs 14.12 crore, four ministers have declared more than Rs 40 crore worth of assets.
Lord Rama is not about “Hindu identity” but about “Hindu values”. If Lord Rama wanted to spread Hinduism, he could have converted all the Rakshasas/demons into his own clan after killing Ravana. But he preferred not to do so. The fight was over principles and not over the identity of the two parties involved in the war. They are the same principles on which we need to fight today rather than fighting over identity. The principles of truthfulness, integrity, and honesty need to be rejuvenated in our society, and obsession with identity needs to be reduced.
‘Mahatma Gandhi brought ‘Rama Rajya’ into contemporary discourse. A devout Hindu, Gandhi was greatly influenced by the teachings of the Ramayana. But what did Rama Rajya mean in the 20th century in the Gandhian sense? Ram Rajya’ envisages a society in which virtue, morality, and justice are the core ideals around which day-to-day interactions between citizen and citizen and state and citizen occur.
According to Gandhiji, Rama Rajya means both prince and pauper have equal rights. Ramarajya does not mean Hindu Raj. Rama Rajya means Divine Raj, the Kingdom of God. For Gandhi Rama and Rahim are one and the same deity. I acknowledge no other God but the one God of truth and righteousness, Gandhiji said . But the ruling classes do not adhere to the philosophy of Lord Rama.
There is a saying that service to humanity is service to the Almighty. God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Duty is God. Then why, there is religious fundamentalism, why are temple politics so rampant? Why so much hatred for other communities? Why religion is mixed with politics?
The author is an Odisha-based eminent columnist/economist and social thinker. He can be reached through e-mail at [email protected]
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of Sambad English.
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