Apne apne Ram…. each to his own

One of the most misunderstood characters in our Indian mythology is Ram. Who is Ram? The eldest and the most dutiful son of Dashrath, who was the heir to the throne of Ayodhya. Due to the evil scheming of his step mother, who wanted the throne for her own son, Ram was sent to the jungle for 14 years. For fourteen years, Ram traversed the jungle along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman. In this time his wife was abducted by the Rakshasa king Ravan and Ram fought a war with him to get his wife back. Ravan was killed in this battle and his kingdom was handed over to his youngest brother Vibhishan. When ram returned to Ayodhya after 14 years with his wife, his subjects started casting aspersions at Sita’s character as she had been abducted and was at the mercy of king Ravan. Thus after a test of her purity and her character Ram was compelled to leave a pregnant Sita in the forest, even though she was proven to be pure!!!

What I have narrated above is a very short and maybe a biased version of the epic Ramayana as I see it. I believe as a person grows in age, his perception towards a lot of things which have been constants in his life, change. He starts to see things differently.

Ram is perceived to be a god in our country. He is one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. In my own mind, I see Ram as a man who is trying to stand right by whatever his beliefs are. He is called the “Maryada Purushottam”, which literally translates to “the best amongst men who knows his boundaries and respects them”. when I was younger I saw him as a very cruel person who left his wife and couldn’t protect her just because somebody had raised questions about her character. What my young mind failed to see at that point was that Ram was supposed to protect his subjects as a king too. It was one of his supreme dharma’s or sacred duties. If the subjects could not trust him with their beliefs and their insecurities, and in case he was unable to take care of their insecurities, the kingdom that he had left for 14 years, would have become weaker than what it was when he inherited it.

Ram surely could not keep Sita with him due to the social pressure, but he made sure that she was safe and under the care of an ascetic whom he trusted. Unlike the king of those times and Indian gods too, Ram chose to remain faithful to his wife. He never married and never entered into any alliance with any other woman. He even performed a sacred ceremony with a gold statue of his wife kept by his side. Such ceremonies are considered inauspicious if performed without a spouse. Such was his devotion to Sita. Ram was also a very dutiful son. Ram’s stepmother had made his father promise that Ram would go to the forest. He could have refused to go the forest as he was not bound by the promise he father had made, but Ram chose to honour the words of his father as was expected from a future king and a duty bound son.

I have no intentions of portraying Ram as infallible. He had his own flaws. What I do believe is that he had a choice between Ram as a husband and Ram as a king, and he chose to be a king rather than a husband. This choice may not have been  a prudent one, but it was what he thought was best at the time. That is what i admire, to make a tough choice and then to stick by it, because it makes sense for greater good.

He might not be one of the most colourful characters of our mythology but he was one of the strongest. He is one of the foremost examples of my belief that the test of true strength is not how much a person can make the other suffer but it lies in enduring and braving the odds to emerge victorious.

From Ram I have learnt that to maintain a position of responsibility one has to sacrifice one’s own wants and attain a level of patience. To inspire the trust of people you want to live with, you have to first repose your trust in them, even if it is to your personal detriment.

Ram teaches us to be multi-dimensional; to develop humility. If only we all could try to adopt even one dimension of his character, the world would be a better place.

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The long walk….. from anger to happiness

Anger is a futile emotion. It does nothing for you, just burns your heart and makes you cry for revenge. All those endless hours of plotting and saying the right things that should have been said. All the pent-up emotion an a seething rage which is more often than not impotent. Impotent  because nothing can be done be about it, if anything could have, you wouldn’t be angry in the first place. Anger is a result of events that have culminated with an end which make no sense to you. It may have brought satisfactory end to someone else but not the one who is angry.

The biggest question that I face is, how to channelise my anger. There are many self-help books,many gurus, and many counsellors who suggest different ways to vent the emotion, but nothing really works. When I am done being angry, I become tired. the exhaustion that surrounds me sometimes lasts for days. I have tried a lot of things, but nothing is useful. I have tried mindless TV watching, walking, cursing, writing down choicest of swear words and burning them, nothing works. Sometimes, I have to literally shout at myself to just shut up; to stop talking or shouting.

The point of this article is to find out something that actually helps me blow the anger away. I don’t want to stay angry anymore. I want to be at peace, be happy. I guess the only way is to let go. till that happens it’s very difficult to find peace. One should remember the famous saying that “That’s the best revenge of all: happiness. Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good f*****g life.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club and several other novels

I guess he is right, no matter what you do unless and until you are happy and content with yourself, you will not be able to throw the anger away.

Man, woman and violence

With the increasing number of sexual crimes being committed in the country, I am both alarmed and disturbed. What has changed that has marked such an increasing rate of violence against women. Violence seems to be the only answer our men have, whether it is the comfort of their own homes or workplace. What I believe is that men in general think that sexual subjugation will give them a semblance of control that they are fast losing in the ever-changing “equal” world that they live in.

Most of the people that we work along with are not sexual predators, they are not even close to being violent people, but why has this streak of violence surfaced in the recent times. I believe as the female population all over the world is busting myths, taking over the so-called male bastions, it is making the other half of our population insecure. places which they considered sanctimonious, jokes which they considered were their birthright are now being questioned. What they fail to understand is how this “physically frail” and the  “intellectually incompetent group” has been able to take a place in society that is rightfully theirs. This anger has to manifest itself somewhere, whether it is at home or outside. Men are born with the perception that they are superior beings and if  a woman is doing something, it is because they allow her to be the person she aspires to be.

It is disturbing to see that the so-called sophisticated and educated population of our cities also follow this kind of the thought process. The behaviour pattern changes with the kind of company they keep. A lot of men keep their sentiments to themselves and others protest vehemently complaining and getting agitated if a woman around them is gaining some control over her life.

Is it so difficult for people to accept that women in general can have aspirations that go beyond the boundaries created by men in their lives and that they as human beings have a right to be free to think and live as they choose?

Disposable Life

I went to the store to buy a fountain pen for myself and the shopkeeper showed me a disposable one. The first thought that came to my mind was why would anyone want to use a Disposable Fountain Pen. Fountain pens are all about permanency, about being there always, ever since you could start thinking of owning a pen forever.

Is that what life is all about in the modern day… keeping things simple, no complications, use and throw? Why has every little thing come to be measured in terms of utility rather than longevity. if you fail to be useful you should be disposed off. even human relations are measured in the same way. One cannot be complacent about the fact that they will accepted just because they are what they are. Life has become a measuring cup and you have to reach up the set levels or standards.

Maybe its delving too deep into an insignificant thing but then what is significant in life are these small experiences..!! isn’t it??!!

a land of contradictions

It is a very fascinating country that I live in and everyday I am amazed to learn something new and gain a new perspective about the Indian society. It is a diverse and a complex social structure. we are so modern and progressive in so many ways and yet traditional and regressive at times.

It has already been expressed many times that it is country of contradictions. Indeed it is. Let alone the differences and diversity in  two different parts of the country, I believe each Indian, as an individual is also an example of how contradictions in oneself can create a unique person. Not that I am underestimating other countrymen to not be examples of contradictions, they too might be. It’s just that our belief system is so diverse that the blend of our conservative and  modern selves fascinates me. we believe in making a mark for our selves professionally but still believe that we are unable to make rational choices for ourselves personally. We dress conservatively, but our thoughts take us to a world which is more liberated that we have ever thought of.

I have met people residing in the most backward of places, with access to no modern amenities talking and practising “modern” beliefs. They talk and practice equality of ideas, equality of sexes and believe in protecting individual liberties. People who respect humankind. Then there are those who reside in the so-called metropolitan cities, have all the amenities of life and still believe that some men are born inferior us and deserve what they get because they are belong to that strata of the society.

For me freedom of thought, freedom to question our surroundings and the freedom to just be, is the ultimate type of freedom. It should not be limited just because I belong to a particular sex, a particular caste or a particular section of the society. This is the contradiction which is beyond my understanding. I know of the most regressive looking households and people who believe and practice such liberty and I also have seen and experienced very “posh” members of the society who believe that the freedom of others is a luxury that they afford them just because the other person is living in the same household such people firmly believe that the freedom given to the members belonging to the household should be controlled. I believe we can be traditional in our way of living but let us be modern enough to accept and appreciate new ideas.

Indian social structure, like many others is changing. We are trying to imbibe new things. I think we should also try to retain the liberty of thoughts that has been given to us as a gift since ancient times. That is what makes us different and unique.

Then and now

When i was younger there were a lot of things to do and learn, even though there was no internet and smartphones. Those days you were really thought to be smart or cool if you knew facts and figures or if you could answer current affairs and general knowledge questions without batting an eyelid. Shows like Bournvita quiz contests were not only popular but for most of us it was an aspiration that we secretly had. It did not matter if you were wearing branded clothes or not. The good old days, where reading was considered to be a virtue.

When i think about it, i feel our kids would not be at all able to relate to a time when we had to scour the books for information, it wasn’t available to you readily just by “googling” it. Nowadays, you are considered a cool kid if you have an expensive smart phone and a tablet in your hand, some free cash to spend on your friends. You are considered a geek or a nerd if you talk about education, books, or in general, gaining knowledge. I have nothing against this generation, it’s just that, materialism has taken over these kids and they do not understand that human values are not dependant on your material possessions, but who you are when you are stripped of those possessions. True self of a person is reflected when it comes to the most basic of things. Character cannot be taught. it has to be inculcated.

Sometimes, i really want to go back in those days when life was simpler and uncomplicated. I did not have to worry about keeping my phone charged or updating every second of my life on twitter. Today life has taken a back seat and the procurement of things that should make life easy have become our priority. Just like William Wordsworth’s idyllic wanderings amongst the land of Daffodils and the true enjoyment of solitude.

(Note; I tried to search for Daffodils on google and Wordsworth’s poem did not feature as the first search result on the page. What an irony)

Perceptions

I love surprises. small ones, big ones. they just make my day.

When I was younger I used  create these surprises for myself. I would never ask my mother what she had packed for lunch in school. the moment when I opened my lunch box was my own, filled with anticipation and excitement. My own daily dosage of surprise. The sheer joy that such a small action could give is unparalleled to many big things in my life. Those were some pure unadulterated moments of being happy. I still do it…. I save the best for last and am feel happy to “open”or “reveal” my surprises at the end.

I have noticed as children we used to simplify things, if the opportunities were not there we would create them, not whine about them. if surprise were not possible everyday, make your own surprise. We were not dependent on anyone for our happiness…………. As we grow up we forget to create such opportunities of happiness for ourselves,we forget that it is better to simplify things and be happy about them rather than being in your own complex mind web and depending on others to remain happy.

We spend our whole life in the fear of perceptions. We are busy in trying to project ourselves as someone we think we are. Most of our life is spent proving the same to ourselves and others around us. Sometimes I feel that I am not the person I think I am or the people around me see as “me”. Now at this juncture, when I am not too old and not too young, not too naive and yet not too wise, I would first like to stop for a minute and try to figure out who really I am.  Is the person I think I am, only in my head? I guess, parts of me only exists in my head. And this is true for most of us.

Also, perception of an individual also varies from person to person. for some I may be a very sincere, honest and trustworthy person; and someone else may find me the biggest snob around them. It all really is in our head.

We have forgetten who we are and what we really want from our life.

This photo, “Perception” is by Felix and is made available under a Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)