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I am a mystic madman, a wandering wildman, scholar of esoterica, dilettante sadhu, dready-headed hippie (only have a few jata on the back of my head right now, though more be forming of this third set of knotted hair), gentle yogi, fierce foe of falsity. I was a preacher, but I renounced that. I was married, but she renounced me. I was a grad student at one of the top universities in the world on my way to becoming a professor, but I realized they taught lies there too. I am protector of souls, lover of mountains, smoker of herb, fond of hot springs, oceans and lakes and rivers and rain and sunshine, devotee of Devi.

Hindu Gods and Goddesses

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Ramayana: Why is Ram such a jerk to Sita . . .?!

The Ramayana: Why is Ram such a jerk to Sita . . .?!

Though I've been turned on to the “Hindu” religion (more properly known as sanAtana dharma) since Shivaratri of 1997, I only recently purchased and perused a copy of one of the pinnacle sacred texts of said religion, the Ramayana. This epic tells of a King named Ram, who is in fact an incarnation of God, who loses His kingdom because of a jealous stepmother and then loses His wife to a demon king who kidnaps Her and takes Her across the sea to his kingdom Lanka (Sri Lanka). Ram battles many demons through the course of the story, and then with the help of the Monkey god Hanuman, Ram battles the demon king Ravana and then returns to rule His kingdom Ayodya.

A few things very much impressed me about the true tale told in the Ramayana, perhaps foremost (in a positive regard), that of the demons Rama slays through the course of the action, some find redemption delivered them through the wrath of God being exacted upon their hides. The first of these demons redirected towards dharma who find deliverance by Ram's wrath as mentioned in the tale told is the demon Mareecha.

Mareecha and Subhahu were a pair of huge and terrible demons who had desecrated the sacred fires and prayers and devotions of the sages at Vishwamitra's ashram. Ram and Lakshmana promised to protect the holy sages and their ashram, and laid in wait for the two vile demons to attack the sages. When they appeared, they looked like great hills of stone, hair red as blood and rotting flesh dripping from their claws. Rama and Lakshmana realized no ordinary arrows would fell these massive demons. Ram chanted a mantra Vishwamitra the great sage had taught Him, and His Manavastra weapon flew towards the demon Mareecha like lightning and thunder. The Manavastra struck Mareecha and conveyed him miles away and into the sea, where he sunk deep into the water and into the caves at the bottom of the sea, though to his surprise, Mareecha was still alive. Subhahu was readily slain and became but a pile of ashes.

Later in the story we discover that Mareecha had turned from his evil ways and was living as a hermit in a hut in the forest caring for the birds and animals. It turns out, Mareecha was uncle to Ravana, the villain of the story. Ravana comes to Mareecha to order him to disguise himself as a golden deer to help Ravana enact his plot to kidnap Sita. After attempting to disuade Ravana from his evil plan, Mareecha consents, recognizing it is his fate to be slain by the arrow of Rama. Mareecha does his duty and is indeed slain by Ram's arrow after leading Rama and His brother Lakshmana away from Sita, that Ravana might steal Her away to Lanka.

On another occasion, Rama and Sita and Lakshmana were wandering through the Dandaka forest, when a great and terrible demon came out of the forest covered with the entrails of dead animals and charged at them. Viradhha had blood dripping from his mouth and certainly stank of rot.

 Ram and Lakshmana flung many arrows at the raging demon, though none seemed to stay his rage until Ram aimed an arrow at the center of the demon's forehead, just above the brow. Rama placed His foot upon the throat of the fallen and dieing demon, when suddenly with a flash of light, the disgusting demon disappeared and a handsome young man with a kind visage rose from where the body had fallen.

The young man told Rama and Lakshmana that he had once been a Gandharva abiding in heaven, and had been cursed to become a demon living in the forest. Ram slaying him had freed him, and this angel freed from a curse soared away into the sky to assume his proper place singing and playing music in heaven. Gandharvah and Apsarasah are what in the Western religions are known as angels, the Gandharvah as heavenly musicians, and Apsarasah are flying nymphs who generally present themselves as chaste “angels” to the children of the Western traditions, due to the relative immaturity of most of those folks.

A third demon that Ram saves by savaging is a fellow named Kabandha, a rather curious demon who had his mouth in the center of his belly. Rama and Lakshmana slayed this foe, as they always did and do, and Kabandha said in a kind voice that he had been awaiting that day for years, cursed by Indra and Holy men for being a punk-ass, turning himself into an evil form to frighten people.

 A golden chariot drawn by six white horses appeared from the sky to convey Kabandha to heaven, though not before Kabandha tells Rama to seek Sugriva, the Chief of the Monkeys and thus directs Ram to Hanuman, the Monkey god, who both later help Rama to free Sita from Her bondage.

Indeed, from the account proffered in the Ramayana, it becomes apparent that sanAtana dharma, aka “Hinduism,” does offer a greater grace than the Abrahamic religions, as by performing their dharma even the demons can find redemption.

 What benificence!! What gracious and kind means this Divine!! Then why is Ram such a jerk to Sita, His purportedly beloved Wife, once He and Hanuman and the army of monkeys save Her from the clutches of Ravana?!
Upon Sita being rescued, She willing goes through the fire to prove Her purity and faithfulness to Ram, somewhat at His insistence. They return to Ayodya, and despite Sita having already proven Herself true, upon Ram's subjects calling Her into question Ram sends Sita away to live at the ashram of Valmiki, where She gives birth to Rama's Sons Cush and Luv.

What a jerk, right?!

Once Ram's servants, including Hanuman, come across the adolescent boys Cush and Luv in the forest, and are readily defeated by the scrappy boys, Ram goes into the forest with an army to confront these purported foes, and then discovers them to be His Sons.

 Though pleased to have found His Sons healthy and well trained and taught by Valmiki, and willing to take them to rule Ayodya with Him, Ram still refuses to take Sita back as His Wife and Divine Consort. Sita bows to Ram's will and apparent rejection, and chooses to return to Mother Earth from whnence She came.

WHAT A JERK!! Right?! After so many years of faithful devotion, and even after Ram's initial rejection, Sita still gives way to Ram's will, and returns to the earth from where She had emerged at Her infancy.

 What a jerk!!

 Lest you remember that said Divine Pair were for many lifetimes at play in love, and that They would return to earth as Radha and Krishna, again at play in their abiding love in the forest, as Radha, one of many Gopis, does follow Her Most Excellent Lover, pining after Him as He wanders the woods even as He's blessing so many other women with His loveplay, and again blessing Laksmi, Mother Earth and Goddess of Wealth and Beauty as She did manifest again to play with Her Beloved Vishnu.

Many lessons are taught in the Ramayana, if some require some patience and the surrender of notions of decency and propriety and what devotion means to discover. Among these lessons is that our life stories are not ever to be contained in one lifetime lived, as everyone's karma and dharma spans many lifes and many loves, even sometimes through very dispicible lifetimes and incarnations lived. Our dances with eachother and with “God” are to be read over lifetimes and in fact over the span of ages and eons . . . 

Namaste

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