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..RamKiJanaki..

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..RamKiJanaki..

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Posted: 24 October 2009 at 6:50pm | IP Logged
Hi Guys,

Recently, in many threads, Ramayan and Mahabharat have become the center of discussion no matter what the subject is (I admit, most of the fault lies with meEmbarrassed) and to avoid that (and also to satiate my hunger for mytho debates), I've created this thread so that we can discuss the actions of some characters/events which are often the subject of debate.

Unlike what some people think, I am not against people questioning the actions of the 'good' characters. I very much enjoy debating about the holy puranas of Hinduism. Believe me, we've had very interesting and fun debates about the decisions taken by Vibhishanji, Dashrathji, Yudhistir, Karn, Draupadi, and even Lord Ram and Lord Krishna in the Ramayan and Jai Shri Krishna Forums.

Also, debates about mythology and scriptural stories from other cultures and religions is also welcome, so that we can learn about the scriptures of other religions in the process.Smile

The only rule is: please do not call any character ('good' or 'bad') names which may offend the sentiments of others. For example, please refrain from calling Draupadi a you-know-what, even if you may feel so, because it honestly does hurt some people's sentiments, and it is words like those that create arguments. Instead, question the purity of her actions in more respectable words, and others may be able to offer an explanation for you.

I'll start with a question, and see where this goes....

Do you think Vibhishan is a Kul Drohi or not? Was he right in joining Shri Ram and forsaking Ravan, or did his duty lie in supporting Ravan even when he knew his elder brother was doing wrong?


~Lalitha~
Hug


Edited by _LalithaJanaki_ - 12 November 2009 at 9:09pm

The following 2 member(s) liked the above post:

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casper2

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Posted: 24 October 2009 at 11:27pm | IP Logged
nice topic janaki ji I m sure we ll soon have some fireworks here. Me the first for post diwali fireworks here LOL
Vibhishan was a betrayer. No one talks highly of him. If he did not approve of his bro did not mean he shud divulge all secrets to enemy. He even forgot to giv a cremation to Ravana ex king & bro

casper2

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Posted: 24 October 2009 at 11:28pm | IP Logged

sorry DPEmbarrassed



Edited by crazy_sunny - 24 October 2009 at 11:29pm

return_to_hades

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Posted: 25 October 2009 at 12:05am | IP Logged
Thanks for the fireworks Lalitha_Janaki, I was getting twinkly toed with all the fluff enough. I need controversy to keep my mind working.


Getting to your first question in this topic. Its not really easy to answer that question in a simple black and white answer. Even though Ravana is portrayed as the villain in Ramayana, his character is not completely evil. As a king and ruler he was a good and just king. His people and kingdom prospered under his kingdom. Ravana was also a very pious and devout man who deeply revered Shiva.

Two things got to Ravana. Pride comes before a fall. Even though he was a good king, he had become too proud and arrogant as a person. While he was known to be a womanizer of sorts, he never actually lusted after Sita. It was because Shurpanakha instigated him that he kidnapped Sita in the first place.

Perhaps the entire fiasco could have been avoided had he not let his sister sway him into something so extreme. And his sister would have not swayed him, had he not had so much misplaced pride.

Now coming to Vibheeshana's actions from the perspective of a family and a brother, he is a traitor. He betrayed his family. He led to the fall of his brother and their kingdom. From the perspective of a human being standing for what is right, he is a hero. He was not blinded by any mortal ties, he stood his ground for what he believed to be right.

Taking it into a more real life perspective of the conflict between  loyalty/duty and humanity. After all scriptures are meant to serve as benchmarks for real life applications.

I have always pondered over how one should perceive Claus von Stauffenberg. Is he a traitor or a martyr. Depicted in the movie Valkyrie he is the famous Nazi general behind the July 20 plot to kill Hitler. He said " I'm a soldier, but in serving my country, I have betrayed my conscience". He was ultimately executed for his betrayal.

An important aspect of a soldiers code of conduct and honor is that he follow command. Treason is considered one of the highest and most disgusting crimes against a nation. Especially when against their own country and government. However, to most people Nazi Germany was a cruel country and government and had to be brought down. From a humanitarian perspective Claus was a hero, but from a soldier's code he was a traitor.

The movie Stop Loss portrays American soldiers who desert and run away because they are disillusioned by the war in Iraq or feel dehumanized and used by their government. There is constant debate on if these soldiers deserve to be criminally charged as traitors or be forgiven as humans. I think solutions and choices are not easy in this world. One man's ceiling is another man's floor.

Upon introspect it seems that the higher ground is in choosing the humanitarian path - standing by what your conscience guides you, standing by what is deemed righteous. However, in doing so you have to betray one part of yourself. The greatest choices in life are not between good and evil, but in choosing the greater good of two or the lesser evil of two.

I'm not too well versed with Ramayana. My Mahabharata is better so looking forward to more Mahabharata related questions.

Btw do you mind turning this into a discussion of scriptures and other mythological/religious stories and characters. That is if everyone can do it respectfully. I am sure there are people out there with many questions to be grappled with philosophically. If anyone did not know Greek is my forte.



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Vinzy

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Posted: 25 October 2009 at 12:52am | IP Logged
My view... Vibishan is a CheaterSmilein myth theres no valid truth....so no point to debate!

..RamKiJanaki..

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..RamKiJanaki..

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Posted: 25 October 2009 at 4:59am | IP Logged
Hi Guys, thanks for your replies.....will reply to each of you personally later on as I'm in a bit of a hurry right now. But here are a few replies from members Vibhishna, Purvi, and Vrisha from the Ramayan Form where we had a debate about Vibhishan's integrity....thought you might be interested in their replies.....will post my own soon as well. Here's the link if you want to read the entire debate (it's only 6 pages long).
Originally posted by Vibhishna

Many people have different opinions of Vibhishan. I am merely expressiing my own. I do not mean to offend anyone. A similar discussion did come up in Vanar Sena Club (Started in page 10 and then continues in pages 13, 14).

Thank you Rajnish ji, Suniti ji, Lalitha ji, Mallika ji for expressing your views so elaborately for all to understand.
 
I may be repeating what is said earlier, but I'm doing so to stress some points.
 
First of all, one must think from Vibhishan's point of view to understand him. Its perfectly true that no one can stand the humiliation of being literally 'kicked' out in front of the whole court. I can't even imagine how much it would have hurt him. Someone he had respected as a father had disowned him and kicked him out that too for the lust of a woman. No respectable person will stay in the same place after all this. What Ravan did was not correct. Abducting a woman after tricking her husband and brother in law away from her and taking her away when she was helpless was a very cowardly thing to do. Its perfectly true that none of Ravan's ministers were brave enough to speak against him. It takes a great deal of courage to stand up against one's enemies. It takes even more greater courage to stand up against your friends and family when they do something wrong especially when they are elder to you (I know this is a quote from Harry Potter - I'm just quoting it here as it fits the situation and its perfectly true Wink). 
 
A question may arise that why did Vibhishan go to Ram after being thrown out of Lanka. Why didn't he retire to a forest or some other place and spend the rest of his days quietly? The reason, I think, is this . . .
Vibhishan was a true devotee of Lord Vishnu and Lord Ram. Ravan had thrown him out and not even one person from his family or friends or his subjects ever spoke for him. They did not persuade Ravan that he should not throw out his brother fro telling the truth. After all, Vibhishan spoke that way only for Ravan's wellbeing and not that he wanted to hurt him or scold him. When his whole family had deserted him, and when he was so hurt by what his brother did what would a person like Vibhishan do? A true devotee like him will run straight to his lord (the God he worships) and seek shelter at his Lord's feet. This is exactly what Vibhishan did. (I think it was his ministers and friends who advised him to do so and not his mother. I read a story that Kekasi (Ravan's mother) died soon after Ravan had tried to bring the Aatma Linga to Lanka and was thwarted by the devas and Lord Ganesha in this attempt.) When everyone he knew had deserted him is it not natural that he seeked shelter from the one he had worshiped all his life?
 
Secondly, though its true that Ravan was a great devotee, he had comitted many sins. Like the many asur and rakshas kings before him, he was truly devoted and gained many boons. But when he misused them, he was punished for what he did. It was his devotion that protected him for such a long time. But when he crossed the limit, there was nothing to save him. He brought destruction not only upon himself but upon his whole family.
 
 
Thirdly (and most importantly), whether Vibhishan gave out the secrets of his family or not, Ram would have definitely won the war. With Vibhishan's guidance and timely help for to his friends, the war was won sooner. Without Vibhishan, though it may have taken a bit longer, Ram would have definitely won the war. Righteousness always wins. It can never be otherwise. Vibhishan could have told Ram everything about Ravan and others on the first day of meeting Ram. But Vibhishan never told them the secret till there was no other option and he considered it his duty to save the lives of his friends who shelterd him when his family had thrown him out. If Ravan had not thrown him out, Vibhishan too would have died fighting for Ravan.
 
Vibhishan was never weak. He remained strong even in the most trying of circumstances. Though he knew about Ravan's temper and that his blindness to reason when he was enamoured by women, he still endeavoured to talk sense into his brother. He never craved the throne and accepted it only because it was offerd by the one whom he seeked shelter from. It would have been disrespectful of Vibhishan if he had refused the first thing that was given by his friend and protector. If he had wanted the throne, he need not have joined Lord Ram for it. He could have just stayed back and egged his brother in the wrong path and awaited his brother's demise to snatch the throne. It was also possible that Ram could have claimed Lanka as a part of his own kingdom after his victory. Ram was the king of Ayodhya and if he had conquered Lanka and defeated Ravan, the kingdom of Lanka will belong to Ram. That was the laws of war at those times. And when Vibhishan left Lanka, Ravan had a huge and capable army. He didn't even know that Ram was going to offer him the kingdom. In fact, he just hoped that Ram would grant him shelter and that was all he wanted. Thus, Vibhishan could not have gone to Ram expecting to be given the kingdom of Lanka. Ram offered to make him the king of Lanka and Vibhishan in turn promised to help Ram as a friend. And this he chose to do because Ram was fighting for a righteous cause. Maharishi Valmiki often refers to Vibhishan as sage Vibhishan. This is an acknowledgement of his good character and selflessness.
 
Its true that Vibhishan joined Ram not because of Ram but because Ram's cause was a righteous one. It is also true that being a true devotee like Hanuman, he recognised the Lord which Ravan failed to do.
 
 
That's all for now friends. Again, apologies for such a long reply.
 
 
Originally posted by coolpurvi

Great discussion going on. Wonderful explantion by everyone. I just want to add one thing. For many people Vibhishan is a selfish brother.  To them I want to say that when he advised infact prayed Ravna to return Sita what was his selfish interest? He was never selfish while giving advices. He just wanted welfare of his elder brother n country. Being diplomat is not a sin esp when ur  in high position or office of a country. Vibhishna correctly assessed the might of Sri Ram n he wanted to avoid the war to stop destruction of his country. Even today we see state officials diplomats use negotiations n avoid war to prevent destruction. Are they wrong or coward or selfish? Vibhishan was responsible minister n good diplomat. But it was Ravan who cud not see things beyond is own ego n kicked an insuted him infront of everyone.

Now regariding revealing secret of his brother n kingdom before Lord Ram I want to say that when Vivhishan changed his side he honestly served Lord Ram to fullest.

There is old saying "Ghar ka bhedi Lanka dhaaye". With due respect to the originator of this saying I want to say that I do not agree with it. Vibhishan was not against Lanka he was only aginst its unjust reign of Ravan. In earleir days there was no differnce between the King/Ruler  n  State/country/kingdom. But Vibhishan differntated between the two. Vibhishan was against the unjust ruler of Lanka n not Lanka. When Ravan has himself first disowned him infront of everyone explicitly the how he cud claim that Vibhishan played foul by helping Ram. Ravan was the first person who renounced  this relation
 
Originally posted by Vrisha

Originally posted by coolpurvi

There is old saying "Ghar ka bhedi Lanka dhaaye". With due respect to the originator of this saying I want to say that I do not agree with it. Vibhishan was not against Lanka he was only aginst its unjust reign of Ravan. In earleir days there was no differnce between the King/Ruler  n  State/country/kingdom. But Vibhishan differntated between the two. Vibhishan was against the unjust ruler of Lanka n not Lanka. When Ravan has himself first disowned him infront of everyone explicitly the how he cud claim that Vibhishan played foul by helping Ram. Ravan was the first person who renounced  this relation
I agree with this, and Vibs, Mandodari & I had a discussion on this in the vanar club a few weeks ago.  Essentially, who was the one who came up with this 'proverb'?  I mean, if one wants a figure out of the epics who betrayed his or her family, why not pick Kaikeyi?  In her case, while she treated Kaushalya and Sumitra with the utmost disrespect throughout her marriage, Rama was always her favorite (until Manthara poisoned her mind against him), and her disdain for Kaushalya did not translate into a disdain for Rama.  Which is why Dasharath thought that when he was making Rama the yuvraj, he'd have her support on that.  So when she turned around and misused her boons the way she did, that was the ultimate betrayal.

Mandodari made a good point that Kaikeyi didn't join hands with a foreign enemy the way Vibhishan did.  However, I'd argue that causing so much pain and suffering in the family is trecherous enough, and  whether or not external factors are involved is immaterial.  Here, the fact that the fates required Rama's exile is irrelevant: Kaikeyi did not exile Rama so that he could kill Ravan, she just wanted him out of the way so that Bharat could rule.  So if one has to pluck somebody out of the epics to symbolize a traitor, why not Kaikeyi, who's much more deserving of this ignomy than Vibhishan?


Edited by _LalithaJanaki_ - 25 October 2009 at 5:03am

..RamKiJanaki..

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..RamKiJanaki..

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Posted: 25 October 2009 at 5:24am | IP Logged
Originally posted by crazy_sunny

nice topic janaki ji I m sure we ll soon have some fireworks here. Me the first for post diwali fireworks here LOL You're welcome. Yeah, we probably will have fireworks, but as long as it doesn't become too much of a heated topic, it's good.
Vibhishan was a betrayer. No one talks highly of him. I talk highly of him, along with every one of my close mytho crazy friends. Vibhishan is one of our fav characters.Smile If he did not approve of his bro did not mean he shud divulge all secrets to enemy. He did it for the good of the country, like a true minister/diplomat. If Ravan himself kicked Vibhishan out of Lanka (literally), what right did he have to say Vibhishan was Kul Drohi? Ravan was Kul Drohi because he sent his sons and brother (Kumbhkaran) out to battle though one by one, they all were dying. He should have realized after half his sons died that to win against Ramji was impossible, but his own ego stopped him from surrendering, though it would have benefited his family and kingdom. That's how I define a Kul Drohi. He even forgot to giv a cremation to Ravana ex king & bro Which Ramayan is your source for this? Both in Valmiki and RCM, Vibhishan gives cremation to Ravan and even refuses to ascend the throne on the basis that he feels he did not deserve it. He wanted Ram or one of his brothers to become King of Lanka, but Ram convinced him that it was his duty as last living relative of Ravan. 

..RamKiJanaki..

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..RamKiJanaki..

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Posted: 25 October 2009 at 6:09am | IP Logged
Originally posted by return_to_hades

Thanks for the fireworks Lalitha_Janaki, I was getting twinkly toed with all the fluff enough. I need controversy to keep my mind working. Hmm, your welcome.LOL Count on me to start the fireworks. 


Getting to your first question in this topic. Its not really easy to answer that question in a simple black and white answer. Of course not, that wouldn't make it a debatable question, would it? Even though Ravana is portrayed as the villain in Ramayana, his character is not completely evil. As a king and ruler he was a good and just king. His people and kingdom prospered under his kingdom. Ravana was also a very pious and devout man who deeply revered Shiva. Yes, you are right that when it did not come to women or pride, Ravan was a good and pious King. However, he did do atrocities other than abduction women and forcing them to be his wives, like killing any sage who did yagnas to Lord Vishnu. 

Two things got to Ravana. Pride comes before a fall. Even though he was a good king, he had become too proud and arrogant as a person. While he was known to be a womanizer of sorts, he never actually lusted after Sita. It was because Shurpanakha instigated him that he kidnapped Sita in the first place. True, but when he saw Sita in Panchavati, he did have a deep desire to make her his wife, that went beyond Shurpanakha's instigations. 

Perhaps the entire fiasco could have been avoided had he not let his sister sway him into something so extreme. And his sister would have not swayed him, had he not had so much misplaced pride. Maybe...but there could have been another incident later on when he lusted after someone else's wife. His problem was his weakness to women, though he had one of the best wives of all in Mandodari. So if not Sita, then someone else, right? Eventually, Ravan and Vibhishan would have had a falling out sooner or later. 

Now coming to Vibheeshana's actions from the perspective of a family and a brother, he is a traitor. He betrayed his family. Maybe, maybe not...but what need did Ravan have to insult him in front of his whole court and literally kick him out when Vibhishan merely tried to advise him to the right path? His only well wisher, not counting Mandadari, he kicked out without any previous thought...cannot that be taken as his own actions leading him to his downfall? He led to the fall of his brother and their kingdom. Ravan's actions, and his lust for war with Ramji led to the fall of their kingdom. A King's actions always directly affects his kingdom, not a minister's. From the perspective of a human being standing for what is right, he is a hero. He was not blinded by any mortal ties, he stood his ground for what he believed to be right.

Taking it into a more real life perspective of the conflict between  loyalty/duty and humanity. After all scriptures are meant to serve as benchmarks for real life applications.

I have always pondered over how one should perceive Claus von Stauffenberg. Who is he? Is he a traitor or a martyr. Depicted in the movie Valkyrie he is the famous Nazi general behind the July 20 plot to kill Hitler. He said " I'm a soldier, but in serving my country, I have betrayed my conscience". He was ultimately executed for his betrayal.

An important aspect of a soldiers code of conduct and honor is that he follow command. Treason is considered one of the highest and most disgusting crimes against a nation. Especially when against their own country and government. However, to most people Nazi Germany was a cruel country and government and had to be brought down. From a humanitarian perspective Claus was a hero, but from a soldier's code he was a traitor.

The movie Stop Loss portrays American soldiers who desert and run away because they are disillusioned by the war in Iraq or feel dehumanized and used by their government. There is constant debate on if these soldiers deserve to be criminally charged as traitors or be forgiven as humans. I think solutions and choices are not easy in this world. One man's ceiling is another man's floor.

Upon introspect it seems that the higher ground is in choosing the humanitarian path - standing by what your conscience guides you, standing by what is deemed righteous. However, in doing so you have to betray one part of yourself. Very true. I do not believe Vibhishan found it easy to go against his family, but what could he do? He was no longer allowed entrance into Lanka because its own King (and his brother) exiled him. His only refuge lay in God.....Shri Ram. The greatest choices in life are not between good and evil, but in choosing the greater good of two or the lesser evil of two. Agree with this completely.Clap 

I'm not too well versed with Ramayana. My Mahabharata is better so looking forward to more Mahabharata related questions. Why don't you come up with one? I too love debating Mahabharat a lot, so it should be interesting.

Btw do you mind turning this into a discussion of scriptures and other mythological/religious stories and characters. That is if everyone can do it respectfully. I am sure there are people out there with many questions to be grappled with philosophically. If anyone did not know Greek is my forte. Sure, that's a great idea. I'm not that well versed in Greek mythology, but I do know some from a High School english class. In that case, I'll get rid of the pics I posted as well so that we can debate all scriptures and mythos.
I only hope people can do it respectfully, as you said.Stern Smile 
 
By the way, is anyone interested if I post a few videos from Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan or BR Chopra's Mahabharat that I feel relate to our questions?
 
Don't get me wrong. These mytho shows have never ever been my source for Ramayan and Mahabharat, but some (actually most) scenes were really well taken by the directors and the dialogue used is sometimes taken directly out of the texts....or extremely close to it (like Vibhishan-Ravan samvad in RS Ramayan). Sometimes, seeing things visually helps us understand the actions of characters better.
 
So if people don't mind, I'd like to post some vids from those shows...not as my source or support for the debate, but just so some people can visualize how the scenes may have happened. However....if no one's going to see them, I won't bother.Embarrassed Please only say yes if you know you'll see the vids and possibly comment on those too. It does take time searching for the particular ones in youtube.

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