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. 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.
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.
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.
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.