Joined: 23 August 2006
Every citizen of this country has freedom of speech but it is not absolute. Even more so for people in important public seats, Karunanidhi must understand that his being a Chief Minister of TN means that whatever he utters in public shall be taken as state govt's opinion hence he should have been careful in uttering anything on such sensitive matters.
Karunanidhi (DMK) has always played "dravidian" (read TN) card, they have always tried to create a north-south (so called Aryan-Dravidian) divide, but it seems that this time it has gone terribly wrong. Karunanidhi's sole agenda now seems to be bad-mouth Shri Ram.
DMK party is anti-Hindu party right from its start....they don't mind degrading Hindusim to any extent...the interesting thing was BJP had alliance with it.That itself shows how all these people are mean.No one has respect for their own ideologies
People would have had no objection to the Sethu-Samundram project had the govt handled the matter sensibly. But what they did, insulted one of the great icons of Sanatan Dharma.
Ramayana ke liye bhartiyon ke man mein jo maan-sammaan hai woh shabdo mein nahin likh sakte. Not many people would have known that several versions of Ramayana exist in South-East Asia also (in Thailad it is considered as national epic).
As in many oral epics, multiple versions of the Ramayana survive. In particular, the Ramayana related in North India differs in important respects from that preserved in South India and the rest of South-East Asia. There is an extensive tradition of oral storytelling based on the Ramayana in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and Maldives.
Just read this... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramayana#Variant_versions
Joined: 23 August 2006
Joined: 23 August 2006
Thus it was or wasn't
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are collectively known as itihasa. The three Sanskrit words iti, ha, asa translate as 'thus indeed it was'. They are therefore that which would be regarded as history and in our tradition, the two epics and
Puranas are known as the fifth Veda. But there are several questions to which answers can't be clear-cut. First, how much of what is described is based on a historical core? Second, what is the gap between the historical incident and composition? This second question becomes complicated because of interpolations and multiple authors, more in Mahabharata than in Ramayana. Third, where did these incidents occur?
Dogma and blind belief are associated with religion. Science (interpreted broadly) is about reason. So runs the perception. Dogma means ideas or opinions, as opposed to facts. Given the distinction, it is remarkable how dogmatic proponents of reason tend to be. How is any proposition proved? One can try theory, in which case, assumptions (or axioms) can't be proved. Two parallel lines never meeting (or meeting at infinity) is an example. That is not invariably true and is an axiom, only valid on a plane. Once that was questioned, non-Euclidean geometry evolved. Alternatively, one can try empiricism, in which case, one can never prove a proposition. At best, one can disprove or falsify it. Proof is also subject to human knowledge and standards of measurement available then. Had that not been the case, today's 'scientific truth' wouldn't have been falsified tomorrow. Views on the centre of the universe are instances, as are several hoaxes. Let's not forget the Piltdown Man, which the scientific community believed in for forty years. The certainty associated with Newtonian classical physics has led to reduced arrogance of science and acceptance of uncertainty.
Take Archbishop James Ussher's (1581-1656) proposition that the world was created on October 23, 4004 BCE. This can never be falsified. If evidence prior to 4004 BCE is cited, one has to reckon with the Ussher retort. Surely, God could have created this evidence to test our faith. There is no satisfactory response to that. As a believer in the scientific approach, I ought to say it is possible the world was created in 4004 BCE, but it is improbable. Ditto for the proposition, "The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) doesn't exist." Since mass hallucinations do occur, this is possible, but improbable. With its existence thus questioned, ASI's certainty and arrogance (of knowledge) are remarkable. Myths are not necessarily false, the negative association with myths occurred because one didn't understand other cultures. Several myths have a core in historical events, but because of distortions and exaggerations, it becomes difficult to distil out the core. Before Schliemann, we would have assumed the Trojan War (and Troy) had no basis in reality. Whether it is Iliad or King Arthur, the right question is not whether there was historical basis, but how much?
Reading Mahabharata and Ramayana as they have come down to us, Mahabharata seems more real. Take the description of Kripi (Kripacharya's sister, Droncharya's wife and Ashvatthama's mother). We are told she had thin hair and teeth that jutted out. This is so irrelevant to the main story that it seems as if the author was describing a real person. But this could also be because Mahabharata is a more disparate collection by several authors, knit together. Barring Uttara Kanda (and perhaps a little bit of Bala Kanda), Valmiki
Ramayana is more of a unified whole. It is also shorter with 24,000 shlokas, than Mahabharata's 74,000 (excluding Harivamsha) and has relatively more of poetry.
The compositions suggest Mahabharata was completed before Ramayana, in their final forms. There is greater geographical knowledge in Ramayana, Mahabharata's terrain is limited. The core dispute (much before Kurukshetra War) in Mahabharata was over cattle, the Ramayana's dispute was over land. Ramayana hints at a more settled and urban civilisation (descriptions of Ayodhya and Lanka). War descriptions (fighting with trees, drinking Duhshasana's blood) are less crude in Ramayana. Notwithstanding a reference to Ramayana in Mahabharata and no references the other way round, Mahabharata was probably composed before Ramayana and both probably attained their final forms by the 4th century BCE.
This leaves the more difficult and controversial question of when the core incidents happened. In the ten-avatar version, Rama is Vishnu's 7th avatar, Krishna is 8th.
Ramayana happened in treta yuga, Mahabharata in dvapar yuga. There is no reason to disbelieve this traditional chronological sequence.
Astronomical attempts (from references within the text) to date the Kurukshetra War lead to a range of contradictory dates between 1400 BCE and 5500 BCE. Spliced with external archaeological evidence — and there is no denying this is stronger for Mahabharata than
Ramayana — a date around 1000 BCE seems plausible and ties in even with the hypothesis that the original war (on which the subsequent story was based) was the one between King Sudas and the ten kings, mentioned in the Rig Veda.
Life becomes more difficult when we come to Ramayana.
Astronomical dating now leads to a range between 5000 BCE and 7000 BCE for Rama's birth. Logically, if the core Ramayana incident occurred before the core Mahabharata incident, it will be more difficult to obtain external evidence, because we are in the relatively more distant past. And we may also be looking in the wrong place, geographically speaking.
Incidentally, several names from Ramayana occur in Vedic texts, though not the core story. And there exists a Sugriva cave near Hampi in an area topographically similar to Sundara Kanda descriptions, not to speak of a former director of the Geological Survey of India (thus a scientist) having expressed the view that Rama's Setu can't be a natural formation.
Whatever be the truth, and we may never know, we are also talking about people's beliefs and this is often much more important than actual truth. Knowledge brings humility and a capacity to say 'I don't know'. One becomes less categorical and less confident about true and false. This is true of the Indian tradition and also the scientific approach.
ASI's views should have been much more muted. Instead of a categorical assertion that Ram Setu is natural, one could have said it is unlikely it was man-made. And there certainly was no call to get into historicity of Rama and Ramayana. We would then have weighed net welfare gains from the Sethusamudram project. Instead, we had an unnecessary controversy and thankfully, the government has now withdrawn the original affidavit, with a reference to the Himalayas thrown in. Is this the sub-conscious at work? Valmiki was told that as long as the Himalayas and the great rivers existed, his work would be read.The writer is a noted economist
Joined: 25 September 2005
Joined: 14 June 2007
Joined: 25 September 2005
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