When will Ramayan be banned?

“Glittering like the glitter of gold, silkened in ochry silks, you are like a lotus-tendril garlanded with divine lotuses as your ensemble, who are you?” Thus Ravanan started addressing Seetha
“Oh, rosy faced one, are you the personified numen of Respect, Renown or Resplendence, or the Felicitous Lakshmi herself, or oh, curvaceous one, are you a nymphal Apsara, or the numen of Benefactress, or a self-motivated woman, or Rati Devi, the consort of Manmatha, the Love God. [3-46-17]
“Your teeth are evenly, smooth and their tips are like jasmine buds, and your whitish broad eyes are spotless, reddish at ends, and pupils are black. [3-46-18]
“Your hips are beamy, thighs burly akin to elephant’s trunks, and these two breasts of yours that are ornamented with best jewellery are rotund, rubbing and bumping each other, and they are swinging up and up, their nipples are brawny and jutting out, and they are smoothish like palm-fruits, thus they are covetable for they are beautiful.” [Ramayana Book III : Aranya Kanda – The Forest Trek]

In the land where poetry like this was written it is now considered an offence for a man and woman to hold hands. When will the culture police ban Ramayana?

26 thoughts on “When will Ramayan be banned?

  1. Considering that Oedipus Rex and Mahabharata mention incest (Not to mention Egyptian custom of filial marriages) I wonder when will PC Brigade start supporting incest as “valid alternative lifestyle”

  2. Jabberwock: I have been planning to read that book. How come the monkey brigade has not burned calasso’s effigy yet?
    Gaurav: In Mahabharata we have Draupadi marrying five men. Then you have Arjuna marrying women wherever he went. If the current moral police were present during the time Valmiki and Vyasa were publishing their works, their effigies too might have been burned.

  3. I am deeply offended by your choice to translate the verses of Ramayana where Ravana, the scoundrel,addresses Sita Mata in the most uncivilized manner…Yes! we all know it exists in our sacred texts.But, you could have just mentioned it instead of transliterating it.For many of us Sita is a symbol of purity and courage and not a fictional character..I came to your blog only because it was from Rajeev’s…
    What a mistake!!!

    1. Dear lady,
      Ravana addressed Seeta not as a villain, but as a sannyasee. Neither was Seeta offended. She replied in a very natural manner. (Perhaps she liked it).
      We don’t need to be offended, either.

  4. You don’t understand.You could have chosen a similar description of anybody else in any of our epics to make your point…
    You get it??

  5. JK, Who is objecting to publishing whatever literature? Already all kinds of erotic literature are sold in India.
    But when I walk on the street I don’t want an external agency to dictate the hormone levels in my body. I would consider that a violation of my freedom, just like any physical attack would be.
    There is some reason to believe that moral codes became stricter after Islamic invasions; I see that as a positive consequence of those. Of course I suppose you wouldn’t insist that people trying to learn from the past should do things exactly as they were done in the past.

  6. N. B. : There was some problem when I posted a comment sometime back; in case you got an empty string please use the following instead. Thanks.
    JK, I am one of the pro-“moral”-code guys; while I cannot speak for all moral police this is what I feel : we should take only the good things from the past. Of course, it is not that we accept caste system as found in the uttara-rAmAyaNam.
    Now I agree one should have the freedom to publish all kinds of books, as well as freedom to publish on the internet ( except possibly stuff seething with hatred ). But doing something in public is a different issue altogether. I don’t want an external agency to dictate the hormone levels in my body.
    There is some reason to believe that moral codes might have become stricter with islamic invasions. If so I would consider that to be a positive consequence of those invasions.

  7. JK,
    I have not seen anyone burning modern english novels from Indian writers which have graphic description of sex.
    If your point is that artistic license entails graphic description of Sita or Christ, I will admit that it is a pretty scatalogical point of view.
    I don’t think that when Ramayana or Mahabharata was written it’s character had same significance as present, I do not think that ancient life was one big running episode of Kamasutra.Modern life and society is much more intrusive and demands rethinking of different standard.

  8. Is this too hot for you to handle?
    “Oh, rosy faced one, are you the personified numen of Respect, Renown or Resplendence, or the Felicitous Lakshmi herself, or oh, curvaceous one, are you a nymphal Apsara, or the numen of Benefactress, or a self-motivated woman, or Rati Devi, the…

  9. froginthewell: i am not advocating that people live as mentioned in the past. till we got independence, women in kerala used to walk bare breasted. they don’t do that now. as time passes, traditions change. earlier holding hands in public was not normal. from the ancient liberal society we moved into a conservative one. now there is no reason to be stuck in that conservative era. if people want to hold hands, and talk to people of opposite sex, they should have the freedom to it. the moral police is objecting to silly things and that is what is bothering me.
    gaurav: i pointed to ramayana just to show that this kind of writing was present in what we call our epics and no one had issues. from such liberal attitudes like putting nude statues in khajuraho, we moved into a conservative era. now if people want to move away from conservatism, they should be given the freedom to do so. i don’t like unconstitutional authorities dictating what i can or cannot do in my country.

  10. JK,
    OK, What is your extent for modernization,
    Is incest OK ?
    Is Paedophilia OK ?
    Is Bestiality OK ?
    If it is then I will have to disagree with you.
    and if it is not, what in your opinion should be the limit and why ?
    I am not asking it for sake of rhetoric,
    I am troubled by a world where only options are Taliban or Hedonism.
    I think there must be some criteria.
    Only I am not able to come up with it.

  11. Gaurav,
    They are all banned by the laws of India which are enacted by the parliament, which is an elected body and I am fine with it.
    As mentioned in the previous comment, my problem is when random people like PMK in tamil nadu start doing their moral policing. I don’t want street thugs deciding if I can hold my wife’s hands in the street (which is legal as per laws of India).
    At never point I am asking that the laws be broken.
    You are going way too far. All I was protesting was the buring of effigies of Khushboo for her remarks on pre-marital sex and the guidelines for tourists in Rajasthan. If you love someone, you should be able to hold their hands in public. What is wrong with that?

  12. JK,
    A good post and I got your point. I was surprised at the irritation expressed. Sita was in no way reduced by Ravana’s comments and neither had this anything to do with eroticism. It was a mere literary genre and valid at that. And I do not see the link with paedophilia etc.
    No one can impose his or her values on another individual in the public space unless sanctioned through a legislative process.
    Keep up the good work.

  13. To quote Gaurav,
    What is your extent for modernization,
    No, incest, paedophilia, bestiality, BDSM, necrophillia etc are all BAD. What is good then?
    … …
    Well, burning Roop Kanwar on the pyre is good. It ensures the continuation of a great tradition from Sita Mai onwards.
    Mandakini under a waterfall is good. We’re talking art here!
    Women covered from head to foot pouring milk on Shiva Lingam to offer prayers on Shiva Ratri is good. Don’t mess with religion!
    MMS clips of young girls in intimate moments with their partners circulating in the airwaves is good. Shows how tech savvy we’ve become.
    … …
    Actually, if you look closely, all the above examples may have some liberating and some conservative aspects. What makes them, in my opinion, puerile is the fact that our society deems it necessary to put moral standards on the acts, and coerce certain outcomes. In this regard, the only factor that can break the hegemony of moral order is individual choice. The more we try to control outcomes, the more they will become twisted. The less we do so, the possibility of fatigue-thru-saturation leading to an equilibrium of sorts is possible. It’s probably not the best result, but the best possible one.

  14. Old Man,
    Fatigue through saturation !
    Well haven’t we been saturated in the past ?
    Sometimes it is instructive to learn from the past that reinventing the cycle.
    As you could see Old Man invoking sati, thats what I meant by stereotyping.
    May be there should be a modified Godwin’s law in Indian context.

  15. We can have idols in compromising positions adored on the premises of our temples but when it come to kissing or holding hands we can’t tolerate. Few months back a couple from Israel, who wedded in a temple in Rajastan were fined for holding hands and kissing in the temple premise. In many temples in Kerala, males should remove their shirt to get into the temple. God wants to see them half-naked?.Orissa’s Sun temple, will not allow foreigners to have God’s darshan. In India human have no value only belief has.

  16. Very informative. OK: Ravana was a villain. He described Sita in an uncivilised manner.
    But Kalidasa described Mother Kali in Shyamala Dand`akam in an awkward manner. He calls her mother. He describes even the hair appearing on her naval as beautiful. Even this is understandable, if we consider Kalidasa as a kid who sipping milk from his mother’s breasts and playing with her umbellical knot. summary: Describing breasts, thighs and other parts of women by poets was not considered as obscene or vulgar in those days. http://www.ramayanayb.blogspot.com

  17. My friend has reason. Talking of such organs, and even sex related matters was not objectionable in the time of ramayana. Even now these parts are there in the text. Raama’s wailing with mention of Seeta’s organs (Aranya Kanda) and their sexual behavior (yuddha kanda,chapter v) was perhaps acceptable at that time, but NOT NOW. Those parts may adversely effect a young reader’s mind.
    But at the time of Kalidasa, mention of organs was objectionable. Kalidasa starting a prayer with Saraswati’s eyes and breasts, and mention of a spot on the queen’s thigh were considered objectionable. But still he described (in Kumara sambhawam) very thoroughly all the organs of Uma (Parvati) and narrated with all possible details the 1st time sexual intercourse between Shankar and Parvati.
    Shriharsha’s ‘Naishadhiya Charita’ also comes to the level of ‘Lady Chattetli’s Lover’. The former was never banned, while the later was. See the Tolerance of our ancient culture.!

  18. Seeta isn’t offended by these words. It was common to talk like that. But in a later age Kalidasa describes all the secret organs of Uma, an narrates in details the first time sexual congress of Uma and Shankar.
    In yuddha kanda chapter V, Rama talks with Lakshmana of his will to kiss Seeta, and of Seeta’s habit of touching him, smiling, with her soft, vibrating breasts.

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