Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rama & agnipareeksha of Sita

This question of why Rama, the maryada puroshottama, the perfect human, asked Sita to prove her purity. More often than not, while the leftists cry hoarse over women's inequality and the rightist cry hoarse over the need to preserve the "nari samman" over this, the underlying concept of the king not being a autocrat, but a subject to the people's will is lost! so's the underlying concept that the king must be free of moral stains.

The following is my reply in a thread on this subject of Sita's agnipareeksha:

Before going into the topic it is first understand the very concpet of incarnation. Quoting from here:

-----8<----
The Hindu divinities issue no commandments. They do not automatically retaliate by rejecting or threatening to excommunicate us if we live by our own code of morality rather than follow their precepts. And yet they have clever ways of quietly intruding into our lives and knocking at the doors of our consciousness. It is very common, for example, for a dutiful son to be praised as Ram, or a talented daughter commended as a virtual Saraswati. I have often heard a happy and satisfied mother-in-law refer to her son's wife as the 'coming of Lakshmi incarnate' into her home. One constantly meets the living incarnations of Hindu gods and goddesses in everyday life. Frequently their worldly behave-alikes are genuinely loveable and even inspiring in the way they live up to their chosen commitments.

Thus, Hindu devis and devatas are not distant heavenly figures, but a living presence in most people's lives. They hold powerful sway as moral exemplars who demonstrate standards of morality that even ordinary people can aspire to emulate. But the codes of morality they demonstrate are not prescriptive. They are there to provide valuable insights into certain enduring values that people use in their own lives in an extremely flexible way, keeping the immediate situation in mind. Hindus usually do not fall into the trap of uncritically replicating the behavior of the deities they revere, for that would produce absurd or tragic results.

A special feature of Hinduism is that there is no sharp divide between the divine and the human. Various gods and goddesses take an avatar and descend to earth to appear among humans like ordinary mortals in intimate familial relationships.

They are often willing to be judged by the same rules and moral yardsticks that one would use for a fellow human being. Devotees and non-devotees alike have the right to judge them by how well they perform or fail to perform the roles they have chosen.

They neither claim perfection nor do they command us to unquestioningly approve of all they do. They allow us the freedom to pass judgements on them, to condemn those of their actions that we consider immoral or unfair, and to praise those actions we find honorable or worthy of emulation.
----->8------

The concept of Avatara is that the infinite, limitless by his own will bounds himself and takes the form of a on earth. He too thus cannot remain untouched about the general human limitations like hunger, sleep etc. But his struggle against all these human limitations is to be an example and inspiration for others too. The Narayana who is the limitless, out of love for jivas enters the world of limitations to uphold the Dharma.

In my opinion the very concept of God coming as a human and showing by example is one of the highest ideas humans have ever conceived.

I in my present position not being able to do an Herculean task and god just waving his hand and it being done, is fine, but not a great ideal in my view. "He is powerful, so he did it, I am powerless, so I cant do it" is the typical idea one forms. But the belief that God himself has come down as a human to our level to show us by example in his own life. A god, attaining Moksha is no great a deal. But the same god, being born like one of us, having been subjected to the same type of problems and limitations, but raising above them is surely a great idea, even if it is just a belief.

Why am I talking about all this instead of simply answering your question… I am coming to that only.

The episodes of gods are meant to illustrate the same. When someone comes into the relativity (world), there is always both good and bad sides of it. What is good to the snake is bad to the frog.

Though Rama never personally doubts Sita, he has some duties as a king and he has to make a choice. What is correct for Rama as a king is bad for Rama as a husband. Either way something is going to be effected. Rama choose his duty as a king. He personally endured lot of pain for that.

Different people may have different opinions about this decision… some may prefer choosing his duty as husband more than his duty as king… each may have his own personal opinions over this issue. What this incident aims to demonstrate is the complexity of the world and taking the “good of the most” route out of any such thing, even if that is personally a painful one (in this context one has to keep in mind that Hindus recollect this incident, not with a smile, with a pain in their hearts). The same explanation also holds in the case of Rama killing Vali from behind.

2 Comments:

Blogger V said...

Dear Surya,

A very balanced opinion. Your posts are full of deep thinking and devotion to Truth. I hold back my temptation to reply/comment to many of your posts. Pl. keep up the good work. I have shown the links to your blog to some of my friends.

Best regards.

1:16 AM  
Blogger Surya S said...

Dear V,
Thanks for your nice words. I pray that I become worthy of it.

I too enjoy your comments to my posts, though I must confess that I am very bad in replying.

8:52 PM  

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