A Few Good Things

"Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." – Ibn Battuta

A Few Good Things

Tag: Asuras

Why Me # Ravana

Every story has two sides to it. The version of the winner that projects him to be the greatest and everything else as evil.

From Alexander to Churchill history has always been written by the victor. Nehru  went on to add “History is always written by the victors and conquerors, or at any rate the victors version is given prominence and holds the field“. And Napoleon stated “History is a set of lies agreed upon“.

With this context lets step back and look at the story of Ramayana and question if it is fair to vilify an erudite scholar, a valiant soldier and a great king like Ravana…. just because he was a vanquished Asura.

From the current #me too debate to ancient history women have always been at the receiving end of mans lust. Every king & emperor filled his harem with women, and none of them walked in on their own free will. Men in power whether politicians or corporate leaders and spiritual masters (Baba Asaram, Nityanand ….) have been in the news for treating women as mere objects.

Thousands of years back when the rules of the world were probably very different and norms of society were just being created was Ravana’s action of carrying away Sita the greatest crime of mankind.

Yes Rama vanquished Ravana – and since then poor Ravana has been the symbol of a perfect villain. But was Ravana indeed a villain as he is portrayed? Is there a second perspective to this. Were the Asuras really demons and the “Bad people” – or was this a creation of the victor.

The word Asura has a close resemblance to “Ahura” which comes from the Persian Language and means great warriors. Ravana, Bahubali were all Asura kings who were known for being great administrators and valiant warriors. Across the border in Sri Lanka the stories of Ravana  are very different from what you hear in India.

Sri Lankan lore has it that Sri Lanka under the scholarly Ravana saw great advancements in science and medicine. The Pushpaka Vimana or the aeroplane which he flew is held as an example of great scientific achievements made during his regime. Ravana also holds a high position as a physician and there exists, to this day, seven books on Ayurveda in his name. He is also believed to have authored Ravana Sanhita, an anthology of Hindu astrology and his description as a ten-headed person, Daśamukha or Daśagrīva, is believed to be a reference to his vast knowledge and intelligence.

In many depictions of Ravan, he can be seen carrying a veena. It is believed that he had a keen interest in music and was a highly accomplished veena player.

Ravana’s empire spread over Balidweepa (today’s Bali), Malayadweep (Malaysia), Angadweepa, Varahdweepa, Shankhadweepa, Yavadweepa, Andhralaya and Kushadweepa.  

He was a great practitioner of statecraft. When Ravana was dying on the battlefield Rama instructed his brother Lakshmana to go to Ravana and learn the art of statecraft and diplomacy from the dying king

Ravana was not only a stupendous fighter, but also an expert of the Vedas and an expert in Astrology. It is said that when his son Meghanada was to be born from his wife Mandodari’s womb, Ravana “instructed” all the planets and the Sun to be in their proper position for the auspicious “lagna” so that his son would become immortal. But Saturn suddenly changed its position. Noticing this, a furious Ravana attacked Saturn with his mace and broke off one of its legs, maiming him for life.

Ravana was one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva, and composed the Shiva Tandava Stotram.

There are references which state that Ravana got this name later in life, and that too from Shiva. Ravana wanted Shiva to relocate from Kailash to Lanka, and to make this possible, he tried to lift the mountain. But Shiva, being who he is, put down his foot onto the mountain, thus crushing Ravana’s finger with his one toe. Ravana let out a huge roar of pain, but at the same time, he was so enamoured by Shiva’s power, he composed and sang the Shiva Tandav Stotram. It is believed that Ravana plucked out nerves from his own hand to provide accompanying music. Shiva, thus impressed, named him Ravana (the one who roars loud).

The essence of Indian mythology is obviously beyond the simple good vs evil story line. If you care to dig deep, there’s an interesting story at every step.
Ravana played his role as a villain, but it was that of a much-needed villain, that brought balance to the equation. No wonder there are many people in the world, who still worship him.

 

Brainwashed

During WW II London was bombed , almost all of Europe was demolished, Japan was nuked – yet in  a short span they rebuilt their cities and went to on to become great countries. All this thanks to the leadership of some great people and the hard work of  the common man. Europe has a history that can be traced back 2000+ years to the time of the Romans, Greek’s , Spartans , Vikings , Gauls…. the US has literally no history and is a country of immigrants. The point that needs to be made is whether its a company or a country good capable people  make all the difference. Lets keep this point in mind as we move on.

London Bombed

Whats the history of our country in a few lines. A great civilization , probably the oldest , home to some of the oldest scriptures and holy writings which supposedly have a wealth of information written in such a cryptic manner that only a blessed few can understand them ,  a Religion which is more a way of life , great stories like the Ramayana & The Mahabharata which every kid knows from his childhood. A clear demarcation of what is good (Gods & Deva’s) and what is bad (Asura’s) , Millions of God’s, a strong caste system that is accepted and rarely contested – and then the external invasions and how all the greatness was stomped out and we were relegated to poverty and strife.

I dont know if the above is true or if its a holy brainwash – like every kid in India I have heard the same stories , read the same Amar Chitra Katha’s and as a parent propagated the same information to my children. But I now have a few questions. Every story has two sides to it – the version of the winner that projects him to be the greatest and everything else as evil. Have we tried to find out the other side of the story ? There are hardly any facts and historic data to prove the veracity of the stories we have heard – but there are many questions in my mind.  In the last few months I have visited the Louvre & the British Museum – right when you enter both is the entrance to the Egyptian Section – you will see hall after hall , row after row of artifacts that date back 2000 – 3000 years old.

Egyptian Section

Surprisingly none of the worlds greatest museums have any section of ancient India. What you will get to see of India is mainly the Chola Bronzes that date around 800 – 1200 AD and then the Mughal Miniature paintings. The oldest structure we see in India are probably 500 BC and they represent some ancient Buddhist Temples , Fresco Cave paintings , Stone Edicts . From Egypt we have proof that stone statues can survive over 3000 years , so what happened – did we lose all the ancient palaces, building , structures of the great old days ? Many of them would have got submerged – but excavations could have revealed them like they revealed the Indus Valley Civilization.

Lets step back and look at the story of Ramayana. Yes Rama vanquished Ravana – and since then poor Ravana has been the symbol of a perfect Villain. But was Ravana indeed a villain as he is portrayed. Is there a second perspective to this. Were the Asuras really demons and the “Bad people” and the devas the greatest. The word Asura has a close resemblance to ” Ahura” which comes from the Persian Language and means great warriors. Ravana , Bahubali were all Asura kings who were known for being great administrators and valiant warriors. Ravana is portayed as an egoist with 10 heads  – but maybe he had the valor & the intelligence of 10 people , you just need to step into Sri Lanka and the stores of Ravana there are very different from what you hear this side of the border.

4040-Ravana-Ten-headed-King

Was Indra a great king of the Deva’s ?  or was he in charge of a brigand that used to attack the existing rulers (Asura Kings) and the innocent citizens – If he was indeed a great king of the Deva’s how come there are no temples or hymns in his praise that we chant every day.

indra

Was Kubera the king of wealth or just a shrewd Shylock ? who made money out of others not always with principles.

Was Kumbakarna addicted to drugs which caused him to be drowsy all the time ?  and maybe the poppy plant  grew for only 6 months – hence he was awake the rest of the 6 months

Was Varuna the king of the Seas or just a pirate who controlled the seas thru his power ?

Were the great Asuras slowly but surely pushed back by the terrorists and their women & children slaughtered & raped ?

The Samnudra Manthan could well have been a period when mankind learnt to domesticate cows , horses, elephants – learnt the usage of medicines to prolong life (Nectar of life) and all this could have happened when the three races that existed Asura , Deva’s and Nagas lived peacefully for a few hundred years without any in fighting .

Is there Heaven , Earth & Patala or were they three regions on adjacent to the other starting from deep S to the North towards the Himalayas. And if the Deva’s ruled the Norther most area did that automatically qualify as Heaven and Naga’s of extreme S become “patala”. Was there a land mass where the current Indian Ocean exists that extended almost all the way to the Antarctica ?

Geologists say that the Anadaman & Nicobar islands are actually peaks of mountain ranges which was submerged in the ocean thousands of years back. Was there a land mass there that existed – which sometimes finds mention in old Tamil Sangam Literature ? If Tamil is indeed a language as old as Sanskrit how come the history books at school don’t even talk about it ?  Is the history we know the real History or is the history that was crafted by the British along with the Aryan Invasion Theory

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Nobody knows the answers but we believe what we have been told over the years, they make great stories and there is no need to question them – so we continue to be brainwashed.

If we were a great civilization and world beaters 5000 years back then a short period of domination by invaders would not have changed our DNA – if Europe and Japan could rise from the ashes so could we  – but we haven’t and we still cling to the past as the present is mired in scams & controversies resulting in abysmal poverty and lack of infrastructure.

Last few years there have been many books and discussions on this topic and its good to see questions being asked. Lets hope we see more research on these topics and hopefully get to see light at the end of the tunnel , which will eventually ensure that we are not brainwashed.

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