Sunday, 4 October 2009

riddle of the Uttrarakanda

 The riddle of the Uttarakanda explained- Lord Ram’s anukrosha
There was a tendency in the Nineties for  number of Western writers and academics (e.g. Fred Halliday, Karen Armstrong, etc) to ascribe to ’Hindu fundamentalists’ a desire to ’turn Lord Rama into a vengeful Father God’ - i.e. Yahweh- and thus impose an Abrahamic Monotheism on a previously heteronomously (ie. superstitiously) polytheistic populace. According to this view, the demand that India should be called ’Bharat’is also a sinister part of the conspiracy because the Bharat after whom our country is named is not (as you and I innocently assumed) the son of Sakuntala but ’the step-brother of Lord Rama’ (this last piece of idiocy from our own beloved Gayatri Spivak Chakroboty who claims to know Sanskrit and be of Brahmin caste! If you don’t believe me, check her ’Critique of Post Colonial Reason)

Strangely, few seem to pick up on the relationship between Ram and Abram- though it might lend a sort of sinister conviction to their claim.

The uttara kanda portion of the Ramayana is not really a puzzle. What is puzzling is how a previous generation of great Indians totally got it wrong. Thus Rajaji says that the Uttara Kanda is not canonical but perhaps an interpolation reflecting the tragic lives of our womenfolk- i.e. Rajaji is accepting the Colonialist view that Hinduism is basically about making women miserable, just as Gandhiji accepted Katherine Mayo’s view that India’s main problem- and the reason it could not legitimately take up arms to liberate itself- was MASTURBATION. Only the peasants toiling in the fields- Mayo tells us- have not ruined themselves utterly through self-abuse- but only because the ryots under the benevolent British Raj are too emaciated and undernourished to muster up an ejaculation.
What is the key utterance of the uttara kanda? It is this. The barber says ’I am not Rama’. But if the barber is not Rama then Ramrajya is just Rama’s Raj not democracy. So long as there are two moralities- one for the Ruler another for the Subjects- there is no democracy. True Ram’s throne was nothing but the love of the people. Tulsi tells us-
Danda jatinha kara bheda jahan nartaka nrtya samaaja
Jeetahu manahi sunia asa Raamacandra ken raaja!
(Much prattles the Machiavellian parrot of Stick & Carrot, Divide and Rule
But Love’s plural dance of Ego-conquest was Ramrajya’s only tool!)
How then could Lord Rama change the husband’s suspicious nature with respect to his wife?- i.e how stop the fool from destroying his own happiness? How change Society’s attitude to the return of the wandered wife? (What if it was not your sister-in-law but your sister who had been abducted or gone astray?) Since Lord Rama was the one most beloved, he had to inflict this pain on himself so that through anukrosha all beings could advance. This is the King as pharmakos- the scapegoat- who takes on all the evils of the realm so as to free his subjects from them. However the Greek and Hebrew pharmakos just ended with the slaughter of some dumb animal. The true pharmakos is to take on suffering not for death- death is easy, ask any suicide bomber- but for the sake of knowledge, for true knowledge- as Aeschylus saw- comes only through suffering.
But what is this saving knowledge? The answer addresses the most basic anxiety humans have- what Freud called the ’fort da’ problem- object permanence & abandonment issues- the baby’s anxiety that the mother ceases to exist when not visible. Baby’s anger at the mother when she returns- baby’s refusal to play and turning angrily away for not having forgiven the mother for ceasing to exist.
Now Indian poets had long ago made the equation between the viyogini (woman separated from lover) and the yogini (woman in mystic trance) both do not eat, are turned away from the input of the senses, have single pointed concentration etc.
Thus emotional dualism is the same as intellectual monism. Puranic and Upanishadic Religion cash out as each other.
Why is this important? It means there is a bridge between absence and presence, existence and non-existence. Thus Ramrajya does not depend on whether Rama lives or dies, is exiled or enthroned. real or imaginary.
Uttara Kanda is political. Why? Because it prescribes absoulute reciprocity and symmetry between all agents. There are no priviliged frames of reference or points of view. To quote Brahma Sutra aphorism 3.3.37- vyatihaaraha, visinsanthi hiitaravat- ’Scripture prescribes reciprocity between worshipper and worshipped’
From the point of view of both information theory and our own mimamsa- memory, love, and ’identity’ are disequilibrium phenomena- but this negentropy is life and so says Valmiki, though presently breath-blinded, the mirror of salvation.
To end let me quote Aziz Mian Qawwall’s ’Ram tera gorakh dandha’- ’Aaa Ram! Aaram.’

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