Golden Spotted Deer – Based On An Episode In The Epic Ramayana

The great philosopher Socrates taught his disciples, never to accept anything without questioning. The question why has to be answered truthfully without flinching and requires great moral courage and indomitable spirit of adventure to pursue matters to a logical conclusion, which may be unpalatable and invite violent reaction from uninformed public, especially if religion is involved. May He grant me the toughness! I seek sincere apology, in advance. The theme involves Sita, whom I respect most, Ram, the maryada purushottam, venerated all over India and Lakshman, the faithful brother, who sacrificed his family life, to protect his brother and sister-in-law, in their long and tortuous journey through the subcontinent, disregarding the threat from wild animals and asuras who dominated the wilderness. Let us be extremely cautious!

All went well, until the fourteenth year of their picnic-like excursion, enjoying the splendor of virgin forests and emerald green hills. Then tragedy struck as in a Hollywood film.

A lovely golden deer appeared near the cottage, where the princely trio were camping. Its beauty and innocent eyes captivated the Princess. She just wanted to have it! They told her that it was no ordinary animal; it was some evil being, with ulterior motives, sent to harm them.They had already incurred the wrath of Shoorpanaka (in the South it is Surpanakha) and killed her brothers who attacked them. They were expecting trouble.

But Sita won’t hear. She wanted the golden deer. Ultimately, her husband yielded. Entrusting the safety of his spouse to his faithful brother, Ram went after the animal.

Oh help me Lakshman: I am in immediate danger-When Sita heard these cries, she urged Lakshman to go and help Ram. On being told that Ram is capable of defending himself and that this is a trick of the evil spirit that came in the guise of the animal, Sita was infuriated, became wild, accusing Lakshman of entertaining dirty motives to posses her after Ram fell dead. That was the last straw! Lakshman left instantly, leaving Sita undefended. In comes a sanyasi (a hermit) asking for alms. Every Hindu respects and welcomes such people. Unsuspecting Sita comes out of the cottage and is kidnapped by Ravana, in order to avenge the ill-treatment of his sister Shoorpanaka. The seed is sown for the epic Ram vs. Ravana war.

In this single episode, the poet Valmiki exhibits his superlative qualities with regard to plot, characterization and human psychology! We are concerned with certain fundamental questions arising out of the whole sequence of events.

1) The first question is: why Sita behaved like a nine year old girl crying for a Barbie doll?

Sita is no ordinary woman. She forsook the pleasures of life in the palace and went along with her husband with bare clothes into the forest. This shows her high moral standard and extreme devotion to her beloved husband. During their sojourn through the forest, they must have come across hundreds of deer and fondled them. Therefore, the sight of the golden deer should not have excited her. When told that it is no ordinary deer but some evil spirit masquerading as deer with definite motives for revenge, Sita should have been convinced. In fact, any dutiful wife with some sense of responsibility would readily agree with her husband and forget the deer. Why did Sita of such high standard and integrity of character, fully devoted to her husband, insist on her demand for the pet?

2) As a responsible husband, Ram should have convinced his wife about the futility of seeking to capture the illusive deer. Why did he fail to do this? When he was fully convinced that the deer is a mirage, he should have refused to budge. Why did he fail? He could have thrashed his wife for being so silly and adamant, why did he not do it?

3) When Lakshman left his wife and accompanied the princely couple, he had only one thing in his mind: protection of his beloved brother and sister- in- law. He should have clearly told Sita that Ram is quite safe and there is nothing to worry about. If he could not countenance the vulgar insinuations of Sita, he could have pretended to go but actually hidden himself in the nearby bush. Why did he not do this?

4) Ravan was a very powerful and valiant fighter. When his sister Soorpanaka was insulted and her breasts and nose cut off (did they have to do this to a woman?), he should have challenged the princes for a fight and not sneak into the hutment like a thief

and stolen Sita. His wife Mandodari had actually advised Ravan against this heinous crime. Did he entertain finer sentiments for the lovely princess and was only waiting for an excuse?

The Unpredictability Principle

Every human being is subject to unreasonable and mysterious reaction some time or other. It is difficult to quote instances from my own life.Most of the time I have been carried away as by a current, as if I have no will of my own. It is recently that I have started writing and feel a bit nervous. We were not badly off when my father broke off from our ancestral home and wandered from one place to another. When he, at last, built a house and settled down, He called him. Mother, a young widow and we four children, all under sixteen, were left in the lurch with practically no earnings. Why did he break away in the first instance? Napoleon Buonaparte was a great statesman. He has written a lot during his last days in prison in St.Helena Island. It is worth reading even today. Why did he want to conquer the world? Hitler could have remained unbeaten, had he not attacked the USSR. Why did Kamsa not put Vasudeva and Devaki in separate cells in jail?

Every human being carries an invisible burden, which I call the spiritual baggage, consisting of the things he has seen and experienced, which is stored in his computer called his brain. It works even when he sleeps. Poets and writers try to dissect it. Scientists are far from even guessing what goes on there. We always blame something or other without understanding anything. This baggage vitiates our judgment at critical moments.

I am a strong believer in Him. My reason tells me that He is everywhere.It is not necessary to go to a temple. But I enjoy the trip to any temple It is very soothing. My Christian friend may like, if it is a church A Malayalam Muslim poet has written a beautiful hymn in praise of Sree Guruvayoorappan (there is one temple of the deity -Krishna in Delhi) ending with the plea that, at least in the next janam, he may have the chance to have a darshan of the temple deity. (If I am empowered, I shall allow all devotees free access to the temple as in gurudwaras)

To return to Sita.

She will have to answer a number of inconvenient questions. Why did she not resist as soon as she realized that he was not a sanyasi? Ravan had a curse. If he touched a woman against her wishes, he would perish. Without touching her, how could he drag her into the helicopter? (Pushpaka viman).Why did she not jump out and commits suicide as any chaste school girl could do now? Why did she not go on fast unto death even as Medhaji would do now? Ultimately, she ended her life when a repentant Ram requested her to come back to Ayodhya from the forest where she was unceremoniously and sneakingly cast away, merely because some worthless washerwoman made some derogatory comments about her stay in Ravan’s custody. Why did she not show the same spirit at that time?

Ram:

He never behaved like a gentleman. He hid himself and killed Bali when the latter was fighting Sugriv, his own brother. (What a curse on humanity! Brothers rarely remain friends- Ambani vs Ambani).When the dying Bali confronted him with the question: why did you kill me like a coward, Ram, instead of expressing sympathy for the dying hero (Bali was a remarkable fighter. He once humiliated Ravan by holding him with his tail and dipping Ravan again and again in the sea!) abused him right and left: “Who are you to question me? Do you know that I belong to the Ikshuki race? You are only a monkey. You illegally took away your brother’s wife. You deserve to die”. A gentleman ought to be more polite to a dying hero. Will George Bush use such words to a dying Bin Laden?