Honour thy Mothers

via Dr. Vijaya Rajiva published on November 2, 2011

The Decision to drop A.K.Ramanujan’s essay on the Ramayana was the correct one

The University of Delhi on the advice of its Academic Council has done the right thing by dropping A.K. Ramanujan’s controversial essay on the 300 Ramayanas as being unsuitable for young undergraduates who may not have the background for understanding the essay. The Council also believed that the professors who may be called upon to teach the course may have little competence or understanding of the topic either.
The interested reader can read the essay in Outlookindia which published it in March 17,2008 . The Outlook version is  called ‘The Lord Takes Many Forms’.

Predictably, there have been some protests against this decision by some faculty and some students. Dr. Subramanian Swamy was being charitable when he dismissed these protests as the work of Leftists etc. He should have added on to the list, the liberal elite, the Beautiful People etc. These are usually Hindus who are fair weather Hindus. They like to call themselves Hindus but leave the heavy duty lifting to the large majority of everyday Hindus who have upheld their tradition since time immemorial. Take for instance, the uniformed comments by journalists such as Mukul Kesavan(who writes in The Telegraph).

What is controversial about the Ramanujan essay is not  that as a scholar he has unearthed variations on the Ramayana but that he has also editorialized along the way with somewhat unusual comments that would clearly offend the sentiments of the majority of Hindus. For example he seems to revel in the fact that Hanumanji was something of a ladies man in some  non Sanskritic traditions of the Ramayana. The best known of the Ramayanas, the Valmiki, the Kamban and the Ezuthatchan can be classified as the central tradition of Hinduism.  We have to take him at his word concerning the variants,  since he wrote prolifically and is some sort of free lance writer on Hinduism.  It should be pointed out that he is the recipient of a Padma Shri (1976)  It can be pointed out too that people like the painter MF Husain would have drawn on this type of ‘scholarship’ for their obscene paintings of Hanuman , Rama , Lakshmana and Sita.

Hanumanji is revered by Hindus as being the embodiment of devotion to Lord Ram. He is also worshipped in his own right as a deity. As for the importance of Valmiki Ramayana (which Ramanujan downgrades by implication as not being the major inspiration for all subsequent versions of the Ramayana) , generations of Hindu mothers, grandmothers, aunts and grandaunts have worshipped the Rama of the Valmiki version as the incarnation of Vishnu. Should these Hindus be downgraded because A.K.Ramanujan writing from the US thinks otherwise about the Valmiki Ramayana , and because the chorus of the liberal elite echo this faithfully ?

Some biographical information concerning the late A.K. Ramanujan may be pertinent. In the 60s and 70s he and his wife Molly Daniels (a Christian lady from Kerala) were part of that generation of Indians in the diaspora who were partly influenced by the flower children, the Vietnam protests etc. Susbequently, Ramanujan continued in a respectable position as an academic at the University of Chicago. He is also a poet in his own right. The University of Chicago has produced some fine scholars in various fields but is also a centre for many known anti Hindu personages (Wendy Doniger is a prime example).  Ramanujan had at an earlier stage of his career made  arguments for the distinctiveness of Indian culture. His work, intentionally or not, has become the happy hunting ground of anti Hindus. Thus, his article ‘300 Ramayanas ‘has been subverted by these same people. And he himself, no doubt inflated by his success in the West became somewhat superficial and flippant in his attitude to the Hindu tradition.

Hindu India has always been subjected to attacks and conquests and this is nothing new. Especially after the coming to power of the lady eminence grise since 1998, the anti Hindu trend has only increased. Witness the most recent attack on the Hindu sannyasin on June 4, 2011 on the Ramlila grounds and the horrific breaking of the middle aged woman Rajbala’s spine and her subsequent paralysis and agonizing death. Then there is the outrageous Communal Violence Bill which the Congress Party is seeking to push down the throats of the parliament. It is the work of a non Consitutional body such as the NAC (National Advisory Council)put together by the President of the Congress Party. Dr. Subramanian Swamy has called for an FIR against Sonia Gandhi and the NAC for promoting hatred of the Hindu community. And since the inception of the Marxist/left liberal tradition of scholarship in the universities (best known representative being Romila Thapar) there was an open attack against Hinduism. Now,  the trend has been to hide under the ‘diversity’ of Hinduism from where to launch attacks (surreptitiously and openly) against Hinduism. This is the new formula for success, so they think. It  is pertinent to point out that Thapar has no knowledge of Sanskrit and therefore cannot comment on the relative merits of the Valmiki Ramayana as opposed to the Buddhist and Jain variants (see her article in The Hindu)

In this climate of open anti Hindu moves it is incumbent upon the Hindus of India to sit up and take notice. The hear no evil, see no evil attitude is no longer possible. Ofcourse there will always be the fence sitters and the free riders who will hide behind Rajbala’s skirts or ignore the millions of Hindus who have died refusing to be converted at the point of the sword or who have died defending the Ramajanmasthan. These fence sitters will forever remain free riders riding piggy back on the Hindus who do protest against the attacks on Hindus. And they will continue to claim to be ‘Hindus.’

But there are those who can and must recognize what  the agenda is of many of these so called writers and  scholars who  undergo a sea change after their prolonged stay in the West or the  local pawns in the game of the asuric forces. The University of Delhi made the right move in this regard. A firm hand is the need of the hour.

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)

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