Is It Okay for Ramayana’s Gods to Rape Women & then Exile them as Polluted Whores?

Via Peter Sklivas
on Sep 22, 2012
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Rama is the dude dressed in blue skin & the bow while Sita is the hot babe with the sweet smile & glittering jewels.

Recently, I dove headfirst into Ramesh Menon‘s translation of the great Vedic classic The Ramayana.

The first half of the book is filled with countless stories of the most beautiful devotion between a Prince Rama and his wife, Princess Sita, his brothers Lakshmana and Bharata, his father Dasarath, illumined rishis & many many others.

Ancient Vedic India is portrayed as a gateway to the heart of purity, consciousness and bliss. Many times I cried reading this book; however, I gotta tell you how completely disgusted I am with the second half.

In particular, I am repulsed by how the masculine feels so thoroughly entitled to worship, possess, pilfer and then discard the idealized beauty of the feminine. And then, declare honor is being preserved by denigrating the previously cherished feminine, so the males can then move on to the next cycle of female victims.

Whenever a goddess, apsara, princess or other angelic female is raped by a god, gandhava, demon, prince or king the story justifies the rape by explaining how she committed some sin to have attracted the male—and is universally designated “damaged goods” and unworthy of any virtuous male.

I feel so disgusted by this rubbish posing as Vedic teachings; these are highly evolved gods who perform these despicable acts—and face no ill consequences forthwith.

Varuna, the God of Water/Oceans rapes the beautiful innocent Apsara Rambha and then her celestial lover wants nothing to do with her, as though the rape was her fault.

How do such perversities get passed down through generations as the venerated stories of an esteemed praiseworthy culture?

In this story, Rama and his legions expend tremendous energy (millions of demons & monkeys are slain in the goriest ways) to retrieve Sita after she has been abducted by Ravana. Then, Rama abandons Sita shortly thereafter because his subjects declare that she is tarnishing his image and unworthy of him.

Meanwhile, the truth is that Sita is purity incarnate; she remained chaste during her incarceration. So, Rama is not yielding to the truth when he exiles his pregnant wife to a remote ashram.

Right now I am so angry.

We need to retell these stories in ways that re-balance the male-female archetypes.

While proclaiming his divine love for Sita, did Rama fight the war to preserve his honor? Was Sita just a piece of Rama’s stolen property? Did Rama launch a war to kill Ravana and millions of subjects on both sides simply to retrieve his property?

This possibility is sickening.

If Rama felt honor required exiling Sita, why didn’t he join his beloved Sita and let the humans who were so eager to judge Sita as damaged goods find themselves another king?

No, Rama couldn’t do that because he had a duty to perform as king. What bullshit! In the end, Ramesh Menon’s translation of The Ramayana is an elegy to the cruelty of masculine entitlement, posing as a work of great devotion. While William Buck’s translation lacks Menon’s literary dexterity, I recommend it as a healthier alternative version.

What makes me feel so sad and enraged, is how Ramesh Menon plies his craft as a fabulous wordsmith to justify the sort of behavior that re-enforces the very reason that Rama and Sita incarnated in the first place.

The god and goddess incarnated to correct the excessive misuse of power by the masculine embodied by Ravana and his rakshasa demon kingdom. Unfortunately, the storytellers of The Ramayana seemed to be so immersed in their own imbalance, that the story portrays the most evolved of the gods as rapists and murders, juxtaposed next to acts of unparalleled devotion.

Somehow, the reader is left to reconcile the conundrum between the extreme swings of divine love and vulgar barbarism, committed by the so-called creators and sustainers of the universe.

The Ramayana perpetuates a perverse psychology not unlike The Bible does within, the realm of Christianity; these texts make it impossible for this devotee to retain a pure open heart to the Rama in The Ramayana or the Christ in The New Testament.

Fortunately, I can reach for other literary expressions of divinity. And, I can embrace the Rama and Christ in my heart, as well as the Sita and Mary Magdalene.

I feel it’s vitally important to expose stories perpetuating lies and cruelty between men and women, especially in the world of yoga, which is a place I regard as a sacred gateway to human evolution.

Please tell me what you know about The Ramayana.

Is it okay for yogic gods to rape women and then exile them as polluted whores? Is this dharma in action? Or is it confused men in authority writing down holy rubbish to justify their demented worldviews? How can we confront this sort of bullshit without becoming mired in the same polarity of false righteousness?

I’d love to hear what you know.

Om Shakti Om…Om Shiva Om.

~

Editor: Bryonie Wise

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Comments

144 Responses to “Is It Okay for Ramayana’s Gods to Rape Women & then Exile them as Polluted Whores?”

  1. yogi henry says:

    Dear Peter,

    I read your essay and suggest you might edit or re-write a couple of lines in your text.

    Near the end, you write: “The Ramayana perpetuates a perverse psychology not unlike The Bible does within, the realm of Christianity; these texts make it impossible for this devotee to retain a pure open heart to the Rama in The Ramayana or the Christ in The New Testament.”

    whoa…..your article is about one story within Hinduism. Then you get off topic and give your unsupported criticism of the totality of Christianity without any argument. It would be better for you to leave this paragraph out altogether.

    Then you follow up with:…”impossible for this DEVOTEE to retain a pure open heart to the Rama in The Ramayana or the Christ in The New Testament.”

    I might ask you; devotee of what? You don’t make that clear.

    Finally, you write: “Is it okay for YOGIC gods to rape women and then exile them as polluted whores?” Peter, I suggest you re-write this replacing the word ‘yogic’ with ‘Hindu’. Patanjali’s classical yoga which is my base for practicing,teaching and living yoga is distinct from Hinduism.

    That’s one of the magnificent reasons he wrote the Sutra’s without “stories” attached to them.

    With these suggested changes, your article makes sense to me and I agree with your overall message.

    namaste

  2. Hi, Peter.

    Wow, and I thought the Bhagavad Gita had some serious difficulties for modern readers. Sounds like they are minor compared to Ramayana. With the Gita, at least, I came up with the following approach to enjoying the wisdom without letting the other stuff get in the way:
    Why Is the Gita So Upsetting At First?

    Bob W. elephant journal
    facebook, twitter, linkedIn
    Yoga Demystified, Gita in a Nutshell

  3. paul says:

    I think the Ramayana was written to raise the issues mentioned in this article, and from what I recall it doesn't do the moralizing the article implies, but presents the stories as any stories, to teach lessons about life by examples, in this case in a world of Manu's laws and Brahmanism. There is a lot to unpack in the story, and the religious dynamisms, race and gender issues, the not-entierly-saintly saints, the psychological and "as above so below" of divine kingships have to be viewed in it's own context, not our modern moralities (better though they likely are), to understand why the women's "purity" was so important, as well as the many other issues of the story presents (I mean, Hanuman literally steals a mountain, and no one seems to mind!).
    You can say (or blame if you prefer) Kaikeyi and Surpankha set the stories in motion, but it was Manthara and Laksmana whose actions spurred them on. Sita's rejection isn't about her so much as the dharmic-ness (so too the sustainability) of the kingdom. And in the end, she rejects everyone, sending herself home rather than deal with the continued doubt of her "purity." It's sort of like proving you're not a witch by drowning yourself- but how can you prove this kind of innocence, without such a nihilist act?
    I don't think it is rubbish, but a story, and all the characters are cartoonish, because it is a story (and I don't rememver Rambha being all that innocent, but it's been a while). I agree with the article that there are a lot of messed up things in the Ramayana, and that "the reader is left to reconcile the conundrum between the extreme swings of divine love and vulgar barbarism, committed by the so-called creators and sustainers of the universe," but this apparent contradiction, and the question why this is, is exactly the story sets out to discuss; it is the same theme as most every religious text even regardless of an inclusion of gods.

  4. yogijulian says:

    basically all ancient texts are reflections of their times. we want to believe they are timeless expressions of transcendent ultimate truths – but more often than not they are a collection of superstitions, bigotry, hallucinations, with occasional moments of poetry or wisdom.

    of course the ramayana, gita, the bible, patanjali, the koran etc are filled with beliefs and actions that by our standards are appalling or ludicrous!

    all the more reason to locate intelligent spirituality in present knowledge about the universe, the brain, human rights etc…

    ancient cultures had less than 1% the knowledge we have now.

    of course we can try to revise and rationalize after the fact, but these books come from brutal times and are written by people who thought literalized mythology was the most important thing in life. hopefully we've moved on at this point.

    one can have a rich and full integrated spiritual life without idealizing ancient superstition, rigid social roles, the caste system and other outdated power structures.

  5. Timmy_Robins says:

    I agree with Julian , these stories reflect the mentality people had back then and polygyny was more like the rule than the exception. Women's rights are a modern thing, in many traditional cultures back then women were considered property , exchangable property, so this is really not surprising.

    I think the only way people who follow these spiritual traditions can deal with this kind of information is by compartmentalizing…

    Peter, I applaud you for questioning the content of these books , it's a good thing that you are actually making use of your critical thinking skills.

  6. Simon says:

    hmmm, let´s see …a book made by men , about men , for men .Impressive.

  7. Gilana says:

    Would it feel any different if you interpreted the story as discussing the male and female sides of you own being, rather than separate individuals?

  8. Gilana says:

    Would it feel any different if you interpreted the story as discussing the male and female sides of you own being rather than Sita and Rama?

  9. Mitranand says:

    your thinking way over the top ,,i love the Ramayana and yoga vashishta..take RAM'S NAME AND MEDITATE AND I WILL LEAVE IT WITH THAT .come back to the love come back to the heart and leave all the silly mental gymnastics alone and do your sadhana…

  10. yogamamba says:

    If I may- I think we can see clearly how modern India still sees the archetypal behavior portrayed in these epics as acceptable by the way women and children are treated and abused in the society. Although starting with their mothers, women play the dominant role in the society, most Indian men are woosies incapable of accepting the power of the woman. Women do control male thinking around the planet though, men just dont know it.

  11. Manoj Mehta says:

    Peter,

    I am FROM the Indian culture, and unlike you, I am immersed in it. You on the other hand are from a culture that is totally different. You just dabble in my culture, but will never truly be part of it. Your culture has been trying to understand my culture for centuries but has generally made a royal mess of it. Since you could not understand it, you and your lot have tried to essentialize it and give it all sorts of labels under your various -isms. You my friend have been a recipient of convoluted ideas about my culture, through your Academy and your new-age philosophers. I hate to break your bubble, but I know that you have not even begun to scratch the surface of the philosophy and workings of my culture. As long as you continue being involved in the world of so-called Yoga in the West (and its attendant selling of ideologies and material goods), you stand no chance of knowing anything about my culture. What you have received through books and translations (in English I am guessing) is not even a diluted version. It's your culture's version of what you THINK my culture is all about. You are in no position to comment on it. It's best to stick to what you know best, and that is YOUR culture and its workings. If you have rejected certain aspects of your culture, please don't come to us to find the answers. You will not get them there, no matter how hard you try. If I were you, I'd stay well clear of trying to come to grips with the richness of my culture; you will fail at every stage. Your mindset has been conditioned by your culture beyond the point of no return. My world is different from your world, and it's best that you stay in yours and let me live in mine. In peace, if I may add. However, when my culture has come under threat from various other cultures over the ages, it has tried its best to integrate and assimilate the others' mindset into its own, so that we both may live together and move forward. There have been times when your culture has been far to repressive and judgmental of my culture. At such times, we do not remain silent and allow ourselves to be ground into the dust. We do speak up, and sometimes, a la the Geeta, we speak up quite strongly. We believe in co-existence and co-creation. We love to interact with other cultures and make much of theirs, part of ours. Sometimes, your culture needs to be put into its place, when it gets too angry and belligerent. With articles such as yours appearing, do not be surprised if if we do put you into your place. No, I am not talking violence here, or veiled threats. I am talking of the power of words. We don't use our words lightly or flippantly; we use their full shakti (shakti being a concept I think you might be trying to wrap your head around. Don't worry- you won't get it in this lifetime), when the occasion calls for it. Expect those words coming your way, from those who are qualified to do so, from my culture. My culture is not a free-for-all, like yours is. We allow those qualified to stand up for my culture to do so when the need arises. Fear not. They will respond to you. Again, with words. Something like how a parent would do with a wayward child. In the meantime, our womenfolk are doing quite well, thank you very much. They don't need your protection. They can and do stand up for themselves when they have to. Our men cower in front of their Shakti at that time, with awe and reverence. I would not expect you to understand that at all. Yours is a different culture. Now, I hope you leave us alone and look after, nurture and protect your own, especially your womenfolk and children. You have kept them subjugated and imprisoned for far too long. In the meantime, we will look after our own.

  12. Swaroop says:

    It is sad that many people fail to accept and realise that ancient text, stories, thoughts are mere guides and not concrete rules that were written to be followed today. These texts and stories unfortunately are not timeless in what it portrays but in many ways it is timeless for what they convey in the deeper sense of learning! Spirituality and how people live with spirituality also moves with time and the unfortunate influence of society. Whether we like it or not!! This is a classic example how pressure from so called society makes a man, a king act or rather react. However, it also shows how a woman rises higher by understanding things herself and acting without much rigidity. This is how things were then and no matter how the ranks were classified, kings and higher authority did portray a lot of ego openly. Dharma was everything for many and anything would be done to fulfill ones dharma!! In this the ego also had a large part to play. That was probably the norm at that time. However, i think people are missing the whole point that the times were different. Every story has a deeper positive message and a message of purity of a woman shines through in Ramayana just as the love and duty of a husband to protect his wife shines through. The love and respect along with understanding of brothers shines through just as the understanding nature and love of a woman for her husband shines through!! I think people will talk, make assumptions and thats the way things are now a days!! :) Some are wise to learn the deeper essence of ancient texts and stories. Some see it as fairy tale and some are like trolls :) Comment or instigate trouble just for the sake of polishing their false ego!!

  13. yogamamba says:

    I love the male reaction from India. Compulsively reacting for the sake of it. Hindu is not a religion. Nor was it ever intended to be. Only modern day Indians and the government who own and control all the temples make it so controlling the masses.

  14. @HinduLinks says:

    My understanding it God was created by man. Man was and will never be perfect and hence his portrayal of God cannot be perfect. Many Hindu women have told me that they did not like the way Sita was treated in some parts in the Ramayana. I guess we just have to accept certain shortcomings that can be attributed to the way people lived in the ancient times and move on. Of course, no Hindu will justify such behavior only because it is a part of the scripture. Besides, the Vedas are the final authority and not a secondary text like the Ramayana.

  15. Ashton Szabo says:

    Wow, so, obviously the author of this article does not understand the philosophical significance of the story of the Ramayana, and/or it's many interpretations. But at least the article ends with an invitation for information so they can learn more… But like most people who "transplant" a story from one culture to another, they are too caught up in the literal happenings of the story.

    This is not a story about rape, a story about masculine entitlement. It's not a story about hordes of demons and monkeys dying. It's a story about YOU, and ME, and all of US. It's a story about the Individual self (The jiva atma) as represented by Sita, being separated by Universal Self (the param atma) as represented by Rama, by the ego (ahamkara) as represented by Ravana. In this journey of life, we (in our feelings as individuals) feel discounted from our highest source, feel disconnected from the divine, from the Universal Self. Why? Because the ego is always out to get for itself. Ravana has 10 heads… he has a HUGE ego. And anything that he wants, he takes, with no thought of others, only him/her/itself. It is that ego that burns up everything, and everyone around it. This is a story about the ultimate reuniting (although they are never truly separate) of the small self, and the big SELF. About overcoming the ego through service and devotion (as represented by Hanuman).

    Why does Rama "abandon" his pregnant wife to an ashram? Not because of some ancient and convoluted idea of masculinity and femininity. Rama also represents the force of Dharma in the world. Throughout the story he puts Dharma before himself. He puts others before himself. He seeks to overcome Ravana, not because he wants to make the world a safer place, not because he thinks Ravana is some bad dude he just needs to die. He seeks Sita's return because that's his duty. She is his wife. It is his dharma. But he also has a duty to his kingdom and his people. Ravana, on the other hand, is always doing things just thinking of himself. He brings his entire kingdom to ruin over a woman. Contrast that against Rama who GIVES up the woman he loves, his pregnant wife, because he's afraid of the effect it will have on his kingdom. He doesn't want his own personal feelings of love to destroy his kingdom (as it did for Ravana). This is a selfless act, not one of masculine pride.

  16. Ashton Szabo says:

    Hmm… no way to edit comments?… that should be Sita being separated FROM the Universal Self, not by…

    Sorry :)

  17. More robust discussion on Baba Rampuri's facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/baba.rampuri

  18. Comments from elephant facebook page:

    Jamie Conglose Wow! I'm going to be really interested in what others, particularly Hindu scholars say about this.
    Yesterday at 11:03am · Like · 1

    Shanna Everitt-Kneifer I am seeing that no matter the ethnicity, religion or belief system, many man are born with this attribute. Oh, your stressed out and deserve some unwind time but it is my duty to suck it up, with a smile on my face and just deal with it.
    Yesterday at 11:37am via mobile · Like

    Lauphin Bodhi Satva Further misinterpretation of eastern belief system coupled with new age rhetoric.
    Moving along.
    Yesterday at 11:53am · Like · 4

    Anne Olsen I dont have to watch anymore, men should be listennig to their women – always.
    Yesterday at 11:58am · Like

    Nik Issar Is it logical to believe in what a person says without checking its right or not ?
    Yesterday at 11:59am · Like · 2

    Nik Issar Rho Crow , Jamie and shanna ?
    Yesterday at 11:59am · Like · 2

    Basant S Mehta Before any one of us judge anyone and anything which is related to any religion or Gods or culture or ethnicity WE MUST DO OUR OWN STUDY & RESEARCH, only then we have the right to pass a judgement and share it with the rest of the world ; it's that simple !
    Yesterday at 12:07pm via mobile · Like · 4

    Nik Issar Whole world has lot to learn about eastern religions , even we eastern ppl has lot of work to do.
    Yesterday at 12:53pm · Like · 4

    Anne Olsen Guys, listening does not mean buying everything women say like you are supposed to be their slave – LOL we want Real Men to discover being Real Women, please get a clue, we cannot be you.
    23 hours ago · Like · 1

    Lauphin Bodhi Satva I am a woman that has studied the eastern religions and philosophies for most of my life and I will still state that this is a drastic misinterpretation of the eastern philosophy and the figures portrayed within.
    I believe what Nik was attempting to state was the AUTHOR did not check their facts before writing this article, thus no one reading it should believe it until they have researched the facts themselves.
    20 hours ago · Like · 1

    Nik Issar Ya right, one does not have any authority to say anything on em until they have learned it through a GURU/master from a traditional linage of wise men. If they understand whats karma/dharma and other basic thing , at that point of time they can discuss about it.
    11 hours ago · Like · 2

  19. Yogananda Puri says:

    Thank you, Peter Sklivas, for such an interesting approach and angle of viewing the Ramayana.
    However distorted the viewing angle may be, it clearly tells us, or at least me, not so much about the Ramayana, but very much about the viewer and the culture, or viewing angle, that he sees and interprets the story and the world.

    Since we have started looking at the Ramayana from a slightly different angle, why not indulge in another view.
    The Ramayana is not nescessarily to be looked upon, only as an ancient mythology depicting a story that took place in another age and time.

    The story of Ravana abducting Sita from Ram, to a distant island and trying to make her his own is in many ways the story of the demon Corporate Imperialism kidnapping yoga from Indian culture. Stealing her away to the island of consumer society and making her into his own.

    Here we are, the audience, in the middle of this version of the story, where Ravan with the help of his rakshasas/-is, Big Bucks, Mainstream Media and Consumerism are holding Sita captive.
    It’s not looking that bright for Sita, she has been stripped of her virtue and been remolded and modeled into a greedy slut, a whore of consumerism , a mirror image of the culture of which she is now captive.
    The devotees of Ravana enchanted by Sita’s exotic otherly beauty, worship and sing praise of her and adorn Ravan with even more gold and silver, for bringing them such a precious gem, as they are only used to seeing cheap glitter.

    How sad the audience feels, because this is a moment of great despair. Many see the pristine beauty of Sita, hidden beneath layers of vulgar make-up, body contortion, academic polemic and a SALE tag, but how will the story end, will Sita ever return to Ram ??

    Ram has only just discovered that Sita is in the hands of Ravana and his rakshasas in Lanka, as Indians and other people of great respect for Sanatan Dharm, just now are really discovering that yoga is in the hands of corporate imperialism, the demons of money, greed and control and the devotees of narcissistic consumerism.

    So it is with great delight that the audience sees Hanuman step into character and come to the rescue of Sita.
    Thank you Manoj Mehta Ji, Baba Rampuri Ji and several others unnamed, for coming to the rescue, leaping across the ocean of ignorance and giving a voice to Indian culture.

    Much of the story is still left untold.
    Will Hanuman succeed in bringing back news to Ram about Sita ? Will Ram believe him or does it all seem too far out to be true ?! Will Ram be able to overcome Ravan and is it too late to save Sita ? What happens to Ram if his consort no longer has her virtue intact ?

    What will happen to Sanatan Dharm and Indian culture if yoga is understood in the light of gross consumer culture and exported back into India ?!

    The audience is waiting with great anticipation …

  20. Vic DiCara says:

    I am not a scholar of Ramachandra, but here are a few innocent thoughts for the author:

    (a) I think the word "rape" is probably a misleading translation 90% of the time we hear it. I think it is probably similar to the term "prostitute" translated from Sanskrit – the denotation may be somewhat correct, but the connotations are wildly miscommunicated.

    (b) I agree that the role of females in vedic culture is complicated and confusing to the modern mind. And I think that interpolation and new texts created after India recieved strong influence from the Islamic world play a fairly significant role in that. Historically older texts seem to bear far fewer of these perplexing male-female juxtapositions.

    (c) With all respect to Sri Rama, I find Sri Krishna infinitely more adorable and lovable. Case in point: Sri Rama rejected his wife on the possibility that she had illicit contact with another man. Sri Krishna, on the other hand, married 16,000 women who he rescued from their abduction into the harem of a nefarious king. I'm way more into Sri Krishna. =)

  21. Yogamamba says:

    What a lively discussion. I must say India has done a superb job of marketing their culture worldwide over the last 30 or 40 years. Westerners are all clambering after getting initiated into their culture and receiving Indian names adopting so called ‘Indian lifestyles’ which the indians themselves have long forgotten.

    Looking at all the erudite comments it would seem the literature too has become an essential part of this adopted lifestyle.

    I would hesitate though in taking any westerners approach seriously as we just dont have the capacity to understand it. Coming from the perspective of the individual we see ourselves as separate from the whole and as a result everything will always be seen as separate from us – ourselves included. Whereas the eastern mind sees everything as coming from wholeness, and completeness and seeing itself as already whole and complete, doesn’t understand individuality.

    Keep at it though. Give it your best shot. Hahahahaha. Its all entertaining.

  22. yogijulian says:

    "Coming from the perspective of the individual we see ourselves as separate from the whole and as a result everything will always be seen as separate from us – ourselves included. Whereas the eastern mind sees everything as coming from wholeness, and completeness and seeing itself as already whole and complete, doesn't understand individuality. "

    do you ever wonder if this is perhaps a neat and tidy rationalization rationalization used to cover over the problems with ancient texts and non-democratic societies so as to continue blissfully idealizing?

  23. bflatbrad says:

    Thanks Julian, for the link.

  24. Manoj Mehta says:

    Yogijulian,

    I feel sorry for you. Do you think people like us live our lives purely based on what '"the texts" tell us? That we don't critically look within our culture and minds and change and evolve with time? I'd bet that you have spent absolutely no time at all living, and I mean really LIVING the Indian way of life, with the Indians themselves. Your mind is influenced purely by what you have read, a lot of which is drivel, about we are all about. You are like an armchair critic, watching a movie on TV, and assuming that your opinion on the movie is the 'correct' one. With the likes of you, at some stage, there is no room for debate or discussion. Yours is a purely one-sided view, heavily influenced by the system you are part of. Your arguments are also generally laced with an intention of creating discord, rather than really wanting to try and understand and bridge the chasm between your world and what's outside of it.

  25. Aksh says:

    Dear writer and yogamamba you have no idea of what idealism is,how an ideal son,husband and king should act,if you carefully go through these text you will came to know about it as it mentioned repeatedly,
    mostly it is related to keeping interest of country,society and family above your own interests.Duty of a king is first towards his countrymen then towards his family as a husband Lord Ram has loved and taken care of her Sita,but as son of a King and from a royal he has asked her to prove her purity,but as a king his duty is first towards his countrymen and interest of his country that is why when Sita was seen by his one country man(mind it ,he was a mere washer man) as some one not in line with the highest ideal of Raghukul(family line of Ram) he has left Sita for whom he has suffered so much ,almost died in a battle and was dear to him and have not married again.

    Western writers almost always fails to see this as they just doin't go beyond the idea of individualism and cant see the whole picture.Ram has not left Sita because she was a woman and he is a man he has left her because of his country.

    Dear writer if read carefully again Ram has removed Laxman from his kingdom has he has failed to do his duty as he has not followed Kings order,so doin't see every thing with your so called illuminated feminist ideology.

    And for Shri Krishna being married to 16000 wives,these ladies were those who have worshiped God to have Ram as their husband ,since Ram was bound by his vow to remain married only to Sita,he fulfilled their wishes in his Shri Krishnas incarnation.

  26. Manoj Mehta says:

    Oh! I'd like to extend the same invitation to Peter, the writer of the article as well. If he comes, he might see the Ramayan (or our other 'texts') in a new light. You'll only know us once you live with us. Otherwise, you'll keep being your judgmental selves.

  27. maya says:

    Thank you this is great. If we look in every single religious text we will find stories like this. It is devastating yes, and extremely heart-breaking to realize this hatred for thousands of years. I would suggest to you works by Riane Eisler, such as Chalice and the Blade or Sacred Pleasure, to further explore these links of co-opting of myths that occurred several thousand years ago from goddess-worshiping, egalitarian societies to violent, misogynistic ones that we know today…

  28. Pankaj Seth says:

    Good that you've discovered that the Puranas are full of the kind of moral ambiguity that all beings have to address within themselves. This existence is not a 'happy ever after'… there are thorns everywhere, even in the powerfully devotional or intelligent, even the gods have to sort through this. This is the world as it is, and so it is portrayed as it is. However, Indians have read these stories and have not come to the conclusion that rape is salutary, just as in reading the Mahabharata Indians have not concluded that war is wise.

    Once the thorns have been noticed, then one could move on from the Puranas… and in the case of moving on from the Ramayana, one would come to the Yoga Vasistha where Rama is taught by the sage Vasistha about the nature of existence, self, reality. The Yoga Vasistha begins with Rama's having noticed the thorns everywhere in the midst of sweetness, and he is perturbed. So, Vasistha teaches. This is where one ought to go next, the Yoga Vasistha, and if you havn't I hope you do.
    http://www.amazon.com/Concise-Yoga-Vasistha-Swami

    From a reader's description: "The Yoga Vasistha is the dialogue between Rama and the holy sage Vasistha. In the beginning of the book Rama has come to realize the endlessly changing nature of life from such a profound level that he sees no hope in anything and does not know how to proceed to live in a way that can lead him away from the inevitable sorrow that always follows all relative hopes and endeavors. The bulk of the text of the Yoga Vasistha is Vasistha's response to Rama's questions and state of dispassion. This book presents the truths of life as perceived and understood by those who have risen above all small self concerns, beyond all karma… from the perspective of one in Unity consciousness, the only real achievement in human life."

  29. Probably as good a time as any to revive this old related chestnut:
    Bob Meets Baba: Entrepreneur Meets Sadhu.

    Bob

  30. acharya says:

    Thank you

  31. Auki says:

    I give this article — and most of the comments in this thread — TWO THUMBS DOWN! I recently read the unabridged version of the Ramayana. It was a beautiful, worthwhile read from a spiritual perspective. Yes, it was often disturbing. But what true spiritual path is not often disturbing?! I strongly disagree with Skliva's judgements, opinions and conclusions about the book. And I wonder how many of the comments in this thread were made by folks who haven't even bothered to read the Ramayana.

  32. yogamamba says:

    I think everyone is just bored and appreciative of the opportunity to discuss. – life can get quite disturbing at times and if the Ramayana and stories like it can help society well thats what they're for. Is there anything in the west quite as inspiring to the whole of society? This huge gaping hole in our culture is of course the primary reason we all go off hugging cultures other than our own, and why Peter is reading the book in the first place.

  33. vakibs says:

    I once had a long email correspondence on this topic of masculine / feminine counterpoints on Ramayana with Nina Paley.
    http://sitayana-correspondence.blogspot.com

  34. Matt Dalton says:

    It's a story. Written a long time ago. By people from a different world than the one we live in. Yoga is not religion. Hinduism is religion. This article is proof that the penchant for fundamentalist interpretation of fictional literature is seductive to even those that consider themselves to be among the new age. There's nothing new about this sort of interpretation. And there's nothing yogic about the Ramayana or any god. When we overlay the literature of the past on the present and then try to critique it we will always come up comparing apples to oranges.

  35. @tarasnake says:

    well krishna was opposite to rama

    he valued the feminine

  36. Tanya says:

    I support your questioning. I agree with a comment I saw that if it is just presented as stories then it is showing us lessons to learn. Since I don't follow Hindu culture but do follow Buddhism which is influenced by some of the beliefs in Hindu… may I offer this: the Gods are not the creators of the world, they have powers and according to Buddhism there is a God realm which is not the highest level like that of Enlightenment where Enlightened beings emanate from complete purity. The stories show to me: not to put your faith in the power of Gods but rather know their power and potential to be of aid, yet they too are still under the influence of ignorance, attachment and lack unconditional love and compassion. There are specific teachings in Buddhism that illustrate how we can get to a God realm and that we will eventually fall. We have more ability to achieve Enlightenment as a human with the suffering around us so long as we train in Bodhichitta as demonstrated by Saints. Hope you find my response helpful and or interesting, and thank you for opening this discussion up!

  37. […] In a move carefully calculated way to elicit outrage and controversy, self-proclaimed ‘yoga teacher,’ Peter Sklivas recently blogged : ‘Is it Okay for Ramayana’s Gods to Rape Women and Exile them as Polluted Whores?’ […]

  38. […] more “spiritually enlightening articles” are male. This, to me, is an indicator of the taboo surrounding female sexuality and the continuous sexism that blankets the more feminine spiritual […]

  39. Bhakta says:

    Where in the Ramayana is Rambha raped by Varuna? I have never heard of this before and a quick google doesn't seem to indicate this is present in the epic either. Rambha is raped by Ravana not Varuna in the Ramayana, and for this Ravana is beaten and cursed by Rambha's husband Nalakuvara, and his father Kubera, who also happen to be Ravana's nephew and brother respectively. He does not go unpunished for his actions.

    Likewise the Uttara Kanda, the last chapter of the Ramayana, is the chapter in which Sita is supposidely banished from Ayodhya. However, this chapter does not appear in all recesions of the Ramayana, and is regarded by some scholars as a later addition to the epic.

  40. savi pandayi says:

    Firstly an impure mind cannot understand the play (role) of God on earth, God the creator both Mother and Father aspect has expand himself in both male and female aspect to come on earth to rid the evil minded, wicked and bewildered like you people who are making contradiction. To abloish Sita was not an act of inhuman, it was the act to show that a True King should rule to please his submjects despite their pure ignorance, what did Sita lost or what did Raam lost in the whole play, his duties was fulfill to rid earth of demonic Human beings. The Universal creator retreat to its abode and you are still arguing who is Raam and who is Sita. What Raam did and what Sita accept no ordaniary person can attain that, it was an act to show man how high he can traverse if he release attachment. So fools you have to born eight million four hundred thousand times before you can even begin to understand the act of the Universal Father or Mother.

  41. C.S.Ramalakshmi says:

    You are generalising too much.
    It was Ravana who abducted a married woman.
    Would any man in western culture allow his wife to be abducted or lured by a passing stranger?Wont he wreak vengeance?
    You say Rama suspected.
    Is a man to take things lying down?What will people say, if Rama accepted without a murmur?
    Any thief in the kingdom will say,"Rama, Rama, I didnt commit any crime, believe me.You believed your wife, why not believe me ?I cant be punished'.What will happen to the justice system in that case.?Rama was the 1st king who said, people should be judged on evidence.Law of evidence came into being only after 'agni Pariksha'.'Agni Pariksha' is our National ideal.Anybody, be it ever so high, is not above rule of law, and has to submit himself to scrutiny.
    Lakshman Rekha is the code of self discipline.No man or woman can cross lakshman rekha.
    These are our national ideals.
    Only western culture has eroded into our values, and we are having crooks amidst us .
    Only way India can be saved is by learning and re learning self discipline from Ramayana.
    Foreigenrs have to go deep.India psychology is deep.
    Rama suspected and scolded his wife because he wanted to prevent some body else starting to mailgn her.As a man, he took all the blame and crticism upon himself.What a noble man!

  42. Shriram says:

    Dude I dont know which version of Ramayana you have read but you have seriously misguided views. I have read the Ramayana. Also for your information there is no lakshmana rekha in the Ramayana.

    It has become a fashion nowadays to denigrate Hinduism.

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