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.
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?
Om Shakti Om…Om Shiva Om.
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Like elephant reviews on Facebook.
hot on elephant
The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. A Letter to my Children: You do not come from a Broken Home. These People are Rare Gems—Keep Them, Fight for Them, don’t Give Up on Them. Mom, can I Call her Mom, Too? Jon Stewart makes first appearance since retiring—”it’s not your country.” Waylon shares 10 transformingly beautiful Quotes about Love. 40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years. Why your Yoga Goals are (Probably) Irrelevant, if not Downright Dangerous. My Marriage had to End—for my Life to Begin. Dear Woman in the White Car at Margaritas Mexican Grill in West Memphis, Arkansas on July 15th, 2012.