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. Now you tell me! So I wasted my time with all that ancient literature I read in college…and probably with my entire Stanford literature degree, too, since Faulkner and Conrad and Gabriel Marquez and Allende and Conroy are filled with appalling and superstitious stories as well.

    And all that time I could have been learning the truth from Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen.

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

  8. yogijulian says:

    haha! funny bob 🙂 actually au contraire! studying literature is very different from expecting texts from ancient cultures to provide ultimate truths and deep meaning.

    we can look at ancient mythologies through a joseph campbell lens and glean much about the human psyche and its relationship to cultural context and existential conflict.

    once we de-romanticize all ancient texts we will not be disappointed by finding that they are indeed filled with superstition, bigotry, hateful attitudes toward women, gays etc – because that was the general stage of social evolution at that time in history.

    it is in fact the literary study and genuine philosophical analysis of ancient texts that is what i think is missing in the bible-study-with-bindis approach in most teacher trainings and forums like these.

    the difference between scriptures and novels is that everyone knows that novels are works of fiction – so whatever kinds of magical storytelling or violence they contain can be understood in terms of that art form… scriptures on the other hand are considered (by most people who value them) to be literally true and to contain actual instructions for how to live a "godly" life.

    conflating the two does no-one any favors, least of all the great novelists you mention.

    i hardly think marquez thought the magical realism in his stories was literally true. we can't say the same for those who wrote the gospels!

    i never found cohen interesting or impressive for a moment – he is a weasel!

    wilber captivated me for about ten years but his religiosity ( and its inevitable intellectual dishonesty) finally turned me off. very interesting way of pulling multiple strands of study together though…

  9. yogijulian says:

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

    exactly.

  10. Hi, Julian.

    Do you really think that people are going to be reading about the 20th Century 2500 years from now, with its world wars and atomic bombs and overpopulation and mass murders and species-suicidal environmental degradation and be regarding it as an age of great philosophical progress overall?

    But apart from that, why do you jump to put all of us who love ancient yoga texts into the confining false stereotype of the irrationally religiously oriented. I'm not, and neither are most of my fellow enthusiasts. We love these texts just as you say, as great literature, and chock full of "ultimate truths and deep meaning", just like we see any great literature.

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

  11. yogijulian says:

    goodness me!

    well, first of all i am not putting all of anyone in any category! i am talking about the difference between reading mythology as literature and reading it as "gospel." (there's a reason we use that word in this way, right?)

    secondly i don't think most ancient holy books come anywhere close to great literature that is honest about being fiction. the novel introduces us to the first person subject and their inner world in a way that hallucinatory scriptural pronouncements could not approximate.

    are you not being a little slippery here about how scriptural texts are seen by the vast majority of religious folks as being historical rather than allegorical?

    i think you overplay the amount of wisdom and deep meaning that is relevant to our lives today. but to each their own, and certainly if you and your fellow enthusiasts enjoy these texts in a joseph campbell kinda way i am all for it…. i'm in the same camp! religious texts can tell us a great deal about the human psyche in relationship to specific social structures and existential conundrums!

    i was actually (oddly enough) responding to the article above which seems to be reacting in surprised outrage from a contemporary perspective to what has been found in the ramayana – as if he had expected to find humanistic attitudes that fit our enlightened understanding of equality for women in a text from an ancient culture.

    and finally – YES, i do think in the future people will be reading about the 20th century! absolutely.

    martin luther king, mohandas ghandi, nelson mandela, the fall of the soviet union, the end of apartheid the overthrowing of british colonialism, more democracy for more people on the planet than ever before in history, massive strides forward in medecine, science, technology and of course a lot of problems along the way. let's not forget, rock and roll, jazz, the beat poets and the great east/west spiritual conversation that has spawned this conversation and indeed everything about yoga in america!

    oh yea and then there's mohammed ali, elvis, the beatles, and a couple golden eras of cinema with amazing artistry and social commentary…

    even with the horrific wars and the tragic atomic bombings, the 20th century was WAY less violent than pre-enlightenment times, in fact if you check out steven pinker's new book you will realize that as counterintuitive as it may sound, we live in the least violent time in human history. in fact each period of human history is less violent han the ones that came before. these are just the facts. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/29/science/human-n

    give me the whole grab bag of 20th century shadow and light over being a woman or untouchable several hundred years ago in india!

  12. yogijulian says:

    are. there. any. other. kind?

  13. yogijulian says:

    i also actually think people will continue to look at the history of philosophy in terms of an ongoing evolution in dialog with science.

    over the last few hundred years, as we have applied scientific method to solve questions that were previously the domain of priests and philosophers, philosophy has had to make massive adjustments – and hardly any philosophers are stil theists.

    yea i think the 20th century is hugely significant – but also in the context of post enlightenment culture, the world getting smaller, the advent of the internet etc…

    life in pre enlightenment times was just much harder, much more oppressive, much more superstitious and much less free for the vast majority of people.

    we do well not to romanticize the ancient and exotic, which is kinda the point of this article methinks :)the ramayana has a place alongside other ancient mythology as an interesting cultural artifact, but it does not contain ultimate truths about the nature of the cosmos or how human social relations should be enacted.

    give me jack kornfield's a path with heart, rick hanson's buddha's brain and peter levine's waking the tiger as guides to a contemporary spiritual practice over any ancient religious text!

  14. Timmy_Robins says:

    Hi Bob,
    I think most people , as in sane people , would not find it pleasing to read a novel where rape and murder are glorified. The fact that these books are somehow granted with special status plus the fact that people want to find meaning and comfort might make it easier for them to turn a blind eye on all the nasty content .

    The question remains, why is it that followers of these spiritual traditions fail to recognize this?

    A movie made from these stories would make the rape scene in Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo look silly.

  15. Timmy_Robins says:

    lol not if they are "ancient" or "sacred".

  16. 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?

  17. 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?

  18. I dunno Bob, the last time I tried to make that point, in an e-mail discussion you started, I got roundly attacked (which is why I've avoided such discussions ever since). Yes, I agree that these texts are great works of literature, no different from Hamlet or Moby Dick. That's because I'm one of the same tiny intellectual minority as yourself, and, hence, largely insignificant, in the face of the great masses of those who treasure these texts as the timeless words of god(s). That's not to say that we're not correct–we're just not particularly relevant.

  19. Hi, Jay.

    You make a good point, from a world-wide perspective. But I would say we literature-oriented folks are a very high percentage of elephant readers who love the ancient yoga texts. I guessing we're not getting a lot of devout religious devotees here, although there are some, and I welcome them, too.

    Anyway, I'm only making very general points in defense of those of us ultra-rationalists who still get a lot out of great literature, both modern and ancient. I've actually never read the the Ramayama.

    But I have gotten a lot out of the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads in a modern personal interpretation, which I've documented about as completely as I can in my own writing, which, ironically and instructively, is philosophically very close to Julian's general rationalist philosophical point of view.

    Julian and I disagree about how to deal with people who are different than ourselves, not much about core philosophy.

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

  20. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Gilana, that is sublime. I was really into Julian and Bob's excellent discussion, thinking it finely done. But then, in a couple o' words you took it to another level.

  21. yogijulian says:

    sorry, but i doubt the "true" meaning of ancient texts has nothing to do with their cultural context, sociopolitical views etc – we can't just "feel better" by interpreting it through the lens of new age psychology…

    i mean i could also come along and say – well, do you feel better if you interpret it as being the dream of an extraterrestrial?

    i mean i would feel better if the crucification of jesus was really about dying to your false self…. but that is called revisionism, and i think there are better ways of a) interpreting cultural myths and b) finding meaning in life.

    the fact is that ancient scriptures have all sorts of detailed instructions and descriptions regarding cruelty to women and violence against people of other faiths – the reason is simple: they were written in a brutal time!

    they do not reflect our current understanding of enlightened, liberal, human rights…. this is what we have to realize: human rights and equality are a VERY recent invention! they have taken root more in the west than anywhere else too – as much as we wanna reject the west and idealize the east, where they still have arranged marriages, honor killings, widows throwing themselves on their husbands funeral pyres, widespread caste discrimination etc…

  22. @BabaRampuri says:

    Thank you, Bob, for including me on this article, and it’s one of those times where I’m in complete agreement with you. The article is something worthy of a fundamentalist Christian, or an overzealous Neo-con, in that one’s world must be superimposed on another, whether in interpretation of another’s culture, in rules of engagement, or in the enforcing of specific values on another (to the exclusion of others).

    The Ramayana is a text very different from the “gospels” of Chritianity, Islam, & Judaism, in that the poem of Valmiki, which it seems Peter is referring to, is only one text of an entire genre of literature often referred to as “Ram Katha” (“The Story of Rama), with versions (not translations) in most Indian languages, with a geographical spread covering almost half the world with ‘versions’ (again, NOT just translations) in the many languages from Japan & China down to Indonesia, to Africa, and as far as Eastern Europe. With its origins going back MANY thousands of years, it is arguably the oldest story, the most known over history, certainly among the 3 best known today, & the most sustainable story still being told and performed on a large scale in the world.

    But, except for Western culture, where it is not traditional, it is popularly known NOT by “reading the book to yoursef”, as we do in the West, but by its performance and recitation. And in India, the vast majority know the Tulsi Das, “Ramcharitmanasa” version, rather than Valmiki’s, which, I believe is Peter’s source. And there is a huge difference, Valmiki was an epic poet, and his work may be compared with other literature in its genre such as Homer, while Tulsi Das was a devotee, and his genre is devotional. One of the major differences is that in the devotional literature, it is only Sita’s ‘shadow’ that is kidnapped, and not being an epic poem, focuses on popular devotion to personalities of nature, deities, their songs, their drama, their mysteries, & their blessings. Valmiki’s version, on the other hand, is one of the great masterpieces of the craft of poetry and the expression of man, even if it was a crow who told him the story.

    Then there are the commentaries, whether from one’s grandmother, aunty, or guru. The Story of Rama is completely interwoven in the culture of India, in its literature, theater, and art, in its sacred rites and esoteric knowledge, child naming, pilgrimage, names of towns, cities, and their streets. The list goes on.

    To reduce this entire world of Ramayana to a modern Western interpretation of Ram’s banishment of Sita, based on privileging a single modern translation over all the other texts, theater, customs, culture, and vernacular interpretations, is simply disengenouos, and reminds me more of what I read in the mainstream media about the “evil empires” than any sober examination of a huge historical and cultural phenomena.

    Ram’s banishment of Sita is indeed a great mystery, debated and discussed over the centuries, so if one wishes to contribute to this discussion, one really should move beyond warmed over 19th century colonial politics ala MacCauley. And if it is the narrative of take the ‘Hindu’ or ‘Indian’ out of yoga, then be upfront and state your case, no need to dismiss the 1000’s of years of India’s sustained culture.

  23. Timmy_Robins says:

    5th century B.C is hardly "MANY" thousands of years. An objective discussion on the subject must also leave aside romantic notions of eastern cultures.

  24. 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…

  25. 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.

  26. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Hey Julian, I'm with ya bro. The Enlightenment took a radical idea – all people have value – and brought it into the mainstream. The decreasing level of violence in the world, the rising standards of living in the world, the "trickle down" of rights to more and more people… It's all largely a Western thing, more specifically, an Enlightenment thing. Elephants and intellectuals in general take it for granted and take it further than for granted. They denigrate it and raise in its place romanticized versions of uncivilized modes of social conduct.

    But I'm also with Gilana. His/Hers is an excellent way to look at not only this story but all stories that deal with human depravity. Anger at the depravity is, I think, a way to deny that the same depravity is inside of each of us. When our blood boils at Rama or Hitler or whoever we imagine as a hateful being, it's a way to say, Hey, I'M not like that!!! And the ego is pleased as we say it, pleased and protected. Compassion even for the "evil beings" is a step towards pesonal enlightenment, I think, and that compassion develops from the understanding that they are really not so different than us.

    Ok, maybe I'm reading too much into Gilana's little note, but maybe not. That's my take on it, anyway.

  27. 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.

  28. Amit kumar says:

    Yoga Amba,What is the role of a woman in society of yours? to have 8 partners as live in partners before deciding whom to marry? when do the women in western society lose their virginity 13 or 14? What power you are talking of?Is there any faithfulness to Husband in your society what is called PatiVrata?in India women is worshipped as mother..where as the western society put their mothers in old age home and mothers themselves have no say in their daughter or son lives.What kind of society you live in and how many broken homes with mother marrying 2-3 times and father marrying 2-3 times is the norm ? Animal or sub human decide for you .Go back to your christian roots instead of jumping from one religion to another it is making you insane.God made your birth in christian land for your samskaras..and you deserve that.and Teach your churchian morals to pedohile christians and priests.They need you more.

  29. 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!!

  30. 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.

  31. yogamamba says:

    Birth anywhere is blessing enough. If you see one part of the world as different from another neither is the truth. All views are conditioned. I think regarding divorce etc India is well on its way to joining the western world in this regard. I think Mumbai and Delhi attest to this. Children there are also being subjected to broken homes. My greatest fascination is to see Indias most powerful woman is an Italian. This takes the cake. An ex waitress meets the heir to the Indian throne and marries him and assumes his powerful role. Fascinating. She even learnt how to dress in Sari and talk Hindian.

  32. @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.

  33. @HinduLinks says:

    You have a problem when Christianity is criticized but replace 'Yogic' with 'Hindu'. Wonderful. Nothing related to Yoga is distinct from Hinduism. It's all Hindu/Vedic Philosophy.

  34. @HinduLinks says:

    Why are you so perturbed? As Hinduism goes global, you must be prepared for criticism. So far, Hindu concepts have fascinated the Western mind and they've openly appreciated our scriptures and philosophy. You cannot take the praises with a wide grin and get abusive when some aspect of it is criticized. And anyone who criticizes any aspect of Hinduism does not automatically become a missionary.

  35. michelle says:

    Right on Manoj!

  36. 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.

  37. @BabaRampuri says:

    Timmy, some of us actually know what we're talking about and don't need to run to wikipedia for knowledge.

  38. Ashton Szabo says:

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

    Sorry 🙂

  39. paul says:

    I know the stories collected in the Panchatantra have been shown to have spread from India to East Asia and Europe, but I've never read this for the Ramayana. Maybe a variant of the Nala-Damayanti story had made it out there?

  40. Hi, Baba. I knew you'd have some fascinating thoughts for us on this. You do not disappoint.

    Thanks for joining us here.

    Bob

  41. Timmy_Robins says:

    ohh , ok , if you are the scholar here do you mind giving us an accurate date?

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

  43. 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

  44. jesualdo says:

    What a string of chauvinist nonsense. My culture, yours culture, your sorts… Leave us alone but let`s us be embedded in your culture. All so sacramental. One doesn`t necessarily have to agree with the author`s s assumptions in order to see how fair his analysis can be without offending, profaning or being blasphemical. Why not review the status of all these narratives, with all due respect, and perhaps detect more lying behind that what meets the eye? Dogmas conduct to one way tracks.

  45. yogijulian says:

    robust!? you have got to be kidding my friend. this thread is mostly the comments of overtly religious hindus saying things like "one has to have great love for shree to be able to correctly interpret the ramayana."

    it also surprises me that you are so quick to tell me i am incorrectly lumping you in with overtly religious folks and then just how much you actually seem to be quite involved with overtly religious folks.

    that you would find this thread "robust" is confusing to me – it is really nonsensical and filled with fundamentalist assertions and vaguely mystical revisionisms.

  46. jesualdo says:

    I`m sorry for the inclusion of my comment into the wrong place. It should be posted as a remark to another comment. By the way, I almost totally subscribe to the above analysis.

  47. 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 …

  48. 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. =)

  49. Gilana says:

    Have you applied the suggestion made to yourself? If you had, you might not have made this argument.

    If you have applied it, have you found the many times you crucify your feminine side? How easily we all disgrace and repute the feminine inclinations and wisdom? How we would immediately become "macho" and abandon the feminine in ourselves simply to "look good" to others who judge us? And, unfortunately, your reaction to that post reflects the male side of your nature – argument, knowledge, contention, retaliation, anger and judgement. Your female side would incline toward listening, experimentation, trying to understand, reception.

    This is important information. This IS what the texts are talking about. Yes they were written in less humane times which only makes them more miraculous. Is your contention that the authors were stupid, cruel and unenlightened? That we and our time is so much smarter?

    It is apparent that the violence of the ancients is painful and unacceptable to you. However, it cannot be escaped that experience has no importance whatsoever to truth, so whatever caught the attention of the seeker would be valuable. Our current understanding of enlightened, liberal, human rights has absolutely no relation to truth.

    All texts are stupid. They are dead and have nothing to do with truth, which is alive – but you can use them to find out what is alive in you right now.

    If we attempt to find the real way to increase our understanding of ourselves we will do justice to the author of this text., no matter what he really meant.

    And by the way, experimenting with your own mind/body has nothing to do with new age psychology. It is the true path to self understanding, which is the precursor of enlightenment.

    Please excuse my using the words "feel better" which might have confused you. I was struck by the author's frustration and disappointment in his experience and probably could have worded it better.

  50. Gilana says:

    Who is "your own"? If you understand the texts, who is excluded?

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