What the Hindus’ scriptures say?

The seeds of the book Hindus: The alternative history by Wendy Doniger were sown during one of her lectures in England in 2003, where a Hindu fanatic had thrown an egg at her after she had explained the complex relationship between Sita and Lakshman, younger brother of her husband Ram. Mind you, the complex relationship was not cooked up by Doniger. Many versions of Ramayan subtly or blatantly suggest Sita and Lakshman’s complex (sexual) relationship.

The problem with people (read Hindus) is that they’ve not read their own scriptures. No one knows Sanskrit and what the Hindus have read is Hanuman Chalisa or Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas, to whom Ram, Lakshman, Sita and even their servile helper Hanuman were greater than gods. Have they read Kamban’s Ramayan in Tamil, Bhavbhuti’s Uttarramcharit in Sanskrit, Bhanubhakt’s Nepali Ramayan, Sinhalese version of Ramayan and more than 160 folk versions of Ramayan?

You’ll be stunned to know that most of the versions of Ramayan point out that Sita was either enamoured of Lakshman or Indraneel (Meghnaad, Ravan’s son). The Avadhi folk songs on Ramayan, popular among peasant women of that region, openly criticise Ram and call him ‘napunsak’/’naamard’ (sissy). The rustic songs justify Sita’s (sexual) inclination for Lakshman. Kamban even suggested that Sita cursed Lakshman when he killed Indraneel on the sly. Indraneel was invoking Shukracharya (the guru of Asuras) and Lakshman killed him like a coward, just like Ram killed the Shudra Shambook when he got to hear the Vedic hymns and the Brahmins rushed to Ram to kill Shambook because he desecrated Vedas by accidently hearing oracular words. This particular episode was not shown in Ramanand Sagar’s sycophantic Ramayan that was telecast nearly three decades ago. Ashvaghosh wrote in his celebrated ‘Buddhacharit’ (later translated into English by Sir Edwin Arnold as ‘The Light of Asia’) that Buddha was disturbed by Ram’s fallible character and later declared that all these characters were mere Brahmnic concoctions.

Rahul Sankrityayan gifted ancient manuscripts to Government College, Darjeeling, where he breathed his last in 1963. All these manuscripts written in ancient Sinhalese clearly state that Sita was torn between Lakshman and Meghnaad and loved the latter more. At the same time, three manuscripts stated very clearly that all these characters never existed. They were mere emblematic representations of complex human nature.

The great Sanskrit Scholar Narhari Atre of Poona accepted that all the characters of Ramayan and Mahabharat were actually model representations of human beings. What’s wrong if the same was symbolically explained by Wendy Doniger? Why’re we so scared and worked-up? This is our history and like the ridiculous histories of all faiths, this is also a laughable history of Hinduism.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2014 on page no. 2

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