The Ramayana – just a part of Hindu “mythology”? It is strikingly important to understand the true significance of The Ramayana. The structure of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is arranged into six Kaandas or Books, comprising 24,000 Shlokas or Verses. The Ramayana is read worldwide, having originally been written in Sanskrit and now has been translated to several languages. Broadly speaking, it has enlightened us with the concepts of an ideal teacher, an ideal king, an ideal wife and an ideal brother. The most important of all is the victory of good over evil. If one is able to transcend the limiting way of viewing The Ramayana as “Hindu mythology” and can keenly read the epic with an open mind, he or she will discover the wisdom of the ancient sages and intellectuals. Yet, it poses a challenge to the reader to imbibe the most he or she can, from it.
The term ‘Hindutva’ is often misunderstood by people and used inappropriately by the Left Liberal Academia to serve their narrative. Such is the claim of those who feel that the re-airing of The Ramayana in the 21st century is an attempt to promote Hindutva thereby sending a wrong message to the religious minorities. Yes, The Ramayana is a part of Hindu literature, but it has lessons for all of humankind. The massive solidarity and its spiritual values are not restricted to any religion or class of people but are available for all. A true seeker of knowledge will have something or the other to learn from The Ramayana, Bible, and Guru Granth Sahib all alike.
Coming to The Ramayana in the contemporary era, how can we forget the longest case in Indian judicial history: Ram Mandir – Babri Masjid dispute? The dispute was amongst Hindu Maha Sabha, Sunni Wakf Board and Nirmohi Akhara. All three groups filed independent suits for the possession of the disputed site of Ayodhya. Vishva Hindu Parishad launched the Ram Janma Bhoomi movement on 22nd December, 1949 to mobilise public support for Lord Rama’s birthplace Ayodhya.
On 30th September, 2010, Allahabad High Court gave its verdict. The 2.77 acres of land was to be divided into 3 parts: one part to Ram Lalla who represented the Hindu Maha Sabha, one to Sunni Wakf Board and one to Nirmohi Akhara. The Sunni Wakf Board and the Nirmohi Akhara challenged the High court’s verdict in the Supreme Court leading to great resentment amongst people.
The final verdict was given on 9th November, 2019, the 5 judge Supreme Court bench gave out a unanimous judgement in favor of the Ram Janmabhoomi and the construction of Ram Mandir at the disputed site while the Sunni Wakf Board was given an alternate plot of 5 acres.
This case was indeed, a significant step towards the revival of interest in Holy Scriptures of The Ramayana. A part of this interest can be traced back to Ramanand Sagar’s television programme ‘Ramayana’. The viewership was tremendously overwhelming. Over the centuries, the Indic connect of The Ramayana was dormant, but these incidents have been successful in rejuvenating it.
But what about now, has the ancient scripture of The Ramayana caught people’s attention similarly?
It is not very astonishing to see that the number of people watching it now has only increased. Despite being aired again after 33 years, 77 million people have watched Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana, breaking all records on 16th April 2020. This only proves that the interest in the holy books has never been lost completely, but rather has been buried amidst the fast flow of our daily lives and the leftist barrage of ignominy against our cultural ethos.
How is Ramayana relevant in today’s time? Being in the Kali yuga, according to the Hindu texts, or the Holocene epoch of the Quaternary period, human minds need to retrieve the concepts of the Vedas, Bhagvat Geeta, Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc. Ramayana is an ever intriguing epic that took place towards the end of the Treta Yuga. Every reading of the Ramayana gives out a new piece of knowledge. This process of learning and assimilating is never ending. There are several realisations that can help man contemplate the most righteous way of behaviour that is expected from him. Rishi Valmiki said, “Lord Rama is the closest anyone can get to human virtue.” Lord Rama is a ‘manav-avatar’. He possessed no Godly or supernatural powers. Yet through his actions, principles and devotion he rose to the status of God. All his accomplishments were achieved in a human form. Lord Vishnu took his 7th Avatar as a human to teach us that man is limited only to his own thoughts and self-perspective. If a man is devoted enough and willing to work hard he can also become “maryada-purushottam-Ram” (the most righteous and finest of men) and can defeat the mighty Asura or demon king Ravana.
In this era of “Netflix and chill”, how has Ramayana instilled a sudden interest in people? For our parents and grandparents it is a resurface of old memories, how the entire family would be glued just to one TV set, contrary to what’s happening in today’s world, where each member of the house has his or her own separate device. For youngsters, it is an opportunity to satiate the curiosity of knowing what their parents and grandparents watched in their yesteryears. It is a legend that brings everyone together to revive interest in the timeless principles.
It’s an exceptional amalgamation of nostalgia and curiosity that has invoked everyone to revive their interests in Lord Rama.
Ramayana has something special reserved for everyone. The interest in it will constantly be renewed all through the ages. It is an epic that has captivated minds and propagated virtue and will continue to do so even in the future, for all of mankind.