Touch Of Evil October 22, 2007Posted by astralwicks in Culture, Dussehra, Epic, History, india, Literature, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Touch of Evil, Writing.
Yesterday was Dussehra. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Ravan, the foremost devotee of Lord Shiva, pre-ordained to be killed by Lord Rama, abducts the Lords wife and is challenged in a great battle. The ten headed king is eventually killed and peace is restored. The good Lord later on banishes the same wife he had fought the great battle for and she commits suicide…well almost.
Ramayana is a famous story. About the ideal man, the ideal king. It was a hugely popular serial in the 80’s in India. There was curfew like situation back then…people almost blind in their devotion to the idiot box and the divinites that stalked it.
Inspite of all the magic realism (that’s where it all began if you ask me) Ramayana is never the epic of choice. It is for the sedate and the scholarly and probably the boring. The self – righteous King who always wants to be on the right side of events, people, ideology and history, quite frankly numbs.
Enter Mahabharata. Warring brothers, a kingdom, heaven and hell at stake. Dissolute kings, profound philosophy, myths, legends and Gods who are as human as you – all powerful no doubt unlike us, but scheming and charming – partisan teachers, nepostism, good at propaganda, inspiring…a melange of the fallible and the infallible.
So on one hand we have the God on a pedestal – the one who never commits an error, and even if they commit an error, will never apologise. On the other hand the Mahabharata God is a flirt, a commander in chief, a philosopher, a spokesman, a charioteer, a negotiator, a friend, the man on the cross, advisor, confidante…all rolled into one. Definitely more interesting.
Which of the two will TODAY choose? But why was Mahabharata written then? Because of some prevailing conditions for sure. As bad as today? Why not? What is ancient is always palatable, the blood becomes romantic and analysis and understanding doesn’t have the burden of self – experience. We of the 20th and 21st century who have our own ghosts will seem ok in documentaries and books, 5 centuries from now.
Land, kingdom, natural riches, capital…have always tempted people – kings, queens, criminals…all common in their greed, ambitions and hubris. All kingdoms will fall and everything conquered is an illusion. Even the 10 heads of Ravana.