The daily Yogananda Webinar Guru Series, conceived to get some of the best brains from diverse fields through virtual interactions, has become a big draw.
In the fascinating session with Yashodeep Deodhar, creator of 21Notes Valmiki Ramayan, we come to know about the relevance of Ramayan in the world of today and whether it is based on fact or fiction. Yashodeep read out some excerpts from the first Ramayan, which was published in Europe. The original edition of the Ramayan was printed and published in Paris from 1843 to 1867.
Talking about fact and fiction, if Valmiki just wanted to write poetry, why would he create a bullet point list? If this was just a thriller or war story, why war readers with a list of names. There are lists of all kinds, like “astrass” and “shastraas”. Out of 500 chapters, there are two chapters with just names, one after another. Giving an example, Yashodeep said, “I would like to take you to a place near Mumbai called Alora. There is a temple which was built out of a mountain and it’s a huge temple which took around 600 years to be completed.” He further added, “Inside the temple, right in the middle, there are two sides and two stories are painted on these two sides, which are Ramayan and Mahabharat.” If we think about it, were our ancestors so inspired by these stories that for 600 years they were chipping away rocks so that they could paint them into pictures of those stories?
Yashodeep asked why Valmiki wrote Ramayan. “Because,” he said, “Valmiki wanted to set the highest example of good behaviour, the perfect human behaviour.” And today, bad behaviour in society is certainly a problem that we are battling. It was essentially called ‘Rakshasa Pravriti’ at that time. ‘Rakshasa Pravriti’ was prevalent then and is prevalent now. And in order to overcome that, we need an ideal of what is right behaviour and that is the ideal which Valmiki put in front of us.
If you replace the word ‘Dharma’ by some other phrase when you try to translate it in English, the phrase that fits best is ‘Righteous Behaviour’.
‘Vanaras’ were one set of people, whose identity is largely misunderstood over time. The other set is ‘Rakshasas’. Very clearly in Valmiki’s Ramayan, ‘Rakshasas’ were not a different race. They were not only in South India or Sri Lanka. There was nothing geographical about it. In fact, the first ‘Rakshas’ was Tadka, a woman. She became ‘Rakshasi’. And that is what happens, people change!