Monday, April 08, 2019

H.Res.109 - The Green New Deal

Friday, April 05, 2019

Arya per Sita in the Ramayana

Dholavira Seal from the Harappan Era.  No implication that this is connected to the story below. I just like it as an illustration.

 Aravindan Neelakandan reminds us:

In Ramayana, the Rakshasas are a group of people who were not, as many consider, uncultured, demonic people. Rather, they considered themselves superior to other humans and animals. In fact, when Ravana asked for the boon of invincibility from the creator Deity, he left out humans and animals because he thought they were too inferior to be bothered about.

The Rakshasa women who guarded Sita when she was being held captive were instructed by Ravana to torment Sita endlessly. Their taunts and threats even led Sita to contemplate suicide. But for the timely intelligent intervention of Hanuman - a Vanara emissary from Rama, she would have succumbed to the thought of suicide.

Now Rama had vanquished Ravana with the help of the Vanaras - the monkeys or the non-human primates. Hanuman was here to tell Sita the good news. Then he looked at all those Rakshasa women who had tormented her. He asked her permission to punish them.

Sita refused him to give permission but then told Hanuman what a bear once told a tiger.

This story told by Sita is known throughout India for millennia now . It is about how a hunter chased by a tiger in a forest, escaped by climbing a tall tree. In the tree was a bear. The tiger told the bear that the hunter is the killer of wild animals and hence the bear should push him down. The bear refused. He said that the tree being the home of the bear, the hunter had become its guest. And it was the dharma of the householder to protect the guest.
The tiger waited. Soon, the bear fell asleep. The tiger told the man that despite the grand words, the bear was actually reserving the man for himself. So, the tiger suggested that if the man pushed the bear down, then the tiger could easily devour and eat the sleepy bear and would go its way while the man too could be free of danger. The hunter yielded to the temptation and pushed the bear down. The bear, adept in living on the trees, saved itself.

Now the tiger appealed again to the bear. Pointing out the treachery of the man it asked him to push him down. The bear told the tiger that a noble person does not do evil deeds to revenge evil deeds. A good person, he said, always does good deeds irrespective of what the others do. After saying this, Sita defined the term ‘Arya’ in a very famous statement:

Kaaryam kaarunyamaaryen na kashchit naaparaadhyati
(कार्यं कारुण्यमार्येण न कश्चिन्नापराध्यति) :
Showing kindness (towards the saintly and the sinner alike) defines a person as Arya for there is none who has never committed a wrong.

Valmiki Ramayana: Yuddha Kanda: 46

Here, the term ‘Arya’, much maligned by colonial Indology, European historiography and Nazi racism , is defined as a quality that is even above mercy, compassion and empathy combined, possessed not only by humans but by all living beings. Only a being who possesses that quality irrespective of what species it belongs to, should be considered as noble - ‘Arya’. Thus defined Sita the term ‘Arya’.