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HVK Archives: Kanshi ridicules Ramayana to rein in Hindutva brigade

Kanshi ridicules Ramayana to rein in Hindutva brigade - Telegraph

Posted By Ashok V Chowgule (ashokvc@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in)
13 January 1997

Title : Kanshi ridicules Ramayana to rein in Hindutva brigade
Author :
Publication : Telegraph
Date : January 13, 1997

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Madhya Pradesh has adopted a novel strategy
to counter the BJP sponsored Hindutva - attack the Ramayana and pillory Rama
and other characters in the great epic.

The controversial Periyar Ramaswami version of the epic, entitled The
Ramayana: A True Reading, has come in handy for the Dalit brigade, which
believes that no alternative political culture can grow in the country until
Brahminism is wiped out.

The BSP has been carrying on a sustained campaign in the Chhattisgarh region
against Rama, Sita and Lakshman, traditionally idolised by the Hindus.

Periyar Ramaswami's version of the Ramayana as a vile character, whose
vulnerability was greater than that of a delinquent. Sita was quoted in his
account as abusing Rama for his lack of integrity. Strong aspersions have
also been cast on Rama's moral being. Lakshman, his brother, is a poor
fighter and his hands tremble when he sets an arrow to his bow. He is always
looking for sensual gratification. Ravana, the villain of the piece, is the
hero in the altered version of the legendary work. Ravana resisted Sita's
overtures and protected her.

According to a special branch report of the Madhya Pradesh police, the BSP is
sponsoring local groups to the stage the play version of new Ramayana in the
villages. The backward-caste members, persuaded to watch the plays, are
amused. The report said: "Viewers lapped up the rustic language of the book,
including the slang. But the elements of banter and ridicule are beyond their
comprehensive ability."

The anti-Ramayana campaign which began during Assembly by-elections in
October, continues. It failed to have any bearing on the poll results but a
section of politicians especially from the BJP, is trying to whip up communal
sentiment in the villages.

"The police apprehends an upper-caste backlash and, hence, we felt that the
book should be banned," a senior police official from the Bilaspir zone said.
On the basis of police reports, the director-general of Madhya Pradesh police
sent a proposal to the state government in November, seeking a ban on the
book. Last week, the chief minister, Mr Digvijay Singh, rejected the
proposal. While political circles called the decision as "another concession
to the chief minister," Mr Digvijay Singh's office claimed a proscription
would amount to giving undue importance to "pulp literature."

Attempts of the BSP to vilify Rama has irked the VHP president, Mr Ashok
Singhal, who was here today for a meeting. He told the Telegraph : "The book
is an insult to the sentiments of the majority community. Those circulating
the book should be jailed."

When reminded that the Madhya Pradesh government refused to ban it, Mr
Singhal said: "In that case, the VHP workers will take case of the

The VHP president wanted to remind the BSP that 21 crore Dalits in the
country were declared untouchables by Muslim rulers for resisting
colonialism. Members of the backward castes were, therefore, Hindus, Mr
Singhal said. The distorted version of the epic offended them as well, he

BSP leaders here refused to talk on what "we are doing in Chhattisgarh." But
they are categorical on one issue - Rama could be anything but god. "We have
freedom to interpret any book," said Mr Dauram Ratnakar, state BSP president.

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