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Rama as Harry Potter, Valmiki as JK Rowling

Rama as Harry Potter, Valmiki as JK Rowling

Author: S Gurumurthy
Publication: The New Indian Express
Date: September 15, 2007
URL: http://www.newindpress.com/column/News.asp?Topic=-97&Title=S.Gurumurthy&ID=IE620070914124012&nDate=&Sub=&Cat=&

It was a drama that lasted less than 48 hours. On Tuesday (9/11/07) Sri Rama, who existed in the hearts of millions and millions of faithfuls for thousands of years, ceased to exist, and became a myth for the UPA government. Like a stone thrown at a beehive this set off a reaction that made the government on the run for cover on Wednesday. On Thursday, the secular government quickly turned round and admitted that Rama was real after all.

See the sequence to this somersault. On 9/11, the UPA Government told the Supreme Court on oath that Sri Rama was just a myth and the Ramayana, no more than fable. Besides trashing Rama, the government had also dismissed Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and others as just 'characters' in the play, Ramayana.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) told us so, swore the government. Left historians welcomed the government stand as objective. What is the logic that made Rama a myth? That was the logic of stones and bones. The ASI needs stones to read history and historians need, in addition, bones to understand it. Neither does any stone left by Rama, nor does any bone of Rama, exist. So, they ask, how could Rama have existed ever without the bone-stone testimony. Humans do not matter to ASI. And historians cannot accept that humans are as objective as bones and stones are. So oral traditions of humans are no evidence to either of them.

On this bone-stone objective test, Valmiki and Tulsidas, the government told the Supreme Court, are all like Joanne K Rowling. And Rama, just another Harry Potter, the character Rowling has created.

Reports say that the government had filed over 400 pages of records to assert this. But why did the government try to make a Harry Potter out of Rama who resides in the heart of crores and crores? The case in the Supreme Court was no issue of inheritance from any of those 'characters', as the affidavit would describe Rama and others in the Ramayana, claimed by their heirs of today. It was an issue of heritage of Rama and Ramayana claimed by Hindu faithfuls - the heritage of Rama Setu - the bridge, they believe, was built by Rama's army of monkeys to cross the seas to Sri Lanka to take on Ravana. But, DMK, a critical UPA partner, is hell-bent on cutting the Rama Setu to build the Setu-Samudram Canal to create a shipway between Sri Lanka and India. The Ramayana, whether written by Valmiki in Sanskrit or by Tulsidas in Hindi or by Kamban in Tamil, testifies that Rama's engineer, Neelan, built the bridge. So the faithfuls who oppose to the Setu-Samudram canal that cuts Rama's bridge, rely on Valmiki's testimony. They contend that if Ramayana were true, then Rama Setu ought to be true. Consequently, they want the Rama Setu protected, not destroyed. They took the case to court.

It is in the court that the government decided to establish once and for all that the Rama Setu was no monument. To prove that it decided short cut. If Sri Rama was a myth, Rama Setu was too would be as much a myth. That is why, on Tuesday, the government declared Sri Rama as non-est.

Unfortunately, the government's affidavit on Rama as a myth coincided with the pre-fixed VHP agitation on the streets all over the country against the destruction of Rama Setu. So the issue was already on the streets when the government filed the explosive affidavit. With the media disclosing the affidavit, there was spontaneous uproar from the people. Millions set upon the government. The rediff.com which had put out the news of the affidavit had opened its website for comments from surfers. In less than 24 hours, over 2800 surfers responded, with a vast majority them against the government.

Apart from the BJP leaders, Prakash Singh Badal and Jayalalithaa, from the non-Saffron ranks, also demanded apology from the government. Why, even Laloo Yadav and AB Bardhan condemned the affidavit filed by the government. The BJP, as was to be expected, went on a war mode and demanded the withdrawal of the affidavit, and apology from Sonia and Manmohan Singh, and in addition, the concerned Minister's sack.

This forced the government to began the disowning game. The Prime Minister told LK Advani that he was not aware of anything about the affidavit. This should be taken as true as he is unaware of most things in the government. The Home Minister repeated the same thing. And so did even the Law Minister! In hours, the affidavit saying Rama was a myth stood orphaned. But then how calm down the tsunami of public reaction? There entered Sonia Gandhi - an expert on Rama and Ramayana and also archaeology and history ? - who, the story goes, directly called the Additional Solicitor General, Gopal Subramaniam and disapproved the affidavit declaring Rama as never having existed. Gopal Subramaniam reported it to the Law Minister. The Law Minister then held a press conference and announced "Rama is Rama; he exists like Ganga and Himalaya".

So all experts and their opinions and of the legal pundits were overruled. Sonia did not even have to use even her pen to do it. The UPA rules for ruling India are self evident. When the government does unpopular things, whether it is petrol price hike or affidavit on Rama, poor Manmohan Singh and Company will take the hit. But whenever it does anything popular, like petrol price cut or employment guarantee announcement, or the withdrawal of the affidavit on Rama, Sonia will take the credit. Now she gets the credit for restoring Rama to history from mythology.

Any way, it is new experience for Rama. He was exiled by his father Dasaratha under the pressure of Rama's aunt, Kaikeyi, for years. But, now, when Rama is declared as non-est by Ambika Soni, Sonia overruled her and recovered Rama in just two days. So Kaikeyi's wrong to Rama has been atoned by Sonia, thousands of years later.

Post Script: The experts, who could alone testify on whether Rama Setu is man-made or natural formation, are the geologists and oceanographers. Not archaeologists or historians. But their view was totally kept out. Why? Simple. Some of them had already expressed that Rama Setu could not be a natural formation, meaning that it could be man-made - that is, it could be monkey-made. If the government had heard them, the results are obvious. There would be no Setu-Samudram canal; no contract for Rs 2428 crores and no profit to any one. So the reverse logic - to build Setu-Samudram canal, the Rama Setu has to be broken; for that, Rama Setu has to be seen as a myth; for that, Rama has to be reduced to a Harry Potter. This may ultimately end as invitation for the return of Rama himself in politics, after he had kept away from it for almost a decade.

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