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Re: Comments on Rama and Sita

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Wed Jan 24 1996 - 18:47:26 PST

On Jan 20, Jaganath.Bharadwaj@nrecatao.nreca.org wrote:
> Attaining Moksha does not mean getting rid of pain
> and suffering.

This statement about moksha vitiates against the
entire tradition of Vedanta.  At the *very* least,
all schools of Indian philosophy, particularly
Vedanta, hold as fundamental the idea that moksha consists
of the complete elimination of any trace of pain and
suffering.  In fact, this is the very definition of
the word, as it refers to a ``release'' from the
dualities inherent in worldly existence.

Now, undergoing pain and suffering in this state would also
be illogical, because if moksha did not mean the end of such
an existence, why would anyone strive for it? Why would
it be called the highest goal of life? If it were also
fraught with the duality of pain and pleasure, it would
be no better than life here, which is a mixed bag as we
are all aware.

Specifically, according to Visishtadvaita, moksha
consists of ``paripUrNa brahmAnubhava'', an unbroken,
infinite experience of God.  This vision of the Ultimate
is inherently blissful and in this state, the individual
self has an unlimited consciousness and is  bereft of any
imperfection.  This being the case, there can be no room
for sorrow, return to worldly existence, etc.

On a completely different issue, the ``maya'' Sita who
mysteriously takes the place of the ``real'' Sita before
Ravana kidnaps her:

> Regarding Mani's comments that the story of Vedavati cannot be
> considered as valid because only Tulsidas has given this story:
>
> I would have agreed with Mani if only Tulsidas had mentioned this.
> However this story appears in connection with Venkateshwara Avataram
> and because the Purana is written by Vyasa, I consider it to be
> valid.

I strongly urge you not to make any religious or philosophical
conclusions based on sthala puranas, most of which were written
far after even the latest of the 18 mahapuranas.  Aside from the
doubtful ascription of authorship of the Venkateshvara
Avataram to Vyaasa, there is no reason to take any sthala purana's
words over that of Valmiki's.

Concocting a fake Sita also robs the Ramayana story of any
interest.  Since you are operating on the presumption that
Rama knew everything that was happening, why would he invade
Lanka on the flimsy reason that a ``maya'' Sita was kidnapped?
If the point was to kill Ravana, why did he not just go to
Lanka without a pretext and just do it?

Obviously, the ``maya'' Sita story serves no purpose other
than to make the audience feel better about Sita's mistreatment.
Other than serving such an emotional need, it has no basis
in Valmiki and deserves to be discarded as such.

Mani


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