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From: Ramaswami Vasudevan (aurum_at_cadvision.com)
Date: Mon Jan 19 1998 - 21:30:29 PST
Dear learned members of the Bhakti group, Let me say at the outset- this article should be viewed in the sincerity of it's conception & should not be mistaken as an insult or offence,nor should it be considered as any blatant demonstration of whatever little knowledge I have. I was sending this message, when fire alarms rang in our place, things devoloped into a sort of crisis& for a few hrs,. we felt like being in Montana or Montreal. We are back now.Sorry for the inconvenience caused to all our members. Now,'fact or fiction' seems like opening 'Pandora's box'. Ramayana& Mahabharatha are epics & classics unparelleled at any time. Oxford dictionary defines epic- as a long poem telling the story of the deeds of one or more great heroes, usually over a period of long time. L et us keep aside 'godliness& spirituality ' & view them as epics.They meet the 'epic doctrine' to their fullest. Now let us add the doses of 'godliness to both.A book named 'geethai peAr uraigall' says 'ArjunanukkAgha arulappatathuthAn Geethai endra pizhaipatta karuthill naam irukka vEndAm.Nammudaiya manathill undaagum pOr kalame kurushetram-kalangi nirkum naamellorum arjunandaan.nammai meetka nirpavanE Kannan.Arjunanukku SAradhiyaay irundu eppadi BAAradadhai nadathinano adhe maadhiri nammudaiya vaazhkai thEriyum nadathi koduppan- naamum arjunani pOll saran pugundaal'.-idhuvE GEETHAI sollum paadam- the book says so. Similarly Kamban has surmised Ramayana in saying 'rAma endra irandezhuthinAl'. Is it enough if they said just this & nothing more.We need metaphors,similies& all the jargons of language.Poetic freedom & Poetic justice are two tenets of all poetry.Poetic freedom permits him to fly on the wings of Pegasus to flights of fantasy & with poetic justice he has to justify in glorifying the hero.Poetic freedom allows the bard to portray 'raavana' as ten headed because the message driven home is that the evil in him is ten times or so many times high as in any other evil charecter& poetic justice empahsises how Rama defeated him & how He was prepared to even forgive him & other facets of divinity.Similarly 'mahaa'baratms 'maha' descriptions are fruits of freedom & Lord Krishna as being in the midst of all this 'pot-pouri' enabling good to triumph over evil is the epic's justice.Let us bring Alwars also into the picture- all the works of Alwars are classified as Bhakti Literature.So each of them is essentially a poet.But like other poets the Alwars never sit in one cosy corner penning down tons of poetry. They have endured hardships to partake the grandeur of the Lord in His Archaa roopam.I beg to differ with-surreal imagination also.'Neela mEni iyyo nirai kondadhen nenjinnaiye' is felt &is true when we worship Lord Ranganada.When we go to the Divya Desams we have the tangible proof of all that the Alwars sang & we live in the joy of the moment, just as the ALwars did long ago & we need not indulge in surreal imagination- for the ecstacy of the moment is true.When all other literature of the world are savoured purely on it's literary merit, for they speak of the perishable things, our Puraanas, epic&ithihaasas are held high for addressing the eternal truth,ofcourse with the flavour of poetic imagination. 'Variety is the spice of life'-imagine, if we were given the same type of food,same type of dress- we would despise life itself.So is with puraanas etc,-they would be unappealing,if doled out like sermons.We are confounded with too many a choice& to justify our choice we throw the shroud of doubt on the rejections we've made. May I be permitted to quote Swami Chinmayananda-"People ask me-"Swamiji,why is Hinduism dwindling today" To this he said-'who told you Hinduism is dwindling.-it does'nt rise or sink-the very fact that it has stood the test of time is proof enough.It does not depend on any body for it's survival.-maybe it's followers may increase or decrease in no,. from time to time.So we needn't be scared, if Hinduism will prolong or perish in it's inefficiency to face such questions -is Nagusha true or false. The Supreme Being,Truth -our 'kula dhanam' is gifted to us embedded in the jewelbox of Puraanas, epics,prapandams,etc, with the lusturous gift wrapping of tales like Nagusha,chamanthakamani,so on & so forth.There are some smart people who unwrap gifts with least damage to the wrapper& have them as keepsake. But if they are lost in the uniqueness of the wrapper they are missing out on the gift- which is none other than the LordHimself adorned in the many splendoured( attire)- box of Puraanas, epics&other scriptures. Thanks for reading this posting of epic proportion& I'm sorry it came out in instalments. "NArAyananE namakke parai tharuvaan" With highest regards, Subadra.