Friday, November 18, 2011

Devil's Advocate

I know it's been a while! But when the creative juices go dry, one fishes out some old ones from the cellar and puts it on the table. :P

So here goes again … another bad boy on the anvil. And this time it’s the baap himself --- the BIG DADDY of everything evil, the man who is the very epitome of wickedness --- *drums rolling, cymbals clashing* it’s SATAN! 

So the 'threaten’r' got his ultimate revenge, defacing this poor guy in front of the whole world. God made poor Satan the scapegoat for all the loopholes he left in his ‘creation’! The story of the Creation is an apt example. God made a garden and a man and a woman, and left them loose in the Garden making them work like slaves all day. The Church might say, 'Arre, but they were happy na! Never did they complain!'; but hullo! I beg to differ! Did they know any other kind of life to complain? And then there was the Golden Rule --- 'You may eat of all the fruits in the garden except THAT ONE!' Of course, they would have wondered, 'Aisa kya hai bhai ki we can’t eat that!'

Enter our hero. Satan lures them to eat THE Fruit, God gets pissed, throws the couple out because they were doing 'adult vali cheezein' in his 'pwetty' garden. But let’s look at it this way --- had our dear friend the Devil not lured those two brick-heads to that apple, today we would (had we even existed since the lust that enables conception was created after the Fall!) have all been slaving away in God’s 'pwetty' Garden of Eden! No technology, no progress, just farmers without a salary! So well, the original Saviour was Satan then!

But there is a side of Mr Satan which many may not be aware of (or may be, I don’t know!). Let me tell you the story of how Satan came to be the Prince of Hell, since I love to show-off my knowledge of all that is evil (buhahaha!). So once upon a time, in Heaven so far, far away lived God, His Son and His gang of angels. Satan was the angel of music and light and was God’s favorite. Everything went great until one day like Ram Gopal Varma, God had an urge to create. So He set to work (by the way, I have always wondered … why did it take God six days to make the world? Isn’t He God?! And how come He got tired and took a day’s sick leave? Isn’t He God?) and created the Earth, the sky, light and darkness, land and water, animals and birds. That didn’t seem enough and He wanted to create Man in His own image (bloody narcissist!).

That’s when the trouble started. The only person God consulted was his Son and Satan went red with fury. (There’s an alternate myth that claims that God declared Jesus the second in command and Satan went mad with anger!) Jesus became the second in command automatically by virtue of his Father being the first in command! Satan had done all the work God asked for and had expected to be amongst the leaders of the creative team for Mission Creation of Human. But Satan was ignored. Satan got pissed, got a bunch of other rebels together and protested against the unfair nature of the proceedings. God could not stand someone voicing any opinions contradictory to his and threw him out along with the gang of rebels. It did not leave Satan depressed and dejected. Instead he made the best of what he had, fashioned a new kingdom of his own called Hell and had his own awesome party to which God and His bunch of losers were not invited! (Okay, I made up that part about the party! :P)

Satan in that sense is not the embodiment of evil, but on the contrary, a symbol of Rebellion and Perseverance! No wonder the Church hates him (they never could stand rebellion ever anyway!) Satan was in a way the first revolutionary hero to raise a voice against tyranny. God was the one who started dynasty politics; way before the Nehru family and Thackeray family ever were even in the stages of being born! Satan’s rebellion was the first revolution in the history of the world (if the Bible may be taken as authentic) and all repressed folks around the world should hail Satan as their inspiration and follow his lead!
The Church condemns Satan as being ambitious; but when did ambition ever become a sin? Throttling the neck of aspirations instead should be what sin is and in that case, the Church would be deemed the biggest sinner! Satan refused to follow the path set down by God and wanted to follow his own will instead and that caused him to be maligned as evil. He did what he felt was right and was punished for it. But he had a Dream. How is he any different from any of us then? Don’t we all have dreams? Does that make us evil? I nominate Satan as the ambassador of freedom and free will. Any takers?

P.S: Someday I shall put up a new post! Someday!

P.P.S.: Originally published in

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Unsung Hero- Ravana

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Ravana is one of the most wronged figures in mythology or literature. He is treated as a demon and Rama celebrated as the maryada purushottam who slew the monster. But Ravana was anything but a monster. In fact, he was much more humane than Ram ever was in his lifetime. At the risk of censure, I own up to my deep admiration for this great man who was an epitome of virtue.
Ravana, contrary to popular perception, was not a demon. The word “rakshasa” which has now come to mean “demon” actually has its roots in the word “raksha” or “to protect”. It has no connection whatsoever to any demonic undertones. But it is later mythology that crafted the tale in a way that portrayed the rakshasas in a bad light. Ravana is also referred to as an asura. The “asuras” in the Rig-Veda (earliest text) presided over moral and social phenomena with the “devas” ruling over natural phenomena.
There are alternate layers to The Ramayana, especially in the folklore of south India, where Ravana was considered Sita’s actual father. Ravana was a great king, his kingdom was prosperous and the people were greatly happy with their king. He was a very wise and learned man and was a very fervent Shiva devotee.
The word “Daśagrīva” or “ten-headed” does not literally mean that he actually had ten heads which is a common sight at all Dussehra “Ravana jalao” events. The allusion to “ten heads” is actually a reference to his extensive wisdom and knowledge. He was well-versed in the Vedas and the Shastras and so referred to as Daśagrīva. Basically, he wasn’t a freak of nature or one of the X-Men mutants but a super- intelligent, super smart dude!
I have always seen Ravana as more endearing and likeable as a person than Rama due to the charming fact that he’s as human as the rest of us mortals! His wisdom and greatness though was acknowledged by Mr. Rama himself as well (maybe reluctantly!) as Ravana lay dying when Rama asked him to bless Lakshmana. The cheek by the way! : P
Ravana was a far more honorable man than Rama. He never resorted to underhand tricks to get the upper hand like Rama did by getting Ravana’s brother on-board. Sita was in Ravana’s power completely and if he wanted to he could have violated her as he pleased but he didn’t. In fact he didn’t lay a finger on her and only tried to woo her in honorable Mr. Bingley fashion which is quite interesting when talking about a so-called Demon. Rama on the other hand was a violent fellow who had Surpanakha’s nose chopped off when she hit on him; I mean who in his right mind does that?
Ravana kept his prisoner well and loved her in a way that should have Rama scampering for cover to hide his face in shame. What Rama did in contrast reflects poorly on his character. Rama listened to some gossip doing the rounds in his kingdom about Sita and put his faithful wife though agnipariksha to prove her virtue at a time when he should have stood by her. She had left everything, renounced all pleasures to follow him into the forest and this is what she got in return for her steadfast devotion to her husband. Ravana on the other hand received nothing but scorn from her but continued to treat her with complete respect and love.
Rama got together an army to destroy Ravana’s kingdom instead of just trying to rescue Sita. (Do I smell jealousy here? Was Rama not able to digest his rival’s strength and power?) Now, looking deeper into myths and texts, there is a clear Vaishnava bias overpowering this story. In ancient times, there was a strong rivalry between Saivite and Vaishnavite groups, both trying to outdo each other in every way possible. Now the Ramayana (and Mahabharata too for that matter!) glorifies Vishnu and was clearly composed by Vaishnavas. Is it surprising then that a true and ardent Siva devotee is portrayed as a demon? I mean, try and ask a coffee addict what tea tastes like!
Another deep allusion that I feel lies somewhere in the recesses of this story is a territorial rivalry. The kingdoms to the South of the Indian subcontinent enjoyed longer periods of freedom than their northern counterparts. Lanka was clearly in the South and Ayodhya clearly a northern kingdom. The age was all about territorial expansion and capture. Sita probably became a mere excuse for conquest just like Helen did in the Trojan War as captured in Greek mythology.
I know I might get slammed for my opinion but well, what the heck! What’s writing without a few critics who try to strangle you! : P I think as a character, Ravana was pure awesomeness (as Barney would say). His only flaw (the “tragic flaw” in Literature students’ terms) being his love for a woman who captured his fancy and whirred him out of control.
Many slam Ravana condemning him as lustful and arrogant but I beg to disagree. If he had indeed been lustful then Sita would not have left his palace untouched by him. However, even if it had become lust, he has the sage Vishwamitra for competition in horniness! If arrogance is a crime, hang Durvasa first who was much more arrogant than Ravana and is still considered a maharishi! In conclusion, I would say Ravana is the unsung hero that I would love to sing my praises to. Dude, you rock!
(P.S. - thanks to Arushi for inspiration for this article. Although I have done papers on Ravana’s character in class, it was quite a refreshing change to write whatever I wanted without minding the language! : P)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Last Word

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If I die
If I must
And there is no option
Heed my suggestion
Let it be thus.
Let me not die of frost or cold
Or go to Hades withered and old.
Who would care?
No disease please
Or famine or poverty
Who bothers about these anymore?
Let it not be
Injuries at work
No please, not for me.

If I must, let it be
An arrow to my heel
Or poison in my drink or meal
Served in a treacherous fashion
Quite the thing now are crimes of passion.
At least at the end of my game
Let me walk the walk of fame.

Stabbed by someone famous
Headline in the papers
Execution sounds interesting too
A bullet in the chest or two
Let it not be starvation
Or excessive depression
That just does not sound right on the obituary page.
If I must die
Drug overdose to go
People will at least know
Someone was there a while ago
An accident, a martyrdom, be what it may
Let it not be in an obscure way.
If I must go
Let everyone know
How would it matter if they weep or not?
I do not care to see whether they care
But at least they will know
I was there.