As I was reading through the summary of Ramayana a very weird thought hit me. And it hit me right in to the head! Now before I got in to that theory, let me accustom you guys on how the story of Ramayana unfolds and what is it that sets the base of Indian Mythology for ages to come. In a nutshell, the story is about a young, handsome and devoted (wife-loving) prince of Ayodhya (who despite the polygamy-like practices of those ages had immense love for his Wife Sita). And in this un-dying love for his woman he crosses saath-samunder to avenge the humiliation of his wife. So as wars all over the world has been fought over some woman or the other... Ramayana was no exception.
Going back to the story... Dasharatha, King of Aydohya, has three wives and four sons. Ram is the eldest and the best guy. His mother is Kaushalya, a mother who has carved the niche for all Hindi Film mothers through the next few thousand years (especially the 70s!!!). Bharata is the son of his second and favorite wife of the King, Queen Kaikeyi. The other two are twins, Lakshman and Shatrughna. Ram gets married to Sita after winning her love in the pompous Swayamvar, and brings her back to Ayodhya. Dashrath decides to hand over the throne to Ram, who is seriously good at this job. However, King's favourite wife is not happy with the arrangement at all! She thought that she is obviously the favourite dame of the family and she might as well use her charms to get her way (very clever, I must say! As my friend Khushboo pointed out.. she is more like Samantha from Sex and the city!). So obviously, the charm worked (women know how to get their way). She wanted her son Bharat to get the throne and send Ram to some Forest place to roam around for a while. Well not a while, actually 14 years. Phew! that's quite a lot. Anyway! So Ram is like really the Good Obedient Son. He goes away to the forest, and Sita and younger bro Laxman follow him. They were having a nice time over there, but then came a twist in the tale. An episode that made me think!!
So enter Surpanakha! But before I forget, in the original story and the photographs Rama and Bharata are blue, perhaps indicating they were dark skinned or originally south Indian deities. What I dont get is why Blue!! I mean even Lord Krishna is drawn in a blue paint. After much thinking, I came to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe... in those days' paintings, they did not use the color black cos if they painted it black they would not be able to demarcate them from looking like Rakhsas who were always painted in black. So to separate the somewhat black/dark ppl
from rakhshas they made the rest of the dark guys Blue. Hmmmm! interesting!!!
Anyway, coming back to Surpanakha! So, much read Wikipedia describes Surpanakha to be of the same breed as Aphrodite of Greece who started the war of Trojan. Surpanakha AKA Indian Aphrodite, is described in some Tamil versions of Ramayana as a beautiful woman with fish-like eyes (also known as Meenakhsi), but in Valmiki's Ramayana, she is a Rakshasa (quite ugly so to say). Anyway, not judging her by her looks, the original story tells us that she was awed by Ram in the jungles and approached him for marriage, Ram was monogamist, he directed her towards bro Laxman who also refused her. She then got angry and tried to insult Sita, Laxman enraged with her guts cut off her nose and Surpanakha ki Naak cut gayi!. She went back to Lanka (Sri Lanka) and complained to her mighty brother (Asura King) Ravana... who was pretty pissed off with the whole thing, and went to the forest and kidnapped Sita in some kind of a private Jet plane, and imprisoned her in Lanka. Ram obviously had to get her back. So, Ram, Lakshman and the monkey army (will write about that theory later) build a bridge from the tip of India to Sri Lanka and went on to get Sita back. A battle followed of course. Ram killed and massacred the Ravan family, Laxman even very slyly kills Ravana's very hot and muscular son (*sob sob*). Meghnad/Indrajeet AKA the hot son was too powerful to be defeated and so Laxman kills him from behind when he is sitting at prayer without his arms (not much of a heroes' fight I must say). So finally Ram frees his lovely wiffey and brings her back to the Kingdom (14 years is over by now). And then Sita has to give an Agnipariksha of her purity (don't even get me started on that) and then they live happily ever after... well not exactly happily! A lot of Luv-Kush drama followed.. :D -- But coming back to the point, the real twist of the story! In Valmiki's Ramayana, the Ravana is the bad guy, and Surpanakha is the Vamp. But what I could make out was the the poor Ravana was a nothing but a highly misunderstood fellow. I read this beautiful poem once by a renowned Bengali Poet, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, called Meghnaad Vadh Kavya, in which my sympathies for Ravana first started budding. Well, what I get from this Valmiki story is that...
The real deal perhaps was that, Surpanakha a lonely widowed female came across Rama, whom she liked. But Ram was unavailable so she went to Laxman. Now Laxman, left his wife behind and was very lonely, so they had an affair. But Surpanakha insisted on Marriage like a true Bharatiya Nari.. Laxman refused!! Shaadi aur tumse.. kabhi nahi!! huh! so Surpanakha suddenly turns Jhaansi ki Raani and decides to tell Sita about her Devar's misadventure. But Laxman got freaked out! and then he disrespected Surpanakha's honor (ahemm! I don't want to use Bad words in the post.. but I am sure all you guys know what 'Naak kat jaana' means in Hindi, especially when referred to a woman!) So with all the disrespect and humiliation she goes back to her brother Ravana. Now what would any Brother do in a situation like this!! Ravana is more powerful than an underworld Don, and he has the resouces (private jet and all)... So he says, you do stuff to my sister (ahemm!!) so I will kidnap your bhabhi! And off he goes... but never in the whole kidnapping process does he ever disrespect sita by cutting off her nose (:P). So, I think it was pretty justified. All Laxman had to do was to admit to his bhaiya bhabi of his extramarital affair, but nooooo!! He had to go and start off a war, and kill poor Ravana! I can't help but feel sad for the whole thing!!
I will take a short break now... will return with more on Ramayana Parde ke Peeche!!