Monday, September 17, 2007

Ganesha, Ram and India

What would be the three most popular personalities that have been drawn, painted and sculpted in the history of the world? The answer perhaps would be Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha and Ganesha. But if I were to narrow down the choices, the race could be between Jesus and Ganesha. Religion statistics of Christianity population with 2.1 billion with Hinduism at 900M and Buddhism 375M would make Lord Jesus outscore Ganesha by his presence in billion Christian homes, numerous churches spread throughout Europe and Latin America and also Paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance period. But in recent years, popularity and appeal of Lord Ganesha too has soared and it’s amazing to see his diverse forms being presented in innovative manner by artists’ world over.

Asha Sasi has nicely associated Ganesha’s physical attributes to our social and moral behavior. She says ‘In spite of being an elephant, he is so light that he can travel on a mouse. We all become so heavy, because of our ego, pride, materialism, etc. He, in Maha Ganapathy form is a symmetrical beauty, except his broken tusk. This was in fact broken purposefully, just to make his form a bit lower than the ideal, like the scar in Lord Vishnu’s chest. Huge ears of Ganesha symbolize his Shraddha, i.e. attentiveness, his half closed eyes sees outer world and himself at the same time. We should also be like that. Normally, elephants do not carry ropes and Ankusha themselves, but the mahouts use them on the elephants. Here Ganesha himself carry paasha (rope) and Ankusha, symbolizing that we ourselves should carry the tools to control ourselves. So we shall meditate on our ‘friend and guide’ Ganesha and try to emulate him in our lives as far as we can.’

This was in response to my greetings to all my travel passionate buddies spread across the world on Ganesha Chaturthi. My greeting said: ''Good wishes on b'day of Lord Ganesha -God of Success.'''In Hinduism, Ganesha — the elephant-deity riding a mouse — is The Lord of Success. The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha has an elephantine countenance with a curved trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. In fact, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four). May you be blessed with all the success through out your life”. My purpose was to make people in my virtual realm aware that there is equally important Indian festival like Deepawali, Holi and Janmashtami.

I was happy to get many responses. One came from Lin; a Belgian friend who stays with her family in one of the island of Spain ‘I went to aarthi in Sai mandir and prayed for Lord Ganesha’ here was another response from Jenn in England ‘We have a picture of the image of Ganesha in our house so we feel we are blessed. The reason we have it is my brother is marrying a Hindu girl, and I guess in time we will get to know a little more of Indian culture’.

Ganesha symbolizes India as much as Krishna. Another figure that always remained in heart but in recent years was brought on Indian street was Lord Ram. Ram has been too idealistic a figure to get charmed by people in 21st century. I too wasn’t enamored by Ramayana as much I did with Mahabharata. Ramayana was like a bland cereal fed to infant .Very clean, sterile, and nutritious but boring. Mahabharata was like spicy dish with Kolhapuri spicy garlic based masala. Ram didn’t stir me except from the Geet Ramayana songs penned by G. D. Madgulkar and Sung by Sudhir Phadke. But Ram and Krishna are the essence of every Indian. One can’t take Ram and Krishna from any Indian. In order to break mythical bridge, to create a canal between India and Sri Lanka, when Archeology Dept of India Govt gave an affidavit saying that there was no evidence that Ram ever existed, I felt that they were foolish bunch of individuals who perhaps sought existence of 5000 BC born Ram through DNA marks but forgot to read a legacy called Ramayana. And their claim is that this legacy is sheer mythology and imagination. If this so, I wonder how the places like Panchwati, Saryu River, Lanka would come into a fiction when they were 1000’s of miles away and this mythology would spread all over south Asia. But I was shocked when Karunanidhi said ‘"Lord Ram is an imaginary character and Ram Sethu is not a man-made bridge. The Centre should not do anything to disturb the Sethusamudram project,” How can a politician make such a blunder? Jaylalitha would be too happy to get her acts together to galvanize her public foray.

Tarun Vijay in passionately wrote ‘Ram defines our nation, our ancestry, our civilization. Denying Ram is denying India. Gandhi stood firmly for Ram Rajya. He died with Ram's name on his lips. His Samadhi in Delhi has only one inscription etched on it, 'Hey Ram'. But Govt of India ask Indians to provide proof of Rama's birthplace and the data of his bridge's construction plans ’

If comments about Lord Ganesha and Indian culture elated me, remarks about Indians by Taiwanese lady Shen who is passionate about India and its culture, hit me hard. What she said is the reality of modern India and can be vouched by many Indian women who use public transport in metro. She says. “A co-worker who stayed in our company before just came back from India. She is single and teaches Chinese in Delhi. This makes me miss India again. If I can, I also would like to do as she is doing now to live there and teach Chinese to earning my living. India is a country that lets me both love and dislike. India - this land is beautiful and I like this land, but most Indians (especially businessmen and auto-rickshaw drivers) make me feel bad. Some men who are walking on street intend to touch your breast by passing you. They don't respect women at all. However, I am missing India so much. I want to go back again as possible as I can”

This year’s Ganesh Chaturthi was Akshta’s first and it must be due to her presence that we managed to get the coveted parking space to visit community Ganesha at Maharashtra Mandal and also the temple. My attempt to make ‘Ukadiche Modak’ wasn’t all that disaster. Positive responses on Ganesha from outside members made me feel nice but doubting the very existence of Ram by the rulers of India made me disturbed and so was the comment by Chinese lady about India. The difference between the two was – One was by the legitimate government arm that doubted legitimacy of India’s very essence and other by a foreigner who is passionate about India but not about Indian – and I am one of them.

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Anonymous subhashini said...


Nice and interesting profile.

Cheers and keep having fun.

9:41 PM  
Anonymous nivedita sharma said...

read your piece on ganesha and ram and the setu... you write well.

i'll be handling the blogs section india today news and views web site. and you will have to BLOG THERE...

quite agree with your take on attempts at historicity vis-a-vis Ram. I am in fact quite convinced that a certain gentleman by the Ram Suryavanshi did rule a certain part of india. That was an illustrious human being in more ways than one. I also believe that the ancient indian recordists then chose to write about this man and his deeds in the manner of a tale, not a bland record of data that most of history becomes otherwise. which is why Rama has ruled the indian consciousness till this day and will in the coming years as well.

this deification of Rama as one of the avatars of vishnu is a later-day addition and part of the evolution cycle of hinduism. but why will karunanidhi understand this. for him and much of dravidan followers, ram was merely an aryan icon who supposedly fought and defeated the dark-skinned people whom ram and his followers chose to call rakshashas.

dumb that karunanidhi is - he doesn't know that Ravana too was a brahmin by birth. his being the king of rakshashas has more moral connotations than racial... but then...that's what politics is all about - twist facts to further your ends.

12:26 AM  

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