Project# 3 at Crystal-Talk Toastmasters Club

Myth of an Evil
Disclaimer: The views are taken from the original article published in Times of India. This speech was delivered within Motorola office premises in Bangalore, India. But Motorola is not responsible for any remark made by the speaker.


" A King, who disregards an enemy and does not protect himself, indeed faces disappointment and would be removed from his position. "

Those were the words uttered by Kumbhakarana to Ravana before going to the battle with Sri Ram, mentioned in chapter 63, Yuddha Kanda, The Ramayana.

Good evening friends. A very happy Diwali to all of you in advance and I hope Dussera was prosperous of all of us.

Today we are exactly in the center of 2 historic dates. The first we celebrate as the triumph of good over evil and the 2nd which is an anniversary of our beloved prince Rama’s home coming. On Dussera, in every part of the country, fierce effigies of Ravana, his son Meghnad and his obese brother Kumbhkarana were ceremonially burnt.

Ravana was a fearless yet extremely educated and laureate Brahmin. The only sin he committed in his lifetime was to abduct a defenseless woman and lusted after her. Although he had his own set of justified reasons to wage war on Ram-
1. Killing of his subordinates Khara and Dushana by Rama and Laxmana.
2. Attack on 14000 of his men in janasthana and most importantly
3. Humiliation of his sister Suparnakha by Laxmana.

But Ravana violated the accepted protocol of war by abducting Sita. Had Ravana chosen to take on Rama upfront in a battle, he would not have been held guilty of adharma.

Now when this is well known that Ravana was not a rakshasa, let us try to understand what rakshasa is and how bad was the rakshasa race. Ramayana has the illustrations that when Hanuman arrived in Lanka to find Sita, he was delighted by its sight. The highways of Lanka were broad and decorated with flowers. The city was crowded with lofty mansions. The houses were spotlessly whites and were built in the shapes of Padma, that is lotus and Swastika. In some houses people were chanting shloks and mantras from ved and puran.

The demonization of Rakshasas as uncivilized barbarians was actually a perfect example of the fact that the victorious writes the history. I am not saying that Rama told the world that how bad the rakshasas were but it was us, the common men, who were overwhelmed by the victory of their king and comfortably took thousands of years to make up stories for our kids.

An extremely difficult-to-read biography of Ravana written with over usage of Sanskrit by Acharya Chatursen, actually throws light on the so called demons of today, who were nothing but simple casts like Brahmin, Baniya and Thakur of today’s times. Yes my friends, Rakshasa, Daitya, Danava, Naag, Gandharva and Devta were nothing but people of different regions, casts and tribal groups.

Let’s discuss about 2 of the most acclaimed characters of the epic who never got their deserving laud, kumbhakarana and Meghnad.
The legends says that Kumbhakarana was a harmless prince who got a curse from Brahma to sleep for 6 months just to save population of vegetation and animals from his insatiable hunger. Ramayana itself tells the wisdom of Kumbhakarana when he told Ravana that he will have to soon reap the consequences of stealing someone’s wife.
Even Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana had a very highlighted and enlightened speech kumbhakaran gave to Ravana before played his role in the war.
Was he an evil ?? Torn between his intellect and his sense of loyalty, he chose the latter. It’s the dilemma anyone can face and may go the Kumbhakarana’s way. Was he wrong??? Should he have gone the Vibhishana’s way to betray his brother???

Then comes the most respected fighter of Lanka, the Meghnad. Popularly known as Indrajit for whom there was no choice. To him, loyalty was paramount. His dialogue with Vibhishana mentions, “Pride in Birth, Friendship and Brotherhood do not govern your conduct?? A stranger will always be a stranger where your own people will always be yours. He who abandons his own country is doomed to perish.”

Inspite of Meghnad bearing the brunt of his father’s sin, his name became immortal. There are countless individuals named after him as Indrajit. Vibhishana’s name died with him. The man honored by Rama himself has become a name from treachery.

It is the leader not a soldier who is right and wrong. Still every year we gloat over the killing of Kumbhakaran and Meghnad. I wish to conclude with this open question we should ask ourselves.

Shouldn’t they be excused now??

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Bachchan October 8, 2009 at 11:26 AM  

Liked the "Vibhisan's name died with himself". Indeed, siding with Lord Rama couldn't guarantee immortality to him. Indrajit on the other hand fought for honor. Treachery & disloyalty can never ever led to glory.