A critique of the left-liberal hatred against the rerun of the Ramayana and Mahabharata TV series on Doordarshan
It is truly Pavlovian. Didn’t take long for the veteran Left-Liberal mouth-frothers to rise on their hindlegs the moment the Information & Broadcasting Minister, Prakash Javadekar announced that Doordarshan would be telecasting reruns of the landmarks of Indian television history: Srimad Ramayana and Mahabharata. Landmarks for a fundamental reason: they spoke the language of the soul of Bharatavarsha and Bharatavarsha resonated with anticipation, joy, and reverence each Sunday. One such veteran Left-Liberal professional mouth-frother and author of a scurvy book on what he calls the “Indian Right” responded to Javadekar’s announcement in just over 30 minutes.
Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay’s consummate presumptuousness in passing a judgement like “Universally accepted how Ramayan serial on DD helped popularise the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation of VHP-BJP-RSS in 1980s” is breathtaking. Not stopping at this, he follows it up with an equally pompous screed (please don’t read it) which is simply a 1144 word-long expansion of his tweet. The said screed is the 21st century rehash of Mukhopadhyay’s uncountable pieces written in the 1980s and 1990s decades for example, in the defunct Illustrated Weekly of India using the same template: Hindutva is evil; Secularism is a universal good universally. The good old days when the land was red and saffron didn’t even have a remote shot at political power and its voice was submerged in public discourse. The heady days when you could pun headlines like “When the Wrath Rolled Out,” “Bharat? My Foot!” just for fun.
We’re not singling out Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay. He’s just one of the most representative samples…here’s another—a certain Rahul Verma, an international mouth-frother writing in the BBC (no! please don’t read this as well) who in turn relies on an academic mouth-frother named Arvind Rajagopal. Together and separately, the cacophonic drumbeat emanating from all three is the same.
…when the Rajiv Gandhi government contentiously decided to commission the Ramayan serial, the Ram Janmabhoomi movement had already taken off but not gathered ground. With this decision, the government violated a long held taboo of not promoting any content that had potentially religious content.
The TV show is credited as the catalyst in sparking a Hindu awakening across India, and bringing Hindu nationalism to the forefront of public and political spheres. Until the Ramayan was broadcast, religious TV programming was limited because India is a secular state…
The broadcast of the Ramayana was the first major rupture of the secular consensus… This violated a decades-old taboo on religious partisanship…
It’s surreal. Almost as if these guys sat next to each other, wrote their copies, exchanged notes, and merely changed the verbiage. This sort of copy-paste airheaded writing passed off as high intellectualism and informed public discourse in those days.
Only a lethally perverse psyche detects slogan-mongering politics in Srimad Ramayana and Mahabharata. However, if we take even a sip of the secularist snake oil that the VHP, RSS, BJP and other pro-Hindu organisations “politicised” the two television serials to further the Ramajanmabhoomi movement, there’s nothing to feel embarrassed or ashamed or apologetic about it—on the contrary, we must celebrate it. For shattering the selfsame “secular consensus.”
“Secular consensus” was a flourishing, closed-door, elite Vodka club of Indian Stalinists that owed allegiance to the CPSU, CCP, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his dynasty. In that order. For over seven decades. Today, it is a tottering heritage site.
“Secular consensus” is precisely what has given us the Naxal chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, a Kanhaiya Kumar, Shaheen Bagh, and across the world, has given cover fire to an alleged minority to transform itself into a septic global wound that replicates itself. By eulogizing the Prophet of Bharatavarsha’s Partition, Allama Iqbal, and later, the worst elements in the “minority” community, club-members like Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay have proven to be worse than Islamic radicals simply by being their apologists. The real-life culmination of decades of such brazen Islam-apologetics was transforming the Punyabhoomi Ayodhya into an international crime scene, a tale that has been narrated in detail elsewhere on The Dharma Dispatch.
Inveterate Hindu-hatred is the other side of Islamic apologetics, a hatred that surpasses their phony concern for Islam and Muslims. Hindu-hatred is another defining trait of the “secular consensus” that erupted at its venal worst during the run up to and post the destruction of the Babri Masjid. One only needs to revisit newspaper archives of the period to get a firsthand taste of the orgy of Hindu-hatred oozing on paper. They are reminders of the despotic power which these veteran mouth-frothers exercised over public discourse in those days, a power that no longer exists even as a pale shadow – a classic case of a corporate conglomerate being reduced to a Kirana shop.
This Hindu-hatred was all-encompassing: if the sacred Kashi Vishwanatha Temple was chosen for liberation instead of Ayodhya, would the behaviour of these secular mouth-frothers differed? The moment they spotted a massive surge of the tidal wave of Hindu consolidation, the “secular consensus” began manufacturing on-the-spot lucky draws, spinning wheels about the “real” origin of Sri Ramachandra—he was born in Egypt…no, in Iran…no no no! in Afghanistan. The same wild theories would have emanated from thin air about the origins of Shiva as well. Or about Sri Krishna, if Mathura had been chosen.
This then is yet another facet of the “secular consensus.” Of sitting in an unearned executioner’s seat and pontificating arrogantly about Sri Ramachandra not from an attitude of genuine spiritual or intellectual inquiry but by brandishing the butcher’s axe armed with the overconfidence of protection afforded by the selfsame “secular consensus.” When you strip it bare, this is a consensus of an insignificant but highly vocal minority of perverse mediocrities who grovel before their own oppressors, revel in deracination, and celebrate characterlessness as a lifestyle and call it “freedom of choice.” If you ask them the alternative they offer to Srimad Ramayana and Mahabharata, the answer is…theories, or even worse, Bollywood. In fact, theory is their oxygen and alcohol. At a deep level, they are in this abyss because they’ve lost their own language and therefore, their clothes. Their language is the language of theories, useful only to serve the alien masters at whose altar they have offered their souls and minds.
At a very reductionist level, a “study” of Srimad Ramayana is a lifelong education and experience in character-building. But to phrase it more accurately, Srimad Ramayana is a Parayana Grantha, a term that has no English equivalent. It is a sublime pursuit of the infinite nuances of our Inner Life whose expression in the outward (or “real”) life is almost impossible to couch in any language. What does it say about the immortal value of Srimad Ramayana that thousands of ordinary monkeys volunteered to risk their lives to punish a demon who had abducted another man’s wife? There’s a reason for the enduring proverb that whatever Sri Ramachandra comes in contact with, he sanctifies it – a stone (Ahalya), forests, mountains, monkeys, bears, squirrels…even Ravana himself. It is for no small reason that Srimad Ramayana continues to have reverential appeal, offers infinite artistic possibilities and is the life-faith of millions of Indians.
The number of poets, playwrights, lyricists, singers, saints, painters, sculptors and kings that lavished their talents and their entire lives in the service of Srimad Ramayana and Sri Ramachandra from time immemorial to the present day is innumerable. One of the Rishis of the 20th century, DVG would shed tears on numerous occasions listening to or reading just one verse from Srimad Ramayana. The noble institution that he founded, the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs has only one permanent president: Sri Ramachandra. Then we have the moving account of Sri Krishnabrahmatantra Yatindra of the Parkala Matha, Mysore, which we have already seen elsewhere on The Dharma Dispatch. It’s worth requoting the episode here.
The Guru, Sri Krishnabrahmatantra Yatindra was looking for some verse in the Ramayana in order to use it as an example in this work. So, he instructed his disciple to locate it. As Sri Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sarma opened the Ramayana and began turning the pages, he read out some Slokas at random. The verse he was looking for was located a few pages ahead. When Sri Rallapalli flipped the pages to get to the specific verse, his Guru said, “Don’t stop. Read the same portion you’re now reading.”
The portion in question related to the episode where Sumitra was consoling Kausalya who was profusely weeping at the news of Sri Ramachandra’s banishment to the forest. Sri Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sarma read the Slokas from this portion at a slow pace. After reading several Slokas, he paused and looked sideways. Swami Krishnabrahmatantra Yatindra’s eyes had filled with tears.
In our own time, the prolific feat of Saraswati’s magic, Shatavadhani Dr. Ganesh continues to offer us a delectable, moving, enriching, and ennobling fare of Srimad Ramayana akin to a fine, seven-course meal served lovingly by the chef himself. Then we have the sublime Prekshaa Journal (fair disclosure: the present author is one of the contributing editors to the journal) which devotes entire series to Srimad Ramayana and Mahabharata week after week.
One can write several volumes of this sacred Srimad Ramayana tradition but this suffices.
Given all this, there’s an eminent case to be made for the proven fact that these liberal mouth-frothers are worse than wild animals.
It doesn’t stop at that.
Imagine the amount of innate depravity one must possess in order to avowedly, wantonly destroy something so sublime, profound, beautiful, and enduring while offering nothing better to replace it. In temperament, intent and execution, how is this different from the bigoted library-burners of Alexandria and wholesale temple-destroyers in Bharatavarsha? The best way to understand this depravity is this: Srimad Ramayana and Mahabharata gave the world Maharshi Valmiki, Bhagavan Veda Vyasa, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Tyagaraja Swamin, Vishwanatha Satyanarayana, and DVG; “secular consensus” gave us Swara Bhaskar, Malaika Arora, Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose and Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay.
The fact that the likes of Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay were compelled to write his recent anti-Ramayana pamphlet also reflects his fear. Of even the Kirana shop shutting down. Sadly, the glory days of the Doordarshan despot, Bhaskar Ghose (father of Sagarika Ghose) will never return.
Destiny’s ironies are written in the ink of absolute majorities. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with his 413-strong cabinet commissioned the Srimad Ramayana TV series thereby undamming the flood of the latent Sanatana spirit which drowned his anti-Hindu and pro-Communist Congress party within a decade. Today, even Muslims dread touching what’s left of the Congress party. Despite the PM’s order, the fact that Bhaskar Ghose invested the last ounce of his dictatorial wile to somehow block the telecast is a dark commentary on the era. The full story of Bhaskar Ghose’s despotism is told in the book, An Epic life: Ramanand Sagar: From Barsaat To Ramayan by Prem Sagar, son of Sri Ramanand Sagar, maker of the TV series.
The same fate more or less befell the Mahabharata, and the Chanakya TV series, perhaps the greatest Indian television show ever made. The result of “secular consensus.” The same consensus that today has ensured that no Rahi Masoom Razas will ever be born in the Muslim community.
Here’s a Biblical verse for the liberal mouth-frothers who continue to lament impotently at the reruns of Srimad Ramayana and Mahabharata.
|| Sri Rama Jayam ||