A tremendous catastrophe that accompanied the Leftist slaughter of all Indian art forms has been the near-total destruction of the millennia-old tradition of Indian Aesthetics or Rasa Siddhanta. Needless, this was a calculated destruction and it followed a similar trajectory of the wholesale annihilation of Indian history. In general, the discipline of Aesthetics deals with the nature and appreciation of beauty expressed in various art forms. It is also the philosophy of art. The term “Art” is used in an all-encompassing sense, covering prose, verse, drama, painting, sculpture, music, dance, and of late, cinema.
Few ancient cultures have produced such a vast and varied volume of literature on Aesthetics as Bharatavarsha right from the days of Bharata Muni’s Natyashastra up to our own time. Like every discipline, Indian Aesthetics has evolved its own set of rules, principles, terminology and grammar. Accordingly, it also requires rigorous grounding, training and a separate education by and in itself. Thus, in the name of creative and interpretative freedom, if these principles and this discipline is violated, it leads to the destruction of both art and Aesthetics. It is forgivable to commit mistakes through ignorance but it is criminal to justify deliberate distortions by enshrining them as acts of creative freedom.
We can begin by considering a random but highly representative sample of the aforementioned distortions with the notorious essay, 300 Ramayanas authored by the Communist literary critic and writer, A.K. Ramanujan. Without doubt, 300 Ramayanas is a clear ideological subterfuge clothed as literary critique. Without delving into too many details, the ostensible premise of 300 Ramayanas is to declaim and discredit the authorship of the Ramayana to Maharshi Valmiki. And the intent behind this premise is to destroy the sanctity and reverence that the Ramayana and Maharshi Valmiki commands throughout India and in large parts of the world. Thus, because there are multiple “versions” or “tellings” of the Ramayana, all of them are equally valid and true. This is classic Leftist chicanery that passes off as logical argumentation as we shall see. Even if we accept A.K. Ramanujan’s perfidy that there is no single Ramayana attributable to Maharshi Valmiki, what do we get when we see all those 300 Ramayanas from Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti, Bhoja Raja, Rajashekhara, Kamban and Kuvempu in the 20th Century? All of these poets and writers—whether they wrote the Ramayana in entirety or refashioned it or took a slice from it—paid heartfelt obeisance to both the epic and Maharshi Valmiki.
Even the very notion that that they were “retelling” the Ramayana to do “justice” to Sita or Shurpanakha was considered sinful. Indeed, they would recoil in horror if they were to read A.K. Ramanujan’s malicious essay that paints them in political light. On another plane, why did so many hundreds of poets and writers choose the Ramayana as their subject? The answer is straightforward: the deep yearning and the multi-hued beauty that lies at its heart is irresistible to the poet and the connoisseur alike. It is unqualified, unsullied beauty. As we noted elsewhere, the person who does not like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata is not human. And a person who willingly distorts these immortal epics deserves a place worse than hell.
On the politico-ideological plane, the literary intrigues of the likes of A.K. Ramanujan are part of the larger Communist agenda to break Bharatavarsha culturally by axing off everything that binds it together. Needless, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have done more to preserve this cultural unity than anything else. This vile project of cultural destruction through artistic and aesthetic destruction has passed through four broad stages:
1. Viewing our art and literature through the colonial lens with an express intent to establish cultural superiority and hegemony
2. Reducing our arts to sheer utilitarianism
3. Using non-literary standards to analyse literary works
4. Making it unfashionable, a term that is loaded with western bias
These four stages are imbued with several interlinked strands as well. The British colonial project of inducing self-shame in Hindus is understandable though not forgivable. However, what the Marxists learnt from this calculated attempt at cultural destruction was how to mix political ideology to hasten the collapse. Which is entirely consistent with their insane goal of a new egalitarian social utopia.
And how is this new utopia supposed to be achieved? By destroying everything that’s existing. Which is why it is difficult to find the intensity of the hatred that the Leftists have towards beauty in its truest sense. A milder but representative literary version of this hatred is found in Gopala Krishna Adiga’s deservedly forgotten poem Kattuvevu naavu hosa naadondanu, rasada beedondanu. It is paradoxical that Sri Adiga uses the words “Rasada Beedu” (A Habitat of Rasa) and “Hosa Naadu” (New Country/State) in the same breath. Apparently, he seems to have forgotten the rich, millennia tradition of Rasa treasures that created the very cultural atmosphere which enabled him to write this violence-laden Marxist poem urging the youth to “build a new State on the graveyard of our opponents.” The Sanatana way is just the opposite: to preserve and conserve the existing beauty by extolling it, aspiring towards it, and realizing it by either emulating it or digesting its insight. This was the path of DVG, Rallapalli, Devudu, and similar eminences.
Our Aesthetic tradition holds Ananda (Bliss or Joy) as the ultimate goal of art experience. However, the Leftist view is not merely the opposite of this but actively works for the obliteration of Ananda. And has succeeded with aplomb.
The trajectory of this Leftist obliteration of everything noble, lofty, and valuable in our classical literature has occurred as follows:
1. Destruction in the name of de-mystification by delinking our epics and our classical literary tradition with divinity and dismissing the supernatural as we shall see.
2. Politicising our classical arts and literature by retrofitting contemporary political ideologies and theories.
Dismissing the two-millennia-old unbroken tradition of Rasa by intellectualising it and maliciously admitting all manner of subjective and questionable interpretations in the name of interpretative freedom. Quite naturally, it has today reached its logical culmination in the infinite perversions that inbreed. Cinema is its most visible manifestation.
However, the root of all this mischief is the same: a targeted harassment of and a single-minded aim to destroy what the Leftists brand as “Brahminical.” Indeed, the very term, “Brahminical” in itself is an artificial political construct and has nothing to do with culture, much less with art and literature and aesthetics.
Let’s tangentially return to the aforementioned notorious 300 Ramayanas. What one detects in this vile essay is also a forcible attempt to create an artificial cleavage between Marga and Desi. In other words, the selfsame Ramayana somehow becomes more authentic and acceptable if it has a “rural” (in their terminology, Desi) flavor. Yet, the selfsame wretched eminences in their serpent-like tongue holler about the “superstitious” practice of rural women who wear bangles, Kumkum and Mangalasutra. The same rural women who write or sing these “authentic” Ramayanas. This is politics at its worst, not art or literature. There’s worse: most authors or poets of these acclaimed Ramayana ballads and folk songs are largely unknown, yet they have found their way to the nooks and corners of India, travelling and getting translated organically. As a tangential example, how does one classify Vemana and Sarvajna? As Marga or Desi or both? Because their poetry contains substantial elements of what is decried as “Brahminical” and celebrated as “folk.” The same “Brahminical” Deities are extolled in both their poetry. Sri Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sarma’s brilliant essay compares their poetry and opens superb vistas that puncture the Leftist perfidy.
The greater dishonesty of the Leftist literary malcontents is that almost none of them have ever read our epics in the original in full or even faithful translations in Bharatiya Bhasha but no moral compunction inhibits their agenda-driven distortions. Girish Karnad is perhaps the most prolific distorter. Thus, theoretically force-fitting Freud, Lawrence, the unhinged debauch Sartre, and Derrida onto the characters of Draupadi, Sita, Kunti, and Shurpanakha, and calling it literary “analysis” is somehow valid. Which brings us to the other appalling phenomenon that has acquired huge traction of late: the so-called “liberation” of female characters in our epics in order to do them “justice.” An honest connoisseur and reader who has internalized the spirit of our epics will immediately notice that this is not liberation but imputing libertinism through overt sexualization by creating sexual relationships between Kunti and Vidura, Draupadi and Karna, Sita and Lakshmana, the alleged injustice done to Shurpanakha by Lakshmana…the list is endless.
The summary import of all this is simply this: we have an entire mass of such serial distortions and highly politicised writing all of which is based on ignorance. This is akin to puncture shop Abdul demanding his right to perform open heart surgery because he knows how to cut open a tyre and tube and fix it back and democratic India grants him freedom of expression.
To be continued
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