Raavana – a terrorist?

Anything to get masses involved. Its reported that, in a new cassette, the VHP has said that the only way to fight terrorism is to build a temple in Ayodhya. For, that would be a tribute to Ram who annihilated ??Aatankvadi Ravan,?? (Ravan, the terrorist).

I dont think the plan to thwart terrorism by building a temple at ayodhya is a workable one. Well, let me think again. No, still I dont think this is going to work. Most likely way I can think of now to eradicate terrorism is by a combination of force and anti-propoganda (other words, make people undestand the futility of terrorism in this day and age to create a nation or fight a holy war).

But I was not as surprised at the funda of fighting terrorism by building a temple as I was reading about annihilation of “Aatankvaadi Ravan”. Ahem ahem, Raavana – a terrorist?! Thats taking it too far. From whatever little mythology I have known, Raavana was a great and just king, who took care of his people really well. Ever thought what happened to Lanka which was burnt down by Hanuman with his tail on fire. It was rebuilt overnight by Raavana for his people.

Not only was Raavana a great ruler, a scholar well versed in scriptures and a great musician, but he was also a great devotee of Lord shiva. Ravana was grandson of Pulasthya maharshi, and son of Visravas maharshi, who had two wives. Ravana’s half brother Kubera was the richest man during that time and ruler of Sri Lanka. A tussle between them led to Ravana and his brothers doing austerities to achieve power and eventually oust Kubera.

Ravana was a great devotee of Lord Shiva, and once went to Kailas requesting Lord Shiva to come to Srilanka. Lord Shiva gave a shivalingam with his presence to Ravana, and asked him not to keep it down on earth on the way back, lest it might get established at that place. Raavana heads back to lanka with the shivalingam.

The Devas grow worried over this. They know that if Raavana is successful in taking the shivalingam to Lanka, then he will become more powerful, with the blessings of Lord Shiva. They hatch a plan. Varuna the god of water plays role in that that Raavana feels the need to urinate before continuing the journey. But since he is holding the shivalingam, he cant do it either.

As if on cue, a brahmin boy appears on the scene, who volunteers to hold the shivalingam till Raavana relieves himself. By the time Raavana relieves and comes back to get the shivalingam, the brahmin boy, none other than disguised Vishnu, keeps the shivalingam down and disappears. The shivalingam on touching earth becomes rooted there. Raavana tries to uproot it, but he is able to just break a chink of it and returns empty handed. This Shivalingam is one of 12 Jyotirlingams in existance, worshipped by thousands of devotees in India.

I can understand that VHP is trying to create a mass movement to preserve our culture, but sometimes they have to think before shooting from their mouth.

ps: Raavana plays role in several mythological stories. I have heard that there is a temple still in existance where Ravana is the presiding diety. Unfortunately Google failed to get me the location.

samasya pooranam

thaadham thadham dham thathadham dha dham dhaaH

This was the samasya put by king Vikramaditya to his courtiers. Samasya – the sanskrit word loosely translated as a problem, was a literary riddle to solve, where the last line of a quartet was given, and the poets have to come up with first three lines. Sounds easy, but then again they have to follow certain rules of line construction.

During schooldays our malayalam sir took us into the world of vriththam and how to identify a it in poems. A vriththam was like a raga which followed a certain pattern. This pattern was deduced by breaking the sentences into sections of 3 syllables, and then finding which ganam the section belongs to and then what is the ganam rule for that sentence.

Ganam was found for a section by classifying each letter (sound) as a short – laghu note denoted by a small crescent u or a long – guru note denoted by a long dash _. Mathematically there can be 8 ganams. Now the poets have to work out the vritham by finding out the pattern of ganams for the last sentence. Then they have to work with words following given pattern to solve the problem at hand, and most importantly the poem should make sense. Samasya’s followed these rules.

These set of rules were from sanskrit poetry and most of the languages which have originated from sanskrit also followed these rules for poetry. Though modern poetry has bypassed most of these, there are still poets who write poems within the set rules and solve the samasyas. I liked that poerty, where poetry was not just a set of rhyming words put together, but where it was like a problem waiting to be solved.

The “thaadham thadham” samasya was given by king vikramaditya after an incident he saw in his palace. A beautiful palace maiden was fetching water for worship from the pond. While climbing the steps she accidentaly drops the pot, which rolls down the steps making the noise, which vikramaditya puts as samasya to tease his courtiers.

Kalidasa was a poet in king Vikramaditya’s court. When all the other couriters failed, He asked for two days to solve this riddle. Kalidasa watched kings daily routine with care and found which all places he regularly visited. He keenly deduces what might have happened to cause this samasya. By the end of second day, he solves the samasya as below.

raamaabhishEke jalamaaharanth~yaH
hasthaachchyutho hEmaghaTo yuvathyaaH
sOpaana maargENa karOthi Sabdam
thaadham thadham dham thathadham dha dham dhaaH

roughly translated ::

fetching water for the worship of Rama,
the golden pot slipped from the maidens hand,
fell down the steps making the noise
thaadham thadham dham thathadham dha dham dhaaH

ps: this samasya is more than 1000 years old