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Thread: Morality, Self-Image, and the Ramayana

  1. #1
    Join Date
    October 2012
    Rochester, NY
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    Morality, Self-Image, and the Ramayana

    Namaste all,

    First of all, I'm doing better than when I last posted...I'm still trying to get a grip on how to better control my emotions, but still, I'm not posting this in a depressed mood, so that part is good.

    That said, I've been trying to read the Ramesh Menon translation of the Ramayana, as I've previously mentioned here in this forum. I haven't gotten very far (I'm only on chapter 9 of the first book), but already I have a lot to think about.

    Maybe this is because I haven't gotten very far with the book yet, but from what I've read so seems to be kind of a self-esteem crusher of sorts for me. No, I'm not trying to start another crisis intervention thread for myself here, I know there's real world people for that. But what I'm getting at is that the Ramayana seems to have revealed a lot about my personality already after reading only a few chapters.

    What was revealed to me is that I seem to do a lot of splitting things into black-and-white type categories. In the Ramayana, it looks to me as if good and evil are very clearly defined, divided, and delineated. It's immediately apparent from the outset who's good and who's evil, with no room for in-between. Lord Rama, being descended from Lord Vishnu, is the most valuable person for the good side right from the outset due to his lineage. Likewise, the villains are all very clear-cut from their introduction.

    There's nothing inherently wrong with this, don't misinterpret me. I know all great stories have conflict in them. But the stark contrast is a little jarring to me because it implies, at least to me, that some people are just born evil - they've always been evil, and always will be, regardless of what they do.

    For someone with a self-image problem like myself, this can make for a problematic read, because my mind is already saying things like "if you're not a Rama, you're a Ravana" (i.e. if you're not a saint, you're a horrible sinner, and similar). I'm guessing this isn't the intended message of the Ramayana, but...

    I guess the question I'm asking here is: should I keep reading? If my warped mind has this reaction already, will reading the Ramayana help set me straight, or make it worse?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    August 2012
    Indiana, USA
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    Re: Morality, Self-Image, and the Ramayana

    I definitely think you should keep reading. I have read this version myself, and I have to say that my assessment of the Black/White, Good/Evil relationship was quite the opposite from what you have described.

    That isn't to say you won't just find yourself feeling the same by the end of it. Different people will take away different things from the same book.

    One of the finest things for me about the Ramayana, is that Good and Evil are not in fact Black and White. Ravana was once very wise and devoted to God. It was only over time that his ego swallowed him up. Also, as you read you will see a little of his internal struggle. There are moments when you can see he knows what he is doing is folly, but he ignores that inner voice. Rama, for his own part, receives a lot of moral support from his brother Lakshman. Brotherly love, love between father and son,and even love between enemies is celebrated before the end.

    While I initially struggled with the ending of the book, I grew to understand it better by talking to others here and doing my own soul searching. The Ramayana (overall) made me feel uplifted - like there was hope that even the worst in me could be improved - that I could do better.

    Perhaps it has to do with perspective, but if you find at this time reading the Ramayana only hinders you spiritually and emotionally, perhaps it would be better to put it down and revisit it once you are in a better place. However, I definitely recommend finishing it someday. If not Menon's version, then there are many other's that come highly recommended.

    "God will not have his work made manifest by cowards."
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  3. #3

    Re: Morality, Self-Image, and the Ramayana

    When i child i already know about Ramayana and Mahabharat ( not deep, superficial only ) , because in Indonesia although many muslims but they are know Ramayana and Mahabharat , even they feel Ramayana and Mahabharat is their ancestor's wisdom.

    Then now i know many peoples speak against Ramayana and Mahabharat , even Indian , and i have know there is Hindu people who not believe or not receive Ramayana and Mahabharat.

    But after that, because of many negative opinion about Lord Rama and every character on Mahabharat etc, this is develop my interest towards Ramayana and Mahabharat. This is strange... im not feel doubt about the Divine of Lord Rama and etc... after i hear the negative speaks about Them, i feel Their greatness ! What is this... why like this... because many people will feel doubt about Lord Rama and others after they hear negative speak

    Jai Sri Ram ! Jai Sri Krishna !



    Om Saha Nau-Avatu |
    Saha Nau Bhunaktu |
    Saha Viiryam Karava-Avahai |
    Tejasvi Nau-Adhii-Tam-Astu Maa Vidviss-Aavahai |
    Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

  4. #4

    Re: Morality, Self-Image, and the Ramayana


    EDIT: I see that this old thread has been revived by Shian, nevertheless, it is a good place for some bhakti lessons which we always need. Thanks Shian.

    The whole idea of shravaNam kirtanam vishNoh smaraNam... i.e. hearing, chanting and remembering the glories, names, forms, and divine qualities of Hari (NArAyaN -- Rama, KRshNa...), is that you forget the focus on your [false] self, and revel in the greatness, magnimosity, kindness, generosity and divine Wonder that is Shri RAm.

    The idea is not to compare one [false] self to BhagavAn (the Supreme Lord Divine) and get depressed as a result.

    The whole idea is to get out of the quicksand(cycles of birth and death OR bondage placed by mind) by focusing on the Divinity of the Divine.

    What are we? Nothing. Just parts of that Beautiful Lotus-Eyed One. He is what matters.

    What did we do/achieve? nothing. He did it all.

    What did we bring that we lost and are crying as a result? Nothing. He gave everything. Nothing was ours that we lost it.

    GeetA - saar (gist & essence of Bhagvad Geeta in one page) is a MUST-READ for those who haven't

    This attitude has to be developed. With patience. Please be gentle on yourself.

    I hope that helps understand what devotional attitude means.

    om namo bhagavate vAsudevAya
    Last edited by smaranam; 10 December 2014 at 12:07 AM. Reason: see EDIT
    || Shri KRshNArpaNamastu ||

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