Sant Goswami Tulsidas has done a great favour to the devotees of Shriram by composing ‘Ramcharitmanas’, an epic poem based on the Ramayan. Many people in India recite this Holy text as part of their daily spiritual practice. In addition, we find many families who have continued to read this composition for over 400 years. The Ramcharitmanas is considered one of the greatest works of Hindu literature.
It is utterly disgraceful for anyone to speak blasphemously about such a Holy composition. However, this does not seem to bother Bihar’s Minister of Education – Mr Chandra Shekhar. He made some outrageous comments about Ramcharitmanas during the 15th Convocation of the Nalanda Open University in Patna. He appealed to the people to burn Ramcharitmanas since he disagreed with a particular chaupai (A quatrain verse or metre in Indian poetry). This blasphemous statement is the pinnacle of intellectual and ideological absurdity.
1. The sea pleads for forgiveness and praises Shriram after realising its mistake
Sundarkand, the 5th Chapter of Ramcharitmanas, describes the conversation between the sea that separates Lanka from present-day India and Shriram. As Shriram prepares to build a bridge over the sea, He politely seeks the support of the mighty and enormous sea. However, the arrogant sea refuses to cooperate with Shriram. Realising the futility of reasoning with the arrogant sea, Shriram assumes the Rudravatar, the destructive form, and threatens to dry it up with His arrow. The enlightened sea quickly gives up its pride and surrenders at the Holy feet of Shriram. The sea seeks forgiveness and praises Shriram.
Sant Tulsidas describes this praise in a chaupai of Ramcharitmanas, whose implied meaning is : Shriram has punished me for my own good. He has taught me a lesson and shown me the right path. He has fixed a specific innate nature for everyone. A drum, a rustic, a shudra, a beast and a woman – all deserve education.
2. The correct meanings of the words in this verse
Some ignorant people have misinterpreted its meaning. Hence, it is essential to comprehend the correct meaning of each word to understand what is implied.
2A. ‘Tadan’ Vs ‘Tadana’ : Mr Shekhar has misinterpreted ‘Tadana’ as ‘Tadan’. These are two distinct words, and they denote different actions. ‘Tadan’ means ‘to scold or admonish or beat’. ‘Tadana’ means ‘to recognise or to identify’.
2B. ‘Dhol’ : Dhol is a musical drum. One needs the right training to play it in a proper way and rhythm. If one plays the drum without training, it will produce some random sound devoid of rhythm. So is the case with every object; it creates sound when met with a certain amount of force. Hence, it becomes imperative to get trained so as to play a musical drum in a proper way and rhythm.
2C. ‘Gawar’ : Gawar means an uneducated or uncivilised individual who lacks basic etiquettes. Such an individual needs clear instructions and guidance to change and be a better version of himself. If he does not accept the need to change, one should caution him about the consequences and instruct him for his good.
2D. ‘Shudra’ : Shudra is not a caste but a Varna. Everyone is born a Shudra, and with the help of required education, transforms into a wise individual. Every one who has not been instructed yet, trained or guided has the right to get educated. It gives him wisdom, and he transforms himself into a wiser person.
2E. ‘Pashu’ : Pashu means a beast. For many tasks, we need the energy of a beast. It needs the required training at the onset to help us in a meaningful way.
2F. ‘Nari’ : ‘Nari’ in Sanskrut means ‘woman’. A Nari has the right to education, and she also needs to be trained and educated. Hindu Dharma is replete with examples of well-educated and cultured women. Gargi, Vadava Pratitheyi and Sulabha Maitreyi are among the prominent women who figure in the Upanishads as great philosophers. Ubhaya Bharati, the wife of Mandana Mishra, played the arbitrator’s role in the historic debate between her husband and Adi Shankaracharya. Ubhaya Bharati was a learned scholar herself and a very clever one. These facts prove that women always had the right to education in Hindu Dharma.
3. The blasphemous remark is disgraceful for the Ministry of Education
Many scholars and students of Hindu Dharma have clarified the true implied meaning of the so-called controversial chaupai of the Ramcharitmanas from time-to-time. Despite this, due to utter ignorance, Mr Shekhar made a clumsy attempt to demean Hindu Scriptures, Deities and seats of faith. Such casual and intolerant behaviour is disgusting. It makes one wonder – does (ill-informed and ignorant)
Mr Shekhar deserve to be a Minister at all ! It reminds me of an adage – a crow doesn’t become Garuda (the Chief of the feathered race) just by sitting atop a palace. Likewise, an undeserving individual doesn’t become wiser or a deserving candidate just by assuming an important role. Mr Shekhar has brought disgrace upon the Ministry of Education. What more can I say about such ignorant souls ?
– Mr Durgesh Jaywant Parulkar, Devout Hindu Lecturer, Dombivli. (13.1.2023)
An undeserving individual doesn’t become wiser or a deserving candidate just by assuming an important role !