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By Nithin Sridhar
Last month, Star Plus, an entertainment channel in India, launched a new TV serial on the story of Lord Rama with much fanfare. The serial titled ‘Siya Ke Ram’ had promised to portray Ramayana from ‘Sita’s perspective’. Nikhil Sinha, the producer-director of the serial had further stated that the serial was well rooted in facts and based on the original story.
However, one month down the line, the serial appears to have taken wings of its own and deviated completely from the original text of Valmiki Ramayana. Moreover, the much-touted perspective of Sita is yet to emerge as well.
Though the serial at first had raised expectations of this writer with its VFX, soon it became clear that the serial has VFX alone without much substance or value to write about. The serial has not only distorted the original story, but has tried to impose modern secular-liberal values upon the Ramayana thereby making a complete mockery of the Hindu text which is not only considered as a true account of history (itihasa) in Hindu tradition but is also held in high respect and sacredness by millions of Hindus.
The very first episode began with portraying King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya as crybabies, with the former always worrying about his sons, especially about Rama and the later mourning for her daughter- Shanta who was no longer with them. But a single reading of Valmiki Ramayana, which is the original text of Ramayana composed by Sage Valmiki, it becomes clear that neither the King nor the queen was portrayed as crybabies.
In fact, in the Bala-Khanda (11.2), King Dasharatha is described as being righteous, truthful, and resplendent. In other words, he was far from being a crybaby! The serial actually shows Dasharatha as grieving and longing for his sons when they were away from him for studying in Gurukula (traditional school). But, in all probabilities, the princes never went to any Gurukula and were trained in the palace itself. Valmiki Ramayana does not mention anything about sending them away. Instead, it says that Rama and the princes were well versed in Vedas, archery, and were always rendering service to their father (1.18.27,28, 36,37).
Now, coming to the issue of Kausalya’s grief and Shanta, this writer searched hard to find any reference for Queen Kausalya mourning over her daughter in the Valmiki Ramayana but was unable to find even a single reference to it.
The serial portrays Shanta as being the daughter of the Dasharatha and Kausalya, who was sent to seduce and marry Rishyasringa so that the Rishi can come and perform Putrakameshti Yajna for the begetting of Rama and other princes. Thus, the serial portrays how Dasharatha gave up his daughter for the sake of his sons. It further shows how Shanta was well accomplished in every way yet Dasharatha was never satisfied with her and hankered for a son. This hankering of Dasharatha resulted in Shanta being compelled to sacrifice her freedom and comforts and she went and lived in the forest with Rishyasringa. The serial further shows that this fact was initially kept hidden from Rama and other princes.
Now, let us look into what Valmiki Ramayana has to say about Shanta. Shanta was given in adoption to Romapaada, the King of Anga kingdom and a close friend of Dasharata. The adoption must have happened when Shanta was a child though no mention of her age during adoption is mentioned. But, it is clear that Shanta was brought up by Romapaada as his own daughter. Valmiki Ramayana mentions that when Romapaada’s kingdom was suffering from severe drought, he sent his courtesans to bring Rishyasringa to his kingdom (1.10.7).
When the Rishi arrived in his kingdom, the kingdom was showered with rains and later Romapaada gave Shanta’s hand in marriage to the Rishi (1.10.29-32). After marriage Shanta and Rishyasringa both lived in Anga kingdom itself (1.10.33) and not in the forest. Dasharatha later asked the help of Romapaada to request his son-in-law Rishyasringa to perform Putrakameshti Yajna so that Dasharatha can beget sons.
Therefore, from the Valmiki Ramayana, it becomes clear that Shanta was married to her husband according to the norms of those times and there was neither any compulsion nor any sacrifice on the part of Shanta nor did she undergo any suffering from the marriage. In fact, the Mahabharata account of the story of Shanta and Rishyasringa says that they both shared a loving relationship similar to Nala and Damayanti or Vashishta and Arundathi.
More importantly, Shanta was not sent to seduce Rishyashringa so that Dasharata can beget sons and thus there is absolutely no connection between Shanta marrying Rishyasringa and Rishyasringa helping Dasharatha in begetting sons.
So, the question that naturally arises is why did the serial distort the truth and impose notions of patriarchy and misogyny? Why was Shanta depicted as a victim? Why was Shanta used as a tool to depict supposed discrimination against daughters, or to depict how women are forced to make sacrifices when no such thing is actually recorded in the original text?
Patriarchy, misogyny, discrimination against daughters are all some of the trends that could be observed in current society. More importantly, these are the trends stressed in the left-liberal narratives of the society. On the other hand, Indic narrative is rooted in the all-encompassing concept of Dharma- duty and righteousness and all social trends- both good and bad- are analyzed from the Dharmic standpoint. The fact that the serial has distorted the original Dharmic narrative of Ramayana and has tried to superimpose social ills present in the current society and trends of current left-liberal narratives onto Ramayana, raises serious questions about the professionalism and the motives of the makers of this serial?
Further, Shanta’s story is not the only case of such distortions and super-impositions of left-liberal narratives. Consider the event of Ashwamedha Yajna (Horse-Sacrifice) portrayed in the serial. According to the serial, when King Dasharatha performs Ashwamedha Yajna, first Sita is shown as stopping the horse in its path, then Rama asserts that the horse should not be killed to complete the sacrifice and instead a golden idol of the horse should be used. Rama also makes a speech about animal rights and how traditions should be broken.
The whole narrative depicts not only the ignorance of the makers of the show about Hindu rituals, but also their agenda to superimpose modern narratives of animal rights on Hindu practices.
It is not that Dharmic perspective is insensitive to animal life. Hindu scriptures stipulate serving animals as one of the duties of householders (Bhuta-yajna). Hindu scriptures perceive animals as inseparable part of the Universe and teaches people to practice Ahimsa (non-injury). In fact, Manu Smriti (5.53) says that one who renounces consumption of eating meat attains spiritual benefit equal to that attained after conducting 100 Ashwamedha Yajnas.
At the same time, it must be remembered that Ashwamedha Yajna was performed for the overall welfare of the society- material, spiritual, and ecological. It served as a tool for the Kings to distribute their wealth among the poor and needy. The citizens were given in charity, whatever they were in need of. The landless got the lands, the house-less got the house, people in need of gold were given gold, etc. And the spiritual benefits derived from the Yajna is limitless and helps to enrich the spiritual atmosphere in the society. More importantly, the ritual is such that, the animals sacrificed in it not only attains heaven, but they also attain higher birth. It is for this reason, the sacrifice of animals in Yajnas is not considered as ‘Himsa’ (violence) as even the animals attain welfare.
Hence, according to Hinduism, sacrificing of animals in Yajnas that causes welfare of sacrificed animals as well is Dharma. On the other hand, modern activities like breeding animals for slaughtering or killing animals for their skin, etc. are considered unrighteous (Adharma) because there is no welfare of the animals.
First, the Ashwamedha Yajna shown in the serial never happened as far as Valmiki Ramayana is concerned. Valmiki Ramayana speaks about Dasharatha performing Horse-sacrifice along with Putrakameshti Yajna for begetting his sons. But, he does not perform any horse-sacrifice after the birth of his sons.
Second, even in the Ashwamedha Yajna that was conducted by Dasharatha before the birth of Rama, a real horse was sacrificed (1.14.32-36) and not a horse idol.
Third, Sita is shown as stopping the horse without realizing the fact that whoever stops the horse and ties it, he/she must wage a war. Yet, in order to portray Sita as a rebel, the scene has been included in the serial.
Fourth, Valmiki Ramayana says Rama is a Dharma-Murti, the personification of Dharma. Thus, Rama very well knew that killing of the horse in the Yajna is not considered as Himsa/violence because the animal thus sacrificed attains spiritual and material welfare as well. Hence, Rama would never have called for a replacement of real horse with a horse idol based on shallow arguments not rooted in Dharma. But without understanding this nuance, the serial tries to give a lecture about the animal rights based on modern left-liberal narratives!
Fifth, the serial portrays Rishi Vashishta as calling Ashwamedha Yajna as a ‘pratha’ or a practice or a tradition based on common belief. But, the fact is Ashwamedha Yajna is not a ‘pratha’, it is a Dharmic practice given in Vedas themselves. So, there is no question about it being a simple matter of faith. It is a Dharmic obligation of the Kings for the welfare of his people. Though, it is true that sacrifice of animals during Yajnas has been prohibited in Kaliyuga according to some Dharmic texts because people no longer have the competency to properly perform those Yajnas and cause animals to attain higher birth. But, Lord Rama was not in Kali Yuga. He was in Treta-Yuga when there were hundreds of great Rishis like Vashishta, Rishyasringa etc. who were capable of performing even complex of Yajnas for the welfare of the world.
In other words, the whole events related to Ashwamedha Yajna shown in the serial is a fabrication introduced to distort the essence of Hindu rituals and superimpose left-liberal narratives about animal rights which incidentally is invoked only with respect to Hindu rituals and not in any other circumstances. (Remember Beef parties?).
Then there was the argument between Yajnavalkya and Gargi that ended up being a debate on love rather than being a sublime discussion about Brahman as shown in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Also, the depiction of Gargi and the way Sunayana (Janak’s wife) speaks about her completely goes against the high respect Gargi actually held during that period. Then, the Rakshasas (demons) were portrayed as tribal people, which clearly is a colonial construction propagated by a few scholars. Hindu tradition itself considered Rakshasas as being different species than humans. Yet, the fight between Rama and Lakshmana duo and the Rakshasas headed by Maricha and Subhahu were depicted as a fight between the royal kings and tribal people! Maybe the makers of the serial are too much influenced by the Aryan invasion myth!
There was also a conversation between Janak and his wife, wherein Sita’s mother is apprehensive about educating Sita and tells Janak, if Sita is educated, she will face numerous problems after marriage! Another clear attempt at superimposing the perceptions about girl education prevalent from last few centuries on Ramayana.
The events mentioned here are by no means exhaustive. There are many more such incidents and scenes portrayed in the serial which clearly betray attempts at imposing present social values on Ramayana, distortion of facts, and fabrication of lies.
In short, ‘Siya Ke Raam’ ends up making a complete mockery of Ramayana and Hindu practices. But the question is, will it take the moral responsibility for its distortions and mockery?
The serial starts with a disclaimer saying that the serial intends to hurt no religious sentiments, yet that is precisely what it is doing. It is distorting the facts of Valmiki Ramayana and fabricating events that are not present in it and more importantly, it is trying to discredit Hindu practices by superimposing elements from left-liberal worldview into the situations of Ramayana.
If the intentions of the serial makers were really genuine and they wanted to teach certain values to counter current problems, they could have made a completely new mythological serial something on the lines of Game of Thrones. Yet, again and again, the film and serial production industry take a short cut and produce serials that bear the name of historical or mythological characters for the sake of earning TRP, but without an iota of historical or mythological truths in them. This happened with Jodha Akbar serial in the past and it is happening now with ‘Siya ke Raam’.
The serial could have served a fantastic platform for imparting the Dharmic teachings inherent in the story of Valmiki Ramayana that would have helped the common people. Yet, the serial makers chose to reduce the whole effort into a distortion of Hinduism to propagate modern left-liberal narratives.
If this is not a mockery of Ramayana and Hinduism in the name of entertainment, then what is?
Have you ever faced eye redness? Or have witnessed blurry or foggy vision? Or experiencing halos around lights? Or nausea and vomiting are very common for you. You may well be suffering from Glaucoma which needs immediate attention.
Glaucoma is the second most common causes of blindness worldwide, according to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO). Typically, it occurs in people with over the age of 60 however it can occur at any age. It is also estimated that globally 79.6 million people are affected with glaucoma, half of them being Asian population. While in India, around 11.9 million people suffer vision impairment and out of which 1.2 million cases are due to Glaucoma. It is a growing concern for the population in India. Even after these high numbers, the enormous majority remains undiagnosed, and untreated. More than 90 percent of cases of Glaucoma remain undiagnosed.
Glaucoma is the second most common causes of blindness worldwide, according to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO). | Wikimedia Commons
Glaucoma is a condition that damages the nerve of the eye. The increased pressure in the eye, which is known as intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve which is responsible for sending images to the brain. If the damage worsens, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even total blindness within a few years. According to WHO, there are different kinds of glaucoma, though, the two most common are, primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), having a slow and slow and asymptomatic onset, and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG), which is less common, yet more acute. Hence, it is important for everybody over the age of 40 years to have a regular eye check-up.
The eye disorder may be treated with the help of eye drops prescribed by Ophthalmologist. There are various options available to lower intraocular pressure to the desired level. Depending upon the need of the patient, doctor may recommend combinations of eye drops, but it is of utmost importance to use the drops on a regular basis. However, consulting a specialist should be the first priority if diagnosed with glaucoma, but most of the population will first opt for home remedies then will consult chemists' shops for medicines and if the issue is still not resolved then will they think of a specialist. There is a need to modify the mindset of the people and when it comes to sensory organs zero negligence rule should be followed.
The eye disorder may be treated with the help of eye drops prescribed by Ophthalmologist. | Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Awareness is the key to managing Glaucoma better. The need of the hour is to include eye care as part of the health check-up. Timely detection of Glaucoma will lead to proper medication and diagnosis by an Ophthalmologist. Talking about prevention, early detection will help in managing glaucoma before significant damage occurs. Glaucoma can be because of genetics as well hence knowing the family's eye history is important. Regular and moderate exercise may help prevent glaucoma by reducing eye pressure also eye drops can significantly reduce the risk that high pressure will progress to glaucoma.
Also, there are few home remedies that anyone can follow to avoid glaucoma. Consuming healthy food, using eyewear, avoiding head-down position, keeping oral hygienic, and protecting eyes from sunlight are a few of such remedies. One should be mindful of the fact that Glaucoma is irreversible blindness and awareness can help us in fighting it. Depending on the condition an Ophthalmologist may prescribe an oral medication or may suggest therapies. In severe conditions, doctors can also recommend surgeries like Laser therapy, Filtering surgery, Drainage tubes, minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: eye disorder, eye, India, World Health Organisation, blindness , foggy vision, eye redness, Glaucoma, Ophthalmologist
By Sakshi BakshiThe wedding season is in its full bloom, and almost every one of us has plans. In the spirit of celebration, it feels wrong to turn down our favourite appetizers, meals, and desserts! Our workout schedule and physical activities take a back seat. When it comes to maintaining your weight during wedding season, it can be challenging at times, but with the right amount of food intake and smart choices, it can all be kept in place. Sharing her personal insights on keeping our weight in place during the winter wedding season, Sakshi Bakshi, Founder of Nucros, has a few tips for all those health freaks out there!
- Keep your diet in check: Always make sure keep it light in the day before a heavy night out. This means incorporating as many complex carbohydrates as possible, to keep the hunger in check for a long time while still being low in calories. Fruit and vegetables in the form of salads, soups, smoothies, etc. should be the priority. Stay away from high-fat soups consisting of thick cream and instead indulging in soups with a lot of vegetable content in them.
Incorporate as many complex carbohydrates as possible, to keep the hunger in check for a long time while still being low in calories. | Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash
- Choose lean proteins: While eating out, one should try to consume as much warm and heated food as possible in the winter season. An intake of lean protein, e.g., paneer, soya, dal, etc., for vegetarians and fish, chicken, etc., for non-vegetarians is advised.
- Balance calories: Stick to an easy breakfast and lunch which includes lots of fruit and vegetables. So even if dinner is heavy, the calorie intake for the whole day is maintained because breakfast and lunch balance it out. Eat a small meal before going out so that you don't binge.
- Eat in small quantities: At parties or if you are having a buffet, use a small quarter plate, which allows you to control the quantity better. So, even if you make 2-3 trips to the buffet, it helps in controlling the portions you consume.
- Stay Hydrated: One very important tip she shares is to stay during the dry winter season. Often one does not realise their thirst level in this dry season, which can negatively affect our health and cause problems such as headaches, gut issues, skin issues, etc. Drink at least one glass of water per hour -- around 12 to 16 glasses of water a day. If you are going out and consuming alcohol, she recommends drinking one glass of water alternately with a drink and having only 2-3 drinks of clear spirits with water to keep calories in check. (IANS/ MBI)
An intake of lean protein, e.g., paneer, soya, dal, etc., for vegetarians and fish, chicken, etc., for non-vegetarians is advised. | Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash
Stick to an easy breakfast and lunch which includes lots of fruit and vegetables. | Photo by Tangerine Newt on Unsplash
At parties or if you are having a buffet, use a small quarter plate, which allows you to control the quantity better. | Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash
Drink at least one glass of water per hour -- around 12 to 16 glasses of water a day. | Photo by Pratik Gupta on Unsplash
Keywords: eat, smart, wedding, season, hydrated, small quantities, calories, lean proteins, diet
Every year on December 1st, the world observes World AIDS Day. The purpose of the day, as the name implies, is to show support for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infected People and those who have died as a result of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV continues to be a serious health concern that affects millions of individuals throughout the world. Despite the fact that the world has progressed significantly in recent decades, critical global objectives for 2020 have not been fulfilled.
“End inequalities. End AIDS” is the theme of World AIDS Day 2021. WHO and its partners are emphasizing the rising imbalances in access to essential HIV care, with a specific focus on those who have been left behind. The first World AIDS Day was observed in 1988, and it was also the first international day dedicated to global health. Every year on this day, organizations and individuals worldwide raise awareness about HIV, work to promote HIV information and awareness, speak out against HIV stigma, and push for a more aggressive attitude in the fight to end HIV.
AIDS is a protracted illness caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The immune system of the individual suffering from the condition is harmed, and the body’s ability to fight infections is reduced.
AIDS is a protracted illness caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). | Wikimedia Commons
Various reasons through which a person can get infected with AIDS:
- AIDS can be transmitted by blood, sperm, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal and rectal fluids, and infected women’s breast milk.
- Unprotected intercourse with an infected individual can potentially spread the disease to another person.
- Sharing syringes, blades, and knives with an infected individual can lead to disease transmission.
- Consuming food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV-positive individual. When infectious blood from a caregiver's lips combines with the food during chewing, contamination develops. Infants are the only ones who have been affected with this type of contamination so far.
Sharing syringes, blades, and knives with an infected individual can lead to disease transmission. | Wikimedia Commons
Is AIDS curable?
Although the condition is not totally curable, several preventative steps may be taken in everyday life to avoid contracting it. To lower the risk of transmission, Anti-Retroviral therapy (ART) and HIV medications are used. Using protection during sexual intercourse, avoiding sharing needles, blades, and other items with other individuals, and maintaining body immunity are some prevention strategies against HIV/AIDS.
What can I do to observe World AIDS Day?
- Buy a red ribbon: World AIDS Day provides an opportunity to express solidarity with the millions of HIV-positive people across the globe; the majority of individuals do this by wearing a red HIV awareness ribbon on that particular day.
World AIDS Day provides a chance to express solidarity with the millions of HIV-positive people throughout the world. | Flickr
- Fundraise: Seek financial support for the cause either online or by organizing offline campaigns. HIV AIDS patients are often mistreated or bullied by people; a little help from anyone can change their life around. Many NGOs are battling HIV and assisting those living with the disease; you may contact one of these organizations and assist them in various ways.
Many NGOs are battling HIV and assisting those living with the disease; you may contact one of these organizations and assist them in various ways. | Pixabay
We can work together to end HIV by empowering communities, partners, and healthcare professionals to encourage HIV testing, prevention, and treatment and eradicate HIV stigma.
(Keywords: HIV/AIDS, World AIDS Day, December 1, HIV, Stigma, Awareness)