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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?
Divorce is a hard fact in someone's life because it can affect all aspects of life like social, economic, and living status. Conditions become tougher if you have children. Recovering from divorce is also a painful process but good thing is that it is possible to get through it and place better in terms of both finances and emotions. The impact of divorce on finances can be life-lasting but taking precautions and thorough investigations of options can help a lot not only to save unnecessary costs but also some other hidden areas where you weren't aware. Following are some tips to save money during a divorce.
1.Avoid advice from everyone
People like your friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, etc. will start giving unsolicited advice during the divorce process when you discuss it with them. They will share their own experiences and horror stories and advice on how to handle financial issues during the divorce process. Get advice only from those you trust. In this regard, attorneys or financial experts are the best options to save money during the divorce process.
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2.Consider your spouse
It can be challenging for someone who has started the divorce process to think about the soon-to-be ex-spouse's best interests and financial wellbeing. While making decisions about assets and finances, considering not only your interests but also your spouse's interests can help you to reduce divorce process time. You can save your own and your spouse's money if you spend less time in such negotiations because times spend with the attorney will also be shortened.
3.Goodbye to the joint bank account
You should close all joint bank accounts which were in use of you and your spouse especially credit base account. Block major and supplementary credit and debit cards. Your spouse can use it and you can suffer heavy financial loss. Closing of all joint accounts should be the first step to cut down financial loss during divorce proceedings.
4.Open a new checking account
In continuation of the previous point, open your new checking account. This will help you in terms of not only building up of financial history but also your credit record. Credit history will be helpful if you apply for a loan or any other credit facility. This financial history will let you control your money during the divorce process. If your bank account is not a joint account but you own it, then make sure that your spouse was not using supplementary debit or credit cards. If the spouse was using then block it immediately.
Divorce can include many additional and sometimes hidden costs along with routine costs. This can bring more stress and worries to your life. Saving money can help you to fight such financial status. Force savings every month in this regard can help a lot. You can do this by opening a savings account and setting up a debit order from your checking account.
Recovering from divorce is also a painful process but good thing is that it is possible to get through it and place better in terms of both finances and emotions.Getty pictures
6.Keeping track record of the expense
You may not be interested in maintaining a record sheet of your expenses during your married life. If so, then you should start now. Analyze your bank statement critically because expenses can be out of control now. Review your daily cost of things and make critical decisions to cut down unnecessary costs.
7.Chalk out budget
Ideally, a proper budget should be chalked out to control expenses and save money during the divorce process. Select important segments/areas of your lifestyle and allocate a budget to each of them. After allocation of budget, stick to it strictly every month. This can be problematic in the beginning but become easy when you become used to it. By doing this, you will also be able to manage your savings account by allocating money.
8.Own health insurance
Medical emergencies and different health issues can be sudden or without any notice. So, it is necessary to have a health insurance plan in order to not only pay bills of medicines and lab tests but also an unexpected expensive hospital stay. If your health insurance has previously been covering your spouse then it is advisable to set up your own health insurance plan. This can help you to save money.
9.Amendments in your will and beneficiaries
If you have already decided about your will beneficiaries then it is the right time to update it. Now your divorce is under process, so, the content of your will and beneficiaries should also be significantly changed. This is much needed because it is possible that now you have children and who you like to allocate your property and saving especially if the children were not present when you drew up the will.
10.Change power of attorney
Many people assign power of attorney to their spouses during the marriage. Now it is essential to update and end the power of attorney and signing authority given to the spouse. This will help you in terms of legal and financial matters.
11.Apply for online divorce
Advancement in technology has made it easy for everyone to save time and money. Now in the United States, it is easy to apply for a divorce online. You can save time and attorney fees by downloading all the required divorce documents online. You should not worry about which document and how downloaded because many local court websites can give detailed information about how to file divorce online and which documents are needed.
12.Make use of the mediator
It is extremely helpful to use the mediator to decide terms and conditions between you and your spouse. Although an attorney is needed in certain matters of divorce use of a mediator will help you in saving attorney fee
Many spouses are very conscious about expensive assets and luxuries that are going to be distributed among spouses after the divorce. So, they make decisions to splurge on these luxuries. It is advisable not to splurge as the cost of divorce proves may be past your expectation.
14.Do it yourself (DIY) divorce
Many people are unable to afford the cost of attorney and mediator, so, they now try to handle things by themselves as much as possible. The rate of divorce and its cost is increasing day by day. This factor making "do it yourself (DIY) divorce" popular. DIY spouses are using information given by some attorneys who are offering free consultation on their first meeting.
Disclaimer: ( The article is sponsored and hence promotes some commercial links)
Gone are those days when people, sports enthusiasts, and governments lined up to host the Olympics. Hosting the Olympics, once seemed to be an immensely prideful event, but it has now transformed into an economic burden. Host cities grapple with a plethora of problems which mainly include construction delays, cost overruns, security issues, and environmental concerns.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has more or less aggravated the problems. The Winter Olympic Games are scheduled for 2022 in Bejing, China. Furthermore, Paris and Los Angeles have been recently nominated as the hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics Games respectively. Both cities have held the Games on two occasions previously, with Los Angeles hosting as recently as 1984. Simply submitting a bid to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) costs up to millions of dollars. Host cities typically have to spend $50 million to $100 million in fees to a slew of consultancy agencies, event management companies, etc.
Hosting the Olympics is more costly than the bidding process. For instance, London spent $14.6 billion for hosting the Games in 2012. On the other side, Beijing spent a lavish $42 billion for the Games in 2008. Meanwhile, the Russians spent $51 billion dollars on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Making, it the costliest Olympic Games in the history of the Olympics.
Governments of host cities and bid teams love to brag about the legacy of hosting the Games. But the hidden costs of such a massive project is too evident to hide. Such megaprojects require additional employment, as well as subsequent improvement of the pre-existing facilities and public infrastructure. Most of these projects are fraught with costs overruns, shoddy work and a lack of long term vision.
According to a study conducted at the prestigious Oxford University In England, by Danish geographer Bent Flyvbjerg and American journalist Allison Stewart, which looked into the individual economic parameters of hosting the Summer Olympic Games between 1960 and 2012. The findings were astonishing, they found out that the Olympic Games overrun the initial cost estimate with 100 per cent consistency. No other megaproject is this consistent regarding cost overruns.
Athens, in particular, seems to have been the tipping point. The city pridefully hosted the Games in 2004, which ended up costing them €9 billion (a whopping $11 billion at today's exchange rate). The offset of the Games was in disguise the onset of Greece's tumultuous years. The country now is in total disarray, with sky-high unemployment rates, failing economic apparatus, record levels of homelessness, all among the grandiose venues built for the Games.
The conclusion is simple, hosting the Olympics is an extravagant affair. If not planned properly, it tends to result in a severe economic crisis for the host city. If the host city lacks facilities and public infrastructure to support the excess crowds pouring in, not hosting the Olympics may be the best option.
Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.
On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.
Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.
Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).
Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.
India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.
He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.
Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.
The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.
Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.