Monday, January 28, 2013

Reading the Ramayana

Namaste readers! Recently I've begun a new undertaking in my Hindu practice - I have begun reading the Hindu epic known as the Ramayana. More specifically the Ramesh Menon translation, as that particular translation came highly recommended to me. Seeing as I don't know how to read the original Sanskrit the Ramayana was written in (I think, correct me if I'm wrong), this translation was as good as any for me.

So far I've reached chapter nine of book one of this translation. I have to say, I'm quite enthralled so far! Even from a purely literary standpoint the Ramayana is a revelation - its themes of good vs. evil and the ones chosen to fight this battle are timeless, of course, and have been written upon many, many times since then, but I never before have encountered a tale of this theme told so well and with this much...authority, for lack of a better term. Other similar tales seem pretentious in comparison.

Still, there are aspects of the Ramayana that make me feel a little...uncomfortable. However, maybe this uncomfortableness is a result of my own emotions and perceptions of reading this tale for the first time. I can't help but feel...envious, envious of the character Rama. I feel envy because Rama has so much adoration upon him for merely being born, and he is every bit deserving of such adoration because of his ability to literally save the world. Yeah, I know what you're could I be envious of a God, of an incarnation of Lord Vishnu?

Let me explain. I think this envy comes from the powerlessness I feel in everyday life...powerlessness to change and defeat the evil that happens everyday in this world. I know no one human can change the world, but considering the everyday consumption I have to partake in, and how that consumption harms others... The point I'm getting at is that if I'm supposed to be of benefit to this world, why wasn't I born in a a place and time and with a temperament that's more suited to do so?

In summary, I want to believe that I'm of benefit to the world around me somehow, but then I look at the example of Rama...and I see an impossibly high standard. A bar so high I'd have to fly a plane to clear it.

Maybe this isn't what I'm supposed to feel when reading the Ramayana, mind works in mysterious ways when it comes to this sort of thing. I know the laws of karma and dharma are unfathomable, just seems unfair to have the responsibility of helping the world and not having the power to effectively do it!

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