Talking about ethics, one is often drawn into the thoughts of the “history class” where teachers sing songs about our country and the ethical code of conduct followed 2500 years ago!! Looking at that time, we realise that the world was quite utopian, every thing was either right to all the people or wrong to all of them. There was never a dichotomy in this. But a quick look around us, we find that we are divided apart by various degrees of correctness – fully correct, partially correct, mostly correct, fully wrong et al. What has changed in these 2500 years that made the same thing that was right or wrong to take various shapes?
Solitude answers questions that are not answered in the books. But this time, I got the answer from a fairy tale of my younger sister – the book on “Robin Hood” – the noted childhood hero for most of us! What makes him stand apart in the category heros – when we had heros like “Rama”
who was trully perfect? The answer to this question is : “Abiding by conscience”. I am not saying that “Rama” did not abide by his conscience, but, it was really too much of perfection – which was quite possible in those days and quite not possible currently! Again, it may sound either a little too easy for following the norms and you might consider a person abiding by the conscience to be zany, but let me tell you, friends, it is not all that easy as we assume. Abiding by conscience is something which is hardly followed now – and anyone who follows it is branded “Crazy” or “Haughty” or even sometimes “unethical”.
Yesterday, I met a close friend of mine after 1.6 years – we went to the same college and shared our hometown. And when we were close to hitting the sacks – suddenly she said – Do you think that “Agni Pariksha” was fine in Ramayana? I was taken aback – for that matter, I have been thinking quite hard on this. Not only did it sound dumb, but it was horrendous. Why would a man [rather, God] set fire on his own wife just because some urchin doubted her chastity? Again, is that we need to go according to the society and its norms or is it fine if we went according to our conscience? More often than not, we come across situations that have been praised for centuries together by our forfathers only to realise that it is not applicable at all to this situation. That defies the very funda of having an ‘Epic’. An epic is not just a ‘long story’ from which Karan Johar or Sanjay Leela Bhansali can adapt a movie – but it is a story which is quite relevent to our lives at all times. Considering that most part of Ramayana is still applicable to us now, it is quite disheartening to find that rama set fire on his own wife. A wife , for whom he roamed places, fought a tough battle, used the help of monkeys/humans – and to set fire at last? I personally feel that it is not worth all that he did. Had I been in his shoes, I would have still continued to live Seetha – only proving to this world about her chastity. But, am NOT Rama!
The article was written by Savitha KS, expressing her own opinions.
2 replies on “Moral/Ethical challenges:”
Well, you get morals as well as an example of dilemmas in epics. I believe that the idea was that we “learn” from them. For example, when in school I realised that the Pandavas were basically ALL sleeping with Draupadi; to put it crassly. What does that say about moral values of Yudhishtra; the epitome of Dharma ?
Well one thing that I always felt is that putting the historical events out of context and through today’s mindset will make everybody look like a villian.
polygamy and polyandry might be an acceptable custom at that time, today it is not. though in some villiages we have started seeing polyandry again… but it is really really evil phenomenon. an attempt to prevent fragmentation of farm land which is ruining the live of the wives making them more like a sex machine.