Did they rise as men? Or did they fall as Gods? The question keeps propping up in mind every once in a while. I must confess I do have my view on this. However, it is not a rooted viewpoint; it has moments of doubts, alternate views, reasons and dilemmas.
All that is I can reasonably affirm is that somewhere fact and myths were splashed on a churning pan to concoct some of the mythological flashes that I wish to use for my argument or better to say my quest for a better answer, an evolved viewpoint.
Revering Rama or Krishna, or despising Ravana or Indrajit is the larger, if not the comprehensive view of the world. I would focus on the reverence—our Gods, the immutable, the expendables, the noble, the untarnished ones, the glorified. The Gods without a trace of imperfection, and even the slightest of imperfections understated against a larger purpose.
I am alright with this.
It must have taken the religious machinery thousands of years and repeated interventions—sometimes peaceful and at others extremely forceful to uphold the myth of our religion and gods. I am impressed by the system’s clinical approach and its far extended success in our life and theology.
The question I am posing here is, were Rama and Krishna God incarnates who lived near flawless and inspirational life?. Or were they men like us, who chose to be better, bigger and inspirational? Did these mythological giants had the same dilemmas that we have as men, moments where our integrity, morality, ethics and better sense clashes with our need to achieve or survive?
Did they also have moments where they had to choose between what is right and what seems lucrative? Were they troubled by the constant strife between leading a comfortable life and following their heart’s call? How many times would have Rama have thought to break free of his fourteen year exile and moving back to Aayodhya and reclaiming what was rightfully his—the throne. How many times would Sita have prodded Rama to stop the seemingly insensible decision to continue with the exile after Bharata came to Rama and offered the kingdom and called him back? Did Lakshmana even once did not regret his decision to accompany Rama into the Jungle leaving his young bride back home? Did Sita even for once not feel that ever since she got married to Rama, her life had been anything but smooth?
These are question that often criss-cross my mind and they demand answers.
My instinct or some voice within tells me that they were men, great men, perhaps the greatest men the time has witnessed. They ascended to a level where describing them as merely men failed, and hence they were approximated as beyond men or to word it better Gods—those with a higher sense, those who have evolved and connected their inner conscience with the larger play of the universe. To levels where everyday dilemmas were child play for them, they saw the illusion of life in its face and it no longer sucked them in—except may be at moments. Where there human genes and instincts kicked in.
I would reference here two well documented events from two our most revered and widely published epics—the Ramayana and the Mahabharata!
Episode of Bali Vadh, Ramayana (Kishkindha Kanda)
Starting with a quick background for the uninitiated ones. Bali was the ape king of Kishkinda, elder brother to Sughriva. Because of a misunderstanding between the brothers, Bali the elder and the more powerful one of the two banished Sughriva from the kingdom and made his wife and family prisoners of the state. This was around the same time while Rama was searching for Sita in the southern jungles of Bharata Khanda after she has been abducted by Ravana. Both Rama and Sughriva met through Hanuman, and instantly saw mutual purpose in joining forces.
Rama wanted to search for his wife, while Sughriva wanted his honor back, reunion with his wife and his position restored. There was symbiosis.
Bali had a boon from Brahma, according to which anyone who came before him lost half his strength to Bali. Which meant that in a straight duel Bali was indestructible. He would always have half of his opponent’s strength plus his own. So logically there was no defeating Bali in an honorable and straight battle. So Rama schemed that Sughriva should challenge Bali to a duel to death and Rama will hide behind the tree lines and shoot an arrow into Bali’s heart and slay him. This was executed as planned.
Now where does this leave us with the pristine image of Rama? He did an unethical act, only to serve his end of securing Sughriva’s support and the monkey army which knew the jungles so well that even a fig could not have been hidden for long if they searched for it. Rama needed to find Sita, a purpose for which he killed Vali, a great warrior, by deceit.
Now we have two options, to consider…
1) Did Rama, the god of Gods, fall to a low when he assassinated Bali? Was it the fall of God?
2) Or did Rama, a human like all of us, rise beyond his human inklings most of his life and lived a life only befitting a god? And that he did a few things once in a while that is very natural for any human to do, for his love, for his attachment and commitment to Sita. Did Rama, a human, rise? Was his life a living testimony to Rise of Man?
Karna Vadh –Mahabharata, 17th day of battle
On the seventeenth day of the great battle of Mahabharata, Karna had vowed to face Arjuna and come back victories or not come back at all. That day Karna was unstoppable, he dissected the armed entourage that was protecting Arjuna at Krishna’s behest. Krishna knew that Karna had waited this entire time for this moment, to repay his debt to Dhuryodhana, to slay Arjuna.
Arjuna and Karna, the greatest warriors came face to face and a long drawn battled ensued. During one of the turns, Karna’s Chariot wheel sank into the earth. At that moment, all the Kaurava armed troupes deserted him. Karna got down himself, during the battle to get his chariot wheel out of the sand. He was unarmed in a seated position. Arjuna seeing this, held back his volley of arrows as it was against the dharma of war to kill a unarmed opponent. Arjuna was in tune with his righteous karma; however, seeing that as the only opportune moment Krisha, the supreme God, my personal idol too, order Arjuna to slay Karna. Despite Arjuna’s argument, Krishna did not relent his influence. Giving into Krishna’s rhetoric, an arrow was shot from the Ghandiva (the celestial bow given to Arjuna) and Karna was beheaded.
Krishna, the upholder of dharma, the orator of Gita, ordered an act of dishonoring rightful karma. It won Pandava a decisive advantage in the war. Beyond Karna, there was no one in the Kaurava army who could have slayed Arjuna.
So again, did Krishna, the god of Gods, the universal consciousness, fall in value in a moment of desperation?
Or did Krishna, a human like you and me, a valiant and an evolved life form, demonstrated his entire life the value of realizing the vastness of spirit?
I would like to sleep with the thought that these two gigantic mythological figures were human just like you and me, who demonstrated through their entire life the possibility that lies ahead of us. Of becoming so pure and connected that you become one with the universe. I would like to live with a conception that they were human who rose. Rather than look at their weak moments and say the fall of God!
The rise of Man!—is perhaps a thought that wins in my deliberation. But I have my moments too?