What Modi can learn from Ravana

He must realise Rama is worshiped because he was inclusive and not hungry for power.

 |  4-minute read |   02-11-2015
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In the Indian epic Ramayana, the Lord of Lanka, Ravana is described as an excellent administrator under whom the kingdom flourishes. He rules over a city of gold. Many women, even some married ones, willingly give up their husbands and want to be with the sexually attractive ruler.

The prime minister today is the undisputed leader of the BJP. He is also known as an excellent administrator under whom the right wing party has flourished. From organising flamboyant events to a dressing style that is definitely stylish, including bandhgalas, designer pocket squares, to Nehru jackets and Modi kurtas, the prime minister's image is definitely seen by many as larger than life. Many allies have willingly given up their ideological positions in order to align with him.

When the battle between Rama and Ravana comes to an end, with Ravana breathing his last, Rama asks his younger brother to seek wisdom from Ravana. A dying Ravana tells Rama as Laxman listens - we discard that which is actually good for us and justify doing so. We are also easily attracted to things that are harmful or wrong and yet we make excuses for them.

Ravana was a larger-than-life figure, but a careful reading of one of the greatest epics will tell us that while Lanka did prosper under Ravana, he actually did not build the city of gold. He took it forcefully from his older brother against his wishes and banished him.

Under Modi, the BJP has prospered, but he did not build the party. It was his mentor Advani and other seniors who did so, from whom he took over the leadership against Advani's wishes while sending him to the margdarshak committee.

In some versions of the Ramayana, Ravana even justifies his abduction of Sita. He makes technical excuses like he never crossed the Laxman Rekha into civilisation, but she willingly crossed the line, into the jungle where the rules of "finders-keepers" and "might is right" applies.

Ravana also mocks the monkey god who has come as an ambassador of peace and, in most interpretations, he arrogantly wonders how an army of bears and monkeys can defeat his powerful army.

Prime Minster Narendra Modi is the leader of this country. He is aware that an atmosphere of intolerance is building. Yet he seems to find excuses and technicalities to justify his inaction. Basic freedom is under threat, yet the behaviour and statements of some from his political outfit show that they are drawn towards the stifling of democracy despite knowing it is harmful for our land. Many even mock those protesting peacefully against him or those returning awards as "the pampered elite" and believe that like the bears and monkeys, these artists and scientists are also insignificant and powerless in the war of electoral politics against Modi's massive numbers.

Prime Minister Modi and the BJP promised India "Ram Rajya" and to fulfil this commitment, they need to first understand India's greatest treasure and learn from both Rama and Ravana.

Rama's greatness came because he upheld Dharma no matter what the personal consequences or suffering it cost him. He even gave up the throne to uphold his principles. When a squirrel, which wanted to be part of  his army of Vanaras, was mocked, Rama reached out to it. Rama is worshiped because he was inclusive and had no desire to dominate or only occupy power.

Ravana ignored the advice of those closest to him - including his wife, his brothers, one of whom is a minister in his council, and another, a  sleeping giant whom he awakens to fight the war - that he release Sita to Rama and end the war. His son and brothers fight for him with complete loyalty, fiercely attack Rama's army with valour and even defeat the great Rama temporarily, but despite their deaths, Ravana does not let go of Sita.

Many of the stalwarts around the prime minister, who have been part of governance in earlier NDA governments, are defending him with complete loyalty. They are fiercely attacking Modi's critics, even temporarily shutting some up, but it would serve the prime minister's office best if he can let go of this idea of total domination and justification. It now seems that in this desire to cling to power, he is even willing to let go of the principles that make this nation.

Ultimately the idea of "Ram Rajya" will only be established if the prime minister elected to serve the nation from Uttar Pradesh follows the ruler of Ayodhya (present day Uttar Pradesh) Rama's model of being inclusive and learns from the last words of Ravana, who also had a Gujarat connection.


Tehseen Poonawalla Tehseen Poonawalla @tehseenp

Tehseen Poonawalla is an entrepreneur, life coach and a student of Indian mythology.

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