Walmiki’s Message for Us
The epic story of
“Ramayan” is held as a guiding light by most of us Indians. We
often refer to Ram as the most ideal man and look at his life story
as an inspiration.
I have sifted through
Ramayan many times ( even the original Sanskrit version ) but I have
failed to find any guiding principles in parenting ! First chapter of
Ramayan, “Bal kand” does not have a single verse on parenting !
Is it possible that this was not a burning issue at the time? Not
likely, because ancient Indian literature is full of such advice;
Panchtantra and Issapniti are written for this job. Mahabharat talks
about father’s influence and mother’s role many times. Then why is
Ramayan silent on this?
I have tried to look at
cryptic clues and found one –
The story of Shravan, the
beginning of Ramayan, may hold a clue for us.
Shravan, a young boy,
lives in forest, with his blind and very old parents. For his thirsty
parents, he goes to fetch water in the dark of night. King Dasharath,
waiting in the dark with his bow and arrows kills Shravan, mistaking
him for a wild animal. When the old couple comes to know about this
sacrilege, they put a curse on King Dasharath, “ like us, you too
shall die, separated from your most beloved child !”
As the story unfolds in
Ramayan, not only Dashrath but even his son, King Ram is separated
from his family and spends long time being sad and lonely. In the end
he unites with his sons but across a battlefield as an opponent.
I believe that Ramayan
is a metaphor for us to unravel. Blindness and old age of Shravan’s
parents point to parents’ outdated life view and blindness towards
real needs of their kids. King Dasharath is a symbol of society and
government that is not bothered about well being of young ones.
For me the message of
Ramayan is loud and clear – if you ignore real needs of young
generation and remain preoccupied with your own aspirations, you will
be cursed for not one but three generations and will remain unhappy
and emotionally isolated !
Can we learn from this
guiding light that is burning since almost three thousand years?