Friday, September 16, 2011

#46. From here and There

The Petroleum Prices
The rising petroleum prices in India is an amusing story. Earlier the prices were fixed by the government, But the exercise was not very frequent. To the best of my recollection it was 2-3 times a year. Now they have left diesel prices as being sacrosanct, with the burden falling fully on petrol and to some extent on cooking gas. Thus the burden falls directly on the consumer mainly in the urban areas. Every rise shakes up the family budget, leaving the consumer gasping for breath. Have we become a nation ruled by armchair thinkers, economists, and lawyers who not to say of having lost touch with the pulse of the nation were never aware of the ground realities, to start with? Are we going the South American way of galloping inflation? The stability of the family budget is lost for ever. It is pointless saying that the companies decide the prices baed on their own cost structure. Almost all are PSUs who cannot raise prices without the express wish of the government. God help the common man.
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Font Size Does Matter
I am on the wrong side of sixties now. My eyesight is OK, but I use reading glasses. Also in the night I feel comfortable reading in bright light, with the table lamp nearby. I have been told by one of my friends that it is the sign of onset of cataract. So far as reading material is concerned, some things really put me off. First is the printed material on the strip of medicines. The time has come when one has to see the strip carefully, check the drugs and the quantities in the combination drugs. Sometimes the brand prescribed by the physician is not readily available with the chemist you have gone to, and one has to ensure that the brand one is taking home has the same combination and in the same proportion and the drug has been manufactured by a dependable company. And here sometimes it is impossible to decipher the description printed on the medicine strip unless one uses a magnifying glass, and one does not carry such item in his pocket. Why should the drug manufacturing firms assume that nobody would read the description is beyond me.
Black on white is the easiest to read. But then a lot of magazines have now started using font the colour of which is different shades of grey. There could be two reasons for using this colour: to save on ink (doubtful), and second, if you are using a thin paper, black ink would be a no-no. Nobody sympathises with poor old owl like me who has problems. And worst, some newspapers and magazines are fond of using grey ink for highlighting the text or a box item, again making it difficult to read. I don’t know the health of the publishing house called Jaico now, but several of their publications were using small fonts crammed into the page so densely, that one was very easily put off. Oh! How much have I cursed the publishers during my young days when I saw a good book, but unreadable and undecipherable. Some mobile handset units have realized this and have come out with large letters for easy typing of qwerty. Hopefully it is realized by other consumer goods manufacturers as well. Seems some European manufactures of consumer goods have started using larger fonts for a number of their products.
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Wife in a Hospital

A few years back my wife had undergone a major surgery in one of her ears in a major medical institute run by the government. HOD had kindly agreed to do the surgery, and directed that she should be sent first thing in the morning. About 15-20 minutes before the appointed time, in walks an anesthesiologist with that long equipment called sphygmomanometer. He checks up her blood pressure and declares that it is high, she is not fit to be taken to the OT, as it was a case of elective surgery. To make matters secure, he shouted across the corridor to the duty nurse who had to take her to the OT. When I checked up with the anesthesiologist he reluctantly informed that her B.P. was only marginally high. The doctor in my opinion was making avoidable fuss. At that time my wife did not suffer from hypertension, and I thought that slightly higher blood pressure was natural for a patient who had to undergo a major surgery for first time in her life. However, the duty nurse had to comply with the instruction given. The surgeon and his assistants were inside the OT. Ultimately I spoke to another senior doctor of the Institute who probably spoke to some surgeon in the OT, and she was taken in. It is another matter that after some time a surgeon came out of the OT and gave a shout to the nurse for not sending my wife at the appointed time.
Why did the anaesthesiologist do as he did? Whether I liked it or not, I was in the VIP category. Did this fact instigate the doctor to behave so funnily? Anaesthesia is easily the most forgettable and unknown doctor in the chain of specialists who did their part in a surgery.
Another incident in the same hospital for the same procedure. In the night my wife started bleeding from the operated ear. She wanted the doctor to see her, and accordingly I went to the nurses’ station to relay the request. The duty doctor was not available , and it was within the knowledge of the nurse. First she hemmed and hawed, and later I realized that she had started behaving in the deliberately provocative manner (so that I lose temper, and then it would have been termed as another VIP tantrum?) Or was she taking it out against me for the incident in the morning when the surgeon gave a piece of his mind to the nurse on duty? Exasperated, I told the nurse that on this issue, I will not pick a fight with her, and came back. The bleeding luckily had stopped, and I decided to inform the doctor in the morning and watch the patient which in retrospect I admit was probably not the best thing to do.
So again the same mindless cussedness. I have mentioned these incidents as in a government medical institute , whatever the level and ranking of the hospital, the staff and the faculty do behave sometimes in a way which at best can be called unacceptable.
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Suburban Living
A couple of years before my retirement, I purchased a piece of land in Gwalior. I had another land in Bhopal, and was at that time not very sure where I would settle. As the luck would have it, I got some very dependable persons who could be entrusted with the job of construction of the house at Gwalior while I was away at Mumbai on a posting. This plot is a little away form the downtown area. It is a relatively large plot and I thought that I would have a blissful life here. After spending more that 4 years here I realized that things haven’t panned out as I thought they would. I can mention several reasons. First that distance from the downtown meant extra expenditure every time I had something to do in the town. The mindless and frequent increase in petrol prices in the recent years aggravated the problem. Secondly, distance from the main town meant that my friends and acquaintances found it onerous to come to my place, and my interaction with them was reduced. Thirdly no malls, multiplexes and cinema halls this side. Even for a decent shop, one had to go some distance. Fourthly, no municipal water supply and power at best erratic. The four lane highway that has been proposed has yet to travel the distance from the drawing board to the ground. Net result is that the basic convenience which one hoped for is not there. And lastly, domestic help is not available. The place is inhabited by Gujars and SC. The Gujars are well to do, and there is no question finding a domestic help there. And SC even if you do not mind, others would. So that is also not there. So those of you who are also thinking on the lines as I did, weigh the pros and cons carefully before taking the final plunge.

Monday, August 8, 2011

#45. The holiest of the holy

The most revered places
I have been to
The other day I started wondering which are the religious places which drew maximum reverence and awe from me. Over the last four decades I have seen most of the country and half the world, and it is indeed difficult to draw a list of such places unless the list is faily large. I did a lot of sifting, and even now as I write this piece, I am choosing and discarding places I have been to. The criterion is fixed. It is neither architectural excellence, nor age of the shrine, neither grandeur nor the most difficult to reach. These are the places where I was instantly drawn to the ambience of devotion, love and respect.
The first place which comes to my mind is Kaladi, the birthplace of Adi Shankar.The Periyar (Poorna) river touching the feet of the holy place, it has a tranquility which is hard to describe, and can only be experienced. It is said that Shankar’s mother Aryamba one fainted while going in the sun to the Periyar to take bath. Shankar prayed to Lord Krishna that the river should flow near his house, and his prayer was granted. The river has Crocodile ghat adjacent to the Shrine. It is said that a crocodile once caught hold of Shankar, and only on Shankar extracting permission from his mother that he will become a sanyasi, did the crocodile release him. There are several other places in Kaladi like viz Sriramkrishna Ashram, the eight storey structure depicting the life story of Shankaracharya, but nothing to beat the calm serenity of the birthplace.
The next is the Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain. Though I had seen the
temple a number of times before, but a few years ago I landed there at
the time of Shringar. Being a high caste Brahman is looked down upon these
days, but it has its benefits sometimes. They allowed me to see the ritual
in the sanctum sactorum in an unsewn cloth covering the lower portion of
the body as is the custom in all South Indian temples. I still can’t explain
why I could not stop tears flooding out of my eyes. Such was the awe and
aura of the place and the deity. The ritual lasted almost half
an hour and I was floating in another world during that time.

The makeshift temple at Ayodhya. I am not a
staunch do-or-die Hindu, but the story of Ram heard so many
times in different forms since childhood and the Ayodhya story left an
impress on my mind so as to make this darshan a unique experience. Taking me
through the history of the place from the days of
Babar and Tulsidas right upto the present. Apart from
the shrine, the place which really moved me was the point
on the river Saryu where Ram is said to have taken
Jal Samadhi. I had gone there at the fag end of the rainy season,
and the river was in full glory.
The next that I remember are the shrines at Jagannathpuri and
Dwarka. Both have got history behind them, and both are
architecturally significant, but there is something in these places
which in the mortals we call charisma. There is an
aura in the Dwarkadhish temple which is indescribable, like the proverbial
jaggery in the mouth of the dumb (goonge ka gud bhai ). The crowd in
the Jagannath temple make it a place where you become more of a sightseer
than a devotee.
Then there is a small temple of Kanya Kumari at the land’s
end, better known as the Tri-sea Junction. The calm serenity of the place, little
known to outsiders, has a charm of its own.
The last but not the least significant is the Vishweshwar
temple, better known as the Vishwanath temple. I had a strange experience
once in the temple. A few years ago I had visited Varanasi, and I decided that
this time I will have a darshan of the deity. My friend Prahlad took leave
from his office, and after lunch we started for the temple. It was mild winter, and going
out in the sun was no longer unpleasant. Then we wanted to be at the temple at a lean period
when people prefer to have a siesta after a hearty meal. There was
hardly any crowd in the temple, and we could walk straight to the sanctum
sanctorum. There was a Bengali family
doing puja and we waited. Suddenly I found the shrine totally empty, with nobody in
except us two. Worshipping the deity when you are all alone in an important shrine
like that was a new experience to me. As if the deity was keen to have our offerings
in all exclusivity, with his time fully earmarked for us. I don’t know whether you can
feel the thrill I experienced, but I still feel that it was a
unique happening designed especially for us. Not that gold was showered on us
afterwards, or we saw a palace erected for us. The very experience was
worth it.

I considered so many other places which could find a place here, but none had the
quality or characteristics which I searched for. Of course
I haven’t been to Puttparti, the Saibaba’s shrine at Shirdi,
Kedarnath-Gangotri-Yamunotri, and Gangasagar, but
I have the good fortune to visit so many other places of religious importance. Those
who come across this blog during the course of their
surfing are welcome to pen down any moving experience they
had in a religious place.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

#44. Safe Way to Live

Jeene ki Raah
(Safe way to Live)

I am in the wrong side of sixties, and, therefore, I can be easily called a middle-aged person in firangi terms, and buzurg or Buddha in the native tongue. Apart from seeing every part of my body slowly losing their old suppleness, there is plenty of time now after retirement to ponder over and ruminate on all the pains, aches and several ailments that I never took notice of during the days of yore when I kept busy from morning till evening. It is only now that I have been able to appreciate the full meaning of what Nirala wrote almost three quarter of a century back:

Main akela dekhta hoon aa rahi mere divas ki sandhya bela/ adhpake hain baal mere/
(I am alone, watching the dusk of my day./ My hair has gone half-grey/).
Nirala died at 65, an age which we consider not very old now, But surely he would have started feeling the slow decline of the power and stamina of young days.

Anyway, to come back to the main theme, over the years I have gathered several tips, and tried to evolve some of my own which enables to you live safely, and with less complications over the years till you become ‘dear to God.’ There is nothing very deep about the maxims, just simple precautions to save you from any mishap. I am also adding some suggestions which I have keenly felt about, and which have not been adopted or followed by the different organisations.

1. Always keep your bathroom dry. A wet bathroom is the breeding ground for moss and fungus, making the floor slippery on which you can easily fall, cracking your skull (like one of my friends, a retired police officer, tall and heavily built), or a bone, and in old age bones take their own sweet time to join. One of my relations who had a fall in the bathroom in the night was lying un-attended till morning when it was too late. His wife was away to their son's place. Another acquaintance of mine died only a couple of days back after he had a fall in the bathroom, although he was having various other ailments. Use a wiper for the bathroom. Rubber wipers with long handle are easily available. Use it after every bath. My brother-in-law does it, and I started to appreciate it much later. Incidentally, some of the non-stick tiles available in the market are worse, as their uneven surface readily collects small quantity of water, gathering moss. And then, never try to walk tiptoe in the bathroom. You will be inviting a fall.

2. Do not tuck your socks in your shoes when you remove them. Keep them in the open. Better have a small basket for socks. This simple act will keep them smell-free and free of bacteria infestation. Generally we land up with socks which are essentially of 2 or 3 basic dark colours. In such a case tie the two of the pair loosely so that you do not have to ‘mix and match’ everytime you are going out. And when putting them in the washing machine or the hanger for drying, make sure the two of a pair of socks are put together. More than once I have seen one isolated sock lying forlornly at the bottom of the washing machine, or when you go to collect the dried clothes, you find one sock missing.

3. If you are old-fashioned enough to use a brush and shaving cream, do change the brush every 3-4 months. Better use the foam. You will save yourself from chin infection with a troublesome boil. Your tooth-brush also should be similarly changed.

4. Agreed that leather soles are the sign of a gentleman, but for everyday life please forget about leather soles. Buy shoes with non-skid soles. The more so for chappals and slippers which you carry to the bathroom as well. No slippery rubber or leather soles.

5. Elderly people may remember that their forefathers started using walking stick at an early age - in early forties and sometimes in their thirties as well. It was considered more of a fashion accessory. Of course in India one did not carry a tightly folded umbrella instead, as luckily it does not rain as often in our country. The walking stick is very useful and a big support in long walks and treks, and it so helpful for those who are in the initial stages of osteo-arthritis. Now you get decent orthpaedic sticks which are adjustable, and not as flimsy as some of the earlier ones used by nabobs and zamindars. Don’t be ashamed to use it especially when it has been recommended by your doctor. True that several young maidens will start calling you Uncle, but what difference does it make? You should not be lamenting as Keshav did a few centuries back:

Keshav kesan as kari/ Jas arihu na karahi/ Chandravadani mrigalochani/ Baba kahi kahi jahi/ (Grey hair has done to me as no enemy could have done. Lovely moon-faced and doe-eyed maidens have staaaartedcalling me Baba_ grandfather!)

7. Next, to repeat a cliché, some exercise everyday If you do yoga, or go to a yoga centre apart from a morning walk that is best. Better to go to a yoga centre. They spend about 90 minutes with you, and that length of time you probably won’t be able to devote at home. Generally the yoga centre concentrates on three themes: yogic exercises, pranayam and dhyan (or dharna which is the first step to dhyan). Yogic exercises keep all the joints of your body lubricated so that you do not get afflictions like arthritis, frozen shoulders, cervical spondylosis, lower back pain etc. Pranayam is to see that every nook and cranny of your body gets oxygen which normally gets only a measly quantity. This would mean that all parts of your body are in a normal healthy state even in old age. Of course, if you start yoga at a time when you are already suffering from some ailment, yoga can surely let you remain at the point where you have already reached, and in some cases actually curing it! And dhyan or dharna (meditation) keeps your power of concentration intact which very often deteriorates in old age. Mind you, yoga is not only for the aged but for the young also. If one starts at an early age, maybe he will be able to ward off several aches, painand maladies which he could otherwise get.

8. Next in line is driving. Many obese people later in life start suffering from sleep apnea where a person can doze off from time to time. Such persons should desist from driving. Most of the driving accidents in India happen from sleepy drivers of both small and heavy vehicles who have erratic and heavy duty hours. This is especially true for long distance taxi and truck drivers who hop from one duty to another. But sadly, the elderly are hardly aware of the hazard they are putting themselves into while driving. There is no disputing the fact that as you grow up in age, your reflexes slow down. The Air Force realizes it too well, and Group Captain and above are hardy put in active flying duty.

9. Just a piece of advice which may not be palatable to many. Never stay permanently with your children. You should have a home of your own which you can come back to after a visit to your children. Then unless and until you have sufficient property to have 3 or 4 sizeable shares, Never give away your property during your lifetime to your children, and not keep anything for you and your spouse. In any case after you and your wife, the property will be your children' so what's the hurry.

10. Lastly, keep your mind active by brain games like sudoku and bridge. You save yourself from dementia, aphasia, Alzheimer’s disease and whatever. Although I never enjoy solving a sudoku puzzle (mainly because I haven’t been able to go beyond the easy ones). And being a mediocre player of bridge who does not care to remember cards, I am a persona non grata to my partner. But I do try to be mentally active by sending you people sermons like this. Maybe this does the trick.

Some Suggestions

There are not many, except for the few where I have been holding the wrong end of the stick.

1. Have you ever tried to read the description on the strip of a medicine, or several other user’s manuals. Many a time I have used a magnifying glass to decipher. The task of reading becomes more difficult as most of the pills are packed I shiny metal packing. Why shouldn’t larger fonts be used as most of the medicines are meant for the aged whose eyesight is not as good it used to be. One of my friend reports that in most of the European countries the fonts and buttons on telephones etc. are bigger so that they can be used easily by old people. The same problem is there for mobile handsets buttons. People with thick fingers always find it difficult.

2. The second is the acute shortage of decent old age homes. Lonely old men would find it difficult to care for themselves unless they are well-off to hire help. Many a time children go away to distant lands to make a career for themselves. Most of the old age homes in India are meant for the destitutes which is good, but the time has come in India with growing life expectancy to cater for the people who can pay a reasonable amount.

Any suggestion from the readers which could be added is welcome.

Monday, March 14, 2011

#43. In the Wonderland of Medical Science and Pharmaceuticals s

In the Wonderland of Medical Science and Pharmaceuticals
I do not have an expert knowledge of medical science and the various games played by its practitioners. But I have seen and experienced some funny things, and read and heard about some funny stories. No doubt they are not many. But this is for a record that I am penning them down. Maybe the person who opens this blog finds it equally interesting, and maybe just a little wiser by these small tips.
Astrology and palmistry are not science, and if they are to be called so, they can only be very inexact science. My own feeling is that the same can be said about the medical science. It is inexact in the sense that the findings and opinions and recommendations keep on changing, and not marginally, but sometimes diametrically opposite to what was the belief and understanding upto that point. A very basic example. When I was a child, running a fever meant that the patient was kept away from all kinds of solid food. Rather one was on fast for the days the fever ran. What the patient was given was liquid food and fruits only. And even the fruits were of a special kind - not banana, mangoes, lichee, chikoo and the like, but apple, grapes, pomegranates etc. Sometimes one can even suspect that this was some sort of conspiracy between medical men and fruit importers form Afghanistan and Pakistan. Those days buying these exotic fruits meant that somebody was unwell at home. Those were the days when the Stokes family had not revolutionized apple cultivation in Himachal, and the sea change in the production volume of pomegranates by introduction of Ganesh pomegranates in Maharashtra, and grapes in Andhra and Maharashtra and yet to come which brought these fruits to the middle class in our country. And when at long last the fever was down, food was given in an elaborate series of actions. It had a special name also: pathya. The patient took bath, maybe after a week or so, and he was given light food like khichdi. Siesta was not allowed, though one would expect to have a doze of drowsiness after a regular meal after a week or so. Today you can eat , only that looking to your immobility, the food intake has to be less.
By the way, have you marked how easily any and all kinds of fever these days are dubbed as viral fever. How all-encompassing the word is! And as it is, there is no cure for a viral disease. One gets well in due course for milder forms. But still you get prescription drugs for it. So also for cold for which it is said that if you don’t take any medicine you get well in 7 days, and if you take medicine it takes a week for the viral to disappear.
Have you marked how there is a substantial difference between the prices of the same formulation made by different companies under different brands? Clopigrel, a popular blood thinning pill costs about Rs.16 per tablet. The same formulation under a different brand name (Clavix) costs Rs. 6 per tablet. Another brand is for Rs.8. Once I tried to find the reason from a medical representative. One was of course understandable. For a long time India went by process patents and not by products patent. The same medicine made by another process was not covered by patent laws. This was not fair, as the company who spent a of money, time and talent on research and development of the medicine was able to recover the cost and some, and huge margins were not possible to continue for a long time. Take the case of Viagra where the Indian clone is available for about quarter the price of the foreign brand. The other reason which was told to me that of purity, whether it is 90% ,95.5% or 99%. But come to think of it, does it really matter that much so as to justify the big price difference?
Come to diabetic pills. One very popular drug (rosiglutazone) which was really effective had to be banned, as it had so many side effects, one of them adding to your bulk. After taking the medicine for almost a year, suddenly I started gaining weight, so much so that I had to discard a number of my old pants and jackets which could not be brought to my present size by my tailor. This was ultimately diagnosed by the doctor who worked in the CGHS (Central Govt. Health Scheme). Some people say that the two points where allopathy scores over other systems of medicine are surgery and antibiotics, otherwise one system is as good as the other. Add to it the fact that surgery is not the monopoly of allopathy. Sushrut was from the Indian System of Medicine.
Come to dietetics. Sometime during my childhood days a big hullabaloo was made about how iron-studded spinach is. After a few years it was sheepishly admitted by the medical community that the original calculation had one decimal point wrongly placed, with the result that iron content was shown ten times what it actually is. Egg’s yellow portion was considered full of cholesterol, so much so that in one hospital of repute as a patient I got only the white of the boiled eggs in breadkfast. Only sometime back I read somewhere that latest research shows the egg yellow to be not so bad as had been made out. Earlier guava was considered to have no food value. Now it is considered to be full of Vitamin C.
Come to antibiotics. Gradually the bacteria keeps on getting immune from one particular antibiotic. And the pharmacy industry keeps on evolving newer and wider-spectrum antibiotic. Doctors blame self-medication and overprescription of antibiotics by their own colleagues. Have you seen how expensive the newer antibiotics are?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

#42. Ram and Krishna

Ram and Krishna
Portions of Ramcharitmanas I have been hearing being recited from my childhood days. My stepmother could recite the entire Sundarkand by memory_ so many times she had gone through it. Almost the entire Hindu population of Eastern UP & Bihar, whether rural or urban, swears by the Manas written by Goswami Tulsidas, a devotee of Ram. Dohas (couplet) and chhand (four line metre) of Manas are quoted in almost all the speeches and even in dialogues sometimes to prove a point. Akhand Ramayan when the entire epic is recited at one go is organized by the religious minded in almost the entire region.
In the circumstances, examine critically the character of Ram is sacrilege and blasphemy, something which the wise avoid. Maryada Purushottam could never do wrong. He had to maintain and follow the system, and if it demanded a cruel and heartless action, well, it could not be helped.
I Picked up C. Rajagopalachari’s (CR) version of Valmiki Ramayan. This is a short book which does not deviate from the main text as penned by Valmiki, though at places CR Does express his disappointment, and how other versions of Ramayan differ from it. Curiosity led me to another version of Vamiki Ramayana by Krishna Dharma. Before coming to to the character of Ram, a few things struck me which I thought I would mention. First , the total absence of any mention of Urmila (Lashman’s wife) at the time Lakshman is preparing to go with his brother to the jungle for 14 long years. Sumitra, his mother is mentioned when Lakshman comes to bid farewell, but where was Urmila at the time? Did Lakshman go without meeeting her, or is their last night together too holy to describe? Not that I am the first person to ‘discover’ it. Maithili Sharan Gupta, renowned Hindi poet, as if to atone for this omission wrote a whole epic (Saket) on Urmila.
The second striking thing is that Seeta did not conceive during the long fourteen years in the forest. Was some kind of herbal birth control method known and available to people those days? Seeta did conceive about 2 years after they came back to Ayodhya after completing the exile term.
(That sets at rest any suspicion that Love-Kush were conceived not by Ram but while she was in captivity in Lanka). The same about Draupadi during her years in the jungle and at Virat’s place. During this time her five children were staying with Subhadra, Krishna’s sister. For that matter Subhadra did not leave her brother’s place permanently to stay at Indraprastha prior to the period of exile.
Anyway, to come back to theme of Ram’s character. For this analysis, one can easily start and stop with his behaviour towards Seeta, his beloved wife. All the versions of Ramayan point out how dearly he loved her. But let us examine his behaviour after Ravan was defeated and killed. Let us see what CR’s and Krishna Dharma’s versions say.
. After Ravana was vanquished and killed, and Visbhishan crowned the king of Lanka, Ram
Asked Hanuman to carry the news to Seeta in Ashok-van. Upon Hanuman asking Sita as to what message he should carry to Ram, she said that that she was eager to be in his presence. When Hanuman gave the message to Ram, he fell in a brown study, and after some time told Hanuman to convey to Seeta to bathe and bedeck herself whereupon Seeta said that she would go as she was, but ultimately was persuaded by Hanuman to go as desired by Ram. When Sita came in Ram’s presence, Ram told her that he has done his duty as a Kshatriya in vanquishing Ravan and for Seeta she has to live alone, and as a Kshatriya he cannot take back a wife who has lived so long in a stranger’s house. Seeta was angry and asked Lakshman to bring faggots and kindle a fire. The fire was lit, and Seeta jumped into the fire requesting gods and rishis to take her as their own. Brahma and Agni and all the gods assembled there and Brahma declaring her to be of irreproachable purity, Ram accepted her as fire –proven to be pure.
Come to Scene II. Ram is reported by his courtiers about the differing views the people of his kingdom have about the purity of Seeta. Ram summons Lakshman and asks him to leave the pregnant Seeta in the forest the same day, where she will hopefully live with some sage in his ashram. For years Ram does not find out anything about her, nor about the children. When the time came for Ashwamedh, and as per the ritual followed those days, it was considered necessary for the spouse to sit alongside the husband for the yajna, he gets a statue built of the likeness of Seeta.
Scene III. The two boys who come to sing the Story of Ram during the yajna, are recognized as the sons of Ram. Seeta comes to Ayodhya , and Ram asks her to prove her purity and chastity again. That was the last straw on the camel’s back so far as Seeta’s patience was considered. She requests mother Earth to take her in a she had been given unto Janak long time back. Mother Earth obliges. And thus ends the story one of the most revered characters in Hindu religion and mythology. The only explanation CR gives for Ram’s actions is that they can be explained simply as the behaviour of a king in accordance with the customs of the times.
Then there is the story of Shambook, a Shudra who was doing penance in the forest which according to the custom in that era was reserved for Brahmans. Ram on getting to know of it and the lament of the Brahmans that this was the reason of the Brahman’s son dying, went and beheaded Shambook.
Add to it the story of the assassination of Bali for which Ram had to hide himself, because it was said that Bali could not be defeated in open duel.
Come to Krishna. Once he was convinced of the correctness of Pandava’s demand for a share in the kingdom, he adopted all means, fair and foul to destroy the Kauravas. Bhishma, Drona, Karna as well as Duryodhan were killed by unfair means. When Draupadi was stripped and nobody including the Kuru elders did anything, it was Krishna who gave here cloth to cover her modesty. Whereas Ram is devoid of all emotions and just follows the path of a correct ruler, Krishna his practical, as well as compassionate. Some say that his thousands of wives were the gopis of is adolescent days in Gokul. Whereas Ram is well-versed in the art of war and is brave, Krishna is more versatile and as battle-ready as Ram. But when the time comes, he knows how to change the tactics. When he was sick of frequent border skirmishes with Jarasandh who happened to be Kans’ brother-in-law, Krishna moved his capital to Dwarka. Another time in a battle, when he saw himself facing defeat, and capture, he ran away form the battlefield. That is why the name Ranchhod Bhagwan.
All I can say is that I am more confused now than when I started.
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