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Deepavali: Return of Sri Ram
Imam-e-Hind understood nuances of peace & war
By Dr. Javid Iqbal
Allama Iqbal called Sri Ram Imam-e-Hind in a moving poem, relating that India is proud of him:

Hai Ram Kay Wajod Pah Hindustan Ko Naz

Ahle Nazar Samajtay Hai’n Uss Ko Imam-e-Hind

It could be put as:

Ram remains India’s pride

Imam-e-Hind and the guide

Imam is the leader in prayer, which Sri Ram indeed is. Millions of Indians recite Ramayana…one of the greatest epics ever written, first by Valmiki and later many versions appeared in various Indian languages including much read Tulsi Ramayana. The sacred epic is an excursion in Indian lore. It has all that India of yore related to. Sacrificing power for a wider gain, bowing to national interest even at personal cost, remaining ever and always in quest of knowledge, and more important knowing the nuances of peace and war.

Imam is supposed to provide the lead, not only in a prayer and piety, but act as a guide too, in wordly matters. Sri Ram apart from providing the spiritual lead, established Ram Rajya which is its essence denotes morality in statecraft, contrary to Chankya-neti laid down in Arth-Shastra---a political treatise. In Ram Rajya, means are as important as the ends they lead to, where as in Chankya-neti means do not matter, as long as the ends are attained. Means could be fair or foul. That means have to be as fair as the desired end is a lesson that India, the land of Sri Ram has to live up to. The niti, the political craft of Sri Ram, encompasses much more. Allama Iqbal takes a literary sweep of his holistic make-up:

Talwar Ka Dhani Tha, Shujaat Mai’n Farad Tha

Pakeez’gi Mai’n Josh Mohabat Mai’n Farad Tha

It could be read as:

Deft in fencing, archetype in bravery

Pure in thought & unique in Chivalry

Fencing--sword wielding [Talwar Ka Dhani]. That war could be justified in the face of injustice meted out to a person, a group or a state stands underlined in study of Ramayana. Sri Ram confronted with a personal hurt of Sita Mayai being taken away by deceit during his sojourn in jungles had him cross the Vindhyas and thence across the Palk Strait to Lanka…the kingdom of Ravana.

Pure in thought—Sri Ram did not fall to the viles of Sarup Nakha—Ravana’s sister. Sarup Nakha targeted the family of Sri Ram and Laxman coming to rescue of Sita Mayai by chopping off her nose. ‘Hell hath seen no fury as a woman scorned’ the proverb came true as Sarup Nakha worked-up her brother against the threesomes—Sri Ram, Sita Mayai and Laxman, wandering in the jungles to complete fourteen years of exile [Bun’ bass—bun…jungle and bass…dweller].

Sri Ram’s uniqueness in chivalry was exhibited as he gave up power, of which he was the inheritor from his father…Raja Dashrat. Kaikayi, his stepmother had once saved her husband in the warfield and the Raja promised to reward her twice over. The vow stood to be tested in the furnace of time. Kaikayi struck as the moment of reckoning came, with Sri Ram’s investure as crown prince and being named the inheritor of throne. She asked the Raja, rather demanded of Raja that the debt be paid. Raja Dashrat stood crestfallen as the demand came of investure of her son…Bharat as the crown prince, and she crowned her demand with seeking an exile for Sri Ram for fourteen long years…perhaps with a hope that by that time Bharat’s reign would be ironclad, difficult for Sri Ram to challenge.

Sri Ram provided the outlet for crestfallen Raja Dashrat by expressing his willingness to abide by what her stepmother wanted. He wanted to leave alone, Sita Maiya would not listen, and Laxman—the dotting younger brother was insistent too. So, the threesomes left, however Kaikayi had not calculated her son—Bharat’s response. Bharat was on a visit to his maternal relatives. On return, he was taken aback by what his mother had done. Quickly setting on Sri Ram’s trail, he wanted him to return; however Sri Ram did not relent, insisting to stand by the vow of Raja Dashrat, who in the meantime unable to stand the shock had left for hereafter—Par-Lok in Indian lore.

Sri Ram left a lesson for posterity, rather a series of lessons, promises made need to be abided by. It does not behove a Raja, a statesman or a state to sleep over the promises made. India has a posterity to live up to…she cannot, taking cue from Sri Ram, stall the promises made, now or ever, she has to stand by the ideal…the Indian ideal. There are many aspects to the lore of Sri Ram. It has to be studied in its various shades. Sri Ram was a pupil [shikshak] of Vishwamitra, a great Indian sage—the sage that Allama Iqbal did not miss alluding to.

Iqbal at the very start of ‘Javid Nama’ his spiritual treatise…a Persian poetic composition of immense value alludes to Vishwamitr. The Persian version of his name is Jeha’n Dost [friend of the world] Vishwa (Jeha’n) and Mitr (Dost). That is the name Allama Iqbal assigns to the guru of Sri Ram. In a flight of spirit, Iqbal sets his trail up in the skies, in company of his spiritual guru…Maulana Rumi. In the Lunar Planet nearest to Planet Earth, Iqbal and his Guru meet Jeha’n Dost. This is the first spiritual interaction in Javid Nama. And it indicates Allama’s deep understanding of Indian lore…the lore of Sri Ram, of his guru…Vishwamitr, as also his respect for that lore…the eastern lore. The spiritual interaction expounded in Iqbalian art takes us to the school in which Sri Ram was born and bred.

Vishwa Mitr emerges from a cave in the lunar planet and asks Rumi “who is accompanying you”? In Rumi’s answer the Iqbalian quest is laid bare. Rumi tells him, that the person with him is firm in knowing the truth, hence someone who cannot be moved from his stand. However in his search for truth, he is a relentless pursuer. Expounding this in the realm of East/West diversity; Rumi says East got lost in exploring what constitutes right and wrong, leaving the universe un-explored. West on the contrary sharpened instincts to explore universe and gain material advantage. In the process the means did not matter, hence lost touch with spiritual aspect. Vishwa Mitr/Jehan Dost attests, what Rumi states, commenting that East lost its bearing in an avoidable debate, which resulted in pessimism and loss of initiative. However, counsels Vishwa Mitr/Jehan Dost there is no need to lose hope. He relates what he had heard from an angel, whom he noticed with his gaze set on East. The angel related that he could see a new dawn, the dawn of Eastern resurgence clearly. And when it does come about, it would spell ‘Idd’, the day of festivity and rejoicing for the heaven dwellers, of which he is one. What Vishwa Mitr predicted is coming true in a resurgent China and India and earlier Japan. Iqbal predicted the dawn of eastern resurgence:

Gara’n Khawb Chini Sambalnay Lagay

Himalaya Kay Chashmay Ubalnay Lagay

It could be versed as:

China awakes from a slumber deep

Himalayan streams; a date to keep!

Vishwamitr was a born Khashtriya; hence the training of Sri Ram in handling arms was inferior to none. That Ram is docile and Shyam—Sri Krishna is active is simply misconception, a wrong take. Sri Ram’s bow [danush] prevailed over all else in Sita Maiya’s swyamber [the competitive winning lot cast in India of yore to win over the bride] much before Ravana was swept aside by sword of Sri Ram, liberating Lankans from a tyrant. Thus a lesson was imparted, Sri Ram’s India has to be a liberating influence, it may not be an oppressor or side ever with oppressors.

Sri Ram’s guru was of such an exalted status, as to attain Brahminical status and hold his own against Vishast--Raj Guru of Sur Das. Vishast—Vishwamitr debates form part of Rig Veda. Eventually, Vishwamitr became Raj guru of Sur Das. This was the school Sri Ram was born and bred in—the Vedic School, one of the prime sources of human thought. The school that bred him in statecraft, in conduct of war and peace, and this is the school of thought India needs to stick to, in order to attain her desired place in the community of nations. India has a role in making 21st century, an Asian century by looping in China. However it has work to do, issues to settle before it can realize the dream of eastern resurgence, the dream seen by Sri Ram’s guru—Vishwamitr, the realization that would please Sri Ram…Imam-e-Hind!

While lighting up on Deepavali, India has to look deeply at the dark spots in her make-up. The festival has to mark return of Sri Ram—his lore, his concept of statecraft, his take of war and peace, and above all—his fair play!

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

Feedback on: iqbal.javid46@gmail.com

News Updated at : Sunday, November 18, 2012
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