Tomorrow the entire country will be celebrating Dussehra. And as our films majorly depicts the society that we live in, we have seen umpteen films depicting the victory of Good over Evil by burning an effigy of Ravana every year during Dussehra.
Ravana happens to be the most notorious antagonist from our mythology. Except for the evil that he committed with Sita haran, the other facet of his personality is more-or-less ignored or rather not considered. Ravana was a devotee of Lord Shiva, depicted and described as a great scholar, a capable ruler. He is also described as extremely powerful with ten heads, which represent his knowledge of the six shastras and the four Vedas. Probably one might be aware that Ravana was supposedly the most handsome and charming personalities of that his time. He had the most beautiful woman in his life. Even after kidnapping Sita, it is said that he never touched her or forced her. He never violated the sanctity of Sita’s virtue and honoured his own pledge/principals of never dishonoring any woman.
But that doesn’t mean he is innocent, of course he did commit a crime of abducting Sita. And that’s the only crime he is still paying for even after ages. His effigy is still burnt every year. Despite of his valour and being one of the most knowledgeable people nobody remembers him for his good qualities in fact today addressing someone as Ravana is considered derogatory.
So for his one act of abducting a woman we still burn him year-after-year and use him as a metaphor of evil even today. On the other hand what are we doing with people who are roaming freely even after committing as heinous a crime as rape and not limiting at that crime we have plenty of other criminals who are living example of devil.
By burning the effigy of Ravana, are we really depicting the victory of good over evil or is that just a punishment given for his crime… think about it! Who are we calling a Rakshasa? Imagine a person who did not even touch Sita (or even looked at her indecently) is punished till date and look at the contemporary society, where we are not even aware of what sins we commit or what evil we have within ourselves and are calling Ravana a Rakshasa!
In today’s time why do we still have to use Ravana as metaphor of evil? Criminals especially like rapists have surpassed every possible limit of immorality. So instead of burning Ravana’s effigy why not burn an effigy of a real criminal who has committed more brutal crimes and still is not punished enough to set an example for others to remember for years to come as we remember Ravana specifically for his one mistake?
For criminals like rapists the punishments should be on the lines of what we have been giving to Ravana – create an example about the fate of a crime. By burning Ravana, if we are trying to say that look if you have evil intentions, this is what would happen, then what is the punishment that should be given to the actual evil people or minds. I think such people should not be given death penalty, but made to yearn for death every single moment of their waking life only then it may help to curtail such crimes.
And, if we say, that by burning the Ravana we are just following our traditions then are we not hypocrite? As for some rules or traditions we say that they are outdated and need to be changed according to the times we live in but on the other hand we still follow the practice of burning Ravana’s effigy year after year without even once questioning ourselves if we are a better person than what Ravana was or is the society that we live in today better or worse than what it was during Ravana’s age?
After witnessing the kind of criminals or evil-minded people that we have in our society, the one question that constantly torments me is - Rakshas Kaun?
Do you have the answer?
(This is not a piece to applaud Ravana or his actions but to purely highlight the contemporary situation in the society taking a cue of Ravana as a metaphor)