Thakur Ranjit Singh
This is the second lesson from Ramayan that you may not have heard before, in such light, with relevance to modern man.
After, Ravan, the King of Lanka, “stole” Lord Ram’s wife, Sita, and heard that Ram’s battalion was on its way to Lanka, he called a meeting to take views of his advisers. All of his Ministers advised him to go to war with Ram, as they felt Ravan was "undefeatable", so the logical advice was war.
Ravan is the type of demon god who only wants your advice if you tell him what he wishes to hear.
Vibhishan was very brave to stand up to Ravan to tell him he was wrong. Ravan is the type of demon god who only wants your advice if you tell him what he wants to hear. (Remember some people you know like that?). Anybody doing otherwise would suffer the consequences. Vibhishan pleads to Ravan and tells him that Ram is God and Ravan has abused his powers. Clasping Ravan’s leg, Vibhishan prays and tells him that “where there is wisdom, prosperity of every kind reigns; where there is lack of knowledge, misfortune is the inevitable end. This is from the famous Chaupai (quadruplet): jahan sumati tahan sampati nana, jahan kumati tahan bipati nidana.”
Ravan accused Vibhishan of taking the enemy’s side, and asks him to name somebody he had not defeated. He tells Vibhishan to go and join the enemies if he so much loves them. Ravan then kicks his younger brother while he was clasping Ravan’s feet. That kick and departure of Vibhishan was the beginning of end of Ravan. While departing, Vibhishan gave advice to them in this Doha:
“Sachiu, vaidh, guru tini joh, priya bole bhay aas; Raj dharam tann tini karr hoi beghi naas”
When a Minister (advisor), a physician (doctor) and a religious preceptor (guru, teacher, mentor) – these three use pleasing words from fear (darr) or hope of reward (lalach), the result is that dominion (country) health, and faith – all the three forthwith, go to dogs (meet sad end)
Vibhishan pleads to Ravan and tells him to come to his senses, return Sita to Ram, and seek forgiveness and peace.
I ran this programme at Radio Fiji in 1999-2000, among others with Dinesh Sharma and Zarina Begum Reece. Gyan Prabha Nand and Veena Bhatnagar (now Assistant Health Minister in Bainimarama Government) from Radio Fiji were the anchors. In one crucial programme that resulted in death of our programme, we had pleaded with Chaudhry to get rid of his arrogance, show some respect for Chiefs and Fijian institutions, and win support of ITaukei population. Like Ravan, he kicked us out from the programme, as like Ravan, he was not prepared to listen to what he did not wish to hear. With his Communications Assistant Minister Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi, they shut us off from Radio Fiji. This was an assault on democracy and media. And his government was assaulted in return by the Fiji Times and George Speight and the rest is history.
Unfortunately, while many sing Ramayan, they fail to appreciate this bold lesson taught by Vibhishan: even if your brother is wrong, stand up for righteousness, peace, and truth. Do not do ill to others. There is shortage of see people with courage standing up to ills in the community. Many are afraid to walk the talk of religious teachings. Because of my obsession to do right things, I generally find myself ostracised by the rich, mighty and influential in our community, who like Ravan, get offended when they do not hear from me what they wish to hear. It is for this reason that some Indian media in Auckland have black-banned Thakur. This is for the truth I spoke against these media organisations. Their rich and influential proprietors, like Ravan, think they could also kick away this Vibhishan. Even some of the elites have told some organisation I associate with, that they will not donate if Thakur is associated with them. Hence, we have the Ravans of Kaliyug lurking around us, kicking Vibhishans, who speak the truth.
But we just hope, the pracharaks and pundits preaching Ramayan, and in particular, this episode, try to relate it to current times. We still have arrogant Ravans around us. And like Ravan’s Ministers and advisers, many still, for fear or hope of reward, (darr or lalach) advise them what they wish to hear. What our society needs is more Vibhishans who can stand up to Ravans of modern times and make a difference by speaking the truth that many amongst us are afraid to do. Unfortunately, I personally find myself punished and side-lined for being the Vibhishan amongst us. And this is generally by those who purport to be disciples of Bhagwan Ram. Wah re prabhu ke bhakt (Hail such prophets and followers of Lord Ram)
I hope you will learn from the teachings of Ramayan. Do not be a fearful bystander - speak the truth, be honest and liberate your loved ones by speaking the truth. Point them out, like Vibhishan, if they are wrong. May you be blessed by Shri Ram. This has been the second lesson from Rishi Thakur Ranjeet.
[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a blogger, a media scholar and a person who has been singing Ramayan since he started reading Hindi over five decades ago. He is former Secretary of Nasinu Branch of Sanatan Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji. He advocates Ramayan pracharaks and those conducting discourse to also preach about the relevance of Ramayan to modern man- and communicate to the modern generation (millennials) in a language they understand.]