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Lord Ram is Abusive and Lord Hanuman is Slave for The Brooklyn Rail

As a child I used to listen to my Grandmother and Grandfather chanting Rama Rama Pahimam, Rama Padam Cheerane Mukunda Rama Pahimam, prayer dedicated to Lord Ram. Nowadays, in the morning I wake up listening to Jai Jai Shri Ram… of my neighbor. Similar prayers are chanted in millions of Hindu homes and Lord Ram is worshipped by millions of people around the world. But for an overenthusiastic writer who is ignorant of Hinduism at The Brooklyn Rail, Lord Ram is abusive and impotent, and Hanuman is a slave and a buffoon.

The Brooklyn Rail publishes critical perspectives on arts, politics and culture. Lisa Moricoli-Latham was reviewing Sita Sings the Blues, an animated film, which is a personal interpretation of the epic Ramayana by Nina Paley.

The animator, Nina Paley, was abandoned by her husband by e-mail. She finds parallel between her situation and that of Mata Sita. This animated film is in news for more than four years and recently it got a few awards, ran into a copyright violation and is now available free online.

Sita Sings the Blues is an artist’s interpretation of the Ramayana in the modern context and it was not meant to insult Lord Ram or Mata Sita or hurt the sentiments of the Hindus. She was making use of a universal theme applicable to all societies and in all ages to narrate a semi-autobiographical story.

Hundreds of reviews have appeared in various magazines and newspapers about ‘Sita Sings the Blues’ but none of them was demeaning like the one written by Lisa Moricoli-Latham in the Brooklyn Rail.

It is very clear from the article that the author is totally unaware of Hindu religion and the culture of India.

Here are some of her ignorant comments in the article titled – Without You, I’m No Thing:

  • Her love for Rama tells a Hindu tale with a Christian ethic: love never faileth. (The author is not even aware that Ramayana was written thousands of years before Christ was born).
  • Rama, a buff, blue boy toy with a perfect jaw and shoulders broad as a sequoia. (The author has no idea why Lord Ram is blue colored.)
  • The film blazes with banishment and abandonment, kidnapping, domestic violence, rape, punishment, war, relentless tests of purity, and making babies—in short, marriage. (In short this is the understanding Lisa Moricoli-Latham has of the Epic Ramayana).
  • The astute will observe that an abusive man like Rama needs a woman “like me,” but not “me” or even us females, exactly.
  • In fact, Rama’s most satisfactory relationship endures with Hanuman, his faithful, even servile manservant and as the wags say, “constant companion.”
  • Rama recaptures Sita, subjects her to a trial by fire to test her purity, takes her back, impregnates her with twins – only to exile her again in a fit of impotent, jealous rage. Over nothing.
  • Like all us narcissists, Rama can hear nothing but his own perfection and bestows his attention only on its innocent parrots, like the Greek-tricky-slave-meets-commedia-dell’arte-buffoon Hanuman, whose love dare not speak its name.

Hundreds of articles appear online demeaning Hindus and Hindu culture on the Internet. Nobody can stop this and such writings by individuals, mudslingers and religious fanatics should be ignored and not given publicity.

But when respected publications like The Brooklyn Rail gives space for verbal diarrhea of a badly informed writer that too to insult the sentiments of millions of people it cannot be ignored. I don’t think that the writer is even aware that Lord Ram and Lord Hanuman are worshipped. The hidden danger is that such articles spread misinformation and cause serious problems.

Artistic freedom and freedom of expression comes with responsibility. If you are not responsible, then it becomes an abuse of freedom of expression. And we live in a Global Village and the voices are heard by all the people. So we need to respect the sentiments of all the people in the village.

What can we do to stop such mudslingings? Nothing, frankly we are helpless. We can write about it and protest. The protest and writings stop when a new article appears and we go after this new article and there is never a shortage of such articles. Don’t even think about violent protests and such methods. Hatred only breeds more hatred and it is never a sensible method in a civilized society. The best thing we can do is protest in non-violent methods.

I was hurt when I read the article in the morning but then a few minutes later I heard my neighbor chanting Jai Jai Shri Ram… Jai Jai Shri Ram…the mantra that keeps millions moving…the mantra that gives courage to face life….

My mind is clear now…I am now smiling at the ignorance of the writer at The Brooklyn Rail… (I was ignorant myself to get hurt)

Idols of Lord Ram was mutilated, attacked and burned many times in the past; in modern day he was politically abused and insulted; and in the name of freedom of expression he has been insulted and demeaned. All the attackers of Him have been consumed by time but He still continues to be worshipped.

Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama Pahimam,
Rama Padam Cheerane Mukunda Rama Pahimam