It is said that when Ravan was lying on his death bed, Shri Ram went to him and sat near his legs just like a student would do with his teacher. Shri. Ram then asked Ravan, with utmost humility, to share his knowledge…his wisdom before taking the last breath, so that it’s not lost forever.
Probably a large part of humanity doesn’t understand the message in this action of Ram, just the way his brother Lakshman also didn’t understand and was amazed by the action of his elder brother. That’s probably why when we tell our kids Ramayan, we end the story with killing of Ravan. The intent is to impart an important lesson to kids that good always trounces evil…nothing wrong with this intention but what we forget is the complete message that Ram gave and to get the complete message we have to understand the action of Ram…that of sitting like an obedient student at the feet of his teacher Ravan.
So what is the message? For that let’s recollect what Mahatma Gandhi said:
“Hate the sin…not the sinner”
What this means is that we should learn to delink an action with the overall person and see it separately…just the way religion delinks the soul with the body and asks us to respect the soul because it’s always pure even if the body commits the most heinous crimes. This is the reason why the process of dealing with the dead body in all religions is same irrespective of the person and the past he or she lived. A wrong action of a person only makes that action wrong…it doesn’t take away his entire personality…his knowledge…his skills…the purity of his soul…etc. etc. Look at it this way – when we find an ant in sugar, what do we do? Do we remove the ant or throw the entire sugar? That’s what Mahatma Gandhi said – throw the sin out, not the entire sinner. Ram gave the same message by his action on the death bed of Ravan.
Ravan was the most learned person…he was a Brahm who knew all the vedas by heart…he a class apart musician…he was a brave warrior…in fact he had so many qualities that he was worthy of idolizing. But he did one sin…in his ego he abducted someone wife. Does that one mistake of his can make us forget all his good qualities? Does that one wrong decision make us forget the vast ocean of knowledge and wisdom he was? For that one action of his Ram had already punished him. So the judgement was done and now there was no need to count it again and again. This is what Ram did – the work at hand was over – the sin had been accounted for – now the person in front of him was a great knowledge store house. It was worth learning from him.
This is the big message of Ram…the big message of Dusshera – Knowledge/Wisdom should be acquired from anyone and everyone…should be acquired all your life…should be acquired not because it has some monetary value but because it has an inherent value. This is what our kids need to learn – that to learn something you just need to LEARN it without any reason…if you can do so you will learn and learn really well. Once you learn well the so called material things will also come to you.
Our society has missed this big message w.r.t education. I remember attending a small session on fine arts being given by a passionate teacher. She spent a long time explaining the important of fine arts in our life and in our society. At the end there was a Q&A session and in that one of the initial question that came was – Does she give a certificate after the completion of training? I was amused…I should say I was irritated. This scene remained in my mind for a long time and when I thought more and more I realized the entire education system around us is designed like that. We teach kids standard subjects in the standard way and make them take standard exam to collect standard degrees which can be used by standard organizations who make money through same standard means. All of a sudden I could just see robots around me…no fun of learning…just repeat the same activity again and again without even understanding it. And to top it we have suddenly moved to a society where all this is also held in high regards. So CEO’s and business leaders are the new poster boys…ISRO sent a path breaking mission to Mars and that too in its first attempt but our schools still look for chief guest among business leaders and models and film stars. We have killed education – I think it should no longer be called education – it should be called robotication.
You don’t learn for marks or degree…you learn for learning…you learn for an inner joy…you learn for your own spiritual development…in the process of having fun with learning, marks/degree/money come through. That’s what Ram did. He went to Ravan to learn from him…not to get a degree but to become a more learned…a better person. This is the most important message of Dusshera according to me. Let’s understand Ram…let’s understand his actions…let’s continue killing/burning Ravan but like Ram let’s imbibe the humility to learn from Ravan. Let’s learn for the sake of learning and believe that if we learn well then the other things for which we run also won’t be far behind.
Happy Dusshera to everyone.
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