Beyond right and wrong - The lesson of Dussehra

RavanToday is Dussehra, or Vijayadashmi as many call it. For those who do not know, without getting into much detail (which you can get here) I can tell you that this Hindu festival is celebrated because supposedly on this day many many years ago (Lord) Ram finally killed Ravan for having kidnapped his wife Sita. The essence of the festival is much more than just revenge as it might seem from my over simplified definition. The festival is said to signify the victory of good over evil, light over dark and truth over deception. Ram is worshiped in our homes as god and is usually pointed at as the ultimate role model for mankind. Not that I disagree (completely) with this but at times I wonder whether todays parents really do wish for a child like Ram. Are we truly aspirational towards having a Ram-like attitude towards life? More importantly, would the story would have remained and ended the same way it did if it had happened in this age and would Ram have been still able to come out victorious. And if somehow we manage to answer all of these answers with a yes, then despite knowing the benefits of being Ram-like why do we, all of us, have more in common with Ravan than Ram.

‘Honesty is the best policy’, ‘Thou shalt not steal’, ‘Respect your parents’ and other such saying are not bound by religion, region, race or color. You do not have to be devout Hindu, or even religious or educated and not even just literate to have known these ‘virtues’. Everyone knows them and understands them. How hard is it to understand - “Don’t lie”. And yet we are dishonest in our behavior, we lie. It does not matter if it’s a small innocuous lie like “I am almost there”. A lie is a lie. And Ram supposedly never lied. We all steal. Maybe not directly like burglars, robbers and shoplifters but we do. Tax fraud is stealing. I really think Ram would approve of you manipulating your balance sheet to save tax (This by the way is a lying + stealing combo). I am sure we all love our parents a lot but are we as devoted towards them as Ram was? You can go deeper and deeper into all the aspects of your life and in the end you would only come back with a conclusion that we are much closer to Ravan than Ram. This confuses me. If we all know that being Ram-like is going to end in victory and is also the right way to go about things why are we all Ravans?

Maybe it is because it is easy to be a Ravan today than being a Ram. I a chain made of Ravans, a Ram is nothing but a kink who would be eliminated sooner than later. Or maybe we lack the strength and conviction to follow the “right” path. It is possible that the lesson of the story was really more about being strong, determined and to persevere than simply saying do the right thing. Both Ram and Ravan had shown extreme perseverance in following their belief irrespective of what came their way. Ram fought tirelessly, against all perils, until he delivered justice for the wrong that we done to him. Similarly Ravan stood by his decisions and their consequences strongly till his last breath. Maybe it is not really about right or wrong. It is not possible to be completely right or completely wrong. I don’t think it is possible, feasible and advisable to be as Ram is depicted to be. Some lies need to be told. Sometimes you have to steal what you deserve and at times it is OK to question the to parental authority. Sometimes you have to do the wrong thing to do the right thing. Maybe its OK to have a little bit of Ravan in you.

As I see it now the story is being over simplified and maybe slightly misrepresented by just saying victory of right over wrong. I think a lot can be learnt from both the sides. This story and our lives cannot be simply perceived as black and white. I see a lot of gray in there and it is time to embrace the gray.

Image Source :

Liked this post! Why not follow me in Twitter or Facebook?

I have helped many startups in building their products and I would be happy to have a chat with you about your idea. Catch me on twitter at @akhilrex