The country is battling it out against a completely unprecedented crisis caused by the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. The dual problem of the disease without a vaccine and the economy which has been left stranded by a combination of rising prices due to decline in supply (often called supply-side constraints) and loss of loads of work hours has affected the population in really many adverse ways with the indigents naturally the ones at a huge loss monetarily. However, the disease caused a serious problem for the middle class, also the people who were forced to be in their houses in a time when they were used to having a very hectic schedule. There were anxiety issues for many, relationships getting affected and much more, domestic violence being the major one out of these.

Nevertheless, it would be unfair to divulge from these hard hitting problems but still there is a silver lining to each cloud and so let's look at the brighter side of the Corona cloud. Just as the vast section of the population has been doing it for a long long time, it took recourse to religion. The centre decided to air the Epics- Ramayana and Mahabharat on TV, first time since the late eighties. Thus, two generations no matter how many stories they might have heard from their parents and grandparents, were, for the first time, able to watch these two great shows which have got India immense fame worldwide.

Ramayan in particular, having been translated into so many languages and into so many versions like the Buddhist version “Dasrata Jataka”, the Jain version “Paumacharyu”, the Tamil one “Kamba” Ramayana and many more. Progenies were able to watch them with their parents and grandparents thus, three generations together watching these great renowned stories. Naturally, the three descendants viewed it with different eyes, thus, forming different views about them. They saw the great sacrifice of Ram, the keeping up of words by a king, the love and respect of Bharat for an elder brother and the devotion of Sita towards the husband till the episode of Ram's exile, albeit, it may have appeared idealistic to the millennials. The whole plot being changed after the Suparnkha episode which eventually leads to the dilapidation of Lanka and the downfall of all the Asuras, aftermath. A particular revelation for the millenials was the character of Kumbhakaran whose effigy is burnt with great pomp each year alongside his brother Ravan. Thereafter, people found him an amicable fellow even tweeting what he turns out to be during the course of his conversation with Ravan as against the contrasting view of him that they had traditionally held. A huge uproar on the episode of Sita being forced by the people's mandate to live the life of hermit and a similar wave of joy on the episode of Lav-Kush making people realise their folly and subsequently breaking down in tears. All this has been a great experience since now not only the present generation got to know about this great epic but it has also led to various interpretations and viewpoints of it. For example, to a person from the new generation the story of Ram turning a rock back into Ahilya may also appear to be a symbol of Ram's broad mindedness and knowledge because of which he conceived her innocent and thus, only he could turn her into a woman again.

Similarly, Mahabharat, being a battle of righteousness, tells them, of all the levels to which a mind corrupt for power can fall, inflicting all sorts of wrongs on the people. They would also come to know a great truth that how legit is the saying that every person is the outcome of his/her surroundings and also the upbringing. Duryodhana, being a prime example of how upbringing can mould a person in a completely different direction. Moreover, how the rule of power sees no kiths and kins (if they are obstacles in the way of a person wanting power at any cost). It is easy to imagine the millennials reciprocating with Krishna's dialogue that a girl in India has every right to choose what she finds good for her while he goes to help Rukmini on receiving her letter. The phrase advocated by our social reformers during the colonial rule that- a society which cannot respect its women is doomed to fall, was also enthused to the people through Draupadi's undressing in the court of Dhritarashtra and in the presence of people fully acquainted with law and Dharma. This incident triggered the Mahabharat war, leading to the dismantling of the Kuru clan. Through Arjun's example, they would know that a person can with his hard work achieve great things in life. The Gita enshrining the original Indian thoughts on life, death, meaning of life and the theory of transmigration of the soul contained in various philosophical thoughts and the Upanishads will unmistakably incline the people towards such Indian thoughts. Different viewpoints being made while watching these episodes were meanwhile also leading to Mahavira's theory of Anekantavada and Syadvaad without people even knowing of it.

Thus, we can say- “Religion Religion everywhere, but not the one to cringe”. There would be fresh exploration of the Epics and its stories mostly told to provoke a feeling for which they were never meant. It would lead to connections with the past while at the same time leading to the understanding of religion the way it is meant to be. It can lead people towards literature on the themes of the Epic, like the works of Suryakant Tripathi Nirala and Ramdhari Singh Dinkar and also towards philosophy, thus, both rejuvenation and revisiting of the great Indian tradition.

The author's views are personal only.

Author Information
Hanshi Mishra
Author: Hanshi Mishra
Faculty of Law, University of Delhi

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