Nothing is good or bad. But thinking makes it so- said Shakespeare.
Long before Shakespeare, a Chines sage had said somethings very profound. (Hope my patriotic countrymen – particularly the whatsapp warriors, will forgive me for using things Chines in my blog post). I extract here a few lines of Lao Tzu’s Tao- Te- Ching :
"As soon as beauty is known by the world as beautiful, ugliness is born. As soon as virtue is being known as something good, evil is born. Therefore being and non-being give birth to each other. Difficult and easy accomplish each other. .............................................. "
So the concept of ugliness was born when man recognized and discriminated something as beautiful. Prior to that things existed as they were without being judged. So was the case with good and evil.
Even the ancient seers who compiled the mythologies knew this. Hence, Ravana is actually not an enemy of Vishnu. He is just doing a role play as ordained by the divine order of things. He is one of Vishnu’s trusted lieutenants, being the doorkeeper of Baikuntha- the abode of Lord Vishnu, who becomes Rama in his seventh avatar.
According to the Bhagavata Purana, once the four sons of Lord Brahma also known as Sanat Kumaras, went to meet Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha Dham. The four sanat kumaras are Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumar. It is said that due to regular spiritual practices they looked like children. So the gatekeepers did not take them seriously. However, when they insisted that they be allowed to go inside without delay, Jaya and Vijaya told them that Lord Vishnu was taking rest and they have to wait till He wakes up. However, the kumaras were enraged and told that Lord Vishnu is available all the time for their devotees. Further, the kumaras cursed the gatekeepers for their insolence so as to be born in the mortal world leaving their heavenly abode.
Subsequently, the gatekeepers asked forgiveness of the kumaras and requested Lord Vishnu to waive off the curse. Lord Vishnu told that the curse of divine beings like the kumaras cannot be reverted. However, he wanted to commute the punishment. So He gave the gatekeepers two options – either to be born as His devotees for six births or as His enemies for three births. Jaya and Vijaya chose the latter as they thought the sooner they are re-untied with their master the better, even though they have to play the role of villains. In their first descent from heaven as mortal beings they were born as Hiranyakha and Hiranyakashyapa. In their second life, they were to be born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna; while in their third life they became Shishupala and Dantavakra.
According to the mythologies the gods and the demons are descendants from the same father. Of course from different mothers. Rishi Kashyapa had two wives – Aditi and Diti. All the devas and other auspicious beings were born to Aditi while the demons in general, and Hiranyakha and Hiranyakashyapa in particular, were born to Diti.(Here again, feminists please forgive the misogynistic bias of the seers who were mostly male.)
There have been interpretations of Ramayana, where Rama’s actions have been portrayed more devilishly than Ravana’s. So the dispute as to who is the hero and who the villain of the same story goes on.
As we see there is a very thin line that divides good from evil or deva (god) from the devil. If I put it in Hindi – hero aur villin mein sirf unneesh beesh ka farak. This theme has been used in many English movies. Remember Spider man III? Spiderman’s scientist friend is his arch enemy this moment, his savior the next.
As there are no absolute heroes or villains, some sages suggested let us kill the demons within.
Now, which are these demons? Anger, Ego, Lust……
As we know, without ego, many of the great things in world would not have been done.
And without lust, where would we be? Would I be here writing this post. Or, you reading it?
(I know it sounds a little incorrect, politically speaking)