Candid Confession: The fault lies with our parents
I hated Ramayan because of the humiliation of Sita. I hated Mahabharata because Draupadi was stripped and the men did nothing. Construction of another temple leaves me cold. Blame my parents
As a child I used to brag in school about my last name.
I was hugely proud that I shared it with Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the Renaissance Man. I must have been less than 10 years when my mother started telling me bedtime stories of Ram Mohan and others who led Bengal out of the darkness of decadence.
As we were residents of old Calcutta, my mother knew only too well what decadence meant; the reducing of women as secondclass citizens, without any power to decide anything for themselves. She had rebelled against it and got ostracised.
Her first rebellion was to give me modern education in a Catholic school. She saw education as a way to broaden our minds, not to bring home glorious report cards. Fortunately, my father shared the sentiment and instilled in me an appreciation of everything artistic. He was extremely proud that he had gone to the Oriental Seminary, the school Tagore went to till about standard five.
Then followed stories of others who created modern Bengal which placed its values on education, knowledge and spiritual upliftment. I remember my parents pointing out the then dilapidated home of Narendra Nath Dutta, (we stayed close by), who the world came to know as Swami Vivekananda. This introduction to learning, education, culture, spirituality is what creates our inability to accept what is happening today in our nation.
As we grew older, the stories of Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, Rani Laxmibai, Shivaji, along the Subhas Bose, introduced us to national pride. A pan-India feeling became a part of our childhood learning. This was also our introduction to politics. Rishi Aurobindo stirred something inside us. History was stories of Sikh valour against the Mughals. From Mark Twain to Tagore, from Bibhuti Bhusan to Bernard Shaw was the sweep of our literature.
Children in Bengal then were brought up on a diet of Rabindranath Tagore (Sahaj Path), Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (Barno Parichoy) and Satyajit Ray (Goopy Gayen Bagha Bayen & Felu da).
I found the stories of Hanuman from my grandmother extremely exhilarating, specially the parts when he sets Lanka on fire with a flame on his tail. But I hated Ramayan as Sita was so humiliated. I hated Mahabharata as Draupadi was being undressed and all the men watched and did nothing. These became our social lessons. The religious texts went against what Ram Mohan Roy and Vidyasagar fought for.
While Roy got the laws passed to ban Sati, Vidyasagar opened 1200 schools for girls after he got the law passed allowing for widow remarriage. The celebration of Durga Puja was the celebration of a wonderful story of female Power. A joyous social event.
We are now libtards.
As you might have noticed there are no stories of religion in all this list I shared. This is why we cannot share the euphoria of constructing a temple. It means so little to us. It also means that in today’s India we are hopeless misfits.
Blame our education, culture, spiritual sense and a feeling of national pride based on a completely different set of values