[Advaita-l] Devas Adhikara, Rama and Sambuka

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sun May 21 11:52:28 CDT 2006

On Sat, 20 May 2006, Lakshmi Muthuswamy wrote:

> Namaskaram,
> Please read the chapters 73 - 76 of Uttara khAndA of
> Valmiki Ramayana.
> ch 73. A brahmana arrives at the palace gates of Rama. he
> is carrying the dead body of his son and laments and blames
> the king for the death of his son.
> ch 74. Devarishi narada explains the cause for this
> apamrithyu  of the Brahmanas son. The cause being the
> unauthoriused practice of penance with no adhikara by a
> sudra.
> ch 75. Sri Rama goes around his empire in the aerial car of
> kubera, ir order to trace this unrighteous sudra. Rama
> finds him practising penance in the southern direction.
> Ch 76. Killing of the sudra by Sri rama and coming back to
> life of the Brahmanas son.

Thankyou.  I have now located it.  The edition I have does not consider this to 
be an interpolation.  Btw, Shambuka is the correct spelling.

On Sun, 21 May 2006, kashyapa sharma wrote:

> I have had a discussion in this regard with some scholars both
> from the north and south of India, many of them are of the opinion that
> "Uttara Kaanda" is not authored by Valmiki but added many years after
> the composition of Valmiki Ramayana. But they also add that they are yet
> to recieve substantial evidence in that regard.

Yes it is true that many historians are of the view that all or part of the 
uttarakanda might be a later addition.  It is perhaps significant that many 
versions of the Ramayana in Sanskrit and vernaculars stop after Shri Ramas' 
rajabhishek or after the story of Lava-Kush.  But is it because that is the 
legitimate end of the story or is it because they were censoring material they 
were ideologically uncomfortable with?

One thing we have to understand about itihasa-puranas is they are not "books" 
with a fixed set of contents.  If you have heard a kathakar, they never stick 
to the plain text but mix in material from other shastras, jokes, current 
events etc. The main story is a framework to improvise upon.  So I think 
attempts to show one particular story is original and another is added later 
are not going to be very successful.

On Sat, 20 May 2006, Lakshmi Muthuswamy wrote:

> This episode piucturises the extent to which the rules of the varna ashrama 
> dharma was adhered to during Ramarajya. The gurus were so powerful that they 
> could even identify the cause too and immediate action for correction is also 
> taken.

I do get the impression that the main point of this story is to illustrate the 
perfect practice of dharma in Shri Ramas reign.  So while it is uncomplementary 
to shudras, it is not for the reason you might think.  The point is Shri Rama 
is so diligent that even misconduct by a "nobody" did not escape his notice. 
And even in those times in the list of possible sins, praying too much can 
hardly have been too high up in rank. It is not that Shambuka had committed a 
heinous transgression but that he committed a very minor one.  That even the 
smallest blemish on perfect order deserved a beheading is what the author wants 
us to be impressed by.

I should note here a Gujarati translation of the Ramayana (from a 
Pushtimargi Vaishnava perspective) has a different take on it.  The 
commentator starts by noting that being a Shudra tapasvi is not reason 
enough for such drastic action.  After all Shabari was also one and there 
was no talk of chopping heads in connection with her.  Rather there had 
been an asura called Shamba who had done tapa to get the favor of Shiva 
Bhagavan but then got mad with power and tried to seduce Parvati Mata. 
Where upon She cursed him to be born as a human until such a time as the 
avatar of Vishnu Bhagavan would release him.  Knowing that violating 
Dharma would be the swiftest way of getting Shri Ramas attention, Shambuka 
did what he did and after being beheaded ascended to Heaven.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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