Today is the tenth day of Dussehra, a celebration of ‘good over evil’, which is observed with lots of pomp and fervour across our country. For some of us, it’s just about good food.
Today also marks the day of Raavan’s defeat by Lord Ram from the legendary Hindu epic Ramayan. For the uninitiated, Raavan had kidnapped Ram’s gorgeous wife Sita for not very honourable reasons and had her imprisoned in his garden in Sri Lanka, hoping she would eventually agree to give herself to him. Before he could as much as touch her, Ram stormed into Lanka with an army of monkeys and defeated him after a long drawn battle. Yeah, this is pretty much the story of Raavan’s defeat in really really short.
Today, as in 2016, our Prime Minister Modi said these very words, “Jatayu was the first known person in the world to have fought against terrorism; he fought for a woman’s honour”. Well, he said that in Hindi, but that is pretty much the exact translation.
So, when he said that, I was slightly outraged and then I was in giggles. But let’s answer another question for the uninitiated – who was Jatayu. So Jatatyu, was… well… a big huge mythical bird, that tried to save Sita, when Raavan was kidnapping her. He was definitely a hero, because it was he who first laid down his life while protecting Sita. He manages to tell Ram what happened to Sita while he lay dying.
Now, let’s get back to Jatayu being the first known living being that fought terrorism. Really? Since this is the Prime Minister speaking, I don’t want to jump to conclusions, so I go to check the dictionary’s definition of ‘terrorism’.
“The use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal” – this is the definition in Merriam Webster dictionary and pretty much any other dictionary.
As far as Raavan is concerned, it might be argued that he abducted Sita to avenge his sister, who had been humiliated by Ram and his brother. They had cut off her nose. So, Sita’s abduction was either an act of revenge or an act of pure lust. The man thought this woman was beautiful and he wanted her for himself. He wasn’t really looking for political gains by frightening people.
So was Jatayu really the first known being to have fought terrorism? Well, the debate can be endless. Happy Dussehra folks.