Justice Markandey Katju-
Varun Bahar’s song ‘ Jo na bole Jai Shri Ram, bhej do usko qabristan ‘ has gone viral, and is raising a lot of controversy.
It seems evident that the writer/singer has not read Valmiki’s Ramayana. In several places therein it is mentioned that Lord Rama looked after the welfare of all his people, and not only of those who said ‘ Jai Sri Ram ‘. Consider the following:
( 1 ) In the Ayodhyakaand of Ramayana it is said that when Dasharath, King of Ayodhya, grew old, he wanted to anoint his eldest son Rama as his successor. But before he did that he decided to know from the people of Ayodhya whether they regarded Rama as deserving of this or not. So he called them to his court and asked them their opinion. They replied ( vide chapter 2, shlokas 38-40 ) :
” Nikhilenaanu poorvya cha pita putraanivaurasaan
Shushushrante cha voh shishya kachit varmasu danshitaah
Iti noh purush vyaagrah sada Ramobhishaashate
Vyasaneshu manushyaanaam bhrisham bhavati dukhitah
Utsaveshu cha sarveshu pitev paritushyati ”
” O King, your son Rama behaves like a father to the people
He grieves with the people in their sorrows
And is pleased like a father when the people celebrate festivals ”
(The above shlokas were quoted by me in my judgment in the decision of the Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court in H.S.Jain vs Union of India, 1996 ( see online para 96 ).
On getting the people’s approval Dasharath went ahead with his plan to anoint Rama as his successor.
Thus, Rama was like a father to the people of Ayodhya. A good father loves all his children, and not that he loves some but oppresses others.
Rama looked after the welfare of all his people, and not just those who said ‘ Jai Shri Ram ‘. In other words, he was not selective. It follows that he would never commit atrocities on people who did not say ‘ Jai Shri Ram ‘, as is sometimes happening today.
( 2 ) In the Sundarkaand of Ramayana, Hanuman goes as an emissary of Rama to Srilanka to enquire about Sita. At first Sita did not trust Hanuman, who was a stranger to her, thinking that he may be an agent of Ravan. So she asked Hanuman about the qualities of Rama. In his reply, among other things Hanuman said ( in chapter 35 shloka 10 ) :
” Rakshita jeev lokasya sva janasya cha rakshita
Rakshita svasya vrittasya dharmasya cha parantapah ”
” Rama is a protector of the world, a protector of his own people, and a protector of righteousness “.
Thus, Rama was not the protector of only one section of his people but of all.
( 3 ) In the Yuddhakaand in chapter 117 shloka 17 it is stated :
” Sharanyam sharanam cha tvaam aahu divya maharshayah ”
” The sages say that Rama protects all, and is a refuge to all “. This again shows that Rama was not selective.
( 4 ) Shabari was a tribal woman, and when Lord Rama came to her place she offered him some fruits which she had earlier tasted ( to make sure whether they were sweet ). Lakshman objected that ‘jootha’ things should not be eaten, but Lord Rama said that whatever was offered with love should gladly be partaken. Perhaps Rama also thought that he if he did not eat the offered fruit Shabari’s feelings may be hurt as she may think Rama has declined regarding her of low caste. This shows again that Rama cared for all people, and not just those of the high caste.
In the Ramrajya which we should establish no one, whatever his/her religion, caste, race or language should live in fear, and all must be assured a life of dignity. And certainly, no one should be sent to qabristan because he/she does not say ‘ Jai Shri Ram ‘
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own]