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Anything you dream is fiction; Anything you accomplish is science; the whole history of mankind is nothing but Science Fiction - Ray Bradbury

(Being part of PGDM in Journalism, the below is an instance from my class room dairies)

Mahabharata and Ramayana - a fact or a fiction?

It was Visual Media class. I was a few minutes late to the class. As I enter the class, I realize Visual Media theories was the topic of discussion. I took a seat after scanning for familiar faces. The previous day we had covered theories from producer’s perspective and today theories from audience’s perspective was in picture. Unlike usual, today, Sir wanted to know our stand as audience, on whether it was ok for cinema to show case realities like raw violence, rape, crime; because it is the mirror of today’s society that we live in. (After all as journalist it was our duty to showcase the reality to society.) OR he quipped if cinemas should be filtered version of reality. It was interesting to listen to the different stand points and then even more interesting as Mr. Murthy ran through the evolution of theories right from Cathersis, to Narcosis, to Water Gate, to Seymour Feshbach, to Leurant Witz, to Gratification theory to Newcomb’s theory.  His extensive experience in the media industry and his vast knowledge on history, local culture, literature, mythology, cinema, journalism always added colors to our understanding(s). By the end of all theories we had realized how the cinemas have direct effect at our sub-conscious level.

He beautifully explained that there are 2 genies within every individual. One good and the other bad. Cinemas are capable of setting those genies out from the bottled mind. Once they are set free, they start playing tantrums that reflect in our behavior without even our realization. Now pushing those genies back to the bottle is not as easy as setting them free. Not every mind is tamed to do that. 80% of audience are that kind. Hence it is very important that a cinema has positive portrayal or have fun elements rather than elements that can set the bad genie out.

What came next was most interesting (at-least for me), and something that I have always heard from many people. After all the understanding of the theories that evolved, the knowledgeable guy in the class, as I refer to him to be the one from Raman clan, questioned as to “Should we showcase or narrate Mahabharata to the children, for it is filled with a lot of violence?” A few days back I had heard a friend strongly stating that Mahabharata and Ramayana are just great literature works. My mother’s friend also had a varied view on the epics.

Mr. Murthy being knowledgeable and a person who thinks from a neutral point of view answered the posed question. He said “There can’t possibly be another epic like Mahabharata or Ramayana. Probably these are the epics where fantasies play at their peak. Think about Hanuman flying over the ocean, the pushpaka vimana, Bhishma on bed of arrows, Karna’s kavacha kundela …… what are all these but fantasies?”

After quipping about the fantasies, he said “Sundara Kanda of Ramayana is a chapter where there is no presence or mention of Rama. Likewise, Virata Parva of Mahabharata is a chapter where there is no mention or presence of Krishna. These chapters are most appealing to the people for they have humanly activities without the presence of super natural power or the so-called avatars of super powers.”

Further he continued “Coming to your question, yes, Mahabharata can be showcased to children. Kids love fantasies and there is no better epics than Ramayana or Mahabharata to pick fantasies from. What and how we articulate the stories from Mahabharata or Ramayana to kids is a catalyst to their attitude building.”

He finished his class and went away saying he would take up Media laws in the next class. But his answers had disturbed my already existing thoughts on the topic. There was no better way for me to put them to rest than jotting them down on my diary here.

People like me, the one having grown into being a strong head, the one who is not easily convinced or influenced always are the dangerous kinds. Without hurting the sentiments of any or their believes, we are the people who neither completely accept the mythology as is, nor neglect it completely stating that they are just great literature works. We are the kinds stuck in-between questioning the mythological mentions by the tiny scientific knowledge that we have acquired. We are the kinds who appreciate Sita’s decision of not returning to Rama holding her self-dignity at a higher stature during those days when women were not even considered equal to men. We are the kinds who question what could be the kind of material used by pushpaka-vimana in those days that carried people in air without fuel? We are the kinds who question if Rohini was Balarama’s surrogate mother, and the concept of IVF existed then, why did the man kind struggle or why did polygamy come into existence for want of biological heirs?

Of course, there are people who take a stand point and say that Mahabharata and Ramayana are fictions or fact. So, it is always interesting to listen to people like Christopher Charles Doyle or Shatavadani Dr. Ganesh who have made their deep researches in the field. We being mediocre are always stuck. So, I would not take a stand as to whether Mahabharata and/or Ramayana were facts or just fictions. Without second thoughts there are carry aways from them for the life times. But rather I would like to stress the fact that even if it were to be just Mahakavyas, its incredible that people knew and fantasied the concepts like aircrafts, surrogacy, architecture of Indraprastha and so on….. Hats off to the imaginations that went wild then and are realities only now. Aren’t then Mahabharata and Ramayana the classic science fictions of those days if they are not facts?


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