Sunday, April 24, 2016
The legend of Shravan Kumar
The legend of Shravan Kumar is not foreign to you if you were born and brought up by Hindu parents. For those unaware, Shravan Kumar was the only son of a blind couple who decided to take them for a holy pilgrimage across the country some 5000 years ago. As the legend goes, he was accidentally killed by King Dashrath who was out on a hunt. And in turn, the old couple cursed Dashrath to die in the absence of his most beloved son. We all know what transpired in the story of Prince Ram.
For ages, parents and grandparents have preached the story of Shravan Kumar, trying to inculcate the sense of duty into their children, especially sons. A son is considered good and dutiful (read Shravan Kumar of the family) if he marries when his parents wish and to whoever his parents wish. A son is considered worthy of all the love if he keeps his parents’ wishes and desires, over and above his own. A son is considered foolish and evil if he tries to pursue his own dreams. He is a bad son if he takes a stand against his own parents’ wishes.
Ironically, Shravan Kumar, as dutiful and devoted as he was, has become a pain point for the kids who find their parents harping on the Shravan Kumar story while they sit and wait for them to come back from work or school, and go about their “duties” like Shravan Kumar. Giving birth to a child is considered the ultimate stage for a woman in our society. The one who cannot, is pitied and the one who chooses not to is looked down upon.
Does giving birth to a child give parents a supreme right on their being? Just because they wanted to experience parenthood, does that bind a child to their own wishes to the extent of sacrificing his own? Weren’t the parents keen on experiencing the joy of raising their progeny, and not the child who wrote them an application requesting them to bring them to life? Aren’t the parents supposed to do their bit by teaching their children to follow their dreams, to pursue their own happiness and to be good human beings?
A son lives far away from home, but his wife and daughter are dutifully living with his parents back in his hometown. Why? Because it is a son’s and daughter-in-law’s duty to take care of the family in their old age. Is it also not the parent’s duty to let their son live a happily married life with his wife? Can they not move to the place where the son is working, just so that all of them can be together?
Hindu mythology and scriptures have been taken way too much advantage of. The stories narrated in Vedas, Upnishads and Puranas have become a manipulative tool, used by anyone at their own convenience to suit their argument.
They may choose to become whatever they please to their own kin, but their own progeny must turn out like Shravan Kumar, or they will be banished to hell. But isn’t a life of killed dreams and aspirations as bad as living hell? Who knows if there’s a heaven or hell after death? It’s just a picture painted by the religious leaders! Is it worthwhile to run blindly towards that conceptual heaven, leaving all the possibilities of creating your own living heaven, right here on this earth?
Guess, it’s time we asked these questions. Shravan Kumar did what seemed right to him in his age and time. While the basic moral remains intact, that we ought to take care of our parents when they’re old, I think we really need to reconsider the frills attached to the legend. A child could also be dutiful while pursuing his or her own dreams. They could be dutiful despite marrying or divorcing or remarrying of their own accord. The sense of duty is not bound by control. I think it’s high time, parents realized that their offspring are not horses whose reins need to be pulled every now and then.
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