At times, ideology confuses us. Noted Kannada writer late K P Poornachandra Tejaswi had once noted: `The ideologies are mere theories, which lack practical application. For example, Karl Marx thought of Communist Manifesto. It was meant for the developed countries in Europe and industrialised countries like US, Canada and so on. Unfortunately, it was embraced in agro-economy based countries like Russia, China, and other Scandinavian countries, destroying the social structures of those countries. This is irony.’
As long as ideologies remained personal opinion and organisational based, they never harmed a common man. However, we are living in an open communication era, where social media are connecting each of us. Everyone has right to express and the expression on social media is creating an identity for the expresser. To maintain the image of the newfound identity, the expressers have started expressing themselves more vigorously, which is countered with equal vigor by believers of other ideologies. Unfortunately, these troll wars are not personal anymore and they are taking a toll on the common people also.
Canadian writer Jordon Peterson has put it aptly: `To me, ideology is corrupt; it’s a parasite on religious structures. To be an ideologue is to have all of the terrible things that are associated with religious certainty and none of the utility. If you’re an ideologue, you believe everything that you think. If you’re religious, there’s a mystery left there.’
The trouble in social media world is the parasites ruling on religious structure. It is all over the world and India is no exception for it. It is not just that these ideologues either subscribe or reject faith. They also try to define structure of each faith and score over others. They also try to list out which is a faith, and which is not, even though they do not subscribe to that particular faith.
These parasites have started invading all walks of our lives, including theater, movie, and literature activities, besides our public appearance. The recent victims of such parasite attack are two movies. First is Adipurush, which is scheduled to be released early next year and the second is just released blockbuster hit Kanthara.
Interestingly, both are based on Indian ancient cultural heritage. While Adipurush is adapted from epic Ramayana, the other one is based on folk story from coastal regions of Karnataka. While Adipurush is being trolled by the right-wing ideologues, the Kanthara is a victim of attack from the left wing. Interestingly, the line of argument is the same…. `it is not in the order of the Hindu religion’.
Adipurush, starring Telugu superstar Prabhas was ambitious movie of Om Raut. The movie makers themselves claimed that the movie was adapted from Ramayana. The trailer of the movie was released at Ayodhya to express the movie makers’ devotion for Lord Rama.
However, that was not enough. There was the person who played Ravan called Saif Ali Khan. Earlier, he drew ire of the entire right wingers for playing Lord Shiva in a Netflix series, which showed Shiva smoking cigarette. Son of former cricketer Nawab Pataudi Ali Khan and former film actress Sharmila Tagore, Saif has been in and out of many controversies.
There were two main allegations against the movie. One is the costumes used by Saif to play Ravan and the graphics used to create army of monkeys and bears as well as Ravan’s army looked like Devils. According to the right wingers, Ravan was a Brahmin and the way he was shown in the movie, it bore a devilish look. Even before release of the movie, the right wingers are seeking to ban the movie. Worst is that the priests of Ayodhya temple are also joining the troll brigade.
The case of Kanthara sounds rather childish, but still drew a lot of attention. Soon after the movie was released, the left wingers described it as glorification of the `Vedic’ based religious practices. Suddenly they realised that the entire `Bhoothada Kola’ (Spirit Festival) concept had nothing to do with Vedic ritual practices. The left wingers were divided and then they wanted to prove that it was a story based on class struggle, as the villagers revolt against a landlord.
The problem was with the movie Director, Producer and Hero Rishabh Shetty. He had once stated that he was Hindu and he believed in his religion. This statement has not gone good with the left wingers. There is a constant troll on social media on whether the folk stories are part of Hindu religion or whether they were pre-Vedic period practiced rituals.
Worst part is that the television media gets hyper with such issues as it is believed that such issues increase their viewership. That may be true, but the question is whether mainstream media can rake up an issue, extending a platform for a debate of distorted facts. Most of the panelists who participate in such debates hardly have knowledge of the subject.
In the first place, the movie must be seen as an art, medium of entertainment and forum for creativity. This should be subjected to a healthy criticism and not in the hands of hooligans to decide what is what. Ultimately, those who believe in any faith will decide if some practices are part of their faith or not.
Coming back to Hindu, which is a matter of contention between the Left- and Right-wing ideologues, there is no religion called Hindu existed till recently. It was a quest for knowledge based religious practices, that was named as Hindu, since it started in Indus valley after extinct of Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro civilizations. That was sometime between 3500 BC and 3200 BC. This era is called Vedic era
Similar developments were witnessed in other parts of Asia minor till Iran and parts of Europe, which are now known as Balkan States. Prior to the evolution of this practices, there were other practices also. During over 5000 years of evolution of these religious practices, most of the practices merged with the new order. Some remained in the fringes but coexisted. Each belief was region based and there was no uniform code of conduct to practice. Only new religions like Buddhism, Jainism and other religions originated elsewhere like Islam and Christianity stayed out of this context.
Under such circumstances, no one knows what exactly happened throughout 5500 years and how each generation looked like. If Ram had to have an army of monkeys and bears, was Darwin’s theory of evolution in final stages? Arguable subject.
If Ravan was king of Asuras with ten heads, then how did he look like? No one can tell. All we know Ravan is images from the comics we read in the childhood and image of Arvind Trivedi, who played Ravan in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan. Otherwise, we have no clue on how India or even Sri Lanka looked even 2000 years ago, before Emperor Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamitra went there to spread Buddhism.
The right wingers argue that Ravan was a Brahmin. Of course, no one is denying that. Brahmin, according to Vedic practices itself is not a caste. Those who have Brahma Jnan is a Brahmin. Valmiki was a born in hunter community and went on to become a Brahmin and wrote Ramayana. Vyasa, son of a fisher woman Satyavati went on to become Veda Vyasa and wrote Mahabharata. Vishwamitra was a born Kshathriya and became a Brahmarshi.
As one of the stories in Ramayan itself goes, after reaching Lanka, Rama needed `Yudh Diksha’ (War Oath) administered from a Brahimin. Since Rama was challenging Ravan, none of the Brahmins in Lanka were ready to administer Yudh Diksha to Rama. Learning this, Ravan himself came to Rama’s camp and administered him Yudh Diksha. Ravan was a fair king, of course a Brahim.
However, how did Brahims dress in those days? We absolutely have no clue and depended on some paintings from ancient kingdoms, who portrayed centuries old mythological heroes resembling the kings who were ruling the artists. At this juncture, little creativity by the movie Director could have been accepted.
Same is the problem with Kanthara. The left wingers argue that the pre-Vedic practices like Bhoothada Kola were not part of Hinduism. In the first place, there is no ism called Hinduism. Secondly, none of those who criticize grew up in Coastal Karnataka to have any in-depth knowledge about the culture. Each culture is regional based.
Kanthara is a beautiful movie about the people living next to nature and fighting for their own survival. Their own survival includes survival of their cultural heritage. Whether their cultural heritage is part of Hindu/Vedic religious practices or not has to be decided by them. Not by the ideologues who rake up social media and media wars to protect their own identity.
All they look for an enemy to blame and for them, everything is fair in love and war.