External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar spoke about the incorporation of ‘Ramayana’ elements in his book and shared that the timeless saga serves as a symbolic representation of India’s journey and progress. By drawing parallels with the narratives of Bhagwan Ram, Bhagwan Lakshman, and Bhagwan Hanuman, he aimed to encapsulate the essence of India’s historical and cultural evolution.
The External Affairs Minister emphasised that these revered characters from the ‘Ramayana’ are not just figures from mythology but integral to Bharat’s collective consciousness. Their stories, according to Jaishankar, offer profound lessons and insights that mirror the nation’s trajectory.
‘Why Bharat Matters’ delves into the cultural, historical, and contemporary facets of India, presenting a comprehensive perspective on the country’s significance on the global stage. By intertwining the narrative with references to the ‘Ramayana,’ Jaishankar seeks to provide readers with a unique and insightful understanding of India’s rise and its role in the world.
Describing India’s rise at the book launch event, Jaishankar talked about the sequence where Bhagwan Ram strings the bow which marked his arrival at the stage. Comparing it to India, he said that India is also very close to that moment.
The book ‘Why Bharat Matters’ written by S Jaishankar talks of India’s quest to ascend the global hierarchy and ‘New India’ drawing strength from the country’s civilisational heritage. Speaking at the event on Wednesday, Jaishankar said, “We are at that inflexion point (arrival at the big stage). In the book itself, I have said it’s not a single act, there are multiple acts. Even Ram was tested multiple times. He strung a bow…In our case, there is a series of steps. Some of it is economics, history, the exercise of nuclear power, and the reframing of Bangladesh. To me the last 10 years, especially the last five years…”.
He also compared the situation during the Covid pandemic where India was underestimated, but the country came through it successfully with a more healthy growth rate than other major countries. “There is one experience of Covid I would never forget. During the G20 virtual conference, the head of the World Bank said, ‘India is going to be the big problem. If there is one part of the world that will buckle up under Covid, it is going to be India’,” the EAM said.
He added, “When I look through the Covid experience and watch how we came through it and look today, where we are. One part of it is a 7.7 per cent growth rate, but look at the rest of the transformation that is taking place…I think we have strung the bow or are very close to that moment”.
Jaishankar also gave the reference to Bhagwan Hanuman, regarding how he forgot his own strength comparing the situation to how India helped Sri Lanka during the time of economic crisis. “He (Hanuman) was cursed to forget his own strength. So it is only as he enters divine service and does more and more that he knows the full extent, the capabilities. I think in a way that is what is happening to us, that when we look at what seemed impossible or unrealistic just a few years ago today would seem very natural. We had an economic crisis en route (in Sri Lanka). Now if 10 years ago I would have said we are going to make a USD 4 billion intervention in the neighbourhood…and yet we have done it,” the EAM further said.
He further pointed out that there are several diplomats in the epic ‘Ramayana’. He also compared the Ram-Lakshman relationship with that of close allies. “Ramayana has many great diplomats…Everyone talks about Hanuman, but there was another…Angad. Each one of them made a diplomatic contribution…In India, we use ‘Ram-Lakshman ‘ as sibling, half-brothers actually. It means two brothers are so close…Every Ram requires a Lakshman, countries are better served if you have reliable friends and allies,” Jaishankar added.
On being asked if France is ‘Lakshman’ (key ally) for India, Jaishankar said, “I have a chapter on France, it has many references to Lakshman many times”. Jaishankar further explained Quad using the reference to the four sons of Dasharatha — Ram, Bharat, Lakshman, and Shatrughna.
“In the direct analogy I make to the Quad, is in the fact that the four sons of Dasharatha — Ram, Bharat, Lakshman, and Shatrughna, who in many ways have competitive interests…the Rama has been exiled. So there is this, gathering in the forest where the two brothers who have gone into exile are meeting the other two who have come from the captain. And, Hunter King who’s observing them actually marvels at the fact that though, in a way they are competitive, yet there is something fundamental about them that brings them together when they meet and sit down. Suddenly, everything starts to work,” Jaishankar said.
He added, “That’s the Quad analogy that I have brought…almost every analogy, I would urge you not to take literally. I’m pointing to them in a way conceptually…obviously, all relationships are not going to be the same. You know, there will be, countries or people or figures who would be closer because you shared interests, you have a common way of looking at things that are rather convergences. But that should not lead us necessarily to neglect or alienate others”.
The book has sparked interest and curiosity, with readers eager to explore the intersection of mythology and geopolitics as envisioned by the External Affairs Minister. Jaishankar’s explanation sheds light on the deliberate inclusion of these iconic characters, demonstrating how their stories resonate with the broader narrative of Bharat’s growth and influence. (With Inputs from ANI)