The nation’s passion for the name Ram is growing as the day of the consecration ceremony i.e. Praan Pratishtha of Bhagwan Sri Ram in a newly constructed grand mandir at his birthplace in Ayodhya on January 22, 2024, approaches. Nationwide, extensive work is going on Akshat Kalash Yatras and grand invitations. The entire Hindu community is actively involved in this endeavour.
Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust also conducting an organised invitation letter campaign. In general, content is abundant about the event and Sri Ram on social media and in the media. However, the Congress and other opposition parties in India are still finding it difficult to accept that the magnificent Mandir of Bhagwan Shri Ram is now a reality. Because of this, they cause turmoil of one kind or another every day. Even Indi-Alliance’s allies are contributing to this hubbub.
On one hand, there is the 9th-class failed son of fodder scam convict, Lalu Prasad Yadav. In a video that has gone viral, he talks about allocating the funds raised for the temple to job creation and quality education for the populace. On the other hand, there is Sharad Pawar’s NCP leader Jitendra Awhad, who has stirred up fresh controversy about Sri Ram.
A video of Jitendra Awhad is going viral in which he is saying, “There was no rice then. What did King Ram eat at that time… Ram was a Kshatriya so the food of a Kshatriya is non-vegetarian… What was the food of Ram?……. 80 percent of the people of this country are non-vegetarian.
This statement has caused a stir on social media and in the media. However, Jitendra Awhad has apologized, according to many media reports. But, the question is whether Awhad’s apology was enough to resolve the issue. Would his viral video not have had any impact on the minds of the people of the country?
Now let’s analyze
Let’s start by discussing the viral video, in which Jitendra Awhad claims that “there was no rice then (during the time of Sri Ram).” Then, what did King Ram eat?
Jitendra Awhad, the leader of the Indi-Alliance, is demonstrating his ignorance of the Ramayana with this foolish question. The Geeta Press Valmiki Ramayan itself describes the cultivation of grains, sesame, lentils, wheat, barley, and rice during that period. let’s see the references:
1. Geeta Press Valmiki Ramayan, Balkand, Sarg (Chapter) 5, Shlok 17
गृहगाढामविच्छिद्रां समभूमौ निवेशिताम्।
Its dwellings were constructed on the leveled ground with no space left unutilized. It was abundantly stocked with fine-grained rice and water which tasted sweet like sugarcane juice.
2. Geeta Press Valmiki Ramayan, Aranya Kand, Sarg 16, Shloks 16-17
बाष्पच्छन्नान्यरण्यानि यवगोधूमवन्ति च।
शोभन्तेऽभ्युदिते सूर्य नदद्भिः क्रौञ्चसारसैः ॥ १६ ॥
The snow cold forest terrains are fertile with barley and wheat crops. As the Sun rises the swans and kraunchas produce pleasing notes.
खजूरपुष्पाकृतिभिः शिरोभिः पूर्णतण्डुलैः।
शोभन्ते किंचिदालम्बाः शालयः कनकप्रभाः ॥ १७॥
The tops of rice crops shining like gold resemble the flowers of date palms. The fields full of ripe paddy bending a little (under the weight of grains) look delightful.
Additionally, Geeta Press Valmiki Ramayan, Uttar kand, Sarg 91, Shlok 19, and 19.1/2 refer to rice and other foodstuffs. Valmiki Ramayan therefore provides evidence that rice was available at the period. Therefore, Jitendra Awhad’s claim in the video that there won’t be any rice turned out to be false and bogus.
The NCP leader mentions in the video that because Sri Ram was a Kshatriya, so he was not a vegetarian. He may have referenced Ayodhya Kand’s Shlok 102 in media reports, but he did not provide any evidence of this in that video.
Currently, this allusion is also extremely vacuous, as Valmiki Ramayan is written in Kands and Sargs. The Ayodhya Kand of the Valmiki Ramayan contains 119 Sargs in all. It is unknown to which Sarg the Shlok 102 of Ayodhya Kand, which has been reported in numerous media sources, belongs. This implies that this reference is likewise untrue, doesn’t it?
These disputes result from a lack of Sanskrit linguistic proficiency. Nonetheless, it is imperative to keep in mind Bhagwan Sri Ram’s vow. In Ayodhya Kand’s Sarg 20, Shlok 29, Sri Ram pledges to give up the king’s comforts and spend the next 14 years living in a desolate forest, eating fruits and roots like a sage. Again, in Shlok 31 of this Sarg, Shri Ram talks about living his life in a deserted forest with a diet of fruits and roots. In Sarg 28, Shlok 12 of Ayodhya Kand, Shri Ram discusses with Sita Mata the topic of eating fruits that fall from trees on their own when they are in exile. Again, in Ayodhya Kand, Sarg 34, Shlok 59, Shri Ram mentions eating fruits and roots in front of his father Dashrath Maharaj.
In Ayodhya Kand’s Sarg 54, Shlok 16: Sri Ram talks to Rishi Bharadwaj about practicing Dharm and consuming fruits and roots. Simultaneously, at Sunder Kand, Sarg 36, Shlok 41, Hanuman ji converses with Sita Mata on Shri Ram abstaining from meat and consuming fruits, and roots. There is a description of Shri Ram not eating meat in the Mahabharat also. A list of Kings who never consumed meat is mentioned in Chapter 115 of Mahabharat’s Anushasan Parv, specifically Shlok 63–67. Shri Ram’s name is mentioned in that list.
The argument over whether Bhagwan Sri Ram was a vegetarian or not is, in actuality, ridiculous. Instead of discussing what he used to eat, people should discuss the following topics related to Sri Ram:
1. What were his actions i.e. Purusharth?
2. Why is Sri Ram still popular and relevant even today?
3. Why do Hindus chant “Ram Naam Satya Hai” during their final journey after death?
4. Why is Sri Ram still worshiped as Purushottam?
5. Why does the name Sri Ram always come up when someone discusses the perfect or ideal son, brother, friend, husband, king, social reformer, or warrior of today?
6. Why does Sri Ram have such a lasting impression on Sanatan culture?
Besides the above-mentioned points numerous facets of Sri Ram merit research and discussion today.
Bhagwan Sri Ram is well above such futile debates or disputes. Politicians like Jitendra Awhad are merely cleverly trying to get attention by stirring up foolish disputes to disrupt the Rammay (राममय) environment of the country created due to the Praan Pratistha program, scheduled for January 22, 2024. These politicians really ought to read Valmiki Ramayan carefully and thoroughly.