The Ravan in Us

The Ravan in Us
Photo : Dool Hanomansingh

Ravan, the antagonist in the Ramayan, represents man’s ego. Despite having much knowledge, Ravan succumbed to his senses. He was versed in the four Vedas and had performed devotion to the gods and won their boons. Despite this he fell victim to adharma.

Balram always spoke about health and fitness. Active in yoga Balram would demonstrate to others what postures are best for ailments in the body. Despite this, Balram suffered a massive heart attack and died.

I remember going for walks in my village, and one villager, a known braggart, told me that he would rise at 3 am and ran from Endeavour to the Temple in the Sea every day. I knew he was lying but I listened to him. He even told me that he had two sons studying law and medicine when both of them were in jail.

In my thirty-two year as a teacher I have seen children with illiterate parents excelling while those parents who were well educated and materially well off had their children falling behind. Meena lived with her grandmother and was a brilliant student. The grandmother had never been to school. Her source of income was the vegetables she planted in her garden at the back of her house. The income took care of Meena and her brother. When Meena wrote the CSEC she left with full passes.

Thomas’s father was a sales man and always well attired. Thomas was always in conflict with teachers and students. He would break classes and never did his home-works.  A parental request was made to his father and when he came to school, teachers were shocked to learn that such a brilliant individual with such language skills would have a son displaying such negative attitude. It was brought to my attention that he did not have the time to spend with Thomas and that he had another family.

Malcom Gladwell’s David and Goliath told stories of individuals who were challenged and yet succeeded. He began the book with the fight between David and Goliath with the former, though armed with only a sling-shot, was able to defeat the latter who was the prized warrior in the enemies’ camp. In that book Gladwell cited Virgin Atlantic’s boss Richard Branson who was dyslexic and never allowed that handicap to keep him back.

In Sai Baba’s Mahavakya on Leadership by M. L. Chibber, data showed that those who succeeded were not the brilliant Ravans but the individuals who were able to persevere to the end against all odds. It is only those who begin the journey and persevere reach the destinations, not those who plan and strategise with maps on the walls, never making the first step.

 Mahatma Gandhi was never a brilliant student. He never wore in his finger a graduation ring from a prestige college he attended. Nevertheless, when life threw challenges at him, he faced them head on. It is this attitude that made him the Mahatma. Gandhi was disciplined and hard working. No sacrifice was too big for him to make. Most importantly, he led from front.

I went to a political rally recently and left after listening to the reports by representatives of the youth and the women arms. Those reports were exercises in bull shitting. I looked around me and saw blank faces staring at a screen. Those people had left the comforts of their homes to brave the hot weather to support their political party and when such tata was presented it became unbearable for me. I simply walked away. May be if I had smoked ganja before I would have stayed back and enjoyed the atmosphere.


This is the Ravan culture that is ravaging the society. We have the knowledge but not the Branson spirit in us. We have not learned from the story of David who turned the odds to his advantage. Bullshitting is good but there is a limit to it. When a youth vying for political office can stand before an audience of thousands and say nothing, that is cause for concern. Is this the future leadership for this country? I honestly hope that what incensed me was a charade and that the political party has the ability to bring forth many more youths not with reckless courage but endowed with a spirit of hard work and perseverance.