Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Profanity

[Sita Devi holding a flower]“As I am the wife of that pious soul and the daughter-in-law of Dasharatha, how is it that your tongue did not fall off speaking to me in this way?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 22.19)

tasya dharmātmanaḥ patnīṃ snuṣāṃ daśarathasya ca |
kathaṃ vyāharato māṃ te na jihvā vyavaśīryate ||

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There are certain things you’re just not supposed to say. When speaking to a woman, the rules are many. It is rude to ask about her age or weight. These are touchy subjects. Especially if a woman is overweight, it is not polite to make reference to it. The age is another sensitive topic since the body starts to decay as more time passes from birth. Eventually whatever beautiful features were originally there diminish in appeal. Similar rules apply to men, with the loss of hair especially a topic on which to tread lightly. Then there are specific words that are considered profane, not to be used by those who are civilized. A long time ago, the profanity and rudeness came forth in a combined fashion from the mouth of a vile king. The recipient of these inappropriate words correctly wondered how the tongue of that king had not fallen out as a result.

It is customary for media personalities to interview players after a big game. Moments after the match has ended is where the emotions are most intense. The winning team feels elated and the losers are not happy. The best sound bites typically emerge from the losers, for in anger they have less control over their speech. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is said that unsatisfied desires lead to anger, and from anger one does many stupid things.

[Bhagavad-gita, 2.63]“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)

[Andrew Shaw interview]Sometimes even in elation a player releases a few expletives. These words are profane, but since the interviews are done live on the spot, they make it on the air. Later on the words can be censored, but the live viewers are startled by the fact that the words slipped out and made it onto television in the first airing. Though these words are heard quite often in personal conversations, it is rare to hear them on television during a live broadcast. Videos that have a player dropping a profane word get so many hits on websites, as for some reason the incident is a spectacle worthy of attention.

Lust is very difficult to control, but still there are depths that even the lustiest person wouldn’t sink to. They wouldn’t think of wanting to cavort with their daughter. They wouldn’t think of trying to woo a married woman who is known for her chastity. In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, a virtuous and married princess is shocked at the words offered to her by a king completely driven by his lust. Indeed, studying the matter further, his words were the very definition of inappropriate.

[Sita and Rama]The princess, Sita Devi, gives support for her opinion. Here she refers to herself as the wife of a pious-soul. That soul is Shri Rama, the incarnation of the Supreme Lord particularly known for His deference to righteous principles. Do you know someone whom you consider to be good? Do you know someone who almost never tells a lie? Do you know someone who would do anything for you and your family? Such qualifications begin to tell the story of Rama. Rama was truly selfless. He did everything for others. He didn’t fall off the path of virtue, though. Helping someone else is considered virtuous, but if that help involves breaking the law, it’s often a wise choice to refrain.

People begged Rama to stay in Ayodhya after His step-mother ordered Him out for fourteen years. He said “No” to such pleas because He didn’t want to jeopardize the word of His father. King Dasharatha was known for being truthful, so if Rama stayed in Ayodhya Dasharatha’s reputation would take a hit. So Rama knew when to deny requests, but everyone still loved Him since they knew where His heart was.

Sita also references her relation to Dasharatha. She says that she is his daughter-in-law. Thus Sita is the wife of a pious-soul and the daughter-in-law of a person who stays true to his word. By mentioning them, Sita implies that she follows their example in character. As the wife of Rama, she is fully devoted to Him. As the daughter-in-law of Dasharatha, she remains truthful to her vow. Thus any sane person would realize that Sita is only for Rama. She cannot be enjoyed by anyone else.

The vile and profane Ravana had the nerve to think that she could be persuaded otherwise. The mere thought of forgetting Rama made Sita sick. She never would consider such a thing. Rama previously tried to persuade her to stay home, abandoning Him while He went to the forest for fourteen years. She also told Him that such words were unthinkable.

“O best of men, what you have said is not worthy of being uttered by a valiant prince versed in the military arts and it is very offensive to such brave men.  What’s more, it is not even proper to hear such words.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 27.3)

[Sita and Rama]Rama at least wanted the best for Sita, but Ravana had other motives. His desired enjoyment was unthinkable, something that should never be contemplated by any person. Sita is Rama’s eternal consort. As the goddess of fortune, she liberally distributes wealth and prosperity to any who worship her properly. Still, that fortune is meant to be used in pleasing Rama. Any other use is a misuse and thus a source for pain and misery.

Ravana had fortune in the form of opulence, strength, and beautiful companionship. From his base words directed at Sita, he obviously lacked the correct frame of mind. His profanity should have caused his tongue to fall out immediately, but there was a larger destruction slated for him. The pious-souled husband of Sita, who was the eldest son of the courageous and truthful Dasharatha, would soon arrive on the scene to reclaim His wife and teach Ravana the lesson of a lifetime.

In Closing:

Certain words not proper to utter,

Like asking age or weight of another.

 

Profanity not appropriate to drop,

Television and radio these words to block.

 

Then how Ravana’s tongue in mouth to stay,

When addressed Sita in most profane way?

 

Punishment for the vile king soon to come,

Delivered by Sita’s husband and Dasharatha’s son.

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