It started when I began re-interpreting the Ramayana after reading its multitudinous renditions. The character of Rama draws me like no other and all my life I have tried to justify his deeds towards Sita. Of course we might not know the whole story but what people do construe from different renditions is that Rama’s acts towards his wife cannot be pardoned. “Why was Agnipariksha necessary? Did he not trust his wife enough? Was he insecure of Ravana’s wealth, charm, majesty and intelligence? Or was his urge to please the society so dominating that it made him blind?”
Sita’s aspect of Ramayana has been propounded, elaborated and extrapolated by many authors, directors, philosophers and theatre-artists. What most scholars have missed out is Rama’s aspect of it.
Well, Rama chose idealism over love. The fact is, he would have chosen idealism over himself and his family on any given day. This was the only principle that made the world around him sane. Everything else was chaos to him. Was Rama happy about the decision he made to send Sita away or allow her to go (if it happened through consent) when she was pregnant? No, he definitely can’t be. But was he satisfied by his decision as a king? Chances are really high that he was. But how did he feel about it as an individual? He was a man who loved his wife very much, who gave up polygamy when it was rampant in the society, a tendency that science says comes naturally to men. No matter how satisfied he was as a king, he could never have found peace again, or perhaps the same amount of happiness because we must acknowledge that no matter how idealistic he was, he was after all a human. A human with an exception, somebody who preferred indulgence of much loftier texture than ours.
However the big question that pierces us every now and then is how much can we learn from his point of view. “Does it even make sense in our present world where things like “Rajdharma” have essentially become a ghost, where love and happiness are considered supreme? How correct is it to weigh a person through the eye of cold logic, as Rama did, than that of the heart? Should happiness, love and heart be considered more sacred than a duty or a principle one has vowed to? Of course a man is born for many reasons, but he is also born to be happy and loved. Denying yourself these basic pleasures takes away a lot of what it means to be human.
Shouldn’t principles change with our experiences? After all, principles are almost always formed by our private perceptions of the world and most often than not by the perceptions of our parents which are in-turn formed by deep experiences, events, history, stories and literature.
The next question that comes up in this chain-reaction is how flexible one must be? The answer stems from just one sentence- it depends on what you are willing to DO to be happy with the cards you are dealt with.
So, whether you choose idealism or you choose love, you are actually looking for a private gratification. That gratification may come from loving others unconditionally like a mother loves all her children; it could come from passionately loving that one special person, as Amish’s Shiva loves Sati in his trilogy; it could come from sticking to your principles as Mahatma Gandhi or Lord Rama do (which sometimes can also be obsolete); it could come from being compassionate and then serving others from a certain distance ( as Lord Krishna explains in his philosophy of detached attachment); it could come from fulfilling your carnal wishes; it could come from turning your love into servitude as Mother Teresa did; it could come from renouncing everything to seek enlightenment as Gautam Buddha did; it could come from pushing your logic as Einstein did; or it could come from sticking around and spending time with your family as most of us do.
No one particular way is greater than the other in an individualistic system until you become directionless or your ways harm the good of other people. Everything else is right for you as long as it is successful in answering your questions and is providing you with constant gratification.
You choose idealism or love according to the person you wish to be and are meant to be; the person that you already are deep down inside but don’t know how to be.