The usage of the phrase 'Loafer Ram' has become a hotly discussed topic today. The person who used this phrase, a senior professor in the Department of Journalism in Mysore University, Prof. Mahesh Chandra Guru, was issued a body warrant and detained in Mysore Central Jail for one week from 17-06-2016. And then on 24-06-2016, he was granted bail and released. So, what is this case? Who is this Loafer Ram? Is this phrase an exaggerated reference? What has been said should be verified.
On January 3, 2015, the academic staff in Mysore University organized a lecture programme on Human Rights and the Media. Shri Mahesh Chandra Guru had gone to the same programme as a resource person. In the process of giving a lecture, he said that it is Rama who has committed a violation of human rights on this land, so he is a loafer. The leader of a Kannada organization Karunada Sene, Ravishankar, filed a case in Mysore's Jayalakshmipuram with regards to this. In February 2015, the head of the Dalit Welfare Trust, Shantharaju, organized a seminar in reference to the Bhagavad Gita. For that programme, Prof. Aravind Malagatti, Prof. K. S. Bhagwan and Prof. Mahesh Chandra Guru and many others were invited guests. There, Prof. Bhagawan said that the shlokas in the Bhagavad Gita disparaging Shudras and women should be burned, while Prof. Aravind Malagatti called the Bhagavad Gita a diseased text. In the same event, Prof. Mahesh Chandra Guru stated that those photos of gods in your homes should also be thrown into the gutter. In that context too, a case was filed against Prof. Mahesh Chandra Guru in the same Jayalakshmipuram.
Yes, what is wrong in Mahesh Chandra Guru saying we should fling gods' photographs into the sewer? Basavalingappa, while attending a programme organized by the Department of Sociology of Mysore University, also said that gods' photographs should be thrown into a gutter. In fact, in my own school days, I too grabbed gods' photographs and dumped them on the scrap heap where we defecate, and I urinated on our town's Hanuman idol. What is wrong in that? In our town, people had to confront being told things like fold your hands in front of god, sing praise, and always remember god. And if you criticize god or insult him, trouble will come your way, they said. So, curious to see how god would respond, I flung gods' photographs into the scrap heap and urinated on the idols. After that, no response came from god. From that time, I have known god has no powers. Is there any benefit in worshipping a god with no powers? Therefore, what is wrong in stating that they should be flung into the sewer?
Mahesh Chandra Guru's stance is correct. However, in the society perceiving all this, communal factions will see it how they want to see it. Through this, they are standing to suppress the free expression of society. To say that one Rama has violated human rights is the truth. In this country, if human rights violations occur, they are from scriptures like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita. It is Rama who is is the biggest opposer of human rights. The Rama who killed Vali by hiding behind a tree, the Rama who beheaded Shambuka listening to the words of a Brahmin, isn't he anti-human rights? If we observe all these factors, we should include Rama in the long line of criminals in this country. Complaints are lodged and people sent to jail by alleging Rama has been abused..
In fact, if we are to be honest, Rama should have been sent to jail before anyone else. Because he has done more anti-life things. More important than all these, another factor must be referred to here. After Rama moved back to Ayodhya, what did he do? Rama would have become king, Sita would have become queen. However after that, Sita lost her title, because after she became pregnant, people started to find fault with Rama. To escape this, what was Rama's plan? One day, Rama asked Sita if she desired anything. She said yes, and he asked her what it is.
She replied that she wished to stay for a night atleast in the ashram on the banks of the Ganga and eating fruits and root vegetables from there. Using this pretext, Rama agreed to send her the very next day. The same day, he called a secret meeting with his brothers and planned how to implement her departure. Then, through Lakshmana he obtains a chariot and orders him to leave her on the banks of the Ganga. Through this neat job of evicting her from the kingdom, this Rama should be considered the primary accused in violating human rights.
Okay, let us now come to Mahesh Chandra Guru's use of the phrase Loafer. The reason he said Loafer is why a case was registered against him. So what is the meaning of Loafer? Let us look at its Kannada meaning. Loafer in Kannada can be idler, good-for-nothing, scamp, roamer, jobless wanderer, tramp - these are several suggested meanings. Rama's vanvaas was really a jobless wandering. His being like that, there is no offense in calling him a Loafer. Sita herself has called Rama good-for-nothing and useless, and as if that wasn't enough, she went on to accuse him vehemently of giving his wife away for rent, and trying to profit from immoral deeds. In this way, in Sita's eyes, isn't Rama a loafer? In this way, what is wrong in Prof. Mahesh Chandra Guru calling Rama a loafer? Accordingly, I too agree that Rama was a Loafer.
On 24-06-2016, Mahesh Chandra Guru got bail and was released from jail. Many organizations went there to greet him. As soon as he came out, they put garlands around his neck and welcomed him back. At the same time, the journalists present there asked him, "What do you want to say about all this?" Do you know what Mahesh Chandra Guru said to them?
This "No Ram, Jai Bhim" uttered by Mahesh Chandra Guru has become a new metaphor, a new expression of language. On this ground, the basis of our lives, how to see Bhima and Rama are all expressed through this formulation. Rama was completely a Brahmanvadi, against equality, who strictly upheld the caste system. Because of this Ram, the whole society has started becoming a diseased society. Bhima is different. Bhima is the biggest humanitarian, who made equality and equal opportunity important in the eyes of this country. Everybody has the right to survive here. For that reason, Bhima is relevant to everyone. But Rama is irrelevant in this age or any age is the subtext of this formulation, 'No Ram, Jai Bhim'. So do we want Rama? Or do we want Bhima? This social activists of this country should determine that.
Translated by Pallavi Rao. The original Kannada article was published on Round Table India here.
Harohalli Ravindra was born to his mother Mahadevamma, and father Andaani on 27 January 1986, in Harohalli village in Mysore Taluk, adjacent to Varuna Hobli. He completed his schooling in his village and Bachelor's and Master's degrees (M.A. Journalism), from Mysore University's Manasa Gangothri. He is primarily recognized as a poet and writer. His writings include: 'Manada Cheluvu Mududidaga' (poetry collection, 2012); 'Hindutvadolage Bhayotpaadane' (critical work, 2012); 'Hindugallalade Hindugalu' (collection of compiled articles, 2015 ). His fourth collection 'ABVP Bhayotpadane' is due for release in July 2016.