The Nepal Digest - Jan 24, 1995 (10 Magh 2051 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Tuesday 24 Jan 95: Magh 10 2051 BkSm Volume 35 Issue 14

  Today's Topics:

        1. KURA_KANI
                 Social - Speech
                              - Mountain Midwife Training
                 Religion - Ram and Krishna
        2. TITAR_BITAR
                 Help as Paying Guest
                 Transfering to Different University
       
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********************************************************************** From: psubedi@site.gmu.edu (Purushottam Subedi (CS 555)) Subject: Speech on Nepal Human Rights To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Date: Mon, 23 Jan 1995 10:27:07 -0500 (EST)

Following speech was forwarded to me by Bacon Komlenic <gayk@well.sf.ca.us>.

Speech given at the California Institute of Integral studies Jan 12 1995 By Mr. Samaraje Pratrap Rana

Distinguished guests Ladies & gentlemen

    I am feeling greatly honored to be provided with this opportunity to speak a few words at this august gathering of-
 intellectuals. This gathering symbolizes the representatives of human rights. Therefore I do not deem it is necessary to elucidate the features and the characteristics of human rights. HoweverI would like to make a brief sketch of the human rights in Nepal,theworks of our National Democratic Human Rights Council which I represent,and our efforts to improve the skills and the living conditions of the people of Nepal, and finally the hopes we have for a Mountain Midwifery Training Program in Nepal.

 Nepal is a small kingdom which occupies only 147189 sq.km. area on the surface of the earth. It is sandwiched between the two giant countries of Asia China and India. About 18.49 million people live in Nepal. It has constitutional king of a Parlimentary democracy. Nepal is the land of the most famous,the largest and the most beautiful Hindu temples of the world. For instance Pashupatinath, Guheswori, Changu Narayan, Krishna Mandir, Bangla Mukhi, Muktinath, Mankamna Mai, Dakshin Kali etc. The pagoda architecture of the temples of Hindu gods and goddesses are world famous. Nepal is the only Hindu kingdom in the world. Nepal has large and very beautiful Buddhist Stupas and Monastaries.This land has seen the nativity of Gautam Budhha, one of the greatest apostle of world peace. This country has the most gorgeous and tranquilizing panoramic views of the highest Himalayan peaks of the world.

                            Until 1950, Nepal remained as a Sangrilla, a country hardly visited by any foreigner. After the inception of democracy in 1951, Nepal was exposed to the international arena and the people were provided with human rights under the name of fundamental rights. But the people were shrouded in the darkness under the family rule of the hereditary Rana primeministers for 104 years, that is from 1847 to 1950, they were not in a position to utilise these rights. On the other hand the political leaders began to tussle one against another in order to reach to the power center. Taking this opportunity in hand, the father of the present king the late king Mahendra took over the entire nation in his grip on Dec.15,1960. While doing so, he dissolved the Parliamentary system of government and arrested all of the prominent ministers of the Nepali Congress government who then were commanding the majority in the parliament.

                                With the royal takeover of 1960, King Mahendra imposed on Nepal a political system of his own choice. The system known as Panchayat Polity outlawed all the political parties and de- prived the people of the rights guaranteed to them by constitution. Although the constitution of the Panchayat system had also made the provisions for certain fundamental rights those were barely translated into action. King Mahendra passed away in 1971 and then Crown Prince Birendra was enthroned. The situation of human rights remained more or less the same until 1989. Nepali people frustrated of Panchayat system launched a popular movement in 1990. It was a successful people's movement. The Panchayat regime collapsed and the democracy was restored in 1990. Since then we have a constitutional monarch within Parlimentary democracy. The new democratic constitution has made explicit provisions for human rights in the name of fundamental rights. The new constitution has guaranteed the rights to freedom, equality, and justice etc. The interim government formed after the people's movement signed the United Nation declaration on civic, political, economic, social and cultural rights and expressed its commitment to them. It was a positive landmark in the sphere of human rights. Similarly the Govt. deserves the appreciation for signing the UN declaration on children's rights. Nepalese people remember that the Premier of the elected Nepali Congress Govt. had participated in the human rights world conference organized by the UN in Vienna, Austria in 1993.
                
                       Now it has been four years since the reinstallment of democracy for the sake of people's interest. But it looks disappointing that the democracy could not be utilized to its full extent. The comm- on people could not enjoy the basic rights practically. The situation of human rights has not improved satisfactorily in Nepal .Overall the present conditions are not helping to consolidate the foundation of the democracy in the country. The reasons are several. Some to be noted are :
                 1. At present the major political parties engaged in the
                      people's movement are in power and opposition. How-
                      ever both the forces have not yet practically shown
                      expected liberal attitude towards human rights. In
                      short Nepalese political parties do not seem to possess
                      human rights culture within them. They lack in democ-
                      ratic character and tolerance. At this stage it is normal
                      to find it difficult for the realization of such expectati-
                      ons from administrative and quasi-judicial sectors.

                  2. Nepal is a developing nation. It is basically dominated
                       by a feudal set up. Human rights violations have not
                       been always caused by the Govt. machinery. They ha-
                       ppen also due to social traditions, superstitions, orth-
                       odox religious assumptions, casteism, land holder's
                       pressure, political unawareness, illiteracy, lack of
                       resources, meagre economy etc.In several cases the
             abuses are found to be executed more collectively than individually. Sometimes they are targeted to specific ethnic groups.

Now I would like to tell you the common areas where the human rights violation usually happen in Nepal. They are:
                    1. Killing of the people by the people in dispute and
                         fightings etc.
                    2. Prisons and their poor condition and management.
                    3. Arrest by Police and Police torture.
                    4. Fundamental rights which includes :
                          4.1. Freedom of expression and Freedom in membership in the different political association.
                                                    4.2. Religious freedom.
                                                    4.3. Political freedom.
                                                    4.4. Quick and fair trial.
                    5. Landless and Squatters.
                    6. Women's rights which includes :
                                                     6.1 Women trafficking.
                                                     6.2 Rape.
                                                     6.3. Polygamy/Forced and
                                                             unequal marriage.
                                                     6.4 Unwanted masculine domina-
                                                             tion and Dowry system.
                                                     6.5. Jari- Act of a woman's settle-
                                                              ment with the new husband
                                                              which is not usually favoura-
                                                              ble.
                                                     6.6 Tradition of multi husbands.
   

   
                                                                   6.7 Adoption of the wife of elder
                                                              brother.
                                                     6.8 Badi-Badini : Out caste music-
                                                              ians,singers and dancers .
                                                              Women become prostitutes
                                                               later for their livelyhood.1
                                                     6.9 Deuki: Virgin girls offered to
                                                               god or godess. Later they
                                                               become prostitutes for their
                                                               livelyhood.
                       7. Rights against slavery.
                       8. Indigenous communities:
                                            The discrimination of the indegenous
                                            communities like Tharu, Chepang, Musar
                                            etc.
       9. Chid rights: Children are being used in Factories
                                        and constuction etc.
                      10. Social traditions: Casteism and Untouchables.
                      11. Education.
                      12. Health.
                      13. Refugees.

               The universal declaration of human rights was made by UN on Dec.10,1948. All the rights chartered by UN are universal and indivisible. It is the inherent right of human beings to enjoy them in an unrestricted manner. The declaration of human rights in UN charter have been taken as the guiding principles for human rights by almost all the democratic nations of the world. We Nepalese are quite aware of the fact that the UN accompanied by the super power like U.S has launched a lot of programs in order to safeguard human rights through the world. It is highly praiseworthy. Back home we Nepali people wonder how could U.S learn about human rights so well even two and half centuries before. We learned in American history that the great thinker Thomas Jefferson who prepared the paper for American declaration of independance which was declared on July 4,1776 had written much about human rights. Coming back to my country we are talking about human rights only by the end of this century. In reality U.S is a pioneer in establishing human rights. In this context we look up U.S with respect and commend its every effort towards the establishment of human rights and installment, restoration and consolidation of democracy any where in the world. We the people of Nepal can learn many things from this country of yours.

                    Ladies and gentlemen may I take this opportunity to let you know that NDHRC represents one of the temples, which is trying to enshrine in it the deities of human rights.

                     Even after the fall of Soviet Union and disintegration of Warsaw pact countries I would still like to call our part of the world as the third world. In the third world there are plenty of Human Rights Associations looking after political human rights abuses in and around. And Nepal is not an exception. Therefore we do not want to duplicate the same job. NDHRC never tries to politicise human rights situation in the country. Our organisation is not related or linked with any political party. It is an entirely politically neutral and non profit oriented organisation for the establishment of human rights.

                      With our previous experiences and research study we found that the upliftment of the economy and the social status of the
   people of Nepal will only help them to create a healthy mind. And the healthy mind can produce healthy thoughts. Healthy thoughts followed with labour will practically help to develop the country and to establish human rights. Finally it will support the consolidation of the democracy in the country. For this purpose we have to construct the infrastructure to develop and to strengthen the skills of the Nepalese people. The infrastructure involves the trainings to develop the skills in the people in the various fields. Thus NDHRC has targetted to launch several programs of training in the different areas in the name of Technology Transfer. Here I would like to tell you that NDHRC is totally devoted in Technology Transfer.Our programs for Technology Transfer are following:
    
        1. Cloth weaving. 2.Sewing. 3. Carpet weaving. 4. Hair dressing.
        5. Carpentry. 6. Masonry works. 7. House wiring and simple
    electrical works. 8. Simple iron workshop works. 9. Simple
             automobile jobs. 10. Adult education. 11.Mid wiffery.

***********************************************************************************************

***********************************************************************************************

             Among the above eleven programs we have started only the two of them namely Hair dressing and Masonry works. We could not begin others because of the financial handicap. But as our third step we are planning to implement Mid wiffery training program seriously. It is the most significant one in the present context of Nepal. Everybody knows birth is the most important process of life. Birth gives birth to the new generation of human beings. Hence birth needs to be easy, comfortable, medically hygenic, and medically successful. For the successful child birth, survival of the mother and her good health we are in high demand of trained midwives. Over 90% of women do not have any access to the health workers during pregnancy, birth or after delivery. Annually there are about 800,000 pregnancies in the country, 20 % of them i,e. about 160,000 pregnancies are said to be in high risk category. About 7000 women die during childbirth. Therefore our maternal mortality rate is 875 per 100000 pregnancies. Our infant mortality rate is 147.44 per 1000 live births. In Nepal most of the women deliver their children with the help of a female relative or friend who does not have any training or qualification regarding midwifery other than her proximity with a woman in labour. But in some villages we have traditional midwives who are called Sundeni in our language. But we need to strengthen the skill in them too. We can not imagine the Nepalese women to have the knowledge of even First Aid of Medical science. Because the illiteracy rate for women is 75 %. And the illiteracy rate rate for men is 44.8 %. It will be surprising to you to know that we have one medical doctor per 16667 people. And for rural areas we have one Doctor per 92000 people.While in U.S you have one Doctor per 420 people. All over the country we have only about 2999 trained Nurses. That means the population per nurse is 6165. We have 4848 hospital beds in total. That is we have one hospital bed for every3808 people.We have all together 816 Health Posts in the country.It means there is one Health Post per 22625 people. The life expectancy at birth is 53 for women and 56 for men.This is the status of health services for 9,270,183 women and 9,220,914 men in Nepal.

                       In the context of the situation of the health services available in Nepal,our Council was planning to implement the Mid wifery Training Program as the part of our support to women's rights. But we did not have any rational access to it. As there is one proverb,"God helps those who help themselves". God helped us.We met Ms.Patricia Gay Bacon Eagle. Until today we can not understand, it is a mystic, may be the combination of the positions of the planets in the solar system worked. She happened to enter in our Secretary General^s house in Kathmandu on the strongest day of our year known as Astami the day of the godess Durga in 1993. We all met her there. That day was the real begining of our Mid Wiffery Training Program. As she knew the statistics of the health services and the condition of the women giving birth in Nepal, she emphasized, encouraged and suggested the essentiality, the importance and the implementation of Midwiffery training Program. Since then the program turned into the project. She suggested us that the project is more needed and necessary in the villages on the mountains than in the cities. Therefore she named this project as Mountain Mid wiffery Training Project (MMTP). In this connection we had organized a conference in Kathmandu with Ms Mangala Devi Singh the chair of Nepal's Women"s association on Nov.11,1993. Patricia worked with a group of 20 women interested in training and developed an overview of the proposed projecrt which could provide the kind of in depth knowledge base required to develope a core of Nepali Midwiffery Teachers. In a nutshell the project involves the training the first wave of Mountain Midwife Trainers who would then disperse and train the primary care providers,the Mountain Midwives in the villages on mountains. We would target the students who will be graduating from high school who already have an ability to read and write in English for the first wave. Thus the first wave of Mountain Midwife trainers would themselves participate in the creation of training protocols and themselves become the trainers of the second wave. The training will be based on the improvement of the traditional method of the childbirth with the western technology for the natural child birth. I can only tell you this much about our Mountain Mid wiffery Training Project now.
  Because we are still working on it to complete the feasibility report.Our Secretary General Mr.Ram Krishna Pant will be also coming to U.S to join us to give the final shape of the report.

                  Ladies & gentlemen now I have come down almost to the end of my lecture.Before concluding I on behalf of all the members of NDHRC and personally myself would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Ellinor W. Gadon, Program Director for inviting me and providing me with this opportunity to speak and sending Patricia to Nepal. NDHRC extend its thankfulness to Women's Spirituality Program for their kind understanding of the essentiality of Mountain Mid wiffery Training Project in Nepal. NDHRC is highly obliged to Ms.Patricia Gay Eagle for her enthusiasm and her keen interest to uplift the status of the women of Nepal. On behalf of NDHRC I would personally thank Ms.Maureen Rhodin for her help in making this lecture program successful. I am also personally thankful to Mr.Vincent H.Bacon for his geneorisity and cooperation for me to get adjusted in this new world. I will always remember the kind American hospitality of Mrs.Maryland Bacon. I would like to thank to all the CIIS staff for making such a magnificent management for this lecture. At the last not the least I am highly impressed with you all and I extend thanks and appreciation to you all for listening to me so attentively.

 
                Finally ladies and gentlemen !
                I would like to deliver a lot of love and affection that the Nepalese people living on the lap of the mighty Himalayas have sent to their American brothers and sisters living on the other side of the planet.

                  Om . Nama.
                   Namaste. Thank you.

Well the spacing seems to have lost a lot in the translation but it look like the text did make it now lets see If I can mail this to you once again thank you so much for your intrest and support gayk@well.sf.ca.us

Subject: Mountain Midwifery Training in Nepal

Posting on Mr. Komlenic request

From: Gay Bacon Komlenic <gayk@well.sf.ca.us>
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Subject: midwifery training

I am currently a Graduate student at California Institute of Integral Studies after spending the last 20 years working in women's health while in nepal in 1993 I met severalmembers of the National Democratic Human Rights Council of Nepal and begain working on a proposal to teach midwiffery in Nepal please see the following. Mr. Samraje Pratrap Rana has come from Katmandu to promote the project and prepare a feasibility study about it. I was struck by the meeting mentioned about medical care by ob's and WHO pledging money. Is our program redundant? We are planning to train women in techniques used in the home birth movement here as the technology of hospital birth would not reasonably be avaliable to most women outside of the cities. We believe that it would be most helpful to start training in techniques which do not need massive amounts of medical technology but which will include information and appropriate technology and expand the knowledge base of the whole population. we are currently trying to asses what is a reasonable "bag" The equiptment a midwife carries that could be supplied and restocked or resteralized in the field (in this case the mountain) of course we also need funding so any hints as to where to apply would be greatly apperciated If you would like me to e-mail you acopy of Mr. Rana's Speech on human rights in Nepal which he gave on jan12 1995 please let me know I woud be glad to do so
 thank you for your time

Mountain Midwife Training

While in Nepal to study indigenous birth practices I was qulte amazed to learn that there was very little support for women during parturition. In KMT there is a maternity hospital which I toured but outside of that city I could find no sign of support for women during child birth. The very word for midwife,
"sunumie" in Nepali, was not even in common usage. Most women I interviewed had delivered their children with the help of a female relative or friend who had no training or qualifications other than her sex and close proximity to the woman in labor. At first I suspected that my research methods were deficient and that I had just not been able to locate informants who were privy to the knowledge I was seeking. However after redoubling my efforts, it became apparent that there was, in fact, little formal support for women during pregnancy or parturition. One of my sources, Anne Parker Ph.D., a cultural geographer from the University of Oregon who has spent many years in Nepal and other parts of Asia, confirmed my observations and described Nepal as unique in Asia for its lack of traditional midwifery. In fact this very issue was one which the Democratic Human Rights Council of Nepal (hereafter to be referred to as the NDHRC) was hoping to address as part of its support of women's rights.

I had worked with several members of the NDHRC while researching this issue and was asked to help set up a program to train midwives in Nepal. Our first task was to develop support for the project within Nepal, and to this end the NDHRC organized and videotaped a conference in KTM with Mangla Devi Singh, the Chair of Nepal's Women's Association, who described the need for such a program and the integral relationship between basic human services such as health care for women and human rights. We then worked with a group of 20 women interested in the training and developed an overview of the proposed project which could provide the kind of in-depth knowledge base required to develop a core of Nepali midwifery teachers.

Our first task was to describe our area of concern. The hope of this plan is to provide basic midwifery services to the women of Nepal especially women who do not reside in large metropolitan areas. These services need to be tailored to fit the resources available in the area's served. To understand what this entails one must have an acquaintance with the geography of the country. Located in the foothills, valleys and peaks of the southern slope of the Himalayas, it is a very mountainous terrain with an abundance of water as it catches the rainfall on the wet side of the range. The drainage from the mountains provides year round flows through the foothills and valleys which have been terraced for agriculture and produce three crops a year in the mild climate around 30 degrees north latitude.

Most people live a subsistence existence in adobe houses among the fields. Tourism and technology are advancing into the country side with many villages having some electricity, and fossil fuel has replaced wood as the available supply of timber has disappeared. Situated strategically between the Tibetan border of China and northeast of India, the population of this country includes many Tibetan refugees and refugees from Kashmire and other troubled states in the area. Many areas are inaccessible by vehicle and can only be reached on foot. In many areas this means that most of the accouterments of modern medicine will be difficult to procure; however, women should not be denied the support or help that could be available if trained providers were in attendance.

Western education is available to some children in schools which teach in English and culminate in grade 10. Graduating students can read and write in English are competent in basic math and have some grasp of simple scientific principles from a western perspective. Western concepts of disease theory, asepsis and infection are not widely held or understood. In fact the philosophical concepts which have been the underpinning of this very successful culture for centuries include a strong religious belief which accepts most disease processes as the results of karma.

The goal of this program is to teach Nepali educators to train local birth attendants to provide support for women giving birth. We do not wish to disrupt or discredit a culture that has operated a sustainable economy for centuries. We also do not intend to assume that we can offer the technology and supplies of western medicine to the remote areas of Nepal. The problems of procurement and distribution of massive amounts of medical equipment in a third world country with the geography of Nepal is beyond the scope of this program. What we do intend to provide is a sustainable information base that can integrate modern medical knowledge with the traditional culture and utilize the technology currently available in appropriate ways. This goal can only be met if the fundamentals of basic health care are thoroughly understood. This means an analysis of both western and traditional methods needs to be honored and integrated into the education.

The very existence of a program such as ours which is designed to help women during pregnancy and childbirth is a visible validation of the worth and status of women in the culture. Providing world class training to the participants is a valuable aid in enhancing the status of women in general and will certainly provide a sense of worth and esteem to the participants. Therefore it is imperative that we teach a comprehensive curriculum which will provide a deep knowledge base that can expand the program as the country continues to develop. It is not our goal to provide a simplistic solution teaching a few useful techniques or procedures that can be performed by uneducated, barely skilled technicians (although we hope our midwives will indeed be able to teach in that way when it is appropriate), but that we educate a core of trainers who can adapt their skills to a variety of settings and assess the needs of women in a variety of circumstances. The graduates of our program should have the knowledge base to expand into whatever role becomes necessary and be able to utilize the tools of western medical technology as they become available in their areas. This requires a through understanding of parturition and presupposes a good general knowledge of the principles of biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, nutrition, asepsis, disease processes and a range of cultural, geographic, and economic variables. The challenges we face are many and complex; however, we have developed a model which can address this complexity.

The first 3-5 years of the program would be exclusively devoted to training of the first wave of MMT's (Mountain Midwife Trainers) who would then disperse and train the primary care providers the Mountain Midwives (MM's). We would target students who are graduating from grade 10 who already have an ability to read and write in English and have proven themselves to be competent scholars. Preferably they would have a sponsor who would be willing to continue to support their education. This training should begin with Health Sciences High School providing grade level 11 & 12 training in fundamentals of biology, asepsis, nutrition, psychology, sociology, cultural anthropology, theology, ecology communications and geography. Clinical practicums would then be conducted in the maternity hospitals and indigenous birth practices investigated. A year of field work attending births at home in villages would then be conducted. Each area would be assessed to determine year round needs for shelter, fuel, water, nutrition and preservation of the indigenous culture. After this, the students and teachers would jointly develop training protocols for the villages to be served--individualized to consider the anthropology & geography of the area. Multimedia-media instructional aids would be procured and created to be used as teaching aids distributed by the MMT's who would begin attending births and teaching the program in their geographic areas. Thus the first wave of MMT's would themselves participate in the creation of training protocols and themselves become the trainers of the second wave.

First wave MMT's will be required to have graduated from grade 10 and be literate in English as much of the first wave training will be conducted in English. The preliminary two year Health Sciences High School would be structured to qualify students not only for continuation in our Midwifery program but could help prepare them for admittance to midwifery training programs in other countries as well. Remembering the goal is to establish a comprehensive knowledge base, it would be valuable to have some Nepali MMT's continue their education in more developed countries and return that knowledge to the collective understanding. All of the participants must also be sensitive to the cultural conditions and committed to the ideals of cultural and ecological preservation in Nepal, and honor the various religious practices indigenous to the area. If we expect good client compliance and acceptance of the program it is imperative that our MMT's are sensitive to the cultural mix of Nepal, and exhibit discretion and diplomacy as they will be expected to train in a variety of settings.

So MMT's will be the trainers of the MM's who will be taught in their own language and within the geography of their own practice. Since the implements of western medical technology are not available in Nepal, part of the ongoing assessment and development function of the MMT's will be to identify and procure necessary supplies to function in the villages. This should be done including the traditional implements used whenever they can be integrated into safe practice. Our MMT's should be ever vigilant to identify and implement traditional birthing methods whenever possible; they will also have the responsibility of imparting medical information which is practically useful where technology is limited. Techniques that need technological support unavailable in an area should not be offered or relied upon unless that technology becomes available. It will be extremely important that our MMT's have excellent assessment skills and that they be able to tailor their practice to their environment.

In fact MMT's will de facto be conducting research in the field. Certainly the last 40 years of obstetrical practice has proven there are many iatrogenic complications in the western model. Our hope is to integrate the best of western medicine with the best of traditional practice while honoring both. This approach will produce both increased safety and compliance, and may itself expand the knowledge base of this most sacred feminine process: women giving birth. The plural noun is used here because it is imperative that we comprehend that it is women the collective, not woman the individual, that births our future, and it is women the collective, not woman the individual, who must support, educate and nurture the individual woman during single acts of parturition. Nothing is more specifically a woman's issue than childbirth. Any attempt to elevate the status of women in general must consider the safety and circumstances of women during parturition.

from
 gayk@well.sc.ca.us aka Patricia Eagle Aka Patricia Bacon
   6 Admiral #473
   Emeryville
   CA 94608

************************************************************************** To: nepal@cs.niu.edu From: PRADHAN@stahl1.sb.bauing.th-darmstadt.de Date: 23 Jan 95 22:33:29 GMT+1200 Subject: Titar_Bitar : Help !

Hi pals !
      I am a doctoral student at Darmstadt, Germany and planning
      to attend an Earthquake Engineering Conference in San
      Francisco during Feb. 8 - 11, 1995.
         Conference venue: Sheraton Palace Hotel
                            2 Montgomery St., San Francisco.
      I would appreciate if I could lodge by some Nepali friends as a
      paying guest in the West Coast area nearby the conference venue
      (reachable by public transport). Please e-mail: Pradhan@stahl1.sb.bauing.th-darmstadt.de

Thanks, Amir Man Pradhan

********************************************************************* Date: Mon, 23 Jan 1995 17:34:34 PST To: nepal-request@cs.niu.edu From: Amresh Karmacharya <psu01146@odin.cc.pdx.edu> Subject: Anyone ?

I am a graduate student majoring in biology here at Portland State University. I am trying to transfer to one of the following universities. Therefore if there is anyone studying in any of them please let me know.
* Washington State University, Pullman
* Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
* California State University, Fullerton
* Oklahoma State University, Stillwater

Date: Jan 19, 1995 To: The Nepal Digest Subject: Religion

Crossposted from SCN:
--------------------

In article <3fenst$80s@netserv.unmc.edu> dchakrav@netserv.unmc.edu (Dhruba Chak ravarti) writes:
>Ajay (ajay@portal.vpharm.com) wrote:
>
> [stuff deleted]
>
>Dear Sri Ajay:
>
>I am curious why you would object to the characterization of Lord
>Ram as "Maryada Purushottam". You have mentioned that His sense
>of Maryada did not impress you, therefore, may I ask you to
>elaborate why you are not impressed?
>
>Regards,
>Dhruba.

        Well, first of all i have no problems with people accepting anyone they wish to represent maryada purushottam. It is their choice. My point in the article i posted earlier was about the reaction of some Phindus i know to my views of ramayan.

        Now, that this is out of the way i can get to answering your question about my personal beliefs on ramayan and Ram's status as maryada purushottam.

        i think i know most of the stories in the ramayan (i will confine myself to the most popular version in north india). i will mention a few points, if i miss any please do enlighten me.

        1.) He left his kingdom to please his father.

Let us assume that this was an act that falls into the maryada category. But, i know a lot of people in India today who e.g. get married according to their parent's wishes. In some cases, this implies a life-long misery, whereas Ram's was only for 14 years. Now, would you classify all those people in India today as personifying (at least one aspect) of maryada. If you do, then Ram loses one aspect of maryada purushottam (remember that purushottam implies uniqueness). If you do not, then please enlighten me on the difference.

Let us take two more aspects of Ram's behavior ...

        2) Do you think the method used by Ram to kill Bali falls under the category of maryada?

If so, then Krishna can easily be classified as maryada purushottam too. Incidentally, he is not.

        3) Now, the most common objection: his treatment of sita!

That is no act of a maryada purushottam. Now, the standard apology on this front is "he was a king, and could not ignore his people's opinions". Well let me ask you, he obviously did not listen to *all* his people
*all* the time since this is impossible. He clearly did some things which made some people unhappy while others were pleased. Then why could his attitude to sita not fall under the principle "you cannot please everyone"?

i have of course ignored the issue of "Ram following maryada purushottam'ness for his times". Therefore, we cannot critique him based on our present day values. If i accept this argument, then i will respond with "Well, then his maryada purushottam'ness is then irrelevant for the present age".

 
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