रास्ता रोको in Ramayan

We have been seeing many people and political parties stage Rasta Roko’s, rallies, hartals etc. to attract the attention of the public and government authorities towards their problems. This causes a lot of inconvenience to commuters and pedestrians. We have also heard about the protesters not sparing even ambulances and other emergency services.

And more recently, there are people who climb up high-rise buildings and towers threatening to jump and kill themselves if their grievances are not addressed. Worse, even the governments are calling for state bandhs, bringing normal life to a grinding halt.

In Ramayan, Maharshi Valmiki writes about an instance of Rasta Roko by Bharata, Lord Ram’s brother. This anecdote gives us a very important insight.

While Bharata was away, Lord Rama is banished to forest for fourteen years by King Dasaratha on Kaikeyi’s request. Upon his return, when Bharata gets to know about this, he gets furious with his mother Kaikeyi. He vows to bring back his elder brother Lord Rama to Ayodhya and leaves for the Chitrakoot forest where Lord Rama has been spending time with Sita.

Even after a lot of persuasion and request to return to the kingdom, Lord Rama does not relent and plainly refuses to go back to the kingdom. Vexed, Bharata squats on the ground, saying that he would not move until Lord Rama agrees to his wish and goes with him back to Ayodhya.

इह में स्थंडिले शीग्रम कुशानiस्त्र सारथे

आर्यं प्रत्युपवेक्ष्यामि यावन्मेन प्रसीदति

“O, charioteer! Spread speedily the grass on the ground here for me. I shall remain facing my illustrious brother till he gets propitiated (and grant my request).”

If anyone lies down across the entrance of a house and blocks the entrance, it means that all the members of the house are taken hostage. It’s a way to insult and inconvenience people staying in the house. Though in legitimate cases where our rights are in jeopardy, this tactic can be employed. but nobody should resort to this for unfair gains or cause harm to innocent people.

Lord Rama clarifies: नतु मूर्ताभिशिक्तानाम् विधिः प्रत्युपवेशने -Your tactics are for the weak and the meek to employ, your act is not befitting a warrior.

He exhorts his younger brother to give up his protest and return to Ayodhya. Bharata reluctantly follows his brother’s advice and gives up his protest.

It is thus clear that the methods that should be used by aggrieved sections to fight for their legitimate causes are often being grossly misused by every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Srivyal Vuyyuri

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