Tuesday night (13th may 2008) was very amusing for me, because I had the opportunity to watch the Ramayana ballet at Prambanan Temple, Yogyakarta. (Thanks a lot to Lisa and friends) The theater was full with audiences; most of them are teenagers who always scream enthusiastically every time Rama or Laksmana pull their archer’s bow. Yes, the stars were the lovers Rama and Shinta, rama’s younger brother, Laksmana and the fearless Hanoman. But for me, my star was Rahwana, the evil character of the performance.
Rahwana was the king of Alenka kingdom who fell in love with Sinta and kidnapped her from Rama in a very tricky yet clever ways. First, he asked his assistant to be in disguise as golden antelope that persuade Sinta. And the time had come when rama and laksmana were chasing after the golden antelope, while sinta was alone. Rahwana came to sinta and tried to kidnap her. But he couldn’t pass the magic circle made by rama around Sinta. Nevertheless, Rahwana did’nt run of ideas, he changed his wardrobe as a priest and asked Sinta to come with him. Without any suspicion, Sinta accepted the invitation. The magic circle spell was broken, and Rahwana brought Sinta to Alengka Kingdom successfully.
In argosoka, the name of the garden of Alengka, rahwana tried to tease Sinta and asked her to be his wife, but Sinta refused it. Rahwana almost kill Sinta for not accepting his proposal but it was prevented by Trijata. Trijata is Rahwana’s sister who guard and accompany Sinta in the garden. Trijata promised Rahwana that she will guard Sinta while Rahwana had to combat with Rama. Rahwana who filled with anger still could accept Trijata’s advice.
Unfortunately, just like good versus evil stories in all over the world, Rama killed Rahwana in the battlefield.
The annoying thing for me was, when Rama met Sinta, he asked her to conduct purity test to proof her love for Rama. What a patriarchal story it is! I mean, why is it always women who have the burden to keep her purity or even virginity in the name of love, or relationship, whatsoever? Why didn’t Rama take the same test too? He had been wandering in the forest, fought with Subali in kiskendo cave; he was traveling half around the globe across the Indian Ocean. Were there any chances that he would be tempted to other beautiful ladies and tried to feel their pretty piece of flesh. Or at least, maybe he fell in love with another woman?
Rahwana never asked Sinta to do such thing, though. He had a blind love for sinta. He didn’t care whether sinta virgin or not. He fell in love with her with all of his heart. He sacrifices him self, his kingdom, he lost his son (Indrajit) and brother (Kumbakarna) who were killed in the battlefield against Rama. He did anything he could to gain his love. And Rama, who foolishly and carelessly chose to run after the golden antelope and left Sinta, still asked for purity test to her.
Perhaps, one thing that Rahwana failed to accept was: Sinta didn’t have a heart for him. He was too blind to see.
And Rama was too blind to see as well. In the name of dignity he asked the purity test. What if Sinta failed in the purity test? Would Rama left her immediately? I think if Rama really-really in love with his wife, he would never ask to do such ridiculous thing. Why Rama didn’t ask his wife about the terror and fear she has been through? She already had the bad days, being kidnapped by someone she didn’t fell in love with, isn’t it?
Don’t you know? Rama was also curious with Laksmana. He was afraid that Laksmana, his younger brother, fell in love with his wife and tried to kidnap her for his own sake. Rama was almost killing Jatayu, the bird, who fought with Rahwana. Yup, Jatayu wanted to release Sinta from Rahwana, but he was lost in the battle. Rama found Jatayu was dying because of the wound, yet He still curious whether Jatayu killed sinta or not. Fortunately, the wise Laksmana could prevent his elder brother to kill the pity bird.
See! Rama’s love to Sinta was as blind and selfish as Rahwana’s.
And if only, Rama believed that Sinta was really loved him, he would never made a magic circle to prevent Sinta for bad things. He would believe that Sinta, as a woman in her own decision, would be strong enough against any temptation. Sinta would have her own voice, argument, ability, courage and strength to protect her self as an independent woman. She needs not any protection from her husband. She had the power to make her own choice.
I think this is like grey areas we are refuse to see as the audience. Sometimes we just accept the myths surround us as black and white issues, as good and evil. Just like the myth that women don’t have the rights to stand for her selves. We’ve been conducted to see the whole story just in one point of view, unfortunately it’s usually male point of view which rule our world.
Hahaha! However, it’s better late than never to start questioning again and again the myths in our life. Just open the case, start the debate, tries to see in different direction and speak up your mind.