Sone ki Lanka

In ancient times, Ravana was a demonic person, and felt precisely as such persons feel: “I am God myself. I am perfect and the mightiest. Every object exists only for my pleasure”[The Bhagavad-Gita  ( XVI. 14)]. He ruled the mighty imperium of Lanka where he had amassed wealth that  he had looted from all the worlds. His capital was made of gold beautified by pearls and diamonds. Everything that could beautify it was there in plenty making it of delight every moment it is seen. Its security was of the highest order conceivable through devices rendering the king wholly invincible.

Tulsidas tells us in the Ramcharitmanasa that during His sojourn in the forest, Rama saw the heaps of bones of the sages and saints in the forest. His kindness welled up, and he asked people around what had wrought their plight that way. He got a reply: “The demonic persons had eaten up the good residents of the forest (“अस्थि समूह देखि रघुराया, पूछी मुनिन्ह लागि अति दया”). Ravana had got Lanka made by the divine architect Vishwakarma. Hanumanji, contemplating to enter Laka in search of Sita, felt that Ravana’s  capital floated on the clouds. Ravana’s aircraft had on it white mansions, water tanks with lotuses in plenty. It was called the Puspakvimana.

But Ravana’s extractive imperialism did not last long. His city, with all its might and affluence, was destroyed by of Hanuman, a monkey who was working for Rama. Even the invincible Ravana was killed by Rama. None survived even to shed tears for the mighty demon.

David Korten, in his Where Corporations Rule the World tells us about a very suggestive episode: about the Cloud Minders in The Star Trek: The Original Series. It is an allegory with deep import.

“The Cloud Minders, episode 74 of the popular science fiction television series Star Trek, took place on the planet Ardan. First aired on Feb. 28, 1969, it depicted a planet whose rulers devoted their lives to the arts in a beautiful and peaceful city, Stratos, suspended high above the planet’s desolate surface. Down below, the inhabitants of the planet’s surface, the Troglytes, worked in misery and violence in the planet’s mines to earn the interplanetary exchange credits used to import from other planets the luxuries the rulers enjoyed on Stratos.”

The Troglytes, the suffering beasts of burden, worked extracting zenite. This mineral was valuable for the cloud minders for augmentation of wealth, though the unprocessed zenite emitted gas which made the beasts of burden lose their mental capacity. For their retardation and incapacities they were exposed to the hazardous and degrading pursuits whereas their capitalist exploiters had the best time in the world built in the sky. It was criminal to generate inequities and inequalities to make the toilers low and deficient in worth; but it was worse still to make them suffer for no fault of theirs. How unfair it is to deprive the poor of essential entitlements, and then cast them in the ashcan because they are deficient!

To suffer unjust sufferings, tongue tied, is itself the worst of all sins.

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