Bihar: Jitan Ram Manjhi Claims Ravan was ‘Bigger Imaginary Figure’ Than Ram
Patna: After the controversy over the epic poem 'Ramcharitmanas', a new issue has come up in Bihar with ruling Mahagathbandhan ally Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) (HAM) founder and former Bihar Chief Minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi, claiming on Friday that Ravan was a “bigger imaginary figure” than Ram.
Manjhi, a dalit leader, told the media that Ram was not a historical figure.
"I consider both Ram and Ravan to be imaginary figures of an imaginary story, but as per the story, Ravan was bigger than Ram."
According to Manjhi, Ravan was a greater person than Ram because he was not getting any help from divine power, while Ram was provided help during the crisis.
"I am telling the truth that Ram was an imaginary figure. In the past, well-known writer and public intellectual Rahul Sankrityayan had described Ram as an imaginary figure. Freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak also termed Ram as imaginary. Ram is mentioned as imaginary in the book Discovery of India," said Manjhi, who belongs to the mushahar community, one of the most marginalised and backward sections. He is known for opposing the aggressive Hindutva politics of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in recent years.
Manjhi said Ramcharitmanas was a good book, but many contents were “controversial and should be removed.” Even dalit icon BR Ambedkar had favoured removing wrongful content from Ramcharitmanas, he said.
Manjhi also questioned why Ramcharitmanas's author Tulsi Das was worshipped by all, but Ramayana's author Valmiki was not.
"This is a reflection of the society run by Manuvadi ideology," he said.
Read Also: Critical Remarks on Ramcharitmanas Mirror Thoughts of Vivekananda, Gandhi
Manjhi's statement is likely to ignite politics in the name of Ram by BJP, which hardly misses a chance to target the Mahagathbandhan government-led by Nitish Kumar.
This is not the first time that Manjhi has said that Ram was an imaginary figure.
In 2021, when Manjhi was a part of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) led by the BJP, he said he didn't consider Ramayana a true story.
"I don't think that Lord Ram was a great man or a great historical person. I don't consider the Ramayana story true".
BJP leaders had attacked Manjhi for questioning the historicity of Ram.
Read Also: Bihar Minister Chandra Shekhar Says 'Won't Apologise' Over 'Ramcharitmanas Spread Hate' Remark
Bihar Education Minister Chandrashekhar's statement early this year that the Hindu epic poem Ramcharitmanas spread hatred had drawn flak from the BJP and Right-wing organisations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, as well as several priests.
Chandrashekhar, a senior RJD leader, sparked controversy with his speech at the convocation of Patna-based Nalanda Open University. He claimed that religious texts like Ramacharitmanas “spread hatred” just as much as Manusmriti and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue MS Golwalkar's 'Bunch of Thoughts' created a social divide.
Despite repeated demands for an apology by the BJP, Chandrashekhar had told NewsClick that his statement was based on facts and there was no question of apologising.
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