KOZHIKODE: Rationalist and Kannada writer K.S. Bhagavan’s praise for Buddhism over other religions drew criticism on the first day of the Kerala Literature Festival (KLF) that was unveiled here on Thursday. Participating in a discussion on ‘Freedom of expre-ssion being shot at’ with writer K.R Meera, Bhagavan flayed religions and exhorted all to uphold science and rational thinking in life.
“India was attacked 26 times from outside. Did any God save us? The government should use its fund to construct hospitals, schools and colleges instead of giving it to temples,” he said. Referring to Ramayana, he asserted that Rama is not an ideal man for many reasons. “Rama killed Shambuka, a low caste man as the latter wanted to acquire knowledge. Rama believed in Chathurvarnyam. Rama is the husband who abandoned his wife. How could Rama be an ideal man and why a temple should be built for him,” K.S. Bhagavan asked.
Saying that Vivekananda had highest regard for Buddha, Bhagavan placed Buddhism at higher pedestal among religions. In the interactive session, a youth from the audience questioned how Buddha could be an ideal man as he also abandoned his innocent wife, like Rama. To that Bhagavan responded that Buddha left his wife and parents only after seeking their permission and a wrong interpretation was being propagated.
“The original context of the Buddha’s abandonment of his dear ones was deliberately omitted from text books,” he said. Another question of accepting Buddhism as a better option in the wake of Buddhist section’s complicity in the ethnic clashes in Myanmar and Sri Lanka was also raised. However, there was no proper reply. K.R Meera felt that continuing with the creative works is the only option to resist stifling of dissenting voices.