Yet another controversy is raging even as the one on ‘Pathan' has not fully subsided. This time Swami Prasad Maurya, the OBC leader from Uttar Pradesh has reservations about Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas which according to him spreads hate and has casteist slurs and so should be banned. Swami Prasad Maurya, who switched over to the Samajwadi Party before the 2022 UP Assembly elections, lost his seat in the UP assembly elections. His daughter though continues to be the BJP MP. His new party, however, has taken exception to his criticism of Ramcharitmanas and distanced itself from the statement. It is not the first time Ramcharitmanas has been criticized for casteist slurs or gender bias. In the past too the Epic has attracted criticism and serious debates have taken place on its content.
However, Maurya's statement does no good to either himself, his community, his party, or the society at large. Without going into the merit of his statement, one can deduce that it does not help to point figure at a 16 the century writer and ask for a ban on a book that was written some 500 years back. A time span long enough to change the languages, contexts, nuances, and morality. Banning a book or expunging the portions does not make sense, it never has. All it does is to refresh the idea. India has a long list of banned books, plays, and films. Aubrey Menen's ‘Rama Retold', was banned in 1955, and EV Ramasamy Periyar's book Ramayana Retold, was banned in 1969. Ideally speaking, a writer must not hurt the sentiments of the people but the downside is if the writers always write to conform to the prevailing norms, society would never change. Equally pathetic is the reaction of the people who would swear by Ramcharitmanas and would go to any extent to abusing and admonishing him publicly. A person has a right to differ in a civil way, if you do not agree do so in a civilized way not by calling names and demonizing the person. We have enough issues of import to talk about in public life that should get precedence over such shadow boxing matches. If Maurya wants to bring about a real change in the society, he would do well to take up issues of discrimination and mistreatment of Dalits and OBCs on priority rather than rake up issues that would only consolidate the caste lines.