Covid -19 Management Lessons to Learn from Ramayana

Dr A S Bhatia
A medical emergency occurred during the Great Hindu Epic, “Ramayana” when Lord Rama and Ravana, the king of Srilanka were engaged in a battle to free Sita Maata from Ravana’s captivity. In the battle field, Ravana’s son Meghnand (Inderjit), shot an arrow towards Lakshmana, thereby critically wounding him. Seeing Lakshmana unconscious lying on the ground, Hanuman, Rama’s devout disciple, approached Sushena, the royal Lankan Physician. Sushena asked Hanumaan ji to get four medicinal plants from the Himalayas, probably the Dronagri hills also known as Gandhamardhan parbat, far to the north of Vindhyas on the slopes of Himalya. Sushena made it sure to make Hanuman understand the importance of all the four medicinal herbs, one was Murtha sanjeevani (restorer of life), second was Vishalyakarani (remover of arrows) third being the Sandhanakarani (restrore of skin) and the last being Savarnyakarani (restorer of skin colour) as all these are mentioned in Yuddakanda (Slokas 29-34 in the 74th chapter of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana). Taking immediate action Hanuman reached Dronagiri Parvata but could not identify the magical sanjeevani herb from the multiples present there. In order, not to waste time, he lifted the entire mountain and brought it to the battle field and revived Lakshmana from a comatose position.
There are many important administrative things to learn from Ramayana which can be the guiding force in overcoming the difficulties being faced by the health care providers in managing the pandemic. Suspensions and terminations of Health Care Workers are not going to give any immediate solution to the pandemic except than pleasing the public, as history shows that even the countries with the best and robust healthcare delivery system are liable to face the collapse of healthcare system at the peak of pandemic when most of the healthcare workers get themselves infected and the resources get exhausted. In fact such moves can prove to be counterproductive by demoralizing the health care workers who are struggling hard for last six months to provide health care to people in this difficult time with poor healthcare infrastructure in place in most of the peripheral hospitals of the country. One important aspect of leadership qualities learned from Ramayana is that even Lord Rama, did not decide the medical decision of action to be taken in case of his beloved Lakshmana but instead preferred to take the expert opinion. Then the next beautiful thing to be taken notice of is, Hanumaan ji approaching Sushana, the royal Lankan medical expert. This is very important lesson, even Sushana had its loyalty to Srilanka but his advice was taken very seriously and without questioning his authority. This showed the faith and trust to be imposed in the advice of technical experts in handling Covid pandemic. Two important things need to be observed here which can help us in our fight against the pandemic, one is, don’t feel shy to ask for the opinion of experts even if you had difference of opinion with them. The next very important thing Hanumaan ji did was the excellent time management, Hanumaan did not waste any time in bringing the mountain having Sanjeevani herbs and thus succeeded in saving Lakshmana’s life. So while dealing with the covid patients reaching the hospitals, the suspected patients should be provided all basic facilities under one roof, their examination, investigations, CT Scan and other testing should be under one dedicated platform and administration should make it sure that the patient is not made to run from one corner to another leading to loss of precious critical window period and which may result in the patient landing themselves in irreversible stage of low oxygen saturation. It was amazing to know, when in the month of April 2020, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro wrote a letter to Narender Modi refering ancient Indian mythological text of Ramayana mentioning the efforts of Hanumaan to help Lord Rama’s brother Lakshman with Sanjeevani Booti and compared it with the India’s decision to permit the export of hydroxychloroquine in the global fight against Covid-19.
Another very important historical event which can guide us in managing the cororna pandemic is the technical blunder committed by Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India when he called Cyrill Radcliffe, a lawyer who knew nothing about the country, to draw the boundaries between India and Pakistan. Surprisingly when asked Why Radcliffe, Mountbatten said that because Radcliffe did not know anything or anyone, he was likely to be objective. Now for all who have read the book, “Freedom at Midnight” can tell how Radcliffe’s ignorance compounded the horrors of partition that witnessed the greatest migration of 20th century and massive genocide of innocent people and to regret I too lost my great grand mother who had to jump into a well to save herself from the rioters and hooligans. The subcontinent has been paying a huge price for that “objectivity” ever since. Hence the concept of “Evil Vested Interest” of technical experts need to be removed from the mindset of beaurocracy.
The next important lesson to learn from Ramayana in these difficult times, is the true devotion and dedication , the lesson is, no matter how powerful or great the evil is, but due to good intentions and virtues, sincere efforts only wins at the end of the day. Our efforts need to be sincere and truthful and not to hide the shortcomings in the existing systems. A hot debate is going on in different media houses about the conflict between the administrators and technocrats in handling the pandemic. But in the present scenario a good cooperation between technocrats and bureaucrats is the need of hour. Had not Lord Rama sought the expert advice of Sushana the royal Lankan Physician, the whole story would have been different. There was no ego in Hanumaan ji to accede to the instructions of Lankan physician. Another very important lesson to learn, to overcome the pandemic, from Ramayana is Unity in Diversity. This is the biggest lesson to learn, when Prabhu Rama was marching on Lanka, and then all kinds of people were in his army. Everyone was present, from Humans to animals and birds. During the war everyone supported Lord Rama and ultimately turned the events into a success story. Now need of hour for all of us is to work in close liaison with each other, may be a bureaucrat, a technocrat, a politician or a journalist, a joint war need to be declared afresh against Corona and mud slinging on each other should be stopped immediately, as to the best of my perception all of us wish to get out of this pandemic as soon as possible. Next another important thing to learn from the character of Hanumaan ji is to Hurry up for the auspicious work and postpone the less important or irrelevant things. Whatever task was assigned to Hanuman ji, he completed it in every situation. He never used negative thinking to fulfill his duty like I will not, I will not be able to do it, I am not able to understand, therefore will not be able to do it. With the adventurous nature of Hanumaan ji we should learn that human beings should not be skeptical of their responsibilities but should be able to find the solutions.
In the present scenario in our country, a new thing have emerged, Instead of clearing our vision on the policy to fight the pandemic, we have started to look for the escapism. A new trend seems to have emerged whereby we are trying to find fault on other’s shoulders. The present is blaming the past and the past is blaming the present! Is this the way to conquer a pandemic? Can a blame game ever give you victory? Definitely a big No! Henceforth to start afresh for all of us in UT is to stop blame games. Stop finding fault with others. We all are in the same boat! We all are facing the most difficult period of our lifetime. Hence need of the hour is to learn lessons from our great culture and work for the betterment of society under the dynamic leadership of a Charismatic Prime Minister.
As Mirza Ghalib said,
Manzil milegi, bhatak
Kar hi sahi
Gumarah to wo hain,
Jo ghar se nikle hi
(The author is Vice President Indian Academy of Biomedical Sciences, India and Professor and Head Department of Biochemistry, Government medical College Jammu.)
Feed back: