The following is a cautionary tale for those of you who take their scriptures and their religious tomes a little too literally. Even for such a well known epic as the Ramayana, there is the Valmiki version, the Kamban version and of course the saccharine Tulsidas version. Behind all those stories is probably a kernel of truth – a story of a banished king who fought a villainous emperor somewhere in India. That kernel has been woven into legend by centuries of storytellers, each embellishing it in his own style and with his own little touches.
This is my 11 year-old’s Sonic the Hedgehog-laced version. I caught him telling his 5 year-old sister the story of Vali and Sugriva. Except, of course, the characters were Bokkun( a black character from Sonic-X) and Baby( a monkey character from Super Monkey Ball). Our heroes were SonicRama and Foxmana, on their way to rescue Seetamy.
“After Seetamy was kidnapped by Dr. Bad Boon, SonicRama and Foxmana came upon a small group of robot monkeys and their king Baby. He was once the king of all the robot monkeys but he was overthrown by his brother Bokkun. Baby said that he would help SonicRama rescue Seetamy if SonicRama helped him take back his kingdom. . SonicRama asked Baby,”Why do you want to fight your own brother?” Baby replied,” Bokkun took away my kingdom and became king himself. He took away my wife and children as well.”
So Baby challenged Bokkun to a swordfight. SonicRama was supposed to hide and shoot Bokkun with an arrow.But as Baby was walking to the place where the sword fight was supposed to be, he stumbled through some blackberry bushes and became as black as Bokkun. So SonicRama couldn’t figure out which one was Baby and which one was Bokkun. The fight was a draw.
The next time SonicRama told Baby to stumble through a bunch of raspberry bushes instead. So this time Baby became red. SonicRama fixed a special arrow in his bow. He shot Bokkun. Bokkun didn’t die, instead he started to tap dance. He groaned, “How embarrassing” and tapdanced all the way to Mobotropolis where he was thrown in jail. He spent the rest of his life in jail – tapdancing.”
It is good to know that our tradition of oral storytelling still survives. The only way that tradition can continue is if we allow our stories to evolve with us. Instead of treating our epics as recorded history why not just take the lessons that they teach, lessons which have not lost their relevance with the years? In fact the versions surviving today may well reflect the culture in which they survive and the morals of their times.
And who knows, maybe someday SonicRama will take his rightful place in the pantheon of gods.:)