by Shivanshi Agarwal
Once upon a time, in the land of ancient legends and timeless wisdoms, there lived a king named Ravana. He was known far and wide, for his ten heads, each symbolizing a different facet of his complex personality.
But our story is not about Ravana alone, it is about each and every one of us in the modern world. In today’s interconnected, bustling society, we all wear masks, like actors on a grand stage. We have our “work” masks, “family” masks, “friendship” masks and countless others. The influence and impact of social media has added a completely new layer to our already worn masks. But why do we truly put on these masks? What are we so afraid of revealing?
In the heart of this age-old tale lies a profound lesson that still echoes through the corridors of time. It whispers to each one of us, urging us to consider our own masks and the reasons behind them. In the world of Ravana, each head had it’s own place, it’s own role and it’s own voice. In the same way, in each of our lives, we have numerous facets of our personalities. Yet, we find ourselves concealing them, masking our true selves with layers of pretense. Why do we do this? What compels us to hide our true nature? Is it the fear of self-acceptance? Are we afraid that if someone was to see the real us- the us without the masks- they might judge, reject or criticize us? Is this why we continue to don these masks, pretending to be someone we are not? And in this era of social media, this pretense can be even more pronounced.
In the Bhagwat Gita, Lord Krishna, tells us, “You have the right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.” In the modern world, social media and in general we people focus on the fruits- likes, shares, validation, number of friends- rather than the authenticity of our actions. Ravana, for all his mistakes, was unapologetically himself, and this is where lies the difference. Ravana made countless mistakes, but he never pretended to be someone he was not, or denied his short comings. He accepted them, and showed them to the whole world, he was honest, not only to himself but to everyone, and this is where we as people have failed today.
As we approach Dussehera, a celebration of the victory of good over evil, let us take a pause and reconsider the meaning of this triumph. What if we interpret it as the victory of self-acceptance? What if, this time, we decide to unmask our inner Ravana and embrace all the facets of our personality, even on social media?
In the effigy of Ravana being set ablaze, let us not see the destruction of a demon, but the end of the fear that keeps us from being authentic. As the flames rise, let it symbolize the burning away of the masks we wear, both online and offline. Let it be a powerful reminder that we can choose to step into the light of self-acceptance.
The Bhagwat Gita reminds us, “You came empty handed and you will leave empty handed.” No number of likes, followers, friends or money will matter in the end. In today’s era, let us remember that authenticity and honesty is the most precious currency we possess.
So as the embers of Ravana’s effigy fade into the night, let us reflect on the masks we wear and the fears that drive us to do so. Let us find the courage to unmask our inner Ravana and in doing so, move closer to the true essence of Dussehera- the celebration of our true authentic selves. Rather than simply burning a statue of Ravana, why do we not take this chance to discover and accept ourselves for who we are.
The lesson of Ravana lives on, urging us to unmask the complexity within and embrace the beautiful mosaic within.
In masks we live, a charade we play,
Afraid to show our true self, day by day.
But like Ravana’s heads, we all conceal,
The facets within that we dare not reveal.
As Dussehera’s flames light up the night,
Let’s shed our masks, embrace the light.
For authenticity, our souls do crave,
In unmasking ourselves, our true selves we’ll save.
In the end, it’s not the masks we wear,
But the real, unmasked “you” that’s rare.
So let us celebrate, let our true selves unfurl,
In the dance of life, our authentic pearl. ***