We Are Not Your Monkeys

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The authors of the poem, “We Are Not Your Monkeys”, are attacking the caste system by identifying themselves with monkeys and demons. For a long time, caste system has been the core of Hindu society. The hymn, “The Sacrifice of Primal Man”, from Rig Veda has first explained the origin of the hierarchy:”When they divided primal Man/ …/ The Brahman was his mouth/ The arms were made the Prince/ His thighs the common people/ And from his feet the serf was born” (p. 32, line 41-48). It is believed by most of the Indians that the caste system is unchangeable because it is part of nature. Ever since the creation of the world, their social statuses have been decided. However, by the poem and the redefinition of the story, Ramayana, the poets provide a different perspective and reveal the absurdity of the caste system. Rama, known as a lofty ruler and an ideal hero for common Indian people, is considered as the representative of upper caste people in the poem. Instead of glorifying him as a deity, hero, or king, the authors choose negative words when describing Rama and his deeds. For example, in the original story, the monkeys are described as Rama’s ally; they help Rama to defeat the demons. However, in the poem, it is Rama “enslaves” them, forms the army, and “wants” them to destroy Lanka for him. They become victims while Rama turns from an inviolable hero to a tyrant. The authors also offer a different interpretation to the beginning of Indian history. They say, “Once Aryans on their horses/ invaded this land/ And we who were natives/ became the displaced” (p. 653, line 10-14). In the poets’ version, the upper caste people are actually invaders while the oppressed people the real aboriginal inhabitants of the land. The invention of the caste system, according to the poets, is not derived from the division of the primal man but the invaders’ intention to keep their racial purity. On the other hand, the poets also speak for oppressed people including women, the poor,...
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