Questions about a potential hidden meaning behind Lee Hsien Yang’s latest post have arisen, after he shared a quilt depicting a story from the ancient Sanskrit epic Ramayana.
In a Facebook post published on Sunday (21 June), the youngest son of the late Lee Kuan Yew shared a quilt depicting a wayang involving a host of characters from the Ramayana. The characters that are featured on the quilt are King Rama, his wife Sita, his younger brother Lakshmana, his allies the monkey deity Hanuman and Anggada as well as the demon king Ravana, Ravana’s son Indrajit, and the Golden Deer, a demon in disguise to entrap Sita.
The relationship between Rama and Lakshmana is prominent in the Ramayana. Lakshmana is so devoted to his elder brother that he leaves his wife behind and follows Rama and Sita into the forest when they are exiled for 14 years. To ensure the safety of Rama and Sita during the period of exile, Lakshmana sought a boon stay awake for the entirety of the 14 years.
Lakshmana was also so respectful of his elder brother and his sister-in-law that he never looked at Sita’s face – he could only identify her by the anklets she wore since he only saw her feet when he bowed down in front of her feet in worship. These virtues allowed Lakshmana to slay Indrajit, the dragon demon, who could only be killed by someone who had not eaten, slept or seen the face of a woman for 14 years.
A great war broke out between the camps of Rama and Ravana after the latter abducted Sita. Rama, who emerged victorious, was crowned king of Ayodhya and wished to make Lakshmana crown prince but Lakshmana refused and asked him to give the title to an elder comrade. His generosity touched Rama so deeply that he said, “O lakshmana in this birth you served me so well and did your duties as a younger brother, I will do the same in next birth as your younger brother.”
Lakshmana remained faithful to Rama all his life and even gave up his life fulfilling a duty Rama had entrusted to him.
The only time Lakshmana disagreed with Rama was after the war, when Rama asked Sita to give test of her purity since she had been held hostage by Ravana. Lakshmana, for the first time, became angry and opposed Rama.
While Rama-Lakshmana are perhaps the most famous pair of brothers in ancient Sanskrit mythology, Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Hsien Yang could be the most famous pair of brothers in Singapore.
Some observers responding to Lee Hsien Yang’s latest post on the Ramayana quilt are speculating that he is making a veiled comment about his relationship with his brother, who is Singapore’s current Prime Minister.
The sons of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister were once said to be close but became estranged after their father passed away in 2015. In 2017, Lee Hsien Yang and his sister, Lee Wei Ling, publicly accused PM Lee of abusing his power to preserve their family home, against their father’s willed desire to demolish it, in order to bolster his grip on power.
While PM Lee denied the allegations against him, his younger siblings have maintained that they do not trust him as a leader or a brother and that they have lost confidence in him.
Lee Wei Ling, Lee Kuan Yew’s only daughter, shared Lee Hsien Yang’s photo of the quilt on her own Facebook page, sparking further speculation. Some observers say that Lee Hsien Yang might be pointing out that he is like Lakshmana, who was faithful to his brother the king, only opposing his brother when he made an immoral decision.
WayangTop row line up from left to right the puppets are: Anggada (ally of Rama), Laksmana (Rama’s younger brother),…