January 25, 2009

Your Life Under the Saffron Shadow - II

Hang down your head, India, hang down your head in shame!

Once again, misogynistic vigilantes have resorted to terrorizing women in Karnataka, a state ruled by the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A group of Hindu arsonists under the guise of upholding the honor of a long dead king (if he had ever lived) named Rama, his consort, Sita, and their devotee, Hanuman, went on a rampage in a pub in Mangalore, India, and assaulted women who dared to be different. At least two women have been hospitalized, according to the news reports.

Two rivaling outfits, the so-called Sri Ram Sena and the Bajrang Dal, separately claimed the honor for the attack:

Claiming responsibility for the attack, State deputy convenor of the sene Prasad Attavar told that it was a “spontaneous reaction against women who flouted traditional Indian norms of decency”. He said these women were Hindus who “dared to get close to Muslim men.”

Kumar Malemar, district convenor of the sene challenged the Bajarang Dal’s claim and insisted that the attack was carried out by his outfit.

So, what if these women were hanging out with the Muslim men? Which article of the Constitution of India denies the right of a woman to date a worshiper of a different religion? Who gave the right to these fellows to question whom she shares her lunch, bed, or whatever with? In case these fools with the mental acumen of a two year old don't comprehend, neither the Manu Shastra, nor the Shariat, is the law of their land — not yet.

Talking of the "traditional Indian norms of decency", has anyone of these thugs from the Sri Ram Sena ever cared to read the classical literature and history of the sub-continent? What do these fellows really know about the drinking and sexual norms in the days gone by? Quoting from Kumarila Bhatta's Tantra-Vanika, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar writes of women consuming alcohol in his Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India:

That the drinking of intoxicating liquor was indulged in by Brahmin women, not to speak of women of the lower Varnas, as late as the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. in the Central region of Aryavarta, is clear from Kumarila Bhatta's Tantra-Vanika I (iii). 4. which states, "Among the people of modern days we find the Brahmin women of the countries of Ahicchatra and Mathura to be addicted to drinking. "Kumarila condemned the practice in the case of Brahmins only, but not of Kshatriyas and Vaishyas men and women if the liquor was distilled from fruits or flowers (Madhavi). and Molasses (Gaudi) and not from grains (Sura).

Dr. Jyotsna Kamat writes in Drinking in Ancient Karnataka:

Drinking was undertaken leisurely, with a method under pleasing surrounding and decorated pavilions. Goddess of wine (Madhudevate) was invoked and the Mother Earth was propitiated. Draughts of liquor were put on the head (as mark of respect). Then it was poured into artistically shaped bowls with bird heads and carved from mother pearls, beautiful shells etc. and offered to elders. Then it was turn of youngsters to help themselves. Lovers, married couples, family members, friends and relatives joined in drinking bouts.

And, on the question of sexual freedom for women in BCE and CE, do these fellows have any idea of the circumstances in which Bharata, after whom their country is named, was conceived? Or, for that matter, do they even know whether "Bharata-mata", the mother of Bharata, was conceived in or out of wedlock?

For your information, Messers Bajrang Dal, Kunti, mother of the Pandavas, was not exactly a virgin bride. And, Karna, her eldest son, was not the result of an immaculate conception, either. Why, none of the Pandavas, not one, had any claim to the lineage of the bigamous Pandu, Kunti's husband! All of them, including Yudhishtra, aka Dharma, were conceived from the extra-marital relationships that Kunti and Mathri had with their respective god-paramours.

If these fellows were ignorant of why Pandu was impotent, they should read the story of the births of Dhrutharashtra, Pandu, and yes, Vidhura, too. All three were the sons of Vyaasa, the head priest of the Kauravas. And, please, spare me that crap about these relationships being of a transcendental nature, meant only for procreation and little else. If you have any doubt, check out why Vidhura was born without any deficiency, unlike his two brothers. Lest these Rama-bhakthas should dismiss it all as rampant promiscuity in the days of the Mahabharatha, their idol, Rama, was not really fathered by King Dasaratha, either!

That a woman's libido is no less than that of a man, shines through much of the classical Indian literature. Lakhina Thakurani, a poetess from Mithila wrote:

Attacked with the severe onslaught of the God of Love is she,
Distraught like a craft or a fish in a dry place is she,
Oh; Thou bull-minded one...
She feels pain like that of a scorpion bite.,
Surely, let the result of married life relieve her.
— M. Krishnamachariar. History of Classical Literature. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1970, p.395.

Dr. Ambedkar writes a gentle reminder to these amnesiac morons, who call themselves the guardians of India's social and cultural heritage, on the sexual traditions in the ancient India:

If any woman [in ancient India] came there and expressed a desire for sexual intercourse and asked the sage to satisfy her, the sage used to cohabit with her then and there in the open on the Yadnya Bhumi. Instances of this may be mentioned; the case of the sage Parashara who had sexual intercourse with Satyavati and also of Dirghatapa. That such a custom was common is shown by the existence of the word Ayoni. The word Ayoni is understood to mean of immaculate conception. That is not however the original meaning of the word. The original meaning of the word Yoni is house. Ayoni means conceived out of the house i.e. in the open. That there was nothing deemed to be wrong in this is clear from the fact that both Sita and Draupadi were Ayonija.

Come on, the Mangalore girls were only having lunch with their boyfriends in that pub in Mangalore. It doesn't even come close to the fun that the apsaras and the princesses must have had in that bygone golden age! For the life of me, I can't understand why instead of rejoicing in the traditions of the sexually liberated India, these fellows seem to be bent upon restoring the repressive traditions of the alien cultures and religions that reigned over that country.

Of course, the politicians of the non-saffron hues and the self-proclaimed champions of secular India have been quick to make the most hay off this sordid episode. Considering that the election is shining brightly on the horizon, this is hardly surprising. The UPA Minister for Women and Child Development, Ms. Renuka Chowdhry commented:

"This (the incident) is an attempt to Talibanise India. There is no place for these kind of acts in India as it is a democracy," Chowdhry said, adding that the BJP leaders should condemn the incident. The Minister also said it is time for Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to "wake up" and take action against the culprits.

Where were you, Ms. Chowdhry, when the Taliban of Hyderabad assaulted Taslima Nasreen for writing against the oppression of women in Islam? When I last heard, Asaduddin Owaisi, whose party, All India Majlis-e Ittihad al-Muslimin, was behind the assault, remained a honorable member of the Indian Parliament. How about your coalition partner and the ruling party in Tamil Nadu, the DMK, which watched in silent admiration, the harassment of actors Kushboo and Suhashini, whose only crime was to advise safe sex to sexually active young men and women?

Perhaps, India was not a democracy then, was it Ms. Chowdhry?

  1. Outrageous.
    These people are not interested in our history or culture - they just feel threatened by anything happening to change the kind of gender imbalance in which they feel secure. Any move that makes women more equal to them is to be attacked and quashed. And in the present scenario it is easier for them to do it in the name of Rama or Allah or Bharatiya.

    What is that proverb about being able to awaken someone who is sleeping but not the one who pretends to?

    Unless we have people in power and position with a will to stand by our our constitution in spirit and word, without any fear of favour, women in this country will remain a vulnerable lot.

  2. Well thank all the gods there are people like yourself taking the time to write such lucid things. I am sure the majority are in agreement with you, they just don't have the time or ability to put it all together this way. Good call quoting Ambedkar.

  3. I think the Saffron color is trying to assert it's authority over the green color... and what better way is there than to start lording over women ...to prove that they are no way lesser than the others when it comes to treating women as a commodity!

  4. If Ram Sena existed when Britishers came to India, Ram sENA would have been the colonizer's elite arm for moral policing - as per victorian law.

  5. I agree with Usha. The govt. in power has to govern according to the constitution and laws.

    However much we may wish otherwise, such people as these attackers will always be there in society.

    It is up to the govt.(state govt. in this case)to enforce the law without fear or favour.

  6. Brilliantly researched and written. Unfortunately, moral policing doesn't need a basis or central theme to carry out their ridiculous deeds. And neither does the government necessarily have the moral aptitude or the balls to rein these stray outfits in.

    Reminds me of an old grandpa reacting to a story of a girl molested while walking in the night..."Girls in my time didn't stay out so late". Seems to be the attitude of the official moral caretakers.

  7. Well written.
    I agree with Manju 'However much we may wish otherwise, such people as these attackers will always be there in society.

    It is up to the govt.(state govt. in this case)to enforce the law without fear or favour.'


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