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Sthree Dharma
<!--QuoteBegin-Bodhi+Jun 26 2008, 01:39 AM-->QUOTE(Bodhi @ Jun 26 2008, 01:39 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->an interesting perspective by a sari-wearing professional:
<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->
If my colleague at work asks me wistfully "tell me <b>Polly, why DO you
wear a sari?</b>" I say (gives the most meaningless answers).
[...]
But given how many times I've answered the question, <span style='color:blue'>I'd really be
rather relieved if I could just say I wear a sari because it's my
religion! Because its complicated. Related to the sari, there is no
coherent `why' question that I can make sense of, or can give a response to. As a general question it makes no sense- why do you wear
a sari?</span><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->[right][snapback]83343[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->Bodhi, why does Polly's opinion matter? It appears from her dialogue and her reference to her own name that she's a christian. But most of the following applies just as well to pseculars (who are invariably christo-conditioned).

Polly's is a predictable response. Such persons have no real reason to wear a sari: wearing of a sari is incoherent to Indian christians because it is a <i>Hindu</i> tradition. When Hindu tradition is psecularised and appropriated as christianism has done, you get such desperations like the 'complicated', 'can't make sense', 'no coherent reason why' and more seen above. Indian christians always come off looking like insipid ignorants when they try to reason to themselves - and then try to excuse themselves to others - as to why they have stolen Hindu traditional practises, festivals, skills, arts, sciences and literature (even though they took great pride to avoid these things until now, precisely because these are very heatheny Hindoo things). But then, thieves don't know the true worth or reasoning behind the valuables they've merely stolen. That's why their answer to such questions doesn't even matter.
Hindu women do very much wear the sari for Hindu (that is, 'religious') purposes - it's the real reason why Hindu civilisation developed it in the first place. But christians wouldn't know that, because one would need to be Hindu/Dharmic to learn and know all the basics of Hindu/Dharmic civilisation. Hindus don't need to come up with invalid, trite and inconsequential reasons that are so obviously only the refuge of christians who tell themselves why it is okay to do heatheny things.
Consider a thief stealing someone else's heirloom: to the criminal, the item will never possess nor represent the real value that it has for the true owner, since the criminal merely stole it out of greed/jealousy/spite/ineptitude. It will never be theirs in reality, even as they spend their lives trying to convince themselves as to why it belongs in their possession. But even this example is inadequate, as Hindu practises are not mere heirlooms: they are essential parts of Hindus' <i>religious</i> civilisation. Christianism has no civilisation and is incapable of creating anything that is its own. Consequently, as christians in India have no real culture, they attempt to steal and pass of others' as their own. Christianism has always been parasitism - feeding on the Roman, Greek and European hosts, and then bent on repeating the same desolation in the rest of the world.
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<!--QuoteBegin-Husky+Jun 30 2008, 07:22 PM-->QUOTE(Husky @ Jun 30 2008, 07:22 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->It is this one: http://koenraadelst.voi.org/articles/dutch/sati.htm
my search on English words failed because it is in Dutch.
I will try to translate the paras on dowry when I get the time.
[right][snapback]83581[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Here - note my insert is in purple:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Dowry murders</b>
At this point, let us make a clear distinction between the self-immolations of widows and the kitchen fires that are often orchestrated (thousands a year, in India as well as in Pakistan) to murder the bride if the dowry (<i>dahej</i>) they bring along is less than expected. Traditionally, a dowry was a gift of personal items, especially jewels, given to the bride: while her brothers remained in the parental home and took over the family business or family lands, the bride got to take her share in the inheritance with her in the form of shiny movable goods. In any case, it was not a gift of the bride's family to the bridegroom and his family, whereas such is indeed the case in less traditional households/environments today.

This practise only originated in the 13th century, and then only among the martial Rajput-caste (coincidentally the same where since ages prior to it, sati also occurs the most). Among the other castes it involved no more than a nominal gift, and it is only in the 19th century that the <i>dahej</i> has taken on scandalous proportions and has become a real social problem, starting with the most anglicised households/environments, such as the Parsees and the Sindhi Banias (traders). The first dowry-victims that made it into the newspapers were young girls who committed suicide to spare their father for the looming dowry-induced bankruptcy.

These days, the giving of enormous presents to the groom's family is a rather general practise that finds entry even among the lowest classes and that drives families with many daughters to beggary. Particularly in modern households/environments, a marriage to a young man is the golden occasion to reel in all kinds of luxurious goods. It is therefore also there (in such households) that the dowry had started forming a reason for bride-murder. To assume that bride-murder is an evil of the traditional society that "still continues" to occur often, is completely wrong. On the contrary, it's a typical example of how an innocent practise of the native people has become a poison through contact with our culture of consumption.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
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Re Polly's Sari:

"Polly" should stop wearing a sari, and stick to the chosen couture of her idols, the Christos.

That was she can fit in better with her peers who accuse us of idol-worship, while continuing their own Romo-cannibalistic traditions.
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http://yabaluri.org/TRIVENI/CDWEB/theleg...assati.htm

In this article on Sati by one SK Ahuja, there are some bits of interest. But the author has some obvious biases:

1. His *guess* (as he clearly refers to it) is that the "bigoted and gullible priesthood" were trying to steal the woman's possessions.

2. He constantly refers to christ as if the character existed (e.g. "in the centuries following the birth of Christ"), whereas he refers to "mythical values" and "mythical beliefs" in matters related to the indigenous context.

3. Both 1 and 2 (1. the belief that Sati is ultimately an unacceptable wrong - and must therefore be due to evil priests rather than the choice of the woman, 2. the belief in historicity of christ) explain the writer's deep love for Ram Mohan Roy/Brahmo Samaj ("The great apostle of abolition of this searning and blotchful custom, that enlightened giant from Bengal, Raja Ram Mohan Roy").

While in British-occupied Bengal the widow immolations were due to the British changing the laws of succession/inheritance so that these ended up being forced, in other parts of India there were actual cases of <i>Sati</i> (=voluntary self-immolations). Therefore, why make hard and fast rules for everyone?


The interesting bits:

1. More details on the Greek encounter of Sati (pre-Shaka invasions):
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Possibly, the Aryans–among them principally the aristocracy ­may have followed the rite for over a thousand years, yet <b>the earliest, recorded instance of Sati is provided in the account left to posterity by a Greek historian.</b> Diodorus Siculus, who may have be approximated to have lived in Julius Caeser’s time. The event described is the death and funeral of a Hindu General named Keteus serving under Eumenes, the Greek Commander of Alexander’s army. While fighting Antigonos somewhere in 316 or 317 B.C., the Indian General was killed and an obstreperous contro­versy raged between his two wives who vied for the honour of concremation. The issue, in deference to the accepted convention then prevalent, was settled in favour of the younger spouse as the elder was big with a child. Bedecked as bride, she laid herself by the side of her husband on the pyre. A detachment of the army marched three times around the pyre platform. The violence of flames could not draw a cry of anguish from the voluntary participant; she is reported to have bid adieu with a smile, perhaps with a wave of arm even as the flames completely engulfed her.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

2. Sati in India in Hindu literature (pre-Shaka):
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Some authorities expound that Scynthians were the original race who gave birth to the idea, nurtured it and propagated the same in the lands where they settled. A conjecture is offered that the concept germinated in India with Scynthians. However, the rite is said to have formed not an unimportant part in the funeral ceremonies before Ramayana and Mahabharata or about 300 years B. C. In certain texts, eight centuries before Christ, traces of reference to Sati are found.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->The Indian author seems to find that 300 BCE = before Ramayana and Mahabharata, going by the above. Must have been reading the same encyclopaedias I have.


3. And the following seems to indicate that the earlier indigenous Sati custom local to India may have at one point in some parts of the country become combined with that of the suicide-rituals practised by the Iranian Shakas - although the following combined practices (the self-immolation of sisters and mothers upon their brother/son's death) don't seem to have been followed in India at large in the times after those mentioned - that is, such self-immolations don't seem to have been popular, in that one tends to only hear of the widow performing it in the Indian context:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The rite may be assumed to have figured in the Indian literature in the centuries following the birth of Christ. Banu’s Rajatarangini (dated to 12th century?) and Somadeva’s Brihatkathasaritsagara (dated to 11th century?) mention instances Sati: in particular, these two cardinal publications inform us of the variation that the principle of Sati came to adopt in course of time. This may well have been influenced by Scythian practice of similar nature. Bana quotes instances where concubines, sisters and even mothers concremated themselves the practice being known as <b>Sahamarana, or Sahagamana or Anvarohana</b>. Somadeva quoted the particular example of the Queen Mother committing Sati when her son Visujitamalla of Nepal was killed in Samvat 878.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
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<!--QuoteBegin-Husky+Mar 2 2009, 04:14 PM-->QUOTE(Husky @ Mar 2 2009, 04:14 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Somadeva quoted the particular example of the Queen Mother committing Sati when her son Visujitamalla of Nepal was killed in Samvat 878.
[right][snapback]95095[/snapback][/right]
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

There was another interesting mention in nepAla rAja vaMshAvalI of (avoidance of) satI of a certain lichcHavI(? or malla) queen. Her husband died in mid of a performance of a certain vedic rite. When she decided to perform satI, her sons, other relatives, and ministers tried to dissuade her from it. She laid a condition upon the yuvarAjan that he should set out with the army immediately and within a certain days conquer the whole of nepAla, subdue all the rivals and comeback to complete the yaj~na his father had started, failing which she would proceed to do a belated-satI. The yuvarAjan accomplished the feat and the queen-mother lived. I miss the names.
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<b>Mother India’s daughters</b>

Tarun Vijay
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I feel a bit outdated when my little daughter, Class Six champion, sets the “profile” of my cellular phone and finds a website that’s really important for my work in a manner my teachers in Gandhi School used to tell me something new about the weather conditions. I get educated and enriched with the experiences and inquisitive dynamics of Shambhavi, that little whizkid I introduce to the world with pride: “Oh yes, that’s my daughter.”

I am growing up with her; she is the only one who can chide me and use a loud voice asking me to stop doing something she dislikes. She belongs to the brave new world order that sets our time. Nothing can be happier than to realise its existence and live with it. So, when a government tries to correct something that was essentially wrong, we must smile. The world will be a darker, unliveable place without daughters and hence we must say thank you to Dr Manmohan Singh for having passed a bill that makes them feel better and counted.

Since we are living in a society where criticism is considered more important than positive appraisal, let’s make an exception and clap a little for Manmohan Singh’s small but sweet gesture to help Mother India’s daughters: that the Central government will bear the educational expenses of single daughters in families, is more significant in its message than the real programme.

In a nation where every acquirable attribute is sought from a female deity — money and material comforts from Laxmi, academic virtues from Saraswati and annihilation of one’s enemies from Kali — it is inconceivably roguish of us to kill the female foetus symbolising the very same worshipped deities.

One has to see the greatest marvels of the world like the Ajanta and the Ellora to understand the high place a daughter or a woman had in our society just a couple of centuries ago. Shiva couldn’t find solace without Uma and when Sita rebelled against the wrongs of a dogmatic social order, Ram could never find peace and found final refuge in the waters of Saryu.

Draupadi was the originator of the Mahabharata, the epic war and she is adored in the scriptures as an embodiment of Dharma. Adi Sankara had to learn a few lessons from a lady scholar and Gargi and Maitreyi defeated the great male scholars of their times and were revered higher than any other rishi, and the mother of Nachiketa had the courage to tell Yama she could not remember who fathered her son.

No one burnt her to death accusing her to be a woman of no morals or a witch, like we had seen happening in Arab societies, and, more notoriously, in early Christendom where millions of women lost their lives after being declared witches or creatures without soul.

And then came the loot, plunder and rape with foreign invaders coming to our land with jihadi flags and missionary evangelism. The woman was as low and dispensable in their eyes as customary in the lands of their origin — a commodity to be used and thrown away or at best to be “tilled” to get a “harvest.” That affected the mindset of a subjugated, colonised people and women came to be seen differently.

They had to burn themselves alive to save their honour, and a ritualistic, rude Brahminical order set in where purdah was thought to be a better choice, the practice of forced sati came to be worshipped, widows were exiled to Vrindavan to face slow death and giving birth to a girl was thought to be a curse. That was the time when Brahmin priests were blessing the flag of the East India Company in the Kali temples praying for its victory and Indian soldiers were finding it a matter of pride to serve an army of white men and kill their own countrymen in the name of military discipline.

We have degenerated into a society that hates daughters and burns them for not bringing the right “price” for its nalayak sons. The states which bore the brunt of Semitic brutalities, became shell-shocked and killed their daughters or shamed them into hiding. That’s what we see in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It’s quite possible that the civil servants who saw the Doctor’s bill passed had taken very fat amounts as dowry.

Things have come to such a pass that it is difficult to imagine an IAS or an IPS officer in the northern belt getting married without a “price tag”. Dr Manmohan Singh might have passed the bill to educate our daughters, but can he ensure that the scholarships will be given without greasing the palms of the babus and that his own officers are committed against taking dowry?

Imrana could not fight back, neither can the women who face the same injustices at the hands of some caste panchayat or a personal law board. Women political leaders too make use of such victims for furthering their pro-women image. Nothing helpful really emerges in the end. So, in spite of several Anu Aghas and Mehboobas, daughters remain unwanted.

Those who invite blindness to facts to attack the RSS, do not want to recognise that the largest number of dowryless marriages take place in Hindutva families and Dr Hedgewar, the founder of the movement, had the courage to inspire and encourage a reformist organisation for women at a time when things were much worse than today.

In conclusion, it’s no use worshipping motherhood or performing disorderly aartis of Bharat Mata if her daughters are not equally respected and listed at par with sons.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
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Prologue - It is understood that when adharm is the highest, God takes avtar to set the cycle of dharm in motion. Just one or two centuries before Al Beruni, India was blessed with Adi Shankaracharya, to whose Panchyatna and Shanmat efforts one can attribute the tolerance now so ingrained in Hinduism. However old prejudices dont die overnight and by the time Al Beruni came to India, the society was still in poor moral condition, amply corroborated by Al Beruni's writings. Probably it was only karmic that a country that allowed itself to fall from the honorable moral standards expounded by Maharishi Vyasa and Vasudeva, that are clearly mentioned even by Al Beruni, could only have been taken over by foreigners. The relation between the status of women's development and the family's and society's welfare is all too clearly understood by everybody but the unrightous kind (just look at the Islamic countries - poor status of women=poor status of civilization). A society that treats the weak unfairly, is a society let by the Rajsic & the Tamsic and can only get trampled under the feet of foreign rule.





Pls note the Pages 154 and 155 of the following link.

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/...&left=70px



What you will note that the ills of dowry were not present (Al Beruni mentions small gifts by husband to wife instead. Something that was prelevant even uptill my grandfathers times in my native Uttrakhand) but ills like polygamy was tolerated, perhaps this laxity was even exploited by the corrupted people of those times. Fear of ill treatment of widowed women is also mentioned (something that continues to this day). Prostitution was also allowed and menfolk seem to have lost the sense of balance in there relationship towards women. The stupidity of child marriage is mentioned to be common (something that continues to this day in certain sections of our society).



Also pls note this link

http://www.thisismyindia.com/ancient_ind...india.html



Shows as the agrarian Shruti traditions were being forgoten and complexities of growing population was forcing the draft of ever newer laws the condition to women was suffering.



Caveat – As far as I have read Al Beruni, seems like he is trying honestly to portray the state of affairs during the time he was in India. However, at some place he mentions something to the effect that Indian philosophy was not very well developed, obviously a wrong comment. So anything said by Al Beruni w.r.t. the times before Al Beruni, may not be taken at face value and care is advisable. He was probably relying on others to tell him about the then history of India, who themselves were not better informed.
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Quote:Kavalu: Book Review

Thursday, 12. August 2010 - 4:37 PM



An important truth about SL Bhyrappa’s works is that they haven’t had the fortune of being reviewed by the best of critics. The huge tome of “criticism” that currently exists is just thinly-disguised abuse. Which is sad because given the huge amount of popularity and wide readership that his works enjoy, one would expect a fair amount of quality literary criticism. This phenomenon hasn’t spared his latest, Kavalu (Cleft), already in its 8th reprint in about 50 days.



As is their wont, the “criticism” that continues to emanate from professional Bhyrappa-baiters is centered mostly around the following themes:



It is an attack on the concept of feminism/gender equality.

Only the bindi/mangalsutra-wearing women aka traditional Indian women are “real” women and it therefore reaffirms SL Bhyrappa as a writer who upholds regressive values.

Its lays extreme and unnecessary focus on extra marital relationships.

There was really no need to write such a novel.

We don’t need to attach any weightage to these baiters because…well, because we know the script. However, it’s not untrue that Kavalu has disappointed even his most ardent fans and admirers who feel let down for many different reasons as we shall see.



Kavalu is first and foremost a novel, a literary work that needs to be analyzed as such. Things like theme, issues, feminism etcetra are merely incidental because it transcends issues and remains utterly faithful to the author’s oft-repeated dictum about his views on literature: a quest for truth, a strumming of the strings of the most fundamental impulses of human nature, and a conscious divorce from isms. This is one of the reasons why his works haven’t enjoyed quality criticism. An age of formulaic and agenda-based literature yields a similar harvest of literary criticism and critics. And plain laziness and lack of imagination to appreciate quality literature, a fact that Bernard Shaw condemned about 100 years ago:



THE rest of the story need not be shown in action, and indeed, would hardly need telling if our imaginations were not so enfeebled by their lazy dependence on the ready-mades and reach-me-downs of the ragshop in which Romance keeps its stock of “happy endings” to misfit all stories. [Sequel to Pygmalion, 1916]



Although it’s arguable, Kavalu has no central “theme.” It explores a range of human impulses by placing its chief protagonists in specific situations set in a specific spacio-temporal and cultural context. These contexts assume special importance to understand the essence of Kavalu. The behaviour, attitudes, and responses to specific situations of the six principal characters of the novel make sense only in the contemporary cultural context of India.



Kavalu is a treatise of sorts on the decayed Indian family values that we see today everywhere. Although traditional Indian values still exist in tiny, fragmented pockets, they’ve been largely obliterated in urban India in which the novel’s characters are placed. This decay as the novel shows, is just another facet of the overall decline of values in the society. The novel’s focus is a deep examination of the age-old and still-widely-held idea of marriage-as-an-institution. When you read it, you can’t help but question this idea: is marriage really an institution anymore or is it simply a contract that you can end at will. Or, as we are witnessing, a contract that you can end at a whim. Or the fact that we’ve come to this pass in India where it was a sacred, dharmic institution. And the next inevitable question that accompanies this: why have we come to this pass?



What began about 30 years ago as a movement (honourable, genuine and justified in many cases) for gender equality has today metamorphosed into an untamed monster armed with the power of law. The culprit here, again, is a blind and crude import of Western feminist ideas. A few months ago, I wrote this about the brand of “feminism” that has spread it octopus-like tentacles across our cities:



…our intellectually-vacuous thinkers imported the worst of Western feminism into India and superimposed it on to the Indian society. Western feminism arose out of a genuine need in those societies—for example, women were denied voting rights till the 1960s, about 50 years ere now. Also, oppression of women in those societies was also one of the outcomes of the industrial revolution, which in its early days, spawned a ruthless form of exploitative capitalism. However, India was a victim of the industrial revolution. Indian women suffered no such oppression. Besides, the status of Indian women as worship-worthy was still secure, and was handed down over a few thousand years. Indian women had such models as Gargi, Maitreyi, Arundhati, and Draupadi to look up to while their Western sisters had none. A poor Joan of Arc or a Hypatia who were put to death. Today, a Mata Amritanandamayi is worshipped by men and women with equal devotion. When I last heard, she didn’t go about preaching Mallika Sarabhai-brand of female equality



The two chief female protagonists of Kavalu, Mangala and Ila in their own ways, stand as excellent examples of this development. Mangala represents a classic example of what happens when spurious feminism is mixed with naked manipulation. She seduces Jayakumar without seducing him and marries him through legal coercion. “Legal coercion” is the precise term to describe her act of unleashing a pack of ultra-fiery feminists headed by a Supreme Court-status feminist lawyer. Post-marriage, she demands her “legal right” to get sex from him and sets out to systemmatically wreck his life. Mangala’s character development is a must-study for every serious student of literature. Equipped basically with a very sick mind fed on a heady diet of academic indoctrination of misplaced feminism and garnished with third-rate feminist literature, she sees sexual connotations in a father’s affection for his mentally-challenged teenage daughter. Ila, her professor in college provides the said academic indoctrination. Mangala’s defining character trait is a severe intolerance of other people’s happiness. She is willing to accept any indignity if that provides her an avenue to manipulate her way up the food chain of materialism. She lets herself be used by a powerful businesswoman as an object of sexual pleasure. Her consent to sleep with Jayakumar, her boss, before she legally coerced to marry, stems from the same impulse. Her legal coercion doesn’t end there. She quotes the law when he refuses to have sex with her post-marriage and tops her previous record by putting him behind bars because he hit her. Yet, the extreme provocation from her side escapes her: “I’ve read Freud. I know your “love” for your daughter: you love the thrill of feeling a fourteen year old girl’s ripe, young breasts against you” followed by taunts about his manhood.



Mangala’s repeated invocation of the law to get away with patently manipulative and evil impulses simply shows, among others, these:



The nature of the law that enables, encourages, sustains, and even rewards these impulses.

The obvious heedlessness of the makers of such laws.

The defeat of the original intent and purpose of the law–i.e. to protect a wife against the atrocities of the husband and his family.

The boomerang effect of the law. In the name of protecting the wife, the law victimizes other female members of the family–the mother in law and sister in law.

The law in question happens to be the dreaded Section 498 of the Indian Penal Code. As to what it does, I’ll simply point you to this. This raises an even more vital question: to what extent should a free, civil society allow the law to interfere in the private lives of individuals? More fundamentally, what exactly is the function, nay, justification for laws to even exist? This seemingly absurd question arises in the mind when the author opens the gates to deeper inquiry on many things we’ve come to accept as normal. The old lawyer who counsels Jayakumar says, “Justice and law are entirely different things. Law doesn’t guarantee justice. Even the judges are powerless here–they cannot rule what is not in the law. The current practice is to squeeze as much (money) as you can.”




The picture that emerges is both disturbing and dangerous: we’ve mindlessly created a system that empowers Mangalas whose tendencies have been given ideological justification by the likes of Ila and provided with fangs by the law. While Mangala has absolutely no redeeming qualities, Ila, her lecturer in college, is a committed feminist in every sense. Her feminist convictions are solidified during her years as a postgrad student in England. When she returns, she seeks to impose those ideas in a society that’s entirely a different universe. Ila symbolizes the adage about every problem looking like a nail to a person armed with a hammer. An English lecturer, she manages to “detect” injustice to women in every work of literature–past and present. She preaches free sex to her students in a society much to the delight of her male students who’re only happy if their female classmates buy into the idea. Mangala buys in and has sex with Prabhakar, has an abortion, and then he vanishes before emerging again after she marries Jayakumar, and resumes where he had left off. Ila refuses to join her husband, Vinay Chandra when he’s transferred to Delhi because she thinks it lowers her dignity as a woman who has a mind of her own, career aspirations, etcetra. She embarks on an affair with a powerful minister, which ends disastrously for her. Ila’s character is exemplary for her conviction and fealty to her feminist ideas. She preaches what she practices but both her preaching and practice are distant from the reality of her cultural context. She never realizes this fact despite her own daughter’s disavowal of everything she stands for. Ila’s conviction that feminism is about truly liberating a woman from all bonds she sees as imposed by a male-dominated society doesn’t resonate with Sujaya. When the eighteen year old Sujaya questions her liaisons with the minister, Ila says her daughter has no claim over her personal life. In turn, she says Sujaya is allowed the same freedom and privacy on the condition that she must have protected sex. Sujaya’s conclusive reply is a slap on the face of Ila’s convictions: “I’m leaving you to go and live in the hostel precisely because I don’t want your kind of freedom.” Ila fails to not just fathom her daughter’s reaction but really, fails to understand her daughter as a person. And it is easy to see why: people who blindly albeit sincerely ahdere to an ideology are blinkered by the very ideology and live their lives in denial and seek to blame other people and factors rather than introspect. Ila blames her husband for “weaning” her daughter away from her by poisoning her mind against the mother.



If this sounds like a wholly one-sided view of gender equality and feminism, it isn’t. Perhaps no other contemporary author has managed to create memorable and lasting female characters as SL Bhyrappa has done: Nanjamma (Grihabhanga), Satyabhama (Daatu), Chandrika (Saartha), Thayavva (Tabbaliyu Neenaade Magane), Savithri (Saakshi), Ramkumari (Mandra), and Lakshmi (Aavarana) are not mere characters; they stand out as entire value systems. In Kavalu we find Vaijayanthi, Jayakumar’s deceased (first) wife and towers over him by the sheer force of her immense personal strength. She helps him build his business, makes his home and provides support to him in every way–from taking over administrative tasks at work to supervising the construction of their house to doing the interiors to instilling values in the daughter. Jayakumar recollects her personality, “a pleasant face that radiated love and warmth and gave the comfort and security that every man needs from his woman” and “not like Mangala who is forever battle-ready.” Which raises an important issue: how can we rescue the Indian family system as we know it from the clutches of the entire discourse on feminism/gender equality, which is based on rights? Any discourse based on rights carries with it a seed of conflict. And so it is with the clamour of feminists that has resulted today in largescale wreckage of families across the country. In the last 12 years, an estimated 170000 men have killed themselves unable to bear the harassment meted out by their wives armed with the dreaded IPC Section 498. And eligible bachelors now fear marriage. A discourse based only on rights is a product of ego, a concept alien to Indian ethos, which is based on duty. Indian values emphasized the need to shed ego because the sages who laid down our system of values realized that contentment and ego are antithetical. Those who talk about the Constitution-guaranteed fundamental rights of a citizen never talk about the same Constitution, which also lays down fundamental duties. Leading a duty-bound life implies sacrificing large portions of the ego. A law enacted on the basis of a rights discourse therefore ends up feeding the ego. The consequence, to repeat, is the industrial-scale societal destruction that continues to occur. Like most things in life, love and trust and respect in a marriage need to be earned, and to earn something, one needs to sacrifice something. When these things are demanded as a right, things fall apart. While Vijayanthi exemplifies the former ideals, Mangala epitomises the latter vices of character. Which make us question another widely-held assumption: that education/literacy inculcates decency and values. The characters of Jayakumar’s mother and Dyavakka, his loyal female servant show this quite powerfully. Dyvakka knows her place in the household and sticks with Jayakumar through his journey from prosperity to misery. She becomes more than a mother to Jayakumar’s daughter when Jayakumar is jailed for a few months. Jayakumar’s mother is another powerful character who emerges very late in the novel. A gutsy woman, she speaks on the strength of the values she’s found through living a hard life. Her moment of glory is when she visits her older son and daughter-in-law, responsible for sending her to jail on a fabricated charge: “You won’t understand this. He’s my son and he needs me now.” This is the other side of a rights discourse, which knows only punishment, but ignores the possibility of the moral courage it takes to forgive.



The male protagonists in Kavalu are pretty much weak and have no real depth of character. Jayakumar is a naive but hardworking and decent person who lacks courage to counter his exploitation in his own home and is powerless to stop his downfall. He gives in to his sexual impulses in a weak moment and spends the rest of his life regretting it. He finds sexual pleasure with call girls and when he’s jailed, he fails to brazen it out like others arrested with him do. In many ways, he’s a symbol of the New Emasculated Urban Indian Male while Vinay Chandra is the smart and sophisticated urban Indian male who doesn’t hesitate to manipulate to get what he wants though he’s not crooked by nature. He is deeply attached to his daughter and sets aside time to ensure that he’s always there for her. He doesn’t openly show the fact that he’s unhappy with Ila but uses his transfer to Delhi as a convenient opportunity to separate from her. He makes it sound like it’s her decision to stay separate. Vinay Chandra’s firm conviction in strong family values and his rustic background keeps him attached to his family back in the village. He wills his share of land to his poor brother and bears the hospitalization costs of his sister-in-law. His conviction makes him perpetuate these values across generations. He forges a warm bond between Sujaya and Satish, his brother’s son. Over time, the cousins become fiercely protective of each other and become mutual support systems. The other male protagonist Nachiketa, Jayakumar’s elder sister’s son, endures the travails of his own follies. As an impulsive young man, he migrates to the US, and first lives-in with a White woman who walks out of the live-in arrangement. He then falls for an older woman, divorced with two children. She traps him in a marriage and finally grants him “freedom” after stripping him of everything he has. In the end, Nachiketa returns to India in a quest to rebuild his life.



The male characters are symbolic of what’s happening to urban Indian men. They are no longer the “men of the house.” The first sign of assertiveness earns them the “brute” label, which now invites the wrath of Section 498 among other, similar laws. Their commitment to parents earns them the “mama’s boy” label while their acceptance of the wife’s whims gets them the “henpecked” tag. Whatever way you look at it, the urban Indian male’s life is a lifelong journey on the proverbial razor’s edge.



Despite this near-total breakdown of family life, Kavalu provides hope. Each of the men in the novel rebuild their shattered lives in their own way with the emotional support of the family and relatives. Jayakumar finds an avenue to heal his past by thinking about a consulting assignment and by tending more to his daughter. His mother and sister and Nachiketa stand by him while Nachiketa tries to redeem himself by marrying Puttakka, Jayakumar’s mentally-challenged daughter. Though a far-from-ideal marriage by conventional norms, he realizes that she possesses all the qualities that makes a marriage work: unqualified love and care and acceptance. However, the best sign of hope is that which emanates from our children. The highpoint of Kavalu is the email that Sujaya writes to Satish sharing her thoughts and concerns and fears about relationships and ends it with a touching request: “will you find such a groom for me?” In many ways, that email captures the essence of the entire work.



SL Bhyrappa’s talent for concealing dhwani, or suggestion, is brilliant as ever. The names of Ila and Mangala resonate with a range of possibilities. Ila, meaning “Earth” is significant because in the Indian context, Earth is regarded as Mother, sacred and worship-worthy because she gives life, supports, sustains, tolerates, endures, and forgives. In the novel, Ila’s personality is defined by a steadfast devotion to self-interest in the garb of individuality and freedom. Mangala, which means “auspicious” carries a similar undertone of suggestion: she unleashes a relentless torrent of misery from the moment she steps into Jayakumar’s life and home. Equally, SL Bhyrappa’s unparalleled mastery over the technique of unraveling the tale largely by delving into the minds of the characters remains intact in Kavalu. He’s one of the finest practitioners of maintaining aesthetic distance: characters tell the story, the author merely records them. The episode of minister’s wife–a crude, raw, and ferocious woman–who abuses Ila is one of the best illustrations of said aesthetic distance.



Kavalu is not one of SL Bhyrappa’s major works and rightly so. A novel that depicts a society populated by pusillanimous people cannot be profound. The India of today cannot produce towering personalities–any such personalities that still exist belong to an earlier era. At best, the today’s India can produce good and decent people: the office-going, festival-celebrating, law-fearing, pilgrimage-going and family-photo variety. Despite these limitations, Kavalu emerges as a work that will force you to ask tough and disturbing questions. Part of the reason why even SL Bhyrappa’s loyal readers and fans have felt “let down” by Kavalu is because it peeks into the reality of their own lives. This reality doesn’t necessarily need to be negative: ask people to introspect honestly and expect the obvious reactions of denial and defensiveness. Kavalu does this unlike all his other works, which deal with largely impersonal themes. It doesn’t have the epic sweep of Thantu, Parva, or Daatu or the unfathomable depth of feeling of Mandra or the intricate churning of fundamental philosophies of life in Sakshi. It is in many ways a canvas on which the author has simply drawn an outline: the reader needs to create the picture according to his/her own mental makeup, character, imagination, erudition, and experience. Whether an everlasting work of art emerges or a Hussainesque aberration ensues depends on the reader.



http://www.sandeepweb.com/2010/08/12/kav...ok-review/

Someone in the comments posted this link:

Quote:Of course, the men who take the tests already question their paternity, and for about 30 percent of them, their hunch is right. Yet as troubled as many of them might be by that news, they are even more stunned to discover that many judges find it irrelevant. State statutes and case law vary widely, but most judges conclude that these men must continue to raise their children — or at least pay support — no matter what their DNA says.



http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/magazi...anted=1&hp

There was a story in that article about a guy who was cuckolded and only found out about it during his divorce. His ex-wife married the biological father, and now the cuckolded guy pays CS to that family for its own biological child. Imagine the concept of of “justice” behind that — a man fucks your wife, gets her pregnant, and then gets her to divorce you and marry him while YOU pay him and his new wife to raise their own biological child. That's feminist "justice" for you.
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Quote:Post-marriage, she demands her “legal right” to get sex from him
WHAT.



And why did no one else notice this.



This can't possibly be true outside the fiction. Can it? Then does this 'law' hold for both genders or - with an added degree of injustice - just the one? (If the last: are they mad/are there people who seriously assume men would be ready to sleep with anything - including psychological and otherwise abusive terrorists - and "wouldn't mind". Idiot law flouting all value of human self.)



What kind of law is that? It is inhumane. It legalises marital rape. Terrorists have no "right" to touch you - even if you're married to one. Don't put up with it. Split.



Only mutual affection - and nothing else - can bring about that degree of intimacy.

No one *owes* their spouse anything.



(Am talking about the case where one or both people can't stand the other. Obviously not talking about married couples who are generally fond of each other but where one of them may not be in the mood at a particular moment - in such cases some compromise is usually reached, like either one person gives up, or the other gives in, or the interested person tries to get the other In The Mood For Love too. Or they just had a tiff/bickered, in which case both naturally sit it out for a bit. Besides, in the case of actual couples, there would *never be* any thought let alone threat of demanding/exerting any "legal" or otherwise invalid "right" over the other. <- Because normal people aren't deranged. Whereas all Terrorists are maniacs - and are in this aspect apparently encouraged by the absurdest of laws.)



As every normal person knows - but which these alien laws don't get - spouses aren't property. While they do belong to each other, certainly, this is so in an entirely different sense: akin to the way friends and family are one's own. Indeed, spouses are a sort of (best) friend and family rolled into one. And it is the only kind of family/friend that one is generally assured of retaining (excepting death): other family can move off, or pass away earlier due to differences in generation, friends can move away too without there being much one can do about it; but the general idea is that one's spouse remains one's friendly company, companion and comrade until old age. (Leastways, so it had been with Hindus thus far.) As with all kinds of friendship (and, perhaps, in some ways more so), it is mutual affection that builds, cements and strengthens this bond/this two-way claim married people have on each other; and it is a lot of other things that break it and render it void.

But can people imagine some lunatic demanding their legal right to exert absolute power over friends and relatives such as this "law" has enacted for married couples? (<- It's a rhetical question again. The answer is No.)



People should learn to stand up for themselves. I know that these characters - what's her name, Mangled, I mean Mangala and its husband - are supposed to be fiction, but if the law is not, don't stand for it. Come on. Why do Hindus have to abide by these alien christobritish laws (actually, in christobritain the law IIRC is/was one way: the husband's indisputable "right" over the wife in this respect. The law certainly held in Britain until around late 20th century/early 21st. Don't know about today. The consequences for those disadvantaged by that law were quite scary in practice.)



Mad. Mad. Eeeeewwwww. Why do people accept all this crap.

I'm so ticked off I don't even feel like reading the rest of that post now.
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haindavakeralam.com/HKPage.aspx?PageID=15823&SKIN=D

Quote:Here vedic rites become part of [color="#FF0000"]women's rights[/color]

29/04/2012 03:39:57 Sreedevi Chitharanjan, TNN - http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes....in-classes



KOZHIKODE: Every Sunday Kashi Mutt at Kasyapa Veda Research Foundation (KVRF) near West Hill wakes up to the chanting of vedas. Around 300 women from faraway places come here on weekends to learn the scriptures. Once they arrive at the centre, they divide themselves into small batches each of 13-14 members.



The teacher Sujesh Arya, a disciple of KVRF founder Acharya M R Rajesh, imparts them practical lessons on Vedic Sandyavandanam and related rituals from 8am to 12pm.



The KVRF started teaching vedas to women irrespective of their caste or age nine years ago in a bid to break the age-old tradition of restricting the learning of scriptures to Brahmin males. The institute has so far taught vedas to more than 10,000 women from Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, and Thrissur.



They are well-versed in the art of performing agnihotram, nitya yajna, and numerous other Smartha and Sroutha yajnas, Shodassakriya (the 16 Samskara Kriyas from birth to death), and Bali Vaishya Veda Yajnam.



The classes also help women face life with a positive attitude and inculcate a healthy lifestyle based on the principle of universal brotherhood, love, and compassion. Rajesh's effort to keep away the middlemen between [color="#FF0000"]God[/color] and devotees and help all to learn vedas was met with stiff resistance from his own Brahmin community. But fuelled by his vision to conserve the rituals in its pure form, he persisted.



At the institute women also impart vedic lessons. M Sayaja, teacher of Nadakkavu Vocational Higher Secondary School, said she has been teaching for the last five years. "Being a teacher the veda classes has helped me impart moral classes at schools as part of School Jagratha Samithis," said Sayaja.

T Nimisha, a software engineer at Kinfra, said the vedic practices have helped her think positively and understand the rich tradition our India. "The learning of vedas and chanting mantras have helped me to remain calm even during tough situations," she said.



Considering the growing demand to learn vedas, the KVRF is now constructing a Gurukulam near Sree Kanteswaram Temple with an estimated cost of Rs 4 crore. A hall having the capacity to accommodate 500 people at a time and an ashram will come up on 15 cents of land.



KVRF has also started digitalizing rare Sanskrit books in Tamil, Hindi collected from across the country.



The institute is also conducting camps in Chennai, Bangalore, and Mumbai.



I was wrong (see below).
  Reply
I actually looked up the KVRF and



[color="#0000FF"]I was utterly WRONG.[/color] Again. What else is new.

(But most happy to be wrong.)





- It's not at all about teaching "only women" the Vedas (let alone in some "liberating them from hinduism's patriarchy" sense), they are busy teaching *every* Hindu the Vedam.

(They merely have a separate Hindu women's programme to teach all women together.)



http://hindu-uplift.blogspot.com/



Though I didn't read every thing on the Hindu-Uplift page, the bit I did read said they want to return the Vedic life to all the Hindoos. Sounds in line with the MBh where Yuddhisthira said the Vedam is seen in all the 4 Varnas (i.e. all of Hindu/Vedic society).



- And it's not about some invisible monogawd at all, it actually mentions Saraswati in a yagnya for Ambaa. And it has a picture of her (her moorti in metal) at the bottom of the page, so it's not at all ignoring her in order to speak only of "knowledge", but equivalences Ambaa with knowledge:



http://saraswathi-kvrf.blogspot.com/



- And it doesn't seem like it's set up to antagonise traditional Hindu society in the region at all. Because all the Hindus attending look like traditional Hindus of the region - from the children, to the old women and men, to the ones carrying out the rites. Can see it in the pictures above.



Well done to Rajesh/Sujesh from whatever (northern?) part of India they come from. They're helping local Hindu religion, not trying to "break their tradition". That news piece was deliberately misleading, but it was by the TOI, I see.





The only thing that then remains is:

Quote:women also impart vedic lessons.

As they're not doing this to "protest" against Hindu religion for being some alleged "patriarchy" - as was insinuated by the TOI - but doing it to strengthen Hindu religion. Motivation sounds perfectly good to me.





Still don't like the naming of it as "Research Foundation", but considering that I thought the entire matter was a worry, this was the least of the worrisome aspects. Plus it may have a different/more sensible name in the local languages.
  Reply
There's a case of Sati among the Hindu Gods - that fits the standard description - that I wasn't aware of. Probably everyone else knows, but still. For the Fun, then:



"Sati" as in where the female Hindoo decides to immolate herself because her husband is (thought) dead.

(Note, here I'm not talking about a case such as Uma as Sati who went into the fire, because she knew her husband was living, so it wasn't on account of his "death" that she chose to go that route.)



=> "Kumara Sambhavam" by the famous Expert on the Hindu Gods.

The particular reference occurs in the chapter on the grief of Rati Devi over the loss of her beloved husband Kamadeva. At one point she pleads to Smara's close friend Vasanta to show himself (he has momentarily disappeared from sight, I assume this was because he was afraid to be the next target of Shiva for being an obvious aide to Manmatha).

Taking pity on the inconsolable spouse of Kama, Vasanta then appears I think. She begs him to help her construct a pyre - considering he had helped the pair in happier matters before - so that she may enter it to rejoin the now-Bhasmashareera in the Beyond, since she finds she cannot go on living without her dear kind spouse. IIRC, she says to Vasanta that he may provide the water in the couple's rites in one go, and the pair will simply taste of it together in the Beyond.



Fortunately for everyone, Dharma's voice is heard to tell Rati that she need not die: her husband will return to her in the world of the living. That he merely needed to be reduced to bhasmam by Shiva in order to make a shaapam (on Mara) by Brahma come to fruition, but that Brahma and Dharma had then ordained that the punishment would be only temporary: Shiva, once united to Uma, would ensure that the now-Ananga wold be united with Rati once more.

So the loyal spouse Rati, more hopeful, and looking forward to the alliance of Uma and Shiva with an even keener interest than before, stayed on, and was indeed in time rewarded with the return of her most-benevolent and well-loved husband.





The original's narration was very touching - despite being generally immune to dramatic content, I think I got almost sniffly (or maybe that was just due to a cold at the time?) - and my favourite part of the particular section was Rati Devi reminiscing about how whenever Kamadeva was talking jovially with Vasanta while stringing his dhanuh he would always steal loving glances at his beloved dharmapatnI. (Which solves a great mystery: Hindoos are so cute because they take after their ancestral Divine Parents, who are impossibly romantic also. Clearly, their incurable affliction is inherited.)





There were a few further points of particular interest (for me) in the chapters that preceded it that come to mind:



1. The particular missile that Kama had chosen for the purpose - out of his famous arsenal consisting of the 5 puShpas - was the Sammohana. (Was always curious about which of the 5 it was - for potential paw-printing purposes.)



2. On a terribly clinching matter, it seems I was under a false impression all this time:

It turns out - as Kalidasa himself tells us (and he would know) - that Kamadeva never loosed his arrow: [color="#FF0000"](NO. Note sure. See Edit at end)[/color] He had indeed set it to the bowstring, but had not sent it at Shiva yet. Meanwhile, Shiva at that moment was approached by (his actually eternal-spouse) Uma, and he spoke his famous prophetic blessing to his great bhakta: that she will attain a husband that would love none but her. In pronouncing so, he raised his incomparable mukham to her incomparable mukham, and as his gaze lingered on that perfect faultless Chandra-shape for a moment longer than he felt it ought to have, he became suspicious of external factors that may be causing such sammohana. And thus it was that he espied Kama, steeled, *with* the Sammohana aimed in his own direction (but not loosed!). And it is then that the Trinetra opened the central one and the PushpabaaNa (still with the Sammohana in hand!) was made bhasmam.



So, it would seem that Manmatha was "guilty" only of (the very lofty) Motive and (highly worthy) Attempt - to bring the Mother and Father of the universe together - and never quite of having (visibly) committed the "crime" of having struck Shiva with... a Pushpa. <- Not quite a harmless Pushpa, I admit, as it is supposed to be very potent and effective - nothing to laugh at - but nevertheless, as weapons go, you can hardly call this a vicious one. Let alone suspect its wielder of "plotting" against one. Moreover, the motive was entirely only for the good - and under orders from higher up besides (I think Vasava commanded it to speed things up, since Shiva and Uma were taking way too long to get together, so that the promised and much hoped-for Great Miniature was not yet in sight). So Maara was quite blameless overall.



Having not actually "done" anything other than being *about* to try, the Bhasmashareera is still credited with at least a share in the great victory (of the successful match-making) in the end. I now assume this is not because his arrow -which he'd never let fly- had achieved the target, but that his intent had been achieved despite this contradicting the seeming and momentary intent of Shiva. For his willingness to help her, and for going so far as endangering even his own person for it, Uma has forever been his protector and is known to be greatly fond of him and his wife Rati Devi. And Hindus are repeatedly told by well-informed sources that she ensures his victory in all his missions at all times. (Shankaracharya BP would observe the same about Lakshmi's effect on Manmatha: he was ever victorious over the world and even over Vishnu - who's clearly likewise fondly attached to his dear spouse - having obtained the benevolent kataaksham of Lakshmi.)





[color="#0000FF"]CORRECTION To point 2 in the above: I could possibly be entirely wrong, though I'm not certain of even this (Reading And Comprehension issues, as usual).



I retraced over some of the chapter, and it looks like there's a shloka where Kalidasa describes Kamadeva as either repeatedly twanging his dhanuh OR repeatedly fiddling with it. Can't make out which. <- Which is ironic, as the two conclusions imply totally opposite things... As in:



1. If repeated twanging:

then surely it was a shower of puShpas that had hit Shiva (in which case Kama, though not totally 'innocent' anymore, is at least restored to an Active Hero position in the drama, rather than a passive one). Plus Shiva is IIRC described shortly after as noticing his thoughts being suddenly befuddled (though I suppose that could equally be explained as the glorious vision of umA's mukham - rising like a koTi suns to suddenly dawn on him - rendering his thoughts incoherent for a space). In any case, the names of the puShpas that would have got him do not appear to be mentioned (whereas the Sammohana which specifically *didn't* get him was explicitly named), which is most unfortunate because it was exactly the sort of detail that I was snuffling through the text for in the first place for making paw-prints. On the upside, a shower of puShpas - falling onto Shiva almost like some sacred garland of fate - would confirm the famous ongoing depictions of the event by traditional Hindoo artisans. But their works express it all as a flurry, so I can't make out identifiable individual culprits in the haze of stems and petals. Sigh.



2. However, if at this point Kama was still merely fiddling with the dhanus to get the right shot:

he would still not have sent any puShpaastras, which I suppose could explain(?) why no puShpas were named at this stage. Some shlokas afterward though, the Sammohana would finally be identified by name, but only as the one that Kama had readied, and not as one he had ever loosed I think, because it's at this very point that Shiva's on to him and turns him into bhasmam.



Either way, the primary lesson in this is not that "Match-making does not pay, look at poor Kama" (though I could have told him that...) but rather "Don't be illiterate like Husky." Hindoos should learn their father-tongue Samskritam alongside their mothertongue. Then they don't have to go all <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':blink:' /> "Huh, what just happened??" like me and be forced to hound conveniently-elusive relatives to get them to translate the "What'd I just miss" bits, assuming one can catch them.

:Sigh:

Illiteracy. Not cool.[/color]
  Reply
Srila Prabhupada mentions pardA in pre-Islamic India in a commentary to a [url="www.vedabase.com/en/sb/1/10/16"]Srimad Bhagavatam verse[/url]:



Quote:It is only the less intelligent persons not well versed in the history of the world who say that observance of separation of female from male is an introduction of the Mohammedan period in India. This incident from the Mahābhārata period proves definitely that the ladies of the palace observed strict pardā (restricted association with men), and instead of coming down in the open air where Lord Kṛṣṇa and others were assembled, the ladies of the palace went up on the top of the palace and from there paid their respects to Lord Kṛṣṇa by showers of flowers.
  Reply
(Note I've corrected the syntax of your link so it appears)

[quote name='Meluhhan' date='16 February 2016 - 07:52 AM' timestamp='1455588856' post='117923']

Srila Prabhupada mentions pardA in pre-Islamic India in a commentary to a [url="http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/1/10/16"]Srimad Bhagavatam verse[/url]:

Quote:It is only the less intelligent persons not well versed in the history of the world who say that observance of separation of female from male is an introduction of the Mohammedan period in India. This incident from the Mahābhārata period proves definitely that the ladies of the palace observed strict pardā (restricted association with men), and instead of coming down in the open air where Lord Kṛṣṇa and others were assembled, the ladies of the palace went up on the top of the palace and from there paid their respects to Lord Kṛṣṇa by showers of flowers.

[/quote]



Parda/Purdah, let alone a universal social construct seen affecting all Hindu wo/men, is an unnecessary assumption. In any case, there's no comparison with islamania's segregation (purdah). That's unless we're also expected to pretend that Iranians, Chinese, Japanese and Greeks also had purdah.



To stick to what's known or has been documented:



1. From the quoted paragraph of ISKCON's commentary/spin on Shrimad Bhagavatam (SB) above,



- the women go up to shower flowers on Krishna. Easier done from somewhere high up like balconies. The Devas are often shown (in the Hindu epic cinema of yore) showering flowers on earth-dwelling divinities and on Hindu heroes for having acted righteously from up in the sky too.



- it speaks only of "the ladies of the palace" and admits to no more.



Something that is universally seen among royalty and high aristocracy in Asia to Europe is that royal women have their own chambers in a palace, their own wing in a castle, etc. Ladies in waiting/chambermaids also tend to be found in (end up restricted to) these areas. (Whereas other staff - male and female - are not restricted to these parts and some are not allowed there.)

It ain't purdah.





In China, royal and aristocratic women had their own area in the royal palace/aristocratic household too. There were huge numbers of women there, usually men didn't venture there.

From the context of the Odyssey you can see Penelope and the maids of her interior household are all in the female part of the house, which ends up having more of a feeling of a jail/enforced limited space when the suitors invade during the daytime. Telemachus tells his mother several times to go back to her chambers and not show herself to the belligerent suitors, as befits her station (as married woman and aristocrat).



(Moreover, when Penelope does show herself officially in public/to the suitors, she is usually veiled. IIRC she still appears veiled when she finally shows herself for the penultimate competition.

Christianity didn't invent the veil, neither did islam: it was already used by Persian Zoroastrians at least, and certainly by the Greeks. However, among the Greeks and Persians it seems more often women of aristocratic rank rather than the average household maid let alone female slave that had the "privilege" of covering her face in the presence of unknown men. The Persian ritualist males were moreover to have been veiled to keep their fire pure.)



In other words, it need come as no surprise that royal or other high aristocratic (i.e. kShatriya) Hindu women at the time the SB was written (or even - at least conceptually - at the time of the MBH context) could afford their own wing at the palace and were regarded so special as to not have to deign to show themselves to everyone.



It's like etiquette. It would be for privileged people, notably royalty. Not likely for the rest of the masses like Vaishyas, Shudras and Brahmanas.

Besides, the SB shows many instances of day-to-day women who did *not* live in their own wing, but worked outdoors. Such as the hunchbacked lady who gave a young Krishna fruits IIRC(?) She did not segregate herself from Krishna and Balarama.

Nor the Gopis.



This is *very* different from islamania which orders a segregation of all men and women because of a fundamental inequality.

In islam it isn't specialised behaviour restricted to the cream of the nation (kShatriya royal women, and by extension their female staff).



It remains a fact that royal women or high aristocracy (like nth degree princes who were not successors to the throne) were *not* usually universally accessible or meant to be universally accessible, anywhere in the world: they are *not* private people, they are public persons (same as their male counterparts). That is, they were usually meant to marry royalty/other high aristocracy and thereby seal unions of political importance and to strengthen bonds between neighbouring kingdoms.



Royal households generally can't afford their royal daughters to run off with the chimney sweep, shepherd, gardener, jester or shoemaker. (I inserted that line as a throwback to the fewer number of fairy tales that show a cute exception.) Royal chambermaids are collateral: their living space and thus behaviour conforms to that of their mistress. Not all nations' chambermaids got married or even had the chance thereof - though there's several indications that Indian royal handmaids got married (at least arranged marriages, just like their mistress).



Only very rich people like royalty and high aristocracy can afford to set aside separate wings anyway - besides, they're usually the only ones that can afford a castle or palace or more.





2. The shloka is from the Srimad Bhagavatam (SB), not from the Mahabharatam (MBH) or its appendix Harivamsha.

SB is dated much later than MBH by Hindu scholars. The majority of the text is estimated to have been finally concretised in the first part of the 6th century CE, though an earlier version is known to have existed in the 4th century CE.

The SB reflects some of the traditions extant at the times and the localities it was set down in.

A similar case already came up: the earlier instance IIRC had to do with Tulsidas in his Ramacharitamanas. Apparently he had Sita "cover up" in his retelling of the Ramayanam. This was discussed long ago on IF.

Islamics wanted to use the instance to accuse Hindus of having the "veil" and "purdah" before islamania too, except 1. no definite reference to veil, IIRC "cover up" didn't necessarily mean the head; or 2. it could again just be Tulsidas' own time and familiarity with his own context influencing this detail; and/or 3. the *fashionable* royal veil having been borrowed from the Persians before islam came to India and hence sticking around to influence Tulsidas. Or any other such simple reason which has nothing to do with restricting women; and/or 4. No evidence this was a universal Hindu thing across all of Indic geography and community either.





3. Like the "Jai Swami Narayan" movement, ISKCON and some other (northern) Indian movements* also has certain views of women and men-women interactions that it likes to justify as universal Hindu "tradition" with recourse to what seem rather like tenuous references. I find one can argue most positions. Better to argue for what is known to be true though, or has very high likelihood for being true.



* The fact that usually northern Indian movements tend to hold this view seems to me to be argument for a prolonged islamic influence** that led to them thinking and reasoning in this manner: that this was natural, the norm or a universal Hindu social behaviour. In any case, it factually isn't a universal Hindu social behaviour.



** The way many are influenced by the monotheisms and colonialism to contort Hinduism into a monotheism and saying that this was the "true/original" Hinduism. [<- That last is my own phrase by the way. I recently notice others used something similar; from what I could make out, they are influenced by Malhotra in this. But I have used that style of phrase for over a decade and evolved it entirely independently. Mentioning this, since RM tends to copyright his general phrasings like "u-turn" and "digestion", when I think a lot of Hindus used these and similar phrases before and independent of him for similar phenomena.]
  Reply
[quote name='Husky' date='16 February 2016 - 09:21 AM' timestamp='1455632011' post='117925']

To stick to what's known or has been documented:



1. From the quoted paragraph of ISKCON's commentary/spin on Shrimad Bhagavatam (SB) above,



- the women go up to shower flowers on Krishna. Easier done from somewhere high up like balconies. The Devas are often shown (in the Hindu epic cinema of yore) showering flowers on earth-dwelling divinities and on Hindu heroes for having acted righteously from up in the sky too.[/quote]



Out of your entire reply, this part makes the most sense.



[quote name='Husky' date='16 February 2016 - 09:21 AM' timestamp='1455632011' post='117925']

- it speaks only of "the ladies of the palace" and admits to no more.



Something that is universally seen among royalty and high aristocracy in Asia to Europe is that royal women have their own chambers in a palace, their own wing in a castle, etc. Ladies in waiting/chambermaids also tend to be found in (end up restricted to) these areas. (Whereas other staff - male and female - are not restricted to these parts and some are not allowed there.)

It ain't purdah.



In China, royal and aristocratic women had their own area in the royal palace/aristocratic household too. There were huge numbers of women there, usually men didn't venture there.

From the context of the Odyssey you can see Penelope and the maids of her interior household are all in the female part of the house, which ends up having more of a feeling of a jail/enforced limited space when the suitors invade during the daytime. Telemachus tells his mother several times to go back to her chambers and not show herself to the belligerent suitors, as befits her station (as married woman and aristocrat).



(Moreover, when Penelope does show herself officially in public/to the suitors, she is usually veiled. IIRC she still appears veiled when she finally shows herself for the penultimate competition.

Christianity didn't invent the veil, neither did islam: it was already used by Persian Zoroastrians at least, and certainly by the Greeks. However, among the Greeks and Persians it seems more often women of aristocratic rank rather than the average household maid let alone female slave that had the "privilege" of covering her face in the presence of unknown men. The Persian ritualist males were moreover to have been veiled to keep their fire pure.)



In other words, it need come as no surprise that royal or other high aristocratic (i.e. kShatriya) Hindu women at the time the SB was written (or even - at least conceptually - at the time of the MBH context) could afford their own wing at the palace and were regarded so special as to not have to deign to show themselves to everyone.



It's like etiquette. It would be for privileged people, notably royalty. Not likely for the rest of the masses like Vaishyas, Shudras and Brahmanas.

Besides, the SB shows many instances of day-to-day women who did *not* live in their own wing, but worked outdoors. Such as the hunchbacked lady who gave a young Krishna fruits IIRC(?) She did not segregate herself from Krishna and Balarama.

Nor the Gopis.



This is *very* different from islamania which orders a segregation of all men and women because of a fundamental inequality.

In islam it isn't specialised behaviour restricted to the cream of the nation (kShatriya royal women, and by extension their female staff).[/quote]



You're right-- in societies that practice some form of gender separation, the elites are better able to implement it than the common people, because non-elite women have to interact with men as a matter of economic survival.



[quote name='Husky' date='16 February 2016 - 09:21 AM' timestamp='1455632011' post='117925']

It remains a fact that royal women or high aristocracy (like nth degree princes who were not successors to the throne) were *not* usually universally accessible or meant to be universally accessible, anywhere in the world: they are *not* private people, they are public persons (same as their male counterparts). That is, they were usually meant to marry royalty/other high aristocracy and thereby seal unions of political importance and to strengthen bonds between neighbouring kingdoms.[/quote]



I was a little confused when I read this part, until I realized that "public" in this context meant "part of the state". Generally, when something is "public", it is available to everyone. But even if we assume that these women were part of the ruling apparatus, does it make any sense to keep them sealed away? Surely they must be interacting with ministers and other state officials?



[quote name='Husky' date='16 February 2016 - 09:21 AM' timestamp='1455632011' post='117925']

Royal households generally can't afford their royal daughters to run off with the chimney sweep, shepherd, gardener, jester or shoemaker. (I inserted that line as a throwback to the fewer number of fairy tales that show a cute exception.) Royal chambermaids are collateral: their living space and thus behaviour conforms to that of their mistress. Not all nations' chambermaids got married or even had the chance thereof - though there's several indications that Indian royal handmaids got married (at least arranged marriages, just like their mistress).



Only very rich people like royalty and high aristocracy can afford to set aside separate wings anyway - besides, they're usually the only ones that can afford a castle or palace or more.[/quote]



Do you realize what you've just done? In your effort to criticize Islamic purdah, you've described something worse-- a system where women are not just prohibited from choosing their life partners, but are also prohibited from interacting with most of humanity.



[quote name='Husky' date='16 February 2016 - 09:21 AM' timestamp='1455632011' post='117925']

2. The shloka is from the Srimad Bhagavatam (SB), not from the Mahabharatam (MBH) or its appendix Harivamsha.

SB is dated much later than MBH by Hindu scholars. The majority of the text is estimated to have been finally concretised in the first part of the 6th century CE, though an earlier version is known to have existed in the 4th century CE.

The SB reflects some of the traditions extant at the times and the localities it was set down in.

A similar case already came up: the earlier instance IIRC had to do with Tulsidas in his Ramacharitamanas. Apparently he had Sita "cover up" in his retelling of the Ramayanam. This was discussed long ago on IF.

Islamics wanted to use the instance to accuse Hindus of having the "veil" and "purdah" before islamania too, except 1. no definite reference to veil, IIRC "cover up" didn't necessarily mean the head; or 2. it could again just be Tulsidas' own time and familiarity with his own context influencing this detail; and/or 3. the *fashionable* royal veil having been borrowed from the Persians before islam came to India and hence sticking around to influence Tulsidas. Or any other such simple reason which has nothing to do with restricting women; and/or 4. No evidence this was a universal Hindu thing across all of Indic geography and community either.[/quote]



They don't need to prove that Islamic practices have direct analogues within Hinduism-- they just have to prove that their practices aren't worse than what is already found there.
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Quote:You're right-- in societies that practice some form of gender separation, the elites are better able to implement it than the common people, because non-elite women have to interact with men as a matter of economic survival.
That's not what I said or meant. Nothing to do with economic survival. It is that "regular" people - very much including women - are known to interact with everyone: there are sufficient examples in Hindu texts and people can't argue otherwise. So even from the SB they can't argue there was some special law for Hindu women as a gender being hidden away from men (let alone that men forced them to be hidden away).



At most, ISKCON can argue it was so for royalty (if that) and not for other Hindus. That is, ISKCON and others can't universalise it to all Hindu women even were they to find some concrete example of such limitation on Hindu royalty or high aristocracy (the example ISKCON found was not concrete; *at most* it can be argued to imply something similar to what was seen among other nations before and independent of islam).



Also, why do you still speak of gender segregation? No gender segregation was proved.



[quote name='Meluhhan' date='23 February 2016 - 08:37 AM' timestamp='1456196392' post='117936']

I was a little confused when I read this part, until I realized that "public" in this context meant "part of the state". Generally, when something is "public", it is available to everyone. But even if we assume that these women were part of the ruling apparatus, does it make any sense to keep them sealed away? Surely they must be interacting with ministers and other state officials?

[/quote]Yes, public in the sense of not private persons. It is an established term. Even until relatively recently, the concept and the subsequent term was still in use.

Quote:Generally, when something is "public", it is available to everyone.

Royalty belong to the populace. But not "available" - in any dubious sense - to the populace.

The old definition is that royalty cannot make private choices on major matters - they have no private lives. For instance, even whom they marry is a public matter, and therefore cannot be a personal choice. (And one can see the truth behind this rule in the fatal personal decisions of certain heathen kings who married spouses of missionary religions.)



Quote:
Quote:Royal households generally can't afford their royal daughters to run off with the chimney sweep, shepherd, gardener, jester or shoemaker. (I inserted that line as a throwback to the fewer number of fairy tales that show a cute exception.) Royal chambermaids are collateral: their living space and thus behaviour conforms to that of their mistress. Not all nations' chambermaids got married or even had the chance thereof - though there's several indications that Indian royal handmaids got married (at least arranged marriages, just like their mistress).



Only very rich people like royalty and high aristocracy can afford to set aside separate wings anyway - besides, they're usually the only ones that can afford a castle or palace or more.

Do you realize what you've just done? In your effort to criticize Islamic purdah, you've described something worse-- a system where women are not just prohibited from choosing their life partners, but are also prohibited from interacting with most of humanity.

You misunderstood:



I did not make/push the case for the Indian situation. Except for the reference to Indian royal handmaids possibly being allowed to marry (an instance of which I seem to remember someone bringing up), I only stated what is the known case with western society (which is where the fairy tale examples of exceptions like chimney sweeps etc come from) - something not just ISKCONites tend to overlook - and said that that's the worst case they can ever argue for the Indian context: that "it's the same". Note that I don't know at all that it *was* the same for Indian royalty. I merely allowed for it, providing the worst case scenario and said 1. it can't compare unfavourably to what is known to have existed in non-islamic nations and 2. that in heathen spaces like China and possibly Greece and Persia, it still can't compare with islam (i.e. still not purdah), because what can at most be reasoned as "etiquette" (or rather, privileged behaviour of the privileged or the rich) is not enforced on gender at large. And certainly not in India's case, as we know everyday women were out and about and readily interacting, even in the examples others choose to provide.



And the fact that neither females nor males among royalty were regarded as private people in most if not all countries, shows that special behaviour by royalty can't be made into a gender issue either, at least not in heathen nations. For that, they need to martial special evidence. At least a case can be made for ancient Greece and even Rome of certain restrictions on females, and some Chinese say it was not too different in ancient China (except that within Chinese families, the power structure was that the 1st wife rather had all the power, not the husband and not wives 2 to n). But poorer Chinese families did not have n wives and could only manage 1, so it's hard to make universal rules about the ancient Chinese situation either.



The point was that detractors can't make an argument that the Indian case as supposedly implied in the SB - where it was moreover restricted to royalty - was worse than what has existed in multiple other parts of the world. And if anti-Hindus want to attack Hindus for this - as many have tried independent of ISKCON's own interests in the matter - they have to attack themselves/their ideal (i.e. the west) first, where it is well-attested.



I say let them argue the worst case - as people already have and will continue to - and Hindus can still easily show that it was not a law against gender in India. Even in the rather poor and ambiguous example that ISKCON provided, considering for the moment that their case holds good for palace women, they still 1. factually can't show it was the case for all Hindu women and 2. I've not yet seen anyone be able to argue that this was moreover the case in ancient times. (SB is not as old as some other Hindu materials.) I don't need to look up anything until they give me concrete instances. Ambiguous excerpt from Tulsidas and from SB, can be argued away just as easily as they insist on one interpretation.



While I covered the worst case scenario, my own preferred interpretation - possibly limited by the little I'm aware of it - is simply the first one I gave (which is why I listed it first):

Quote:- the women go up to shower flowers on Krishna. Easier done from somewhere high up like balconies. The Devas are often shown (in the Hindu epic cinema of yore) showering flowers on earth-dwelling divinities and on Hindu heroes for having acted righteously from up in the sky too.





Quote:a system where women are not just prohibited from choosing their life partners, but are also prohibited from interacting with most of humanity.

But, and here I specifically do not speak of Hindu society: surely you're already aware that in many countries aristocracy and royalty DID practice segregation of aristocracy from the rest of humanity as a rule (albeit with exceptions), right? Not just women note. (Even aristocratic Roman households did not willy-nilly marry non-aristocrats, nor did Korean and Chinese aristocratic lineages.) But this became a proper and implacable apartheid under christianity. The worst excesses thereof are seen in what led to the revolution in Europe. To pretend it was anything other than extreme apartheid is naivete. And that was church-sanctioned by the way.



"also prohibited from interacting with most of humanity"

Admittedly Roman and Greek women did have some restrictions placed on them as to where they could go and what they could do. (Their husbands or male family members could tell them not to go to say, the circus, and they'd usually be expected to follow).

Again: I don't know that the same was the case with Hindu kshatriya women. And have rather come across instances that suggest the same was NOT the case in Hindu India. At least in the context of the Mabharatham.** I don't want to make hard and fast rules about it, as I don't know how things were in India at the time the SB was concretised or even during the earliest mentions to the text (also because the time frames for both are tentative). I don't know much about Tulsidas' context either: he lived in a time and part of India that I don't know that much about. I can't declare that at the time the SB or Tulsidas included the bits which others point out as "purdah" that there was no special treatment of palace women and no special local dress code being followed, respectively. I can only argue that at worst, it can be no worse than what we saw in Europe and many parts of Asia among royalty and high aristocracy, and that it was clearly not a universal law against women (as per the SB itself). Since the worst case is not quite terrible, despite your alarmed reaction, and certainly neither uncommon nor anywhere as oppressive as islam, I see no need to look up details in Hindu texts. If you want, you can read through SB or look up instances from MBh and Harivamsha to make the more positive case about royal women.

** I'd suggest looking up narratives about Satyabhama for instance. Some were IIRC listed as being from the "southern recensions" of the Harivamsha. But you can find it online.





Quote:a system where women are not just prohibited from choosing their life partner

Who said this was specific to women, let alone in India? Let alone universally true for all Indian women? (Having said that, arranged marriages - which exist in many Asian countries, India but also Japan and China - do "limit" the choice of both men and women, though it doesn't prohibit choice entirely. Why no protest? It's been ingrained in Indian society for some time too. Why is it evil? I like how my E Asian colleagues still try to matchmake for their classmates from childhood. They've already arranged several marriages and it all worked out well.)



And at least India had swayamvaras for its kShatriya royalty. (It existed in some European fairy tales, and some Japanese narratives too, indicating earlier precedent of swayamvara-like instances in both the last-mentioned regions.)



Also, endogamy exists all over the world, most notably (for this argument) in tiny communities in Africa. Why is it no longer a "prohibitive system" (imposed, say, by "Hinduism/the caste system") where Africa is concerned? More likely, endogamy is just an ancient way of identity-preservation that humanity evolved. As others have long argued, it is already seen in the more ancient societal systems of Vanavasis and other remote communities, and lingered in more recent settled populations.



Further, it's a modern notion - perhaps one can attribute it to James Bond, traipsing the world and sleeping with exotic women from all over - that people will readily marry anyone and everyone. Let alone that women will. (No, most women won't: they're factually far less universal about choice of mate than men are. Or to put it in superficial terms: men are more egalitarian. I may return to this point in a subsequent post.) Besides, even in western and far-eastern nations, the rules about marriage between aristocrats held good for both genders, so there's no need to only be offended at any special injury to women when the same applied to men. Granted, in some of these societies for some specific period of time there, men were allowed to have additional female slaves - not all of whom became mistresses - (e.g. ancient Greece, where they thought enslaving the women and children of subjugated enemy nations was better than killing them like they killed off the men, before the Romans then refused to do even that much), and concubines/nth wives (China) etc.



Endogamy isn't necessarily "evil". People are even endogamous in terms of language: it used to be the case that, except for very rare "love marriages" that tended to exist more in theory than in reality, Tamizh-speaking Hindus did not readily marry say Kannadiga-speaking Kannadiga Hindus of the same community (even if the former may perhaps more likely marry Kannadiga-AND-Tamizh speaking Tamizh Hindus, of which I know actual cases). It's not really discrimination against Kannadiga Hndus. And it's certainly not something uniquely contingent on women.



Also, unless some rule only applies to women - and all women in a society - there's no need to go the feminist route and get all offended about "injustices to women" by said society. It's hypocritical to ignore that often the same rules apply to men too (far-eastern and western aristocrats and royalty usually couldn't readily marry a commoner either, despite fairy tales of the farmer's daughter winning the hand of the king with her clever answers to his trick questions).





Note: Maybe I already implied this earlier, but in case I didn't, I want to make it clear -

"islamic" veiling already existed in christianity - which is why western and Middle-Eastern women of christendom had their heads covered even outside the church for most of the time. This covering of christian women is actually a spin-off of the biblical religion, not unique to islam. Islam just ran with it and made it into a full-body prisoner's attire.

All that has nothing to do with the Greek aristocratic veil, which from authentic depictions can be transparent apparently, and which is not imposed on all Greek women.
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Post 2



Here follows what I think is a good illustration of why I don't want to guess at what happened in centuries not so familiar to me, in parts of India not well-known to me (i.e. the context of SB's composition, rather than the context in which it was set):



Meluhhan, if you can, look up a book called "Stories of Vikramaditya - Simhasana Dwatrimsika" published by Bhavan's Book University, where one V.A.K Aiyer translated

Quote:"the stories of Vikramaditya ... among the oldest collection of folk-tales centering round the personality of King Vikramaditya of Ujjain. First written in Sanskrit, a number of slighty different versions are extant in all the major languages of India".

"The original authorship of these stories is unknown, even as their date; but they are generally believed to have originated during the period 11th to 13th centuries."



If you read it, consider how much you recognise of it: specifically how the social aspects therein compare to

- what you know of Ramayanam and Mahabharatam contexts,

- the period ascribed to SB's composition (a version of SB was to already be referred to in the Matsya Purana, which is said to be at least 4th century CE and possibly earlier. But that version of the SB is to have been somewhat different from the current version. The latter has been estimated to have been last concretised in the 6th century CE.)

- the period of Tulsidas (15th or 16th century apparently). I myself know practically nothing of Tulsidas' context.



For instance, one of the book's opening stories has
Ujjain's King Vikramaditya marry a princess while under the guise of a fabulously rich merchant. He had only initially attended the princess' swayamvara "as a silent witness to the function", but because she's so "beautiful" - and every female character he ends up marrying has that description - he employs a mantra on her during her swayamvara so that she is compelled to pick him, since he's not actually there as one of the suitors (not being his royal self) and she wasn't therefore even contemplating on picking him. After garlanding her, the princess then faints. Her royal father and the other princes gathered are aghast that she garlanded a "merchant", but she's convinced her choice must be royal despite his appearance as a merchant. And Vikramaditya himself "felt that, if he did not make his identity known soon, his stay in the palace would become impossible. For, no commoner, however exhalted, can hope to get an unreserved respect in a royal household."

Note that the king did not kick the man out for being an apparent merchant whom the princess chose, but respected the outcome of the swayamvara (though Vikramaditya had manipulated this). However, the fact that no one was totally pleased with the princess' chosen husband being a merchant seems to nevertheless indicate to me that this was not a rule and not anything people would have readily allowed in the normal course of events. (C.f. in the Ramayanam context at least, Rajas could have a Vaishya wife. In the Mahabharatam too, one raja married a fisherman's daughter.)



In the collection of translated folktales about Vikramaditya, the picture it paints is that



=> the royal women do seem to have their own apartments, though they may not be confined to it. In any case, female characters do seem to be able to go out and about a lot. And more than that: both the men and the women - at least the married ones - seem to have intimate relationships rather easily.



=> Further,

- there's a story of a queen who has an affair with her stableboy. As a result her husband (married to 360 women, of which the unfaithful queen was the primary wife) is tired of it all and decides to become a sannyasi

- there's a story of a merchant woman who says out loud that one should not get caught at infidelity, and whom Vikramaditya marries to test if she meant what she said (but he doesn't seem to consummate his marriage to her). Eventually, she spends an entire night in the company of a washerwoman's son who became infatuated with her. Then Vikramaditya marries her off to the washerwoman's son and makes them king and queen of somewhere.



So

- the women don't just marry upwards (or have upwardly mobile affairs), as seen in the above examples

- and not all the women are all that loyal to their husbands either. Nor are the men. Or at least, except for courtesans, kings seem to marry whichever princess they want to next sleep with. And then we don't hear about that woman (usually princess) ever again. Kinda like James Bond - a different woman every movie - but limited to Indian women. Not that the female characters particularly appealed either. Sure, they were all described as "beautiful", and some had motivations or ulterior motives of their own, but there was nothing I particularly admired in either the females or males.



=> Various male characters visit various courtesans. (And one courtesan thought nothing of contemplating the infanticide of a baby should it turn out to be a boy: but girl babies were perfectly acceptable. The woman who was tasked with killing the baby thought that the crime would bring evil, and so she refused to kill it. Still, where's the outrage when there's deadly discrimination against boy babies? I suppose it doesn't fit the larger narrative one regularly hears about how unconverted India is anti-women and that women are oppressed etc.)

- Many if not most characters are adulterers - and the ones these cheat with, often have their own secret lovers in turn. One adulterer had a bad ending (got killed for infidelity) while many have a happy ending - they get to run off with their lovers (courtesy of Vikramaditya & co.'s generosity).





I don't know that the above descriptions are limited to just the 11th-13th century (which is before Tulsidas and after SB), because apparently even Nagarjuna's background is IIRC supposed to be - as per Buddhist hagiography I'm guessing - that he used to chase after women and sneak into princess' bedrooms and make one uh "romantic" conquest after another, before he had his Ashoka-like 180 degree change of heart, turned Buddhist and is then to have penned celebrated Buddhist tracts about how women are hateful/bad news. (Some people seem to blow hot and cold. How about being on neutral?) Nagarjuna is to have lived in the 2nd to 3rd centuries CE, and the alleged females he encountered in the days of his amorous adventures were clearly more "out-going" (in many ways) than what ISKCON claims of the palace women in SB.



As a result, it seems to me to be very difficult to draw any consistent picture of what was OK and not OK for even royal women (or for that matter, men) at various periods in Indian history. I'm not even sure I find much consistency. Of course, folktales may merely be fanciful - the aforementioned ones about Vikramaditya (having him live 2000 years) certainly have elements that indicate they're just tales even to the teller and the audience, even if many of the "magical" elements are a bit like what is claimed of tantra and/or are consistent with more serious earlier native narratives (visits to Indraloka, etc).



Perhaps various social norms may have prevailed at different periods in India, or in different parts of India at different periods. Though I personally find the ISKCON spin of Indian palace women being restricted from contact with men to be less likely, considering the picture painted by such 11th-13th century folktales as above, or instances such as of Nagarjuna's backdrop (which has an earlier context), or the picture that the Kamasutra paints of the amount of licence in its period. (I note wackypedia very generously still dates the Kamasutra to 4th century BCE - 2nd century CE; a generosity not extended to Hindu texts that are very clearly far older, showing more of the anti-heathen prejudice in western dating of heathen texts versus ones found to be sufficiently secular.)

I certainly never got the feeling that Indian women were restricted - or peculiarly restricted on account of their gender - in coming across such materials.



Privately, I've always preferred the character of the natives as in the itihAsas and the pauranic narratives I've heard retold (not ISKCON interpretations, obviously). It always seemed to me that there was sufficient freedom coupled with self-regulation there. Also, people choosing to be sensible seems to me to be infinitely better than controlling their actions to conform to what is deemed sensible by societal norms. That way one can better evaluate their actual characters too.

Also, I find that the characters of the females in the itihAsas to Kumarasambhava are often more fully-rounded and likeable, like the male ones: the women are not left at being described as merely extraordinarily "beautiful" etc (which in later literature just seems to translate into "good to sleep with"; sadly I have little better to say on that class of Indian literature), but they have actual characters and moreover have characters that people can relate to or identify with. Characters that seem like rational, real persons, rather than being trophy prizes or props in some story or in somebody's poem.
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