What prompted me to write today is a look at the signature on my email account, a dream sequence of Draupdi’s cheerharan, and an altercation with the dharmic police (in reverse order).
My email signature is an ancient Indian proverb “Yatra Naryastu Pujyanta, Ramate Tatra Devata” – literally meaning, where women are worshiped/respected, divinity resides there. Such a profound statement from the ancient world is passed on to me like a heirloom by my ancestors. It carries with it a privilege associated with feminity. But it is such an alien thought in the eastern as well as the western culture today. The Bengaluru rapes and refusal of the educated and religious men to condemn it in a meaningful way, poses a question for every Indian – is this what dharma is? The religious police was quick to kill a muslim man under suspicions of being a beef eater in Dadri. However, no religious police has come forward with a condemnation of the Bengaluru rapes. The only statements we have from the religious community is one in which Maata Mahadevi blames women for the rape. Does beef eating, cow slaughter, Hindutva – the burning issues that inspire so the called religious Hindus of India today – take precedence over respect for women?
I love India. I am a devoted Indian. And sadly India today has a rape culture which parallels that of Saudi Arabia, and which is progressively getting worse. India swarms with men who threaten, harass, eve tease, molest, expose to, rape and kidnap children, girls and women. These men come from all spheres of society, and are of all ages. Rich/poor, teenagers, adults, middle aged, and even lecherous old men. Growing up in India was an experience I was happy to escape. Streets were unsafe. College was unsafe. Workplace was unsafe. Travelling in autos, taxi’s and buses was unsafe. Elevators were unsafe. Looking at any guy was unsafe for the guy was sure to follow you home. India remains so. I have been away for over 35 years. I would not mind returning now, only because I surmise that I am significantly older, and hence do not look pretty enough to attract attention. But I would still be afraid. One never knows what the lecher acing you fancies. It was almost a crime to be a beautiful women growing up in India, a crime for which I was punished by men and women alike. I hear the situation is worse now.
Denial of this fact constitutes dishonesty. Much as I love India, I cannot go around claiming that India is a safe country for women. It would be a lie.
If the harassment wasn’t traumatic enough, its the accusations from society, as well as one’s own family and friends that dwarfs the trauma imposed by wayward men. A woman can do nothing right. A man can do nothing wrong. Its just a regressive mindset. And so it was with Nirbhaya a few years ago, and so it was in Bengaluru.
When women raise their voices against rape, they’re told they too deserve being raped. This is the story of keepers of our religion. Hinduism apparently belongs to these individuals, and needs to be “kept” – in the same way that whores are “kept” by pimps – for exploitation and personal gains. As if Hinduism may not survive but for their (miserable) efforts. Stupid is as stupid does.
Do I hope to change the world by my writings ? No, not at all. The world unfortunately seems to have become unredeemable. But for all those undergoing similar life challenges as mine, it may provide an insight into the nature of their own problems, and perhaps give them strength to endure.
So here’s how the story unfolds…
I know this gentleman called Satish Sharma. Long ago, on facebook, he sent me a friend request, which I accepted. Sharmaji is a renown figure in UK, where he heads numerous Sanatan Dharma outfits. A religious bigwig, or so i am told.
Yesterday a discussion started on Sharmaji’s wall regarding women’s rights in religious texts like Ramayana. Sharmaji is a religious fanatic, and also happens to be a man who believes that Ram’s acts towards Sita were justified, that Sita got what she deserved, which, by inference includes that she deserved to be traumatized, abandoned, and deserved to die.
In Ramayana, Ram exiles his pregnant queen – the wife who made him famous, and turned him into a god like figure, a wife who sacrificed royal life to accompany him to 14 years of exile. She did not have to, but she did,out of love and devotion. After 14 years, Ram becomes a king and betrays her by throwing her out of the palace when she is pregnant. He wants to be a popular king..Thats it. Thats the only reason Ram kicks out his devoted wife of 15 years. Did his brain malfunction? Apparently, for he is unable to think ethically. No questions of loyalty, duty, responsibility hound him as he orders her thrown out of the palace. No sense of dharma awakens within him towards his unborn children. Such an absolute disrespect of the feminine.
This is the role model that Indian men are expected to follow. No wonder India’s divorce rate is rising faster than speed of light. No wonder a woman is raped every minute. No wonder bride burning has become family entertainment.
Continuing with the story, Sita – the former princess, and queen, lives in a forest, brings up the children as a single parent, in an ashram. When the children turn into teenagers, Ram, who has by then been denounced by his subjects for such betrayal of his wife, is now desperate to appear “just” in the eyes of his subjects. So again for his own popularity and publicity, he now orders Sita to return to him. Claiming property rights – eh? Which self respecting woman would like to return to a husband like Ram? You can guess what happens next. Sita spurns him. But he’s a king and can’t take NO for an answer.(And so, Indian men even today will never take NO for an answer). So Sita jumps into an abyss and commits suicide to escape from a dysfunctional marriage rather than return to it, and him. Wise decision, I would say, as would any woman since Sita.
In Mahabharata, Arjuna – one of the 5 pandava brothers -is ordered by his mother to share his wife with 4 of his brothers. And he does. Draupadi thus has 5 husbands. Does Arjuna’s brain malfunction? Is he incapable of thinking for himself? No, of course not. Does he think a woman, a wife, is meant to be shared ? Yes, because mommy said so. A great warrior, an intelligent being in his own right, turns into a blubbering idiot in the hands of his erring mother.
As if her woes were not enough, the wife shared by 5 brothers is wagered in a game of checkers by the eldest son – Yudhistra. Duryodhan – a cousin of the pandavas – wins the game. Thus a piece of property that Arjuna had shared with his brothers, is passed on to Duryodhana. To do with her as he pleases. African slaves probably had more rights. And these are our gods, our role models. Duryodhana, eager to ‘see” and “show” his newly acquired property, begins disrobing her in public, while the elders of the clan, including grandfather Bhishm Pitamah, and other “gods” silently watch. This act, of disrobing is declared adharma by the Pandavas and by Hindus. What about wagering a wife? Nope. Thats not adharma, according to Hinduism. Talk about situational ethics !
It is the oft repeated story in Indian legends. Our hero, our God, turns into a blundering idiot, has a brain malfunction when it comes to his wife. Our hero will fight an army of demons to save a cow because it wins him accolades. But wife? What does helping a wife get him? Nothing. So why should he do anything for women? Wife has a lower status then a cow. Sound familiar? Yes. Where is even an ounce of dharma in all these men?
These men are expected to be role models for our children, teenagers, and men in general?
Yes, these men showed valor in war. But when it came to women, their brains always malfunctioned. In a parallel world, Indian men are great achievers even today. Microsoft, Google, Intel – you name it, intelligent Indian men are everywhere. But when it comes to women, their brains continue to malfunction since Ram, Arjuna, Yadhustra. Like Jung’s definition of a complex, there is a hole in the psyche of men, that attracts all evil towards itself repetitively since antiquity, energizing itself, sucking all light and creating blackness, and bleakness in the world of women – like a black hole.
Many argue that the history has been twisted, that it was not so. Others justify the reasons for the actions of our heros. We’re told the women endured torture for a good cause. Who cares? And who decides whether women should or should not endure torture for a good cause? These men with malfunctioning brains? Will women ever have a say in whats good for them? Will women ever have control over their own bodies? Sound familiar? Yes, its the same argument that also spans the pro choice v pro life debate. Who controls women’s bodies? Men? State ? God? Or women themselves?
Regardless of what actually happened 8000 years ago, and what their reasons were, the point is, these men are wrong role models for man-woman relationships. No one copies Zeus. Or Apollo. Or Ares. They are made irrelevant because their behavior is considered inappropriate for modern times. And so must these Hindu gods become irrelevant in context of relationships. Bhakti cult carries blame for a lot of evils in Indian society.
So here’s how the argument got abusive and disrespecful.
In my argument with Sharmaji and the first batch of the mob, I suggested that we must concentrate our social activism on promoting and protection of women and children. Caring about Ram Setu bridge, cow protection and beef related issues – I felt – was secondary to women’s right and respect. If societal evils were taken care of, if molestation, sex abuse,disrespect of women were outlawed by the religious police, Hinduism would automatically flourish. Woman shaming by religious policemust be replaced by stringent measures against men. Currently it seems rape is the women’s fault, and men everywhere start chanting “woman’ fault” “woman’s fault” “woman’s fault”….tota bolo Ram Ram. Tota says Ram Ram. As history dictates, a man’s brain WILL malfunction when it is used in service of women’s rights.
Yatra Naryatu Pujyante, Tatra Ramayte Devata. Hinduism would be protected and would flourish thru protection and respect of women. That is what the efforts should be directed towards instead of the bullshit about inanimate Ram Setu bridges, Jattakulli bull sports, Hanuman’s hill, Sanjeevni booti…blah blah blah…
When no argument could be presented against this, Sharmaji accused me of being abusive towards the lynch mob. I informed him that he was following a well trodden path. It was the most common argument used to silence women since antiquity. A woman complains against rape, she is called “loose.” A woman complaints about societal/religious evils, she is called “angry” “ranting” or even “psychotic”. Men use such strategy to minimize a woman’s voice, silence her, or render her arguments irrelevant. An angry woman’s argument does not have substance – right? Well, this one woman is different maybe. I don’t honestly care what the world judges me as. My self worth is not tied to what others think of me. I remain true to my own self, to my own calling. I told him so.
When that did not work, a “bulldozer” called Prahlad Kemmara, was presumably called in to protect the face of Hinduism I guess. An uneducated, unintelligent, uninformed, uncivilized, uncouth man who had not read a single text he was ranting about, Prahalad Kemmara began bullying the two of us – me and another woman who jumped in to protect me (almost like Krishna intervenes to help Draupdi).
The expression “Tota bolo Ram Ram” (parrot saying Ram Ram) and “all brawn, no brain” aptly described Prahalad Kemmara. He had a diarrhea of words and constipation of ideas. He googled up arguments which others leaders of the time make in context of other discussions.Not a single word, or thought vomited by him, was original. He did not know what psychoanalysis was ,but used the word psychoanalysis repeatedly. He had never read Rajiv Malhotra, but quoted Rajiv Malhotra’s you tube videos. He attached pictures of a book on holocaust, but had never read the book. He did not understand what I wrote in english, but argued incessantly about what I had, in fact, not written.
This nutjob used profanity to bulldoze us right away.He started with calling us bimbos, drunken women, permissive, promoting free sex, falling on top of men; According to him, I was bitter because I did not have a man in my life etc. Apparently women cannot be single, and are not allowed to drink (I prefer being single, and don’t consume alcohol, but will defend the right of a woman to do whatever she pleases !). Apparently, Hinduism does not permit all I stood for. What I stood for – he had no clue.
But lets just admit, for simplicity, that I was guilty as alleged – guilty of nakedness, drinking, perversity. Shiva promoted Tantra – a sexual cult, our goddesses are depicted as scantily clad, Kamasutra is an ancient religious texts that promotes sexual enjoyment. Where does our culture say human beings should be celibate and women are to be clothed from head to toe? Ooops. It appears he has no clue about our culture when he argues that WE, women, chattels, property, are required to be covered from head to toe, walk 2 steps behind our men, and sacrifice ourselves, committing suicide over some sleazy man who would not honor us,or respect us? Which Hinduism are you talking about? Not mine.
What he was actually inferring thru his rabid rants was that he lacks the ability to control his penis. So he has a problem – his rocket launcher penis is out of control. And he feels entitled to demand that the entire species of women change their way of living – in order to assist him with his disability. I’d say get it castrated, you will be free of desire,and the women will be free of you ! True dharma – right?
Everyone in that group – including Sharmaji, the dharmic godman, watched, while this man abused us – me and my fellow kindred. Tota bolo Ram Ram. And he was reciting Ram Ram by rote, without using his brain. Just like men from ISIS say Allah – o- Akbar, without using their brain. Just like Ram, Arjun, before him and all people in between had forgotten that they had a functional brain.
As for Prahalad Kemmara, I have not looked him up, (to me he is like an irrelevant dirty fly, I flicked him off by blocking him) but I am told that the guy has a profile which shows him with a rocket, with phallic representation of a penis. Oh my ! I am impressed by such chavunistic symbolism. Burhan Wani would hold his AK41 and Muslim girls of Kashmir would swoon over it/him. Talk about an original idea…
This is a religious man befriended and supported by Satish Sharma ?! A rabid man with a rocket for a penis ?! And this is the depth of deprivation Hinduism has sunk to ? I rest my case.
Shame on all of those who support bullying under the guise of religious discipline. Shame for falling to such low levels of hooliganism towards genuine voices that question the misogyny in Ramayana – a book written by men, for men to promote a world of male supremacy. If misogyny was defensible, Sharmaji’s arguments would have sufficed. He would not have to seek “strongmen” to silence women in this day and age.
This is how low Hinduism has sunk? How are these people different from Islamists and ISIS then? This is what I asked him, and others there, before blocking off his rabid and perverted rants.
Mahabharata is not what happened thousands of years ago. In the psychic world, time does not exist. Mahabharata is what happens everyday in this world. Everyday lecherous men disrobe women with their gaze. Everyday, women are silenced, abused – disrobed – in groups for voicing their opinion while the group members cheer. Every Duryodhana wins for want of a Krishna to support the women. Sita dies a million deaths every day. Draupudi is disrobed million times each day.
And shame on dharmic people who venerate Sita’s death as noble, fair, and just. It is an apology of a man – like Ram – who would expect his wife to sacrifice herself. Shame on people who find nothing wrong with a man who wagers his wife in gambling. It is one of Jung’s complexes – which grows bigger and bigger with time, draws everything into itself and if unchecked, has the potential of swallowing the entire existence in itself.
Ram is an archetype of a self centred man. Sita is an archetype for a woman who is betrayed, used and abused. Men and women of today are attracted to these archetypes…and behave predictably.And if religious texts permit such behaviors, then religious texts need to be banned,burned or buried – take your pick – whichever religion that may be. One cannot throw stones at others if one is living in a glass house, and so Hinduism cannot profess to be any better than Islam, if all it does is mimic Islam’s extremism and misogyny. Prahalad Kemmara believed his penis is a rocket. How much worse can one get in the name of religion ?
I don’t profess to be very dharmic. But even I know that reciting religious texts by rote does not constitute dharma. Marketing and selling religion does not constitute dharma. Promoting misogyny, is not dharma. Calling goons to terrorize women and silencing them by bullying them, calling them bimbos, loose, drunken and deserving to be raped, does not constitute dharma. It is our *actions* – in the here and now – which constitute dharma.
Not a word was said to contain the miscreant who went on a rampage yesterday for over 5 hours. Like Bhishm Pitamah, Sharmaji was a silent spectator of this disrobing. If this is Sanatan Dharma, Satishji – then it is better you unleash this Sanatan Dharma only on your wife and daughters – your chattels – please spare the rest of us women.We deserve something better.
This morning, one of the members from that group, came to my wall and attempted to argue Sharmaji’s role in yesterday’s events. Someone else argued that maybe Sharmaji had NOT been watching. Firstly, I find her behavior an uncalled for intrusion into my privacy, and told her so. Secondly, a leader is always vicariously responsible for his followers’ actions and words. Although Bhishm Pitamah did not personally disrobe Draudi, he contributed to the crime thru his silence. He erred in not stopping Duryodhana. And in this case, at the very least, Sharmaji was guilty by association. He sure must have read the exchange. I have not had an apology till date. So presumably, Prhalad Kemmari’s behavior was ok in his opinion. Thirdly, in the facebook world, the owner of the wall is ultimately responsible for the contents, and the arguments, on their wall. Again one sees absolutely no repercussions for the miscreant’s misconduct.So one has to assume that the event was orchestrated, and planned to unfold the way it did. The only thing that had not been foreseen was my resistance, and my ability to document these behaviors on the web.
As I suggested on your wall, people who legitimize rape, symbolise penal superiority need to be forcibly castrated to protect our Hindu gene-pool. Forcibly sterilizing him would be dharmic act, an act of compassion, for the seed does not fall far from the tree, and it will greatly help the cause of Hinduism.
In this case, I await the karmic intervention for yet another metaphoric cheerharan. Time will tell.
If this kind of behavior is sanctioned by Sanatan Dharma, I dont’ even want to know it, let alone adopt it as my religion, for it fills me with shame. Swami Vivekananda was an Arya Samaji. He did not support the blind (and I mean blind) bhakti. People like Vivekananda are the ideals that I cherish. Ideals that do not make me hang my head in shame. Buddhist teachings are my favorites too. Buddhism teaches one to be in the here and now. What happened thousands of years ago, doesn’t matter. What matters is how we make a difference in this world.
Hinduism – especially Sanatan Dharma – will never progress until adherants reject the misogyny inherent in our texts. The misogyny is its nemesis. Our failure to reject misogyny makes us no different from Islam. Sanatan Dharma will never flourish until women are given their due respect and freedom. This is the curse of the feminine. And it holds power.
I am a Buddhist, I celebrates Christmas, and I still profess to be a Hindu – just not the Hindu that Sanatana Dharma seems to favor. I am not the one to roll over and become a doormat so that egotistic men can walk over me. I can find courage of womanhood from within.I am powerful because I am a woman, not in spite of being a woman. I am powerful in spite of self proclaimed “keepers” of our religion – the religious pimps.
Please join me in making your voice heard against such religious radicalism. Our scriptures and the teachings that they impart have been contaminated by the goons,bullies, and pimps who call themselves religious.
I must thank the friends who gave me courage to disclose the dream publicly.
In the end, all this post attempts to convey is – religion is a personal preference. Clothing is a personal preference. What role models one chooses is also a personal preference. What a woman does with her body, is a woman’s decision. When a religion,culture, or society attempts to impose limitation on the freedom of individuals, one must assume that the religion, culture, or society is already decaying, or already decayed. It is in the grip of fanatics because it has repeatedly been rejected by the mainstream, hencethelast ditch attempt by the goons to spread it thru intimidation. In the end, the righteous people fighting for freedom will always win, sooner or later. And history will show the shameful misdeeds of those that intimidate and oppress. The comments of these miscreants – that women are responsible for their rapes – will not be forgotten, nor forgiven. They will resonate in the hallways of feministic philosophy and literature. Women represent the face of Shakti in this world, and will win.
Tathastu. Metta. May God be with you.
PS: Today incidentally is Simone de Beauvoir’s birthday. Happy Birthday Ms de Beauvoir. May your legacy cut across cultures and religions and flourish in the name of humanity, equality and justice.