Even after four months, nothing changes!!!

Last week we celebrated the festival of Navratri. It’s a festival where we all worship and invoke the Shakti, Goddess Durga, the universal mother. This worship of the supreme power as Mother and considering her to be the embodiment of “Shakti”, the manifestation of divine energy is something unique. If we go through our Puranas, we find that women in Hinduism have been considered to be manifestation of this divine mother and given a very dignified position.

When I retrospect the position of women in India today, I find great imbalance. On one hand we have seen women as our head of state, both as PM and President. Both houses in parliament have seen women speakers. Entertainment industry today has many women at the top running the show, so do the business establishment. Science and technology, space research, pilots, police, every field you can find women have made a mark. Girls seem to be doing better than boys in every school certificate examination. Today in India, women have conquered every field and are at equal level as men of India.

But there’s also another side that women in our country face. It’s where a girl child is killed even before birth. And if she is born, she has to face abuses and ridicules. She is not treated equally as boys. Many families would consider them liability. And today this medieval mindset of many has taken our society to its lowest level. Leave aside women, today we have failed to protect even baby girls in our country!!!

Stringent laws can punish a criminal but it cannot prevent the crime. While punishment is an absolute necessity, it is not enough to prevent this crime. The problem in India is the mindset of people. Assault though has been termed a criminal act, yet most men in India and sorry to say, but even some women think it is the right of the man to degrade women, oppress her in the name of protecting her, apprehend her rights, assault her, because it is a man’s world. This mindset needs to change. Coming down through generations, with no constructive steps taken to change this thought process, today this “Demented” mindset is eroding all ethics and morals of our society.

Apart from strengthening the law and punishing criminals it is the duty of the democratically elected government of India to address the social issue which it has ignored since the inception of this country. It is the failure of government and the people of India. Go through the statements of khaaps, or by politicians after the Nirbhaya issue, or even loads of comments being posted on social networks, you’ll realize lot of our people have a medieval mindset. Instead of finding solution to this cancer spreading in our society, a part of it also tries its best to hush up the matter.  If we want sexual assaults on children and women to stop we have to address the core issue – “The Mindset of Indians”.

If we are interested at all in changing circumstances, if we really want to stop assaults on women then please let them be free, give them their rights, let us not impose our will on them in the name of protecting them. If you really want to protect women please change your own mindset and bring changes in education system. Few rapists can be hanged but more such cases will crop up unless the real issue is addressed. And it’s there in front of us already, even after four months of Nirbhaya incident, nothing changed.

Now the question is do you have the will and the guts to do it instead of just blaming politicians and police. The society has to look within and urgently take corrective steps. Already things have reached a point where law in India looks more like “Law out-of-order”. As I said in my New Year wish, Lets be the instrument of change!!!

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28 thoughts on “Even after four months, nothing changes!!!

  1. I have no word for these beasts, they are animals!!
    Yeh true, mindset change is needed. Education for both men & women is urgently needed. Society is getting polluted with passage of time. Mindset change at family level is must & need to be done asap.

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    • Why compare them with animals, even animals never do this to their own kiddos! They are worse………

      Shame on us, our political system, our social system, family values, all going downhill………we advanced in many fields but could not change this sick mindset nd women go on being treated as doormat.

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  2. Very very well written.

    Cleansing required at all level, govt family society, everywhere. Mindset of a major section in India is degrading, it needs to be cleansed, & sooner the better!

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  3. These are depressing times for every once-proud Indian. Things have sunk to a new low. The only consolation is that perhaps the the only way to go now is up, we can’t sink any further.

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  4. Yep, things can’t go worse than what happened in these past couple of days. It should go up towards betterment. But sooner the better. Besides change in mindset we need Social police. Our police need a special branch just to manage these issues and with proper training. They need to be trained to handle the issue with more understanding, not adding more trauma to the affected party. Let them work in coordination with the crime police to catch the culprit while showing empathy toward the victim.

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  5. Beautifully written Bhaskar……but here, I’ll point out something that is possibly promoting the mindset of subjugation. Women in India have been relegated to ‘roles’ from time immortal. She has to be a mother, a sister, a wife – in other words, seen in some kind of respectable avatar to be able to deserve respect. Respecting a woman just for being her is never encouraged. Men are taught to respect woman just as they would do their “Ma-behen”, promoting the misogyny that has permeated the society, making it sick. Tulsidas in his Ram-Charit-Manas says: “Dhol gawaar shudra pashu naari; sakal tarnaa ke adhikaari”. This has been read by most of us in our younger days, seldom, if ever, in context with anything positive about women in general, unless, of course, she is a ‘Mother’ which conveniently places her on a pedestal, boxing her in a stereotypical shakti avataar, which, btw, is an embodiment of power extended benevolently by men. Parshuram kills his own mother to ‘obey’ his idiot of a father, who is celebrated as a ‘saptrishi’ with great powers – a loser who could not even respect the blind devotion his wife gave him, which, he clearly did not deserve. Poor Renuka is ‘brought’ back to life, ONLY because she is a mother her son loves deeply. His Uncle Vishwamitra happily blames Meneka for his own weakness, attains greatness at the expense of her, Rambha, and Shakuntala, while all three women faces the brunt of his actions in various ways while he goes on to become an immortal bramrishi. Our Puranas have time and again subjugated women to a place where they live only to please and appease the men in their lives. Ram kicks his pregnant wife out, but he is the perfect man. Draupadi is given time in hell because she dared to love one man more than the others – never mind that the condition was forced on her, when the only person she wanted to marry was Arjun. Of course, Arjun is not given hell for that, never mind he had God knows how many wives, all the while loving Draupadi more than others. Parshuram should have axed his father instead, but no, women are to be treated abominably, punished for puniest of ‘sins’ why the men go about doing whatever they please.
    And today, that very definition of ‘Ma’ ‘Behen’ is getting shattered, women emerging, rightfully, as an individual, as a human being, with thoughts, reasons, powers and achievements which parallel the men in every field, even surpassing them. They are asking for rights to be themselves, without the label of being someone’s daughter, wife, and – the one that gets my goat every time – mother. And Indian men in particular, cannot deal with this freedom of individual. Rape is just another tool for them to release a frustration that has been growing, the need to bully, subjugate and feel powerful at the expense of someone weaker bringing out the monsters out of the woodwork. Leave alone little girls, little boys are getting raped, and people are happily looking the other way.
    In fact, punishing the victim for rape goes way back to these very Puranas. Remember Ahilya? Doddering old Rishi Gautam turns his wife into stone because she was raped by Indra. Indra of course suffers some temporary blip too, but see the irony?Till date we worship a God who has actually, by the account of these same puranas, raped a woman.
    And the Indian man, getting fed on these misogynistic roles of women that perpetuate her role as a subservient being, will continue to push, box, shove her in boxes he has grown up being comfortable with.
    Do we have, as a society, the courage to take away the ‘greatness’ of all these men who have been so wrong to the women around them and press the reset button? See her as the ardhnarishwar – the equal part? Not as a male who is half woman, but as a woman who is half part of this universe as a whole.

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  6. Sad painful incidents flowing in the media from India. But I see too the flood of people on street protesting this barbaric act. That shows India have hellova lot good souls, you included my friend. Am sure all together can bring good change to this society. Good wishes from Israel. 🙂

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  7. you told the bitter truth…its we ourselves to be blamed today for this immoral society. When you go thru the incidents, more than half cases its family member who is the culprit. The rot is in our family….more personal than outer. Family need to start 1st….to bring this change.

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  8. Minnie, while I agree that excessive worshipping of women as symbols of chastity and goodness in Hindu mythology has led to more harm than good, I have interpreted the stories you’ve mentioned in a different way.

    When Vishwamitra cursed Menaka, Rambha and others sent by Indra to lure him away from penance, he lost his powers and had to go back to even harder tapasya to reach his goal of becoming Brahmarishi.

    Indra never found much favour with the masses as a god to be worshipped. I know of no temple where he is worshipped. In fact, people mock Indra for being jealous, lecherous, for always getting into trouble and then running to Vishnu or Brahma or someone else to bail him out. He is something of a joker not a god.

    Parashurama’s mother Renuka felt a surge of attraction towards the gandharvas passing by when she was fetching water and this enraged her husband Jamadagni. Now he wasn’t as noble and modern as Nikhilesh of Ghare-Baire to forgive his wife for infidelity (even though it was all in the mind in the case of Renuka). So Jamadagni vented fury on her and asked his sons to do the unthinkable – behead their mother. Only one son had the courage to follow his father’s orders – Parashurama, but that was perhaps because he knew he could reverse his action as soon as the anger melted away.

    By the way, Ahalya is not really raped according to most versions. Indra came to her disguised as Gautama. At first she got fooled, but even when she found out it was not her husband she continued with the lovemaking because well, she found Indra attractive. That is why Gautama is said to have cursed her.

    But of course there is no denying that throughout the centuries, women have played secondary roles with their main role being to please their fathers, husbands and sons. Women’s equality is a modern construct; in the earlier centuries most Indian women had accepted their lower status and were not really united to fight it. The mothers-in-law ensured that daughters-in-law were equally shackled. Men’s infidelities could be forgiven; women’s never. It was only after the women in the west fought so hard for their rights that some of the good-effects came to us in India.

    I feel that the information age is going to help women tremendously. So many girls in India are marrying later, studying more, working in male-dominated professions, driving and doing things their grandmothers and perhaps even mothers never did. My daughter does not even know what gender-discrimination is and I have to explain it to her. Same with all her girl-cousins growing up in Bangalore, Mumbai and so on. There is hope.

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  9. @Sahana: Growing up, I had interpreted these stories in different, more positive ways; But today, looking back, I see the gaping holes where every excess of Man in every form was justified in some way or another. Vishwakarma lost his powers, but he did not turn Indra into stone, he instead punished Rambha. He left Shakuntala, his daughter, in pursuit of his selfish goals. He lived with Menaka for so long, and yet at the end, found her to be guilty for his own weakness. She wasn’t trying to be a hermit, he was. She was just doing what she was asked to do by another man. Why punish her? My point with Jamadagni is exactly that – where is his punishment for becoming a murderer? As for Ahilya, you are right, there are versions where it seems she was in consent, but there ARE different versions that free her of guilt, and yet justify her punishment. Blaming the victim at its height.

    My only point here is we need to stop deifying women, making them Mothers or sisters and such similar nonsense, perpetuating a myth that only when she is Shakti, she needs to be revered, flesh and blood naris become ‘taarna ke adhikari’. The society as a whole needs to start treating them as mortal human beings who deserve equal respect as any other human being does.

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  10. Right Minnie, but I see this all as evolution. It is only from the past century that it is being understood that women have to be appreciated for their own worth, that they need not be goddesses or mothers or sisters to be treated with respect, that even prostitutes deserve respect and so on. If we superimpose the modern values and ideals of today on past mythology or historical figures it won’t make sense at all. If we were living some 200 years ago, we would probably be doing exactly what the other women of the time were doing. My mother said she used to fight with her father for taking a child-bride (my grandmother was a child when she married!) and my grandfather would tell her he hadn’t known anything better at the time.

    Western societies began to change conservative attitudes much earlier that Indians perhaps because of all the technological inventions which allowed more free time to women.

    I am just hoping that the relentless media reporting of crimes against women will help to bring some positive change.

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  11. Nice article, v thought provoking.

    Adding to the discussion I would quite disagree. Its again the mindset that causes this thought process. When we go through our old litteratures on hinduism, we find this worship of women as shakti is a v unique point of hinduism. That does not mean we litterally take them as ‘mothers’. It is again a mindset error of people. Our shashtras have called husbands as pati parmeswar. People end up taking the litteral meaning for the same. This path of following the litteral meaning is wrong & educating mass on these is needed. Personally I don’t think looking up to a women in revere is wrong or in any way causing agent for these horendous incendents. You can always look up to them in revere while treating them at par with male counterparts. It’s just another way of showing respect.

    Mythology do have many male characters whose actions deserve condemnation. Its also true that we at times come to conclusion on few by not getting into full details of the incidents happening. Draupadi getting married to 5 husbands, blame can always be put upon Arjun or Kunti. But this was predifined at her earlier birth when she asked for a boon from Maheshwar. Parshuram’s action was based upon his belief and knowledge that his father could reverse, as Sahana pointed out. And at the 1st oppurtunity he asked his father to restore back her life.

    When it comes to a relation between man & women, hinduism do not place women as you all are trying project. Hinduism put them both at same part. They have been projected as Shiv-Shakti. It is the combined power of both that gives the energy to this prana aka soul. Our scriptures have in fact put them both on same level, no imbalance have been made. A male if feels he is the powerful one being the shiv, he is wrong. He needs to know that his powers are just half and gets completed only when the power of ‘shakti’ contributes to the same. This ‘shakti’ can be anyone, your mother, sister, wife, or any female co-partner in your life. This shakti in hinduism is identified with Durga and her forms. Lack of proper scripture knowledge leads to taking a litteral meaning of the terms and mark even women in our life the same.

    This mindset needs to change through proper scripture education. Lot os schools do carry on with scripture lessons. But how many make sure to teach them the real ‘bhaava’ behind those terms and not litteral meaning? When thought deeply the realisation comes that hindu scripture, truely speaking, are helping women. They are passing us a message to treat women at par as without her you and your powers are incomplete. By giving her the same position as ‘shakti’ our scripture is passing a clear message to treat her with respect & by putting this whole humanity as ‘shiv-shakti’ its now passing a clear message to treat women at par.

    So personally i don’t think there’s anything wrong in thinking them as shakti. Root problem lies, as Bhaskar pointed, in our mindset. Even in this respect its our mindset which need to stop taking litteral meaning for these scriptures and terms of scriptures. Educating the mass to show them the truth can help. Instead of airing those ridiculous nonsense on different religious channels, let there be channels educating the mass with the truth. You need not be a religious guru to do so, if search ernestly, we’ll find many who do have this true knowledge.

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  12. I agree with Uttam. The term mother is not used in its literal meaning. Its an expression, used more to show the respect that is due to women. Shiv needs Shakti to get success, same, Shakti too cannot arrive at success without the energy of Shiv. So basically our scriptures is passing a message that both are at same level. Taking the literal meaning is again wrong mindset. When a bahu arrives, we call her Lakshmi. Do we literally mean The Goddess. And when this very bahu faces ill treatment at her in-laws, how does that gets connected to her being projected as Lakshmi.

    Infact I would totally disagree to the reason that putting them on that high pedestal is one of the cause. This reason simply don’t exist for this fall in moral values of men with regards to women.

    @Sahana – You are right about media. They are playing a big role here. Because of this constant media reporting, now people are getting the courage to come forward and report. They are getting a moral support courtesy media. Police would think many times before they refuse to file the FIR. They did a good job in passing a message across to all such affected women and their family that it is not a fault of their and whole nation is standing by them.

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  13. @Bhaskar: You know, we should not even get started on the ‘Lakshmi’ part, because the moment a misfortune falls on the family, that lakshmi is turned into ‘alakshmi’ in seconds. We are the only country and ONLY religion which has justified oppression of widows, the streets of Varanasi filled with poor widows forced into penury and often times, prostitution. In every other country, including many Muslim nations, widows are always encouraged to move on with their lives, remarrying or living a normal life after a certain period of mourning. All of us have seen at least one widow in our families treated abominably, and at least one man who has remarried, sometimes within months. And this is today, not centuries ago.

    I still contend that high pedestal is one of the cause. It boxes a human being. It makes it easier for the man to see the normal flesh and blood woman separate from a form that is Shakti, because normal women are at par with the pashu. It is like giving consolation prize to a an entire community where every other woman was treated in a wrongful manner. When we talk of men, even today, we never refer to them in context of Father/brother. It’s always a man. The point is not that Draupadi had five husbands, point is that she was punished for loving one more than the others, while the men were not, although ALL of them had multiple wives and must have favored one over the other. Our scriptures have never accorded equal status to any woman. She has had special abilities, and some Goddesses like Ma Kali have enormous powers, but again, she was contained by her husband, her hanging tongue signifying her secondary status as a wife, who can never overpower her husband in any way. Would Lord Shiv’s tongue hang out the same fashion if the roles were reversed? That is not ying and yang, or Shiv Shakti. That is Shakti governed by Shiv, because pati is parmeshwar.

    I don’t have that much of a problem with all these as mythology, because it was a different world. But what I do have a problem with is that even today, almost all the families in India continue to defend, even celebrate these men. Ram is NOT puroshottam. Lakshman caused grave injustice to his own wife, Vishwamitra ruined the lives of the women who were simply doing their jobs while letting the man behind them go scot free. It does not matter what Parshuram knew, the fact remains his father was a narcissistic monster not worthy of sainthood he was bestowed with, and he was never punished, and no one, even today, talks about it.

    When talking about a normal man, even a mistreated one, we don’t invoke Shiv. The same men who worship Shakti and Kali go and rape women with impunity because it’s easy for them to separate the entities. We need to start all over again, starting with our sons, telling them to respect all human beings, irrespective of gender, caste or creed. respect women not because she is Shakti, a mother, a sister or a future wife, but because she is a human being. Nip the misogynists in the bud.

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  14. Exactly, though she is considered Lakshmi yet faces the brunt. Considering her as Lakshmi is never the reason behind that treatment. Same I don’t agree to the fact that considering women as Shakti is in any way a reason for these inhuman acts. To agree to these terms in these scriptures is a different matter altogether, that’s individual beliefs.

    BTW its not just pati parmeshwar that’s in hinduism. Our religion also worship women as Shakti during Navratris. I am sure you know about kanch puja. Sri Ramkrishna worshipped Sarada Maa as Shakti. I don’t know about other region, but in Himachal there is a ritual during marriage where the wife gets the same pedestral. The husband touches her feet and moves it forward with the promise that he’ll give her respect, support and protection.

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  15. Then where do you think the dialouge: “Ladki ko chedta hai? Tere ghar me ma behen nahi hai kya?” has come from??

    Don’t you see the irony? She is considered Lakshmi and faces the brunt. Most of the time, when she is facing the brunt, she is called out as ‘alakshmi’ due to some kind of perceived harm she has brought upon the family. Being a lakshmi means she has to behave like one, and even more important, bring in the same kind of luck. If a husband is denied promotion the very first year of marriage, then she is amangal, unlucky. If a man gets promoted after a daughter is born, then it is because of her luck. A girl is boxed in her ‘lakshmi’ box right from her birth, never really freeing from it. The whole idea germinates from the idea that the girl has shoes to fill – that of Lakshmi. Rules are set for accordingly right from the beginning. The most common one is that she has to wear bangles on both arms because if she does not, she will bring ‘amangal’ to her husband. Take that away, and at least some of the bad treatment meted out to girls will start melting away.

    I believe in the luck, greatly. But for me, both boys and girls bring in the same kind of good luck and bad luck. But it’s only the girls who are held accountable, boys, never, unless the misfortune is so great that the so called well wishers have no other option. I have a lady friend who faced great misfortunes in her parent’s family after marriage – her father died, nephew died, sister died, she miscarried, her mother died…it was never ending. She is a doctor and yet she never seemed to make the licencing program in US……and someone in US upon seeing her hand told her it’s because of her husband’s luck that all of it is happening to her. But have you ever heard anyone ever comment of a wife’s misfortune on her husband in India? Why is husband not ever considered the lakshmi or otherwise? Why is wife the only one held accountable? A widow, especially young, is ALWAYS blamed for her husband’s death, – alakshmi. A man ? NEVER, ever.

    And this is where the mindset needs to change. My point is that we have to stop defining roles for women when we talk about her. Men don’t get respected because of Shiv ratri or Janamashtami, they get it because they are men Similarly, women should not get respected because of Lakshmi or Shakti, they should because they are women. And it starts at home, right at birth.

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  16. Right Minnie. Let me elaborate a bit more for the men on why deification of women actually puts them at a greater disadvantage in Indian society.

    Where women are worshipped as goddesses they are expected to be impeccably virtuous. They are expected to live up to impossible ideals. The image of Sita, Parvati and Lakshmi is such that even average women in real life are expected to be virgins before marriage, to be loyal to their husbands for life and even beyond in every birth! Thus, a woman who does not behave like any of the goddesses is considered to be worse than a man who commits the same vices. Just the thought of another man by a married woman is traditionally considered a heinous crime by men so one can imagine how actual acts would be regarded.

    In fact, the practice of Sati also existed for so long because it was considered good for a woman to immolate herself when her husband died. The thought of the widow getting married to and loving another man was abhorred by a society which sanctified the pure woman.

    Do you remember the Hindi films of the 50s and 60s? In those days if a woman happened to have sexual relations outside marriage, she would invariably die in the end rather than be shown to live a normal life. These views were quite well-entrenched in society. In fact movies in every language – Tamil, Telegu, bengali showed similar stories though there were exceptions.

    Since women are worshipped as goddesses, they are also expected to affect the fortunes of a family as Minnie has explained. Any bad fortune is then blamed on the woman. In villages this belief is still pretty strong (remember the movie Rudali?)

    Of course there are plenty of Indian men whose respect for women is mature and understanding. Also Indian society has changed a lot and today there are so many women who are living life on their own terms. But it cannot be denied that Indian mythology has not played a very positive role in empowering women. Western philosophy has played a more empowering role.

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  17. After going through all the discussion, I have few points to add here to clarify few terms being discussed.

    1. Manusmiriti and vedas are different & hinduism follows Vedas. Manusmiriti was made much later to form few social rules. Vedas is the basic key scripture followed in hinduism and not Manusmiriti.

    2. The terms or related meaning for the same like sati savitri, pati parmeshwar, all are from Manusmriti and not Vedas. Vedas do not discriminate between gender. Infact Vedas (Rig Ved) has clearly stated women should rule her household/empire, when need arises and both men and women are equally important to society. Women advise is promoted in Vedas.

    3. It is how you understand and interpret the terms of Vedas that is the bottom line of understanding the truth. Taking the literal meaning, as many do regularly is not the right way. Our mythological serial shows an arrow being shot at opponent calling it some weapon, e.g. say Vayuastra. The literal meaning for the same has been taken for the mass, truth being far from the same. These astras were directed at opponent not as arrows but mantras. Help of tantra sadhna was taken to fire these energy & other side would in turn use his own power to cut through this aimed salvo. Same when Vedas say women are like mothers, does not mean every other women passing by the street we need to look at and feel same as our mother. Its a term used for them to show respect to the gender on this earth who is the better half of the progenitor of this human race.

    And I can say with conviction of one fact, the perpetrators of these beastly crimes never ever dream of let alone think on these terms. So better not to link them and feel this is no way any reason for this atrocities against women. I say this more for the mere fact that this attitude is faced across the world and not just India. To subjugate the women and considered them lesser gender by males is something prevalent everywhere.

    Let me show few figures from West. The American Bar association and Justice in Oct, 2012 provided women violence, mainly domestic violence. The figures were alarming and shocked many.

    1. Around 25% of women are raped or physically assaulted by their spouse, partner, or dating partner in their lifetime.

    2. Nearly 1.3 million women are assaulted by their partner every year in the United States.

    3. 13% of all adult women become rape victims during their lifetime. About 9% of the female victims were raped by their husbands or ex-husbands, nearly 10% were raped by their boyfriends or ex-boyfriends. Additionally, 11% of the female victims were raped by their fathers or stepfathers, and 16% were raped by other relatives.

    In European countries there is a history of burning women as they were suspected to be witches whenever men felt she needs to be removed from his path. Same acts when used to be done by men, no one used to bother to give him the punishment. Did they have Vedas or followed those, no!

    Our Vedas are our treasure and following it with true knowledge can help in getting back humanity. If you read Vedas under proper guidance, you’ll realise they are promoting humanity more rather than the social norms as touched upon by many here. Those social norms came later through the Manusmiriti and distortion of mind started in our society. Distortion came into the mind of those who could not conquer their own weaknesses, and in turn started misguiding masses. (As someone I know closely and interact on these scriptures a lot said one day, its we the Brahmin sect who is to be blamed for uplifting the manusmiriti and making sure to keep Vedas out of reach of common man. 😀 Wish she could have said something here, most of my own knowledge came through interaction with her.)

    Its is a thought that enters someone’s mind which makes him work accordingly. And if the person is evil, they try hard to make their own thoughts as traditions resulting in disturbing the original root of the truth for their own selfish gains.

    Our Vedas, the real ones (I say this as currently in our great Indian market many float around saying that is the real one.) are a store of immense knowledge. This Veda is the root of our religion. It never talks about sati pratha, sati savitri or pati parmeshwar. It talks of equality in gender. To discard this storehouse of knowledge and embrace western thought process in my opinion is wrong. Atrocities against women, giving them second status in society, the men ego while scorning a woman, all these are prevalent across the globe and not just in India. This in itself throws out of the window the fact that deification of women in India is a reason for these crimes. They are not prevalent in western world yet such alarming figures of women atrocity can be seen.

    Our scriptures needs lot of in-depth study before coming to these conclusions. Already we have mixed up manusmiriti and Rig Veda here while criticising and discussing. The text of our Vedas have always been liberal and broad. Its basis is humanism. Need is to keep an open broad mind, not a conservative one yet follow Vedas. This is what is needed and not a total transform. Vedas would teach me how to be a true human being, even maybe deify the women, but making sure to keep a broad open mindset. This will make sure to revere the women yet her independence won’t raise any eyebrow. I feel this is the ‘mindset’ change which is needed to bring back the sanity in our society.

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  18. Shantanu, I am not blaming Hindu scriptures alone for the violence against women; just pointing out that the deification has not helped in ensuring their safety or respect. It matters little whether this deification came from Manusmriti or Puranas or Ramayana or Mahabharata and not from Vedas; the point is – it was rampant in Indian society and it has caused unreasonable burden on women of proving their virtuousness again and again, of being held to standards which are not held against men. Perhaps men and women were equal in Vedic times but after that women’s status nose-dived.

    Coming to the western world, yes of course there has been much subjugation of women even without the deification. There are heinous crimes too. However, western women have fought tenaciously for their rights in the past century (and it has gone to the other extreme now of equal rights to promiscuousity).

    All the concepts of equal pay for equal work, of women, of equal voting rights, contraception rights, inheritance rights, the fight to prove that women can be CEOs, surgeons, lawyers, that women’s roles should not be confined to kitchens or just raising children, that women should be given longer maternity leave etc etc have originated from the west and become big movements and we must acknowledge their role in empowering women around the world. Denying that and arguing that Indian women were always empowered would be untrue. Their position began to diminish after the ancient period and started reviving only with the influx of western thought. Remember how the British educators along with Raja Ram Mohan Roy had to literally beg the elites to send their daughters to schools and colleges?

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  19. Who says you need to denounce the western philosophy. Denounce the manusmiriti. Spare the Vedas cause during Vedic period, women in our country had a very honorable position in the society. Personally I would prefer following the vedas besides keep an open broad mindset. Isn’t that what I already mentioned in my reply? This broad mindset is something we are imbibing from west, its not Indian. With a broad mindset if deifying women is done, as per vedas, what harm is done! You respect, revere her yet give her the freedom. Deification does not help them neither do they cause harm when followed with proper interpretation. Deification has no logic or basis here cause same treatment is faced by women in other countries, and they don’t have deification. If you read the last part of my reply, I am more asking to combine both. Its time to also revive the Vedas and enlighten our folks the true picture about the diff between vedas & Manusmiriti, and show them the truth about basis of hinduism. Vedic laws and modern day independence & life style, both combined can get us more healthy society. That’s my strong belief.

    I end my part here cause this will be a never ending debate. Diff people have diff views and interpretation about scriptures, they have diff life style & hence have diff beliefs. A Sadhu/brahmacharya or a bachelor/spinster or a married man/woman, they all would have a diff thought process, even with this deifying idea.

    My own belief, I would definitely, surely follow vedas and deify women in my life & around me, yet I would make sure not to impose myself upon them, not to interfere in their independence. And I feel this is what is needed for our Indian mass, both for men and women. 🙂

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  20. “The terms or related meaning for the same like sati savitri, pati parmeshwar, all are from Manusmriti and not Vedas” – Glad you said that Shantanu, because one more time I hear women being equated to mothers, satis, Lakshmis, sisters and pativratas, I am going to commit some crime, lol!! Women do NOT want and do not like to be compared to Ma Shaktis and Sitas and Lakshmis. We do NOT want the pedastals. Please give us mortal feet.

    But then agian – “Infact Vedas (Rig Ved) has clearly stated women should rule her household/empire” …that says it all. Once she steps out, all bets are off. Still, I would be glad if the Vedas can come back in the form it was back then, because,it is still better than what we have today.

    But how many people, in our household, even know the difference between Manusmiriti and Vedas? Because that is not how normal Amar Chitra Katha stories have portrayed mythology. That is now how our Fathers, grandfathers, or grandmothers relate the stories. In the stories related to children in a common household, the women is always the one paying for sins. Very few, if any, men ever get punished for crimes committed against women. And if, by any chance, they do, the women, guilty or not, pay for it in someway too.

    When we speak of Vedas, the stories are always loosely related, and nowhere does the equality of woman emphasized, The sacrifice of women is glorified on all accounts, and a girl child born is always expected to become the sacrificial lamb in any given situation, taking the pain of the household on her shoulders, never complaining. That is the picture that has been, and is being glorified, projected, perpetuated. The present is rationalized based on past. Fact also is that despite statistics, the roads of US and most Western countries are inherently safe, The rate of crime reported is extraordinarily high. If Indian women were to complain of EVERY single incident of abuse suffered by women in India, the way it does in most western countries, it would rocket to a 100%, I can guarantee that to you. I do not know a single Indian female in my lifetime who has not been sexually or physically abused, either on the streets, and in many cases, at home. On the other hand, I can show you at least 50% of women here who have never faced physical or sexual abuse at the hands of a man, and 75% of women who have never faced sexual teasing on streets. I faced more leers and looks on my one month’s visit to India, suffered leery looks given to a beautiful niece by my side all the while pretending not to notice, than I have in the last decade in US.And this is at a place that still relatively ‘better’ than other parts of India.

    Also, you are attempting to take the common man to a spiritual journey where he needs to learns Vedas. That is not feasible. The common man and woman pick up nuances from everyday lives, from common stories told and retold at every corner, and every story collectively referred to as our great Indian culture and mythology. . So they listen to Ram being glorified and called Puroshuttam and figure out that it’s OK to kick your wife out. They listen to Ahilya’s story and know that a raped woman needs to be punished and turned into stone. They listen to Draupadi’s tale of being sold, attempts of rape and humiliation, and figure out that it’s OK to be a mute spectator because if she truly wants, a Krishna will come to save her.

    It’s ironic. Radha is worshiped alongside Krishna at every temple, and yet not one girl is encouraged to go Radha’s way – a woman who is married and yet has an unabashed an extra-marital affair, which funny enough, has been glorified to the point of ridiculous. This is called convenience of religion.

    Honestly speaking, it is foolish to rationalize the past status of women based on based on modern day’s environment, just like it is insane to impose the past status on the modern woman.

    Any religious sect will try to bind the common man in circles of prejudices and myths that will inevitably control his life. And nowhere in those stories the message of equality ever given. If a sacrifice has to be made, then it must be made by the female. She must not work so that the man can be successful. She must say certain mantras, wear certain things so that the longevity of the man is ensured. She is the one who has to wear the symbols of marriage for the mangal of the man in her life. The man is not required to do anything, not ONE thing, to show for his commitment to the woman in his life. Sex and desires are treated as sin, and it is whole-heartedly encouraged to give up on it totally to acquire a higher spiritual status in life. Inevitably, sex is treated as a dirty thing, and the onus to keep the purity going falls on the woman. Her needs, her desires are seldom taken into account. I have seen men taking sanyas, and the woman not even asked if she wants it. And then, suppose she does not want it, does she have any choice other than to say she does in order to keep peace and prove how pure she is?

    It all boils down to treating sex as some kind of leprosy. Of keeping the onus of purity on women. Of bringing in luck, imposing the ‘Lakshmi’ template on her even as she takes her first breath in this world. Of being forced to wear sindoors, bindis, bangles, not because she loves it, but because some kind of twisted logic says bad will happen to her man and it will be all her fault. Of implying that she is a girl, so she should be at home, because if she is outside, she needs to be taught a lesson.

    Things are changing, fathers are seeing their daughters in new light everyday, women are not shackling the other women because that was the only they learned to have power. But it’s far from over. And the answer does not lie in following the puranas blindly, but re-interpreting them, treating the women in that era independently of women of the present era. And having the guts to say Ram was a coward, Vishwamitra was selfish, and Jamdagni was an asur.

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  21. You all are so ready to write such long replies. Mera documentation kar do na. I am tired typing. 😛

    I’ll stick to my stand, deitifying women is no way the cause for these heneous crimes being committed. And after that point of same treatment around the globe, I am more convinced. Because if this had been the reason then west would have shown if not zero, atleast far lower values. As I had mentioned in my new year post, probelm lies in with our chalta hai attitude. For ages we never stood up, neither men who believed this was wrong nor women. A whistling by a friend for a girl was taken as a joke. Fathers beating up mothers, sons watched it while growing up. Husbands putting down wives as less intellegent than them was a matter of joke in the family. Women and men all comparing sarees and bangles to weakness or cowardly behavour, so much so that it turned into a lokokti in out language. They all seemed minor problems. But they all acted as deterent to women respect.

    In different ways we all finally agree to one point atleast. Mindset change is needed. 😀

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  22. Mindset change needed. Deification not needed 🙂 Let’s have some nice, wicked goddesses who can curse their husbands to turn into stone 🙂

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  23. hahahaha!! @Sahana, now THAT would be awesome. In addition, can we please have some men draped in white and sent off to an ashram to mourn the demise of their wives?

    @Bhaskar: West does not have lower values, just different from ours. Just because they are different does not make them lower. In US, I have seen more women taking care of her parents in their old life, some giving up their lucrative jobs to move closer to their parents, than I can count. Someone once pointed out that oh! they do that for money. And I had burst out laughing, because there is no inheritance here, unless specifically willed. If a child inherits when willed, then the inheritance tax is so high that it almost becomes a liability to inherit. Infidelity is seen as one of the gravest sin, and that is the biggest reason for divorce. In India, infidelity is huge, more pervasive than I had ever thought to be possible. Yet the woman grins and bears it because, as you said, chalta hai. Two of my closest friends went at it with each other, while married to their respective partners. Turns out, the woman friend is in an ‘Open relationship’ because her husband keeps a mistress. The male friend just jumped at the opportunity presented. The male friend’s wife came to know recently, but is grinning and bearing it. “Papa to shock se mar jayenge, main kya karun’……Puke. More men pay for sex than we can even begin to realize.And then we turn around and blame the west for divorces, because the woman, and in some cases the man, is taking a stand.

    In West, the child is encouraged to be independent as soon as they are out of school, and parents here are equally heartbroken when the children fly the nests. But their culture calls for self reliance, and that has worked for them way more than keeping the umblical cord alive has in India. Here, taking care of old people is a matter of pride, while the old people take equal pride in being independent, self reliant. In India, it has rotted to a point where the relationship between the parents and the child often borders on vicious, poisonous to the point of being fatal. The myths that has perpetuated outside of this country really makes me grind my teeth.

    The deification has only hurt Bhaskar, it has not helped. Remove the tag, and she does not have to be pious, bring in luck, or have shoes to fill. She will not be required to dress in a certain way, behave in a certain way, not lead life in a certain way or bear the burden of honor of her family. There are eve teasers in every country, rapist in every country, but no other country has so many men who grow up disrespecting women beause the moment she breaks a stereotype, she is loose and is asking for it.

    And I can do your documentation, just come on Skype 😀

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  24. While keeping that tag if those superstitious beliefs or thought process is kept out, even that would work well. None ever said West have lower morals or anything. What is being said is if the same incidents are happening in west irrespective of numbers, a place where these tags are not present, so my logic says this reason is no reason for these incidents. Sorry but I am not convinced at all. I still feel and stick to the fact, to carry on the same thought with a broad mind can work better. To me the mindset change is needed on that broad mind part.

    @Sahana – For that we’ll need some good script writers from Indian telly world for Brahmaji. =))

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  25. Most Vedic stories are not to be taken literally. Most of them have a symbolic meaning. Each God, as Vedic knowledge explains, has a female counterpart, who are just the other view of the God and the power behind them. Saraswati is the female counterpart of Brahma.

    I end my discussion here as I feel I don’t have that deep knowledge about Vedas to make fun of, explain or criticise my God. 🙂

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  26. As I said, common man does not go deep into any Vedas, or Puranas, or Manu Smriti. Justifications of those ‘not to be taken literally’ instances make them look even worse. I doubt even the most devout would ever have the complete knowledge or can explain away something with complete logic, I know for a fact that our Upanishadhs are a gold mine of fair life for both man and woman. I know Vedas have a rich heritage, but today, all that is but almost lost under the annoying tales of greatness men achieved by making sacrificial lambs of women. The general justifications and the common usage of today’s modern Hinduism gasping under billions of prejudices do nothing to help the woman today who is supposed to meet many mythical and often impossible standards. Invoking greatness of Sati and Savitri and Lakhsmi make sure she is always bound by those burdens that she will have to carry till she dies. Her choice to be anything else gets immediately restricted. The Supreme Being is not a Man or a Woman, it’s a power that has both positive and negative energy, conveyed though our beliefs that bring a stone to life. We weave stories, and then the following generations use them to their advantage to control the society. It does not diminish the power of God, it simply takes away the power of the common person to directly connect with him.

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