Monday, May 2, 2016

Women and Equality


The latest issue of Frontline has put women’s equality on the cover.  India, which dreams of being a political superpower, is still paradoxically grappling with discriminations of all sorts: caste, religion, gender, language, and what not.  We still have religious leaders like Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, the Sankaracharya of Dwarkapeeth in Gujarat, who preach such claptrap as that the recent firework accident in a Kerala temple occurred because of the people who demand equality for women with respect to temple entry.  We have political leaders like Pankaja Munde, Women and Child Development Minister of Maharashtra, who uphold the discrimination in the name of “tradition.” 

The Dancing Girl
of Mohenjodaro
How long should we let ignorance and falsehood dominate religion?  The Shankaracharya’s teaching is sheer falsehood while the Minister’s reveals ignorance.  Both falsehood and ignorance have played a significant role in religion throughout its history.  Most religious teachings go against plain logic and the findings of science.  Many scientists and philosophers have sacrificed their lives on the altars of gods with grotesque shapes.  More terrifying, the sacrificial killers are venerated as saints in many religions.

Traditions can (and should, in most cases) change as time changes.  In her Frontline article, Prof R. Mahalakshmi shows how even the Buddha was willing to change traditions with necessary conditions.  When some women wished to become monks, the Buddha did not initially relent.  He had reasons like the presence of too many women might attract robbers and other offenders.  However, he did relent eventually making necessary changes in the rules and doctrines.

Women were restricted from many places in the past for various reasons.  Sabarimala, for example, was not a place where women could climb safely in those ancient days.  It was a dangerous forest on a rugged hill.  Today Sabarimala is a totally different place.  There is no risk involved in the ascent.  So why should women be dismissed from the presence of the deity?  Tradition, again.  The deity there is a confirmed bachelor!  Lord Ayyappa who overcame various temptations during his life and faced severe challenges with the courage of a warrior must be blushing with shame when his vulnerability vis-à-vis menstruating women is being projected as a tradition.

It is up to India, the projected Superpower, to decide how long it is going to let ignorance and falsehood dominate its religion.  As Prof Mahalakshmi points out in her article (cited above), it is more about exploitation of certain sections than mere ignorance and falsehood.  And it is not only religion that is being employed in that exploitative process in India today.  There is a whole political and economic system that is turning out to be grossly discriminatory and exploitative.


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15 comments:

  1. Nice post!! Though lots of buzz is around Gender equality, but unless it is in our minds, women will still be treated as second class citizens at places where there is reservation for them for example.. I feel the onus is on each and every one of us.. to treat our kids equally, do what we preach for our next generation!!!
    http://travelhues.blogspot.in

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    1. Nobody wants equality, Sneh. It's about who rules the roost. I think I have to change my perspective. Power. Positivity. Money. These should be the keywords. And with those keywords you go around killing people, terminating their services, and money will flow into your account. Success belongs to those who know how to manipulate.

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  2. Points well made...
    I also think that many times, people take undue advantage of religious aspects. Plus, the need to change with time is also ignored. Totally agree with your example of Sabarimala temple.

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    1. The only real purpose of religion is to manipulate, I understand. Those who know how to use religion are successful in real life. Others can write poems or at best a novel.

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    2. Not only religion, but also human worship.
      Aren't novelists successful among their lovers, I mean, the readers?
      What do you equate success with, my dear sir?

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    3. Not only religion, but also human worship.
      Aren't novelists successful among their lovers, I mean, the readers?
      What do you equate success with, my dear sir?

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    4. How many novelists are successful these days? A handful. Even the best writers languish in ignominious darkness because the new gen is not interested in good literature.

      Tell me: who would you consider successful in the SPS affair? Just an example of swindlers becoming successful at the cost of the helpless. This is the present reality.

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    5. I have begun to personalize success. We can never become successful among pigs that wallow in filth. Good that SPS belched out the magma. There is fresh vegetation wherever the magma flew down. Imagine being inside that volcano - inferno!
      I think your personal satisfaction is what you need. No other success can bring us peace. The garbage truck has to be ignored. Certainly it will die its own death like many historical deaths. Swindlers became successful only among swindlers. Not you or I. Have you, Sir, forgotten that you are so important for me, and like me many others? You are successful among many whom you affect by your writings.

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    6. I have begun to personalize success. We can never become successful among pigs that wallow in filth. Good that SPS belched out the magma. There is fresh vegetation wherever the magma flew down. Imagine being inside that volcano - inferno!
      I think your personal satisfaction is what you need. No other success can bring us peace. The garbage truck has to be ignored. Certainly it will die its own death like many historical deaths. Swindlers became successful only among swindlers. Not you or I. Have you, Sir, forgotten that you are so important for me, and like me many others? You are successful among many whom you affect by your writings.

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    7. Thanks for the compliment and encouragement. Yes, success is to be personalised. But there are vested interests who won't let you do even that!

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  3. Well written Tomichan. I loved the line "Lord Ayyappa who overcame various temptations during his life and faced severe challenges with the courage of a warrior must be blushing with shame when his vulnerability vis-à-vis menstruating women is being projected as a tradition." Sarcasm at it's best.

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    1. May be Jesus Christ was blushing when Sister Abhaya was murdered.
      Why poke your nose on hinduism
      Lord Ayyappa is celibate and his divine consort Malikapurathamma is waiting outside the shrine. Lord's divine consort can wait outside, these feminist cannot.
      I have nothing against Christians but mind your language

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  4. Very well expressed Mr. Matheikal! Such religious beliefs are mere hypocritical attempts to suppress women by opportunists who get benefited by both-- the religion and that women. The earlier for their forte, and the later for the fatale-- the weaker, the better.

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    1. Take any time in history and you will see such hypocrites and opportunists exploiting certain sections of people in the name of gods.

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