Today is a holiday here and a big pilgrimage day in Vrindavan. In Hindu mythology, this day is when the gods awoke after a four-month-sleep. It is also the wedding day of Vishnu and Tulsi, marking the start of the wedding season here in India. I would like to take a closer look at the religious stories and its effect in today’s blog entry.
I will start with a short summary of the mythos:
There once was an evil demon called Jalandhar. He had the power to change his shape and thus could incorporate anybody he wanted. He used this power to meet women, disguised as their husband and thus cheating them into having sex with him! When the men found out and came to fight with him, nobody could ever kill him – he had such big power due to the fact that his wife Vrinda was very loyal. Yes, the loyalty of his wife saved him from the revenge of his rape victims’ husbands.
The husbands turned to Vishnu, the highest of gods, and asked him for help. Vishnu decided to use Jalandhar’s own methods to defeat him: he assumed Jalandhar’s shape and seduced the demon’s wife. Her loyalty was thus broken and her husband lost all power connected to it. Vishnu could finally kill him.
Vrinda, angry at Vishnu for cheating her this way, cursed Vishnu and turned him into a stone before jumping into the burning cremation fire of her husband, killing herself.
She was reborn as Tulsi, a holy plant, and finally the bush Tulsi and the stone Vishnu, which is called Shaligram, married.
This is the mythological story everybody knows. Let me just point out the four consequences that this fiction had on today’s culture in India which is very obviously shaped with the big influence of religion:
1. If someone rapes a woman, you can rape his wife. Your God did the same.
There are such events of people taking revenge by raping a rapist’s family members.
2. Women should be loyal and pure in order to prolong the life of their disloyal, rapist husband.
In today’s society in India, it is common that a woman should always have the image of a pure virgin while a man can be a gigolo and flirting with every girl he sees.
3. After the death of her husband, a woman should commit suicide.
This was common until about 200 years ago in India. The tradition was called Sati and it was a subject of pride to commit suicide like this, as it showed your loyalty. Raja Ram Mohan Rai ended this practice with a law but in my teenage time, we could still read about such cases in newspapers. Still today there are temples in Rajasthan where women who died in this way are worshipped.
4. A Rape Victim should marry her Rapist.
In the village courts in rural India such decisions are not uncommon even today. Both families usually agree that this is a logical consequence.
You can clearly see the situation of a woman in this culture. She has to bear rape for rape, has to do effort for her husband’s long life and protection, she even had to kill herself for her husband and finally has to marry her rapist, serving him until the end of his life.
And in the hypocrite religion of this country, they say that a woman here gets the respect of a Goddess. How can you expect me to respect this kind of religion and culture?
P.S.: To anybody having the urge to abuse me for my words here: read your scriptures first and insult those who wrote them, not me. I am just pointing out the consequences…