Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) president K. Veeramani has alleged that the Ramayana, one of the oldest and well-known epics of the world, besmirched women. The DK leader also said that the Bhagavad Gita and Manusmriti too denigrated the women folk. Hence, a demonstration would be held soon and these sacred scriptures of the Hindus would be burnt to ashes.
The Ramayana is the national epic of India. With numerous translations in vernaculars, the Ramayana has become an inspiration for millions of Hindus. Mahatma Gandhi praised the Ramacharitamanas of the 16th century poet Tulsidas as the greatest work in the entire religious literature of the world. The Bhagavad Gita is said to be the most beautiful philosophical song in any language. It has been read daily and recited by millions across the vast expanse of India over the centuries. Men and women from all over the world have drawn inspiration from it. Mahatma Gandhi had turned to the Gita for light and guidance in times of crisis.
Is it not puzzling why Veeramani has chosen only these great Hindu scriptures for disgraceful treatment? It is well known that the religious books of the Semitic faiths, especially the Quran of the Muslims and the Bible of the Christians, accord women a secondary position, denigrate women far more than any Hindu scripture. The Quran requires the woman to be covered from the head to the toe, gives the testimony of a woman only half the weightage as that of a man, authorizes the man to have multiple wives, whom he can divorce by uttering a single word thrice, concubines and women slaves while there are no such provisions for the woman, who is expected to be faithful to her husband and adultery is gravely punishable. The Bible in its teachings degrades women from Genesis to Revelation. It perceives woman as a possession of man. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leading figure of the early women'srights movement wrote about the Bible, ?I know of no other book that so fully teach the subjection and degradation of women.? She was of the opinion that the Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women'semancipation.
But Veeramani does not dare to inflict similar insults on the Semitic scriptures. Is it that he is not aware of the derogatory attitude towards womanhood in these texts? Or is it that he is aware of the well-known tolerance of the Hindus who would swallow dishonour without protesting, while their counterparts in the Muslim and Christian community are not as thick-skinned and would go to any extent to register their objections and protect their honour? Or is it because Veeramani is another domestic Hindu face of the prosperous international anti-Hindu lobby which has found safe home in the sold-out, so-called secular quarters of this country?
Or is it because Veeramani knows that the UPA government of India would pay no heed to the hurt sentiments of the majority Hindus who form 85 per cent of the Indian population but would take instant action to protect the sentiments of the privileged 15 per cent of the population who are called the Muslim and Christian minority? Past experiences show that whenever the slightest disrespect was shown to Islam in any part of the world, Muslims all over the world protested, most often violently. When a cartoonist in Denmark made some cartoons of the Prophet, Muslims in India carried out violent protests and the Indian government communicated its concern to the government of Denmark because the act had hurt the sentiments of a section of Indian population. But no violent protests happened and the same Indian government took no action when the Hindu sentiment was brutally hurt due to the demolition of temples in Malaysia and Kazakhstan. Also, the person who made obscene paintings of many Hindu gods and goddesses and even the national deity Bharat Mata continues to enjoy the honour of the second highest civilian award bestowed by the government of India in spite of the gravely wounded majority sentiments.
While it is true that all religious texts in the world might be interpreted to have some positive and negative values, it is certain that none of them were created with a bad intention. All have their share of good and bad, highs and lows but none deserve to be burned to ashes.
Will the cause of woman empowerment be served by the burning of few religious scriptures that have done greater service than harm to the mankind, in general, and the Indian society, in particular? Will the ashes of some of the greatest works on philosophy, spirituality and morality that have been the guiding stars to the Indic civilization since times immemorial make the lives of the millions of Indian women any better? Will the insult shown to most revered scriptures not deeply hurt the sentiments of the Indian women, a large majority of whom are highly religious and have undaunted faith in their religion and culture?
It is a well-established fact accepted by scholars all over the world that in no ancient culture, civilization or religion of the world, were women held in so much esteem as amongst the Hindus. Hinduism is the only religion that places the feminine on a par with the masculine in the profound concept of Shiva-Shakti culminating in the image of Ardhanarishwar. It is indeed an irony that under the pretext of women'sliberation Veeramani has chosen to abuse a religion that elevates woman to the position of divinity.
Veeramani'saction does not seem to be sincerely inspired by the cause of women. It seems to be just another excuse to defame Hinduism. Is Veeramani'shatred for Hinduism so great that it leaves no scope for any prudent analysis, for the consideration of hurt sentiments, for better ways to work towards women empowerment? Or are the rewards of denigrating Hinduism so great that any kind of introspection seems worthless?