Relooking at Religion

Relooking at Religion

Disclaimer: The author of this article does not have anything against God or any religion whatsoever. He, however, does not understand the logic behind the SYSTEM of religions and a number of customs associated with them. He is a Hindu whose school has instilled in him Christian ethos, someone who lives in a Sikh locality and who has myriad Muslim friends. ‘Assassination’ of sentiments by any of the statements and/or factual inaccuracy should be considered as another act of stupidity by a birdbrain.

The third largest religion by population, Hinduism is also among the oldest religions to ever exist. In the debate of ‘God created man or man created God’, what we most often neglect is the ever-lasting need for changing rituals with changing times.

A rather simple analysis of gender roles depicted in our holy books indicates that it is customary for women to take the back seat. The kings, being mighty, had to battle it out on the battlefield, while the queens had to primarily focus on the well being of the kingdom in the absence of their male counterparts. Now, I in no way am trying to demean the role of a homemaker of those days. All I am trying to say is that certain principles and gender roles have been so deeply embedded in our thinking, that although we have evolved from apes to homo sapiens, our mindset continues to be as regressive.

Centuries have passed, and till date Lakshmi continues to “dabao the pair” of Vishnu. But is this the fault of Hinduism? Of course not! Just like the Constitution of India has to be obeyed to while using our brain simultaneously to modify it as per the changing society, our rituals also require a substantial number of amendments, it is WE who need to do that. Our ancestors who made these rituals keeping THEIR times in mind will NOT come back on earth to do YOUR job.

A child emulates what he hears and sees, as Confucius once said “What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.” Be it Ramayana or Mahabharata, one thing that remains constant is the acceptance of men having multiple wives and absolute disgust for women having multiple husbands. Draupadi was time and again questioned by society for being married to five men, when it wasn’t even her fault. Sita was questioned by Maryadapurushottam Ram himself, since she had spent a long duration in a land far away from him, again, when it wasn’t even her fault. But why was it acceptable for men and unacceptable for women? Did we ever question that? Is it not something we see even today? A boy having many female friends is a ‘stud’, but a girl having many male friends is a whore? Do we ever question this?

Jauhar, the practice of self-immolation of queens of the Rajput clan when the king had to face defeat, was another practice that very blatantly showed that women in those days were not ‘allowed’ to have their own identity. This practice, although restricted to Rajasthan in full measures, was not far behind in other areas. After all, a woman living a life devoid of colours, in a white saree in absolute terms, was also not ‘living’ in real terms, was she?

A mother who has single-handedly raised her daughter amongst adversity is not allowed to do the sacred ritual of Kanyadaan just because she is a widow? Why don’t these principles apply to men who lose their wives? A widower is not an ill omen just because he is a man? And what great contribution did he have in determining that he would be a man?

Why is preference given to the son, and not to the daughter when it comes to lighting the pyre of her parent? No, I do not have answers to these questions, and even you don’t.

In a world that is progressing at such a rapid pace, we even have some temples like Shani Shingnapur temple that debar women from entering temples. If ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed’ was offensive, so should this be. It was only after wide scale protest by women that this temple lifted the ban. Some temples don’t even allow women to hover near idols of Hanuman. Why? Hanuman was a Brahmachari, NOT a gynophobic. He was not SCARED of women. Period.

Period leads me to my next point. A woman who is having menstruation is not permitted to enter temples. In fact, women themselves do not permit themselves to enter temples in “those” days. So basically, women are being penalised for having a healthy biological system.

I do not intend to look down upon Hinduism; I myself am a Hindu. But faith does not justify discrimination against any community. If Hinduism or any other religion is regressive, it is NOT because God is orthodox, it is because YOU are.


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