Misogyny in India

Once again, the world stands aghast at the inhumanity meted out on yet another woman in India.

However, a fact seemingly ignored is that the mind-set which perpetuates this abhorrent misogyny is rooted in the same Brahminical ‘sacred’ texts – Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita – that are extensively and highly selectively referred to in Western yoga classes and related literature.  For example:

The mind of woman cannot be disciplined; she has very little intelligence.  (Rigveda 8 – XXXIII:17) 

Women are light-minded. They are the root of all troubles. Attachment towards them should not be pursued by wakeful persons who desire liberation. [For] there is none more sinning and more sinful than women. Women are the root of all sins … fickle-minded, of evil deeds and emotionally incomprehensible even to an intelligent man.  (Uma Samhita XXIV:3, 16)

What happens in women is exactly what happens to a leprous monkey when it scratches itself on being afflicted by worms. The pleasure in women is similar to the pleasure that is felt when pus comes out of a swollen tumour. It is nothing more than that. The pleasure in women is similar to the pleasure one feels when faeces and urine are discharged. [Uma Samhita XXIII:56-59]

One should approach [a] woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, [a man] should bribe her. If she still refuses, he should beat her with a stick or with his fists and overpower her, saying: ‘I take away the splendour from you with my virility and splendour’.  (Brhadarankyaka Upanishad VI – IV :9, 21)

The Rudra Samhita (book III – chapter LIV) bears the further Brahminical decree that a ‘chaste’ woman is never to defend herself against a husband who scolds or rebukes her, for

even when beaten by him she shall remain glad and say, “I may even be killed, O lord”.

She is never to show the least maturity or initiative, except, of course,‘at the time of sexual intercourse, whereupon she is to ‘like whatever her husband is interested in‘. Therefore, if she has the audacity even to consume sweets without sharing them with him, she is to be reborn as ‘a wild goat eating its own dung’, whilst if she dare retort to her husband’s unkindness, she is automatically damned to ‘be born as a bitch in a village’.

It is such misogynistic scripture that continues to afford unthinking followers of Brahminical orthodoxy full justification for the subjugation, abuse and even murder of their women.  Consider the alarming rates in India of selective female abortion, sexual violence, bride torture and burnings, dowry killings (nearly one an hour recorded in 2012), or even the persistence of the public intimidation commonly termed ‘Eve-teasing’.

Kanchenjunga editOf course, all this is anathema to keepers of the Shaiva Tantra tradition of the foothills of the Kanchenjunga, where a man who raises his voice in disrespect of any woman is required to undertake a day-long fast in reparation, and the house in which a woman resides is considered worthy of the same honour as any temple.

In the unequivocal words of the Kaulavalinirnaya Tantra:

Respect and consideration for women mark the very foundations [of the Tradition].  All women are to be looked upon as manifestations of the Great Mother.  An offending woman should not be beaten even with flowers.  A woman of any age, even a girl, or even an uncouth woman, should be bidden a respectful farewell after salutation. (Chapter X)

[Adapted from Part Three of Limitless Sky]

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