Sunday, Nov 27, 2022

Karma Sutra: India’s daughters — the long and hard fight

We must remember that demons co-exist with humans in society, but that doesn't mean they should be dealt the same hand.

Sculpture of Hindu Goddess Durga during Durga puja festival in Kolkata, India Violating a woman’s modesty is a heinous crime; barbarians cannot be punished by the same rule book that humans are entitled to. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

In a land where women are seen as an embodiment of the female form of divinity, namely – Saraswati (knowledge), Lakshmi (wealth) and Shakti (power), what happened on New Year’s Eve in Bengaluru is a direct abuse to the female manifestation of divinity. It is nothing less than a sacrilegious act.

According to our scriptures the earth is inhabited, among other creatures, with manavas (humans) and rakshasas(demons). By using their faculty of reason, the humans tamed their instincts to dominate and also bridled their natural urges of sex and violence. They established a code of conduct based on dharma (moral rules) which safeguards the interest of all, especially the downtrodden. The code also ensures that the rich and powerful do not exploit the weak and the helpless.

The culture of living by this code established a civilized society. The people of society thrive on these moral rules, which are also rules of cooperation and trust and expect to live fearlessly irrespective of their gender and station in the social hierarchy. However, according to classical Indian wisdom, weakness of character is a part of human nature. And so, those who disregarded the code or broke the code were duly censured or incarcerated to establish order in society.


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But apparently, what the society had not perceived was the fact that the rules of justice that applies to humans cannot possibly apply to demons. Much as these demons look like us and speak like us, they don’t “think” like us. They may co-exist on the same plane of existence, namely the mother earth, but follow the code of the jungle, not the society.

In Indian scriptures, their code is known as ‘Matsya Nyaya’ or the code of fishes, where ‘might is right’ and big Fish eats small Fish is the norm. These demons exhibit utmost disdain for a civilised society and subscribe to the barbarian way of life where anything goes.

The map of their mind is wild and frightening and their indifference to “reason” and “feelings” (remorse) is overwhelming.

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In the Indian epic Ramayana, the protagonist Ram is accused of being a cheat when he kills Vali, the vanara king of Kishkinda at the request of his brother Sugriva. Vali had forced his brother’s wife to be a part of the royal harem. Ram, known to be a maryada purushottam (perfection encompassed) is not the least bit guilty of using trickery because he believes that – “those who live by the law of the jungle, must be ready to die by the law of jungle”.

Similarly, in the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, Arjun (one of the five Pandava brothers) is about to kill Karna (son of Surya), whose chariot wheel is slumped, when Karna asks Arjun to wait till he releases the wheel. But Krishna (Arjun’s charioteer) tells Arjun to shoot the fatal arrow while Karna’s back was turned. He reminds Karna that Dharma or moral code does not apply to one who participated in the deplorable act of disrobing Draupadi (the wife of the Pandava brothers) in the royal court.

These incidents indicate that there is no moral ambiguity with regard to rules of justice in either Ram or Krishna. They believe that the rules of “civilised warfare” meant for civilised people cannot possibly apply to people, rather demons who believe in the code of the jungle.


Violating a woman’s modesty is a heinous crime; it’s barbaric when people use brute force and violence to indulge their basest passions. Any woman is all women. Barbarians cannot be punished by the same rule book that humans are entitled to. Till the time the society believes in the equality of humans and demons, gender equality can never be achieved. And the society will lose its aim, its very essence of protecting its contents.

However, till that happens, we can all take comfort in the thought that like Sita (Ram’s wife in Ramayana), India’s daughters too would eventually be instrumental in the downfall of these demons (Ravanas) who violate them; such is the working of Karma.


First published on: 31-01-2017 at 01:00:16 pm
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