From Devi to Biwi (Indus civilization to modern India)

India is a funny land, I always like to argue. In fact so funny that sometimes it seems to be exasperating. When it comes to irony, nothing matches India. This is a land where temporary arrangements are most permanent (reservation, schedule 9 etc). This is also a land which have a rising economy 8-10% though creating jobs at 1%. It has second most number of billionaire still 80% of her population lives below Rs 20 a day. The most global city of her is in news in for localisms and blah blah…

But that is not what I meant to write today. I keep an eye on gender issues, mostly in India. The position of women is India is also ironical. Sometimes they are worshiped as goddess, and most of time otherwise. The current gender inequality and hunger in India is a matter of concern for every public spirited Indian.

Lets get to the point. In hindu religion, there are lot of goddess (devi). Prominent are three. But they are not central deity. In spite of their power, knowledge and wealth, they had been married (or denied individuality in letter and spirit) to the three gods, the trinity. Not in Vedas, but later after Vedanta.  Perhaps, that did not serve the purpose of Manuvadi. A fearsome, uncontrolled devi were to be a biwi, an uncontrolled power had to be subjugated. They made a morality out of it. Indus civilization has some sort of central deity. Since Indus script is still un-deciphered its hard to say exactly how these deity were treated, whether they were total independent or considered as ‘the other half’.

Perhaps world could have been better off in gender-equality if the deity were left only devi and the the status of Biwi could be an additional one . One should be attached with the least number to identities. It makes life harder to create an identity for oneself otherwise.
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Author: Dilawar

Graduate Student at National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

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