Few days back, Akram Hussain’s painting of Krishna that was on display at Ravindra Bhavan in Guwahati’s State Art Gallery was taken off after protest from right wing groups. The painting portrays Krishna standing by a bar and getting intimate with some bikini clad women.
I have never been interested in reading any religious book, and going through Bhagvad Gita or Ramayana was out of the question. Since Hindutva forces have come to power and as they are imposing Bhagvad Gita on India, it made me look into the Bhagvad Gita. As I read more about the realities of Bhagvad Gita, I plan to write a series of articles. In this first article, I want to start a discussion on: what kind of ethics does it preach?
I was lucky to be born in a family that gives much importance to education and watching T.V. was almost banned in my home so as a kid, fortunately, I didn’t get a chance to watch Ramayana or Mahabharata when these used to be telecast on national T.V. Now, I have picked Bhagvad Gita (a part of Mahabharata) and I am using various books and research on the internet to get a deeper understanding of it. While reading some parts, I came across some interesting facts where I found most of the characters in Bhagvad Gita are born illegitimately, and during the Mahabharata period, adultery, rape, murder, killing etc., was rampant. Here are a few of the characters –
Dhritarashtra of Mahabharata was the illegitimate son of Vyasa. Vyasa was the father of four illegitimate sons. Brahmins claim Vyasa wrote all the Vedas. As such, Vyasa is an adulterer, and if he is to be presented as ideal for any society as an author who wrote sacred books, and if rational persons glorify him uncritically, we have to consider whether adultery itself was an ideal at some point in history. Do the Brahmin historians and the Sangh consider it so?
Satyavati and Kunti were both implicated as having had premarital sex and hence Vyasa and Karna, respectively, were born. So, why do RSS, VHP, and Bajrang Dal cadres behave like everyone’s father when their heroes themselves did not believe in the Sangh’s ‘principles’? Why don’t they let people live peacefully these days? Does today’s so-called moral policing have any right to stop anyone and interfere with people’s choice and freedom? No.
How was Kamsa (maternal uncle of Krishna) born? It says some danava (non-Aryan) raped the Queen Padmavati, hence Kamsa was born. Yudhishtira was the illegitimate son of Vidura. Draupadi and Dhrishtadyumna were born from the sacrificial fire, not as babies but as fully grown adults! Drona and Kripa (both leading teachers of archery) were also illegitimate children. All five Pandavas were born out of Niyoga.
Niyoga was prevalent in ancient Brahmanic traditions. Niyoga is a practice in which a woman (whose husband is either incapable of fatherhood or has died without having a child) could sleep (or was made to sleep, more likely) with a person, for helping her bear a child. There were some impossible terms and conditions accompanying Niyoga such as there should be no foreplay, oral or any other type of sexual activity except the intercourse!
Candrabali Tripathi notes on page 140 of his book The Evolution of Ideals of Womanhood in Indian Society that after Niyoga, the woman and the man must start behaving like a daughter-in-law and her guru. Now, to some extent it is giving me a clear picture why so many Brahmanic gurus, like Asaram, are involved in rape and exploitation of innocent women these days. Is it Niyoga that is guiding them? When it is written in their religious books maybe they are, as they claim, true followers of their religious books. On page no. 139 of the same book, it is written that some scholars cite two mantras of Rigveda in support of Niyoga. Manusmriti, also mentions Niyoga in IX.59-63. So, as Brahmins claim that both Rigveda and Manusmriti were written before Mahabharata, it is evident that Niyoga was an ancient practice.
In Mahabharata, there are 2 instances where Niyoga is performed. First, it is well known that Vyasa, persuaded by his mother Queen Satyavati (and Bhishma), according to the text, performs Niyoga with the widows of her son Vichitravirya. Ambika and Ambalika and one of their maids bear Dhritarashtra, Pandu, and Vidura respectively. Second, when Pandu is cursed to die if he is intimate with any woman, his wives Kunti and Madri are made to perform Niyoga with the gods and mother five sons – the Pandavas.
Mahabharata was the age of untrammeled male violence, it would seem, and they say that the era just before it was Satyayug and now it is Kalyug! If that period was Satyayug, then I would prefer to live in Kalyug. Bhagvad Gita degrades the status of women and it proclaims that women were born from wombs of sin. So, no wonder Hinduism becomes the only religion in the world that gave religious sanction to the practice of prostitution (Devadasi system) and bolstered it with religious philosophy. It is ironic that in Brahmanism people see God in the monkey, the donkey, the snake, the cow and what not but treat fellow human beings worse than animals.
Given all that mythology, or history, of the very cynical use of religion to perpetrate sexual violence and exploitation – do the Brahmanic scholars and the Sangh have the right to present themselves as moral custodians of Indian society? At present, Indians are far more superstitious, orthodox and hypocritical than any other time in Indian history.
In his book The Truth about the Gita, V. R. Narla argues that Bhagvad Gita condones violence and wholesale slaughter; Krishna was Machiavellian, who employed trickery, deceit, falsehood, intimidation, and blackmail to get Arjuna to overcome his moral qualms. It is a misfortune of India that such books are taught in schools. To me, Brahmanism and its followers seem intellectually bankrupt who don’t have the capacity to argue, do background checks and investigate what is written in their own religious books. Only a fool can accept such books as religious books.
In the end, going back to the painting that was removed from Ravindra Bhavan in Guwahati’s State Art Gallery. When during the Mahabharata age adultery and rape were so common, why do so-called Hindus today have a problem with a simple painting? I will leave you with another question. If you think portraying Krishna standing by a bar and getting intimate with some bikini-clad women was hurting your sentiments then why does one find the following picture hung in many Hindu homes?
* Akram Hussain’s Painting Of Lord Krishna With Bikini Clad Gopis At A Bar Evokes Criticism, Protests
Pardeep Attri blogs at http://drambedkarbooks.com/ and tweets at @Silent_Steps