De-fanging the Goddess,
Its woman’s day and the day begins with a whole hoard of simpering celebrate womanhood message, which is not only annoying it is demeaning and a colossal lie.
Starting from Sita, Valmiki’s Sita is not very aggressive, but she is assertive, but by the time it came to Tulasidas, who has displaced the non-judgemental story we have a Sita who suffers with her husband, conveniently the Urmila who is abandoned for 14yrs of her life is totally forgotten, some stray mention of her here and there in some feminist conference. We are so busy inflating Draupadi, who to me actually represents the psyche of a woman, through her aging we do not talk about it.
Sita was a Kshatriya woman, if the women of Brahmanical households grew up scholars, daughters, and wives of teachers, women of Kshatriya houses grew up as warriors, warfare was part of their learning, caring of horses, political and statecraft was something that they grew up with. So defending herself from Ravenna should have come spontaneously in her… and why draw a Lakshman Rekha (this incidentally appears from Tulasidas onwards) why not empower her to protect herself? Of course the doyens of patriarchy and Neo-Hinduism will talk about destiny, and her role in the larger event of things, but honestly there is something that we are not acknowledging here.
The visible proof of kshatriya women being trained in warfare comes with Kaikayi being Dasharatha’s charioteer, and then nursing him back from a war wound. Kausalya’s knowledge of statecraft is amazing.
Savitri’s powerful feminine energy is put down to the “sati-savitri” syndrome without understanding that she was a woman, who choose to marry a man who was doomed to die in a year, she brings him back from death, not because he is her husband and it was her wifely duty but because she choose to exercise her choice and manifest her power. We fail to acknowledge that and glorify that fact that she was a wife.
Somewhere I think these stories were re-rendered to fit into the pattern of patriarchy and neo-Hinduism.
Majorly because the textual stories which are considered authentic are written by men, many of them bachelors or definitely estranged marital status, so women and their role goes unacknowledged. The folk renderings are more natural where the woman takes her place.
Shakespeare could much lauded, and everyone might say that it was in the lighter vein but “taming of the shrew” is one of the most insulting plays to women.
When it comes to post colonial India, there is a strong change of concepts that are constantly being bombarded through the media that is the woman is weak, she has to be protected, she should not earn more than her husband, she should not be more educated than her husband oh! We assume that more educated means more knowledgeable… even if she is she should not voice that is patriarchy is being drummed in systematically.
Let’s not go very far, look at the 2014 election clippings of Priyanaka Gandhi we have a fiery woman, who takes on Narendra Modi, lashing out… look at this article by Thampu he has reinvented her into for the current election, the fiery woman has been clothed in a more demure garment of being low profile, choosing a modest college, dedicating herself to noble causes and coming into the political arena reluctantly to bail her brother out, thus defanging another powerful goddess, between you and me, I no great Priyanka or any Gandhi-Nehru fan, I definitely will not vote her to represent me, but none the less, I think her fiery nature should be acknowledged, if she wants to be a political power why not?
Just look at the rubbish that gets telecasted as television shows, demure girls with their heads covered, I wish the world would realize that being a biologic girl does not automatically put a girl into the cook, and clean slot. If she can go out and earn the man can jolly well cook and clean. He is not doing his wife a favour.
When I read Anandamath I realize the all potent mother goddess, who wild and energizing is restrained and constrained to become the domesticated Gauri, even when she reclaims her power she can only become a jagjanani and not a jagadhatri.