Thursday, January 10, 2008
Akbar and Krishna
Themis, the goddess of divine justice said, “You may present your defense now”.
And the accused cried out thus.
“So what? Even Krishna had sixteen thousand wives! Arjuna married five women!
The temples walls of Khajuraho are replete with sex and eroticism!”
Objection my Lord!
Objection sustained! Case dismissed! I pronounce you guilty!
Between Prologue and Epilogue
Most of us are probably unaware of the fact that Akbar the great had more than 5000 women in his life. No woman entered his nuptial chamber more than once. The only woman who entered his nuptial chamber twice was Jodhabai. The same Jodhabai, the Rajput princess, whom Akbar married, according to the writers of our history, for the noble cause of promoting religious harmony between the two religions!
However, upon hearing me say this, another confused Indian gave out a hollow cry “So what? Even Krishna had sixteen thousand wives! Arjuna married five women!”
I will address the confused Indian in a while. (His only source of knowledge seems to be some mythological serial on television, full of concoctions, totally distorted and as good as an ekta kappoor’s K serials on star plus)
Very often, the sixteen thousand wives of Krishna and the temple walls of Khajuraho are referred to by glamorous models on television, the likes of Bipasha Basu and Mallika Sherawat.
This is not so much because they have anything to do with Indian culture even remotely.
It is simply to defend their naked posters on sleazy magazines.
K & K (Krishna and Khajuraho) are also referred to by youngsters caught in mindless modernisation attempting to defend their animal instincts that take them to theatres for watching porn movies, strip shows, shakeela and mallika sherawat.
These two (K & K) are probably the oldest and most popular weapons known to mankind, used by models, actors, sex symbols, adulterers and fornicators of Indian origin to defend their “boldness”.
This writing is for the multitude of confused Indians who have no inclination whatsoever to read our scriptures or study our literature and understand their intricacies, but are more than eager to find faults with our ancient culture at the first opportunity.
It is for those well read people who are engrossed in reading Mills and Boons and Sidney Sheldon but have never read the Mahabharat.
It is for those smart kids who are very knowledgeable about Spiderman and Harry Potter but don’t care to know who Bhishmacharya was.
It is for all those who know Cindrella but have never read the Panchatantra.
Lastly, it is for the stylish youth who use American slang at the drop of a hat but very proudly say they don’t know their mother tongue.
Every time a war was fought, the king who won and his men exploited the women of the defeated kingdom who had lost their men in the wars. These women were either reduced to objects of desire or slaves and were the captives of the king.
When Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura, he found sixteen thousand women in a state of captivity. He liberated all of them and set them free. But the women asked “Where do we go from here?” They had lost their men, their materials and had no where to go. Upon seeing their plight Krishna said “Come to me. I shall embrace you. You shall belong to me now on”. Thus Krishna married sixteen thousand women who otherwise would have been destitute and would have no reason to live.
Whenever we ordinary mortals discuss a man woman relationship, it is as if the relationship were unidimensional. We are simply incapable of thinking beyond a biological relationship. This shows what a shallow thinking ours is.
One must understand that a man woman relationship can be on any one of the several mental planes; the lowest of them being the biological one.
The marriage of Krishna and sixteen thousand gopikas was celestial. It was on a much higher plane. Their union was cosmic.
In ancient times, when earth was divided into kingdoms and empires, when wars and battles were commonplace, no matter who attained victory, hundreds of thousands of men lost their lives in the battle fields. As a consequence of this, the man to woman ratio in the society was less than 1:1. It was very often 1:2, 1:3 or even worse. For every man there were 2 or 3 women in the society. If the society had to practice strict monogamy, many women would have to live without a man.
It was the need of those times therefore to legitimize polygamy, allowing a man to marry more than one woman.
One must understand that as the society evolves, laws change. The acceptable and the unacceptable, the right and the wrong, the good and the bad are not absolutes. They are separated by a fine line. Subject to changing times, changes in environments and circumstances, the entities on one side of the line could crossover to the other side.
Think about this. The kings and their soldiers, the elephants and chariots, the swords flashing in the battlefields all seem to belong to an era of the past, although the palaces and the fortresses, the historians and the museums stand as towering testimonies to their existence barely a hundred years ago.
How radically the society has changed in just a hundred years!
Who would believe that the Bihar of today was once the prosperous Magadha kingdom that housed the Nalanda University, one of the first great universities in recorded history?
That being the case, it is impossible to even have a perspective about a society and it’s ways thousands of years ago, that is accurate in the least.
To use today’s society and its laws as a yard stick for judging another society of another era is ludicrous and preposterous.
[Please note : The ratio of man to woman in this country was never as bad as 1:5000. Those secular Indians trying to explain Akbar’s harem should not use this theory therefore]
Do you know what is worshipped in the sanctum of a Shiva temple? A phallus. Yes it is the penis that is worshipped. To be more precise, the union of man and woman is worshipped. This worship is the worship of the great generative power, the primal bringer of life. It is a worship of the reproductive function.
When you see a Shivalinga in a temple, do you feel disgusted? Do you think it is vulgar? No.
When you see a mother breastfeeding a child, do you feel it is vulgar? No.
Does that not prove that it is your perspective, your thoughts and intentions that make things appear beautiful or vulgar?
During those times when religion and spiritualism were the opium of the people, the thoughts of people had reached the culminating point of purity in India. The divinity of sex had reached it’s zenith in this country.
The aspect of sex in the Indian society reached such heights of divinity and sacredness, that people carved idols depicting various forms of man woman union and elevated them to the pedestals of temple walls and worshipped them!
Such was the evolution of the society! Such was the superiority of our culture!
In today’s society where entertainment is the opium of people, a magazine selling pictures of naked women using sex as cheap titillation for commerce is not the same as a Khajuraho temple!
How can anyone even think of such a comparison?
Indians seem to have mastered the art of self deprecation.
Self deprecation without a cause.
Abusing our own culture or being completely ignorant of it seems to have become a fashion for all Indians seeking to prove that they are “secular”, that they are “broad minded” and that they are “modern”.
If your confusion has arisen out of all the rhetoric cries against dowry, sati and female infanticide, please be aware that these social evils are all like the impurities that contaminate the Ganges of Indian culture.
The impurities by themselves do not represent the river. But the ignorant passerby, abuses the river upon seeing the polluted water.
The one who seeks the truth travels to the heights of Himalayas where the river originates and drinks from her pure water.
Similarly, if you really seek to understand the true Indian culture, you will have to travel to the treasure house of knowledge and reach for the writings and scriptures of ancient times, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the epics and the works in Sanskrit.
It was not to revive a bundle of blind beliefs and hypocrisies that the Vivekanandas, the Ramanujacharyas and Shankaracharyas dedicated their lives, traveling miles across the country and abroad. It was the five thousand year old wisdom called Indian culture, as enormous as the Ganges and as majestic as the Himalayas.
We may not contribute to the growth or sustenance of this culture but we can at least refrain from disparaging it.