'Brinda Karat has not Read Manusmriti' by Dr Vijaya Rajiva
Brinda Karat (the lady with the huge bindi on her forehead) has clearly not read her Manusmriti which has become the favourite whipping boy of liberals and leftists alike. In a rather pompous statement the other day she rebuked the unfortunate Mohan Bhagwat for being representative of the RSS's alleged (by her) antideluvian mentality since he called for Manusmriti to be included in the Constitution.
Whether Shri Mohanji actually said this or not is hard to verify since so much misreporting has been going on in the liberal press. At any rate, the authentic Manusmriti (not the one with the later interpolations) has called for CAPITAL PUNISHMENT for rapists and has advocated many 'progressive' measures for women. Most scholars are agreed that the later interpolations were calculated to show Manu as a misogynist. Readers may wish to consult the excellent article by Dr. Surendra Kumar ' The Position of Women in the Manusmriti' (Vivekajyoti, Feb.21, 2012) for an accurate reading of the Manusmriti.
A few points may be mentioned here for the convenience of the reader :
1. The gods make their abode in the household where women are respected.
2. Manu is perhaps the first law giver to give equal status to sons and daughters in the family.
3. Sons and Daughters inherit equally the family wealth.
4. The safety of women's property must be safeguarded. Those who attempt to to steal it from a woman, must be punished, like common thieves.
5. Capital punishment must be enforced for those who rape and kill a woman.
6. A woman has the freedom to marry a man of her choice. Manu advocates the remarriage of widows and Niyoga, temporary attachment to a man for procreation. Dowry is forbidden since women are to be treated with affection and respect and not as chattels to be bought and sold.
7. Both men and women together must perform religious rites as in Vedic times. If she wants, a woman can also wear the sacred thread and perform the Yajnas (religious rites).
8. In a family, unmarried girls and elderly women should be first fed before the husband and wife take their meals.
9. The safety and security of women must be safeguarded by the state and by law. However, it is wiser for women not to depend wholly on these agencies. She must be protected by husband or father or brother or son. That is their duty.
Not a bad record for a thinker who lived a couple of thousand years before the advent of feminism in the West, and if Shri Mohanji actually called for inclusion of some elements of the Manusmriti in the Constitution then kudos to him !
The fact is that Ms Karat and the Left in general is in bad shape in India. Their role in several states like Kerala is to encourage murder and mayhem. And so in a lean season who else to focus on but the RSS whose sterling work in the social arena cannot be matched by them ? Indeed, in the recent horrific event of the rape and death of the young woman in Delhi, passers by paid no attention to her calls and that of her friend as they lay there on the road. Had there been RSS swayamsevaks present the scene would have been entirely different. They would have immediately come to the couple's aid and taken them to the hospital. According to the survivor much time was lost since no one had come to their aid.
Whether it is tsunamis or natural disasters the swayamsevaks are first in line to help. The exemplary work of the RSS in bringing members of the lower classes into the mainstream is an example of how a highly motivated and dedicated organisation can contribute to the nation's welfare. Even Mahatma Gandhi had only praise for their dedication and the inter caste mingling of the swayamsevaks. Their work in the educational field with the vanavasis is again an example of their dedication to the national cause.
It is only fitting that Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP rebuked and condemned a loose cannon from the JDU who tried to slander the RSS and its leader.
The liberal media is not always helpful either. In reporting in print, both NDTV and CNNIBN first presented with some degree of fairness what the RSS leader said about marriage. He had said that it is the duty of women to look after the home (and husband) and if not the wife can be abandoned by the man. He went on to say that the same logic applied to men. If they did not respect their womenfolk and take care of them then the women have a right to abandon them also.
However, in another section of NDTV the blatant headline said : ' A shocker from the RSS Chief ' (Jan. 6. 2013).And yet another one on the same day read:
"Women meant to do household chores, and to satisfy men, says RSS Chief. Mohan Bhagwat's brand new theory of social contract." The second part of Mohan Bhagwat's statement was deliberately omitted. It is still not clear whether he even said any of the above. The RSS spokesperson clarified that their leader was comparing and contrasting marriages in the West and in India. And he is right. A marriage in the West is considered a 'contract.'And on the face of it, calling marriage a sacred bond, not a contract, is in itself not an offensive thing to say !
Brinda Karat piously added an amen with the following words which were quoted in the above account :
" I don't think it is really surprising because at the end of the day, this is what RSS is. That is why I think it is the retrograde 'samiti' of India. These were the regents who when the BJP was in power wanted a new Constitution based on 'manusmriti'. So when he talks in this language, he only reflects his ideology."
It is really not surprising to hear such statements from the lady with the bindi. A bindi is usually worn by Hindu women as an auspicious symbol of their Hinduness. The minority communities rarely wear the bindi, and the eminence grise in Delhi does not sport one either, although she makes frequent trips to Tirupati during election time. Why this paradoxical situation then with a woman from the Communist Party of India, which has long been anti Hindu, despite the fig leaf talk about communalism versus secularism ? What is she proving by wearing a bindi ? That she is still a Hindu ? And what does she mean by sounding off about a document that she has clearly not even read !
Clearly, she does not subscribe to the Hindu scriptures and beliefs or to temple worship. In addition, she is not well educated in the classics of the country as her ignorance of Manusmriti shows. Has she even visited a Hindu temple or witnessed a Hindu ritual ? She is surely an educated woman (or so one hopes!) and one can expect of her to show a familiarity with the Indian classics. The tired cliched arguments(picked up from her limited education) about Manusmriti are just that, and useful for attacking the Hindu tradition in general. Whatever the occasion, whatever the issue, that is the target.
At the very least she could show some understanding of the word 'SEVA' a good old fashioned Hindu word (service) which is the slogan of the RSS.
Or will she have to wait a long time to understand the RSS philosophy of seva (service), which she cannot hope to match, at least not yet ! Perhaps in a some future janmam ?
(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).
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