Television production companies are coming up with new tele-serials and movies that circle around our mythology. The colourful drapes, the horses, caravaan, huge spread of food and lavish lifestyle with a heavy touch of culture and values. The focal point of every such story enclosed in volumes of our Indian mythology and history are – a brave and intelligent prince and a beautiful but courageous princess who after the entire “leela” ended up being one of the most worshipped deities that we Indians rever. Just to be clear: I do not intend to malign the religious sentiments of my fellow beings. I only wish to put forth a valid point, which, I really hope makes you think.
This thought crept into my mind based on similar such tele-feature. The feature is based on one of Lord Shiva’s incarnation as Malhari Maartanda in the religious land of Jejuri in Maharashtra. He was known to be just, law abiding and a very noble king far and wide. Not many knew about Malhari until this feature was aired. I must say, it has added to my meagre knowledge about our regional mythology. The crux of the story is that Malhari(Orginally Lord Shiva) was under an oath, with the desire of his wife, Goddess Parvati ( The Ultimate form of energy ) that, when Shiva would incarnate as Malhari, Parvati would be his wife but her best friend, Jayadri would be his second wife. She makes him promise this to her, inspite of him warning her, of the extremities to which she would go to stop his second marriage.
Parvati, when she wanted to marry Lord Shiva, had undergone a very tough and difficult form of penance and meditation for years to please Lord Shiva. Similarly when she was born as Mhalsa, she underwent many “tests” so as to prove worthy to marry Malhari. The same repeats when Banu(Jayadri) is set to marry Malhari. She too undergoes streneous and unimaginary assessments only to be approved by the Gods as fit to marry Shiva. Don’t you think this is biased?
I have been boiling to spill out my thoughts here, that why have the male deities, kings and princes always put the female deities, queens and princesses to test under extreme conditions to prove worthy? I shall base my thought on another such example. In Ramayana, after being rescued from Lanka by Ram, Sita was asked to prove the purity of her character by walking into a pyre of fire. Why wasn’t Ram asked to do the same? He was also living away from his wife, in the woods! No questions ever raised here because he is the GOD. Same applies to Lord Shiva. In all his forms, he tested his wife -forever Pravati, to prove worthy to marry him, inspite of knowing all along that she is the one?? Either my logic fails me or this was maddening.
Even today, when a prospective groom rejects a bride, the fault is of the girl. She lacks somehwhere but not the groom. The recent uproar on Deepika Padukone’s video, #MyChoice, all the men haven’t left a single opportunity to make a rip off or mock the message. Did you guys try to understand the message?? You just went by what the script said. Did you try to read between the lines? That project, had only a single message. Women have equal choice to live the way they want, as per what deems fit to them. And immaterial of anyone reading the riot act to them. You men have always had a choice to do what YOU felt was right. Even if it was ethically and morally incorrect. But you still did it. I won’t point fingers at anyone. Those who are reading this with a fair neutrality will know what I am trying to point here. Women too have a right to do so, but not many realise their rights and their right to make a choice of life. That’s what the video intended to convey.
I can only deduce one thing from this. That, this male dominated, patriarchal society gained seeds from our mythology. Male superiority stemmed from there and none of our glorious historians or religious preachers ever took note of this(rather decided not to). I would have liked to extend this to global history, but I lack sufficient knowledge and citations to do so.
I shall conclude my monologue with a question.
Is Our Mythology Responsible For The Gender Bias Today in Our Society?