#Me too Says Sita from Ramayana! But ‘#Not me too’ says Kali! The two contrasting tales from Indian mythology with a contrasting rationale behind feminism & women empowerment!
An unexpected, paradigm trend which broke the internet in recent days is taking storm with is out withstanding explosion of today’s woman’s outrage & expression of her existence! It is a sincere awakening of her eccentricity & a rage which exfoliates the real status quo suppressed till ages by a patriarchal society! The pertaining question is that has this conservativeness towards the female aspect of humanity embedded in our culture since its inception or has been an upbringing of the modern, industrialized society?
Let us look up to the Indian mythology to reflect upon the answer to this all time pertaining question!
In the epic of Ramayana, Lakshman had to come to a conclusion emerging out of his dilemma! Lakshman was supposed take a call whether to stay in the hut & protect his brother’s wife Sita or to oblige by the request of Sita & go out hunting for his brother Ram. In an exploding medley of confusion, Lakshman took a decision! Lord Ram, Sita & his brother Lakshman, on their arduous journey of 14 years of exile, lose track of their journey as they get entrapped in a juxtaposing situation! A mesmerizing dear in the forest had won the heart of Sita & on her request Lord Ram goes out hunting for the dear!
For a very long time Lord Ram did not turn, which deeply worried both Sita & Lakshman. As Lakshman goes out looking out for his brother, Sita, now has become a liability for Lakshman. However, it was also the responsibility of Lakshman to protect his brother in crisis & get him back home. This overlap of duties perturbed Lakshman’s sense of judgment & his loyalty. He took a call & carved out a solution. He drew a line of control- the Lakshman Rekha, which was fortified premise, in which Sita was safe!
This legend has been told across generations in India! But in this story, what we really miss to decipher is the drastic implications which prevail & shape the evolution of the fabric of our culture & our society!
Sita, then & now, still tends to be domesticated, by the obligation of patriarchy predominant in the society!
Every female in our culture, irrespective of caste or creed, societal status or monetary status, ethnicity or race- has to submit to the qualms of the boundaries of the society restricting her sensuality, her expressions & her individuality! Her imaginations, her dreams, her thoughts, — all has to abide by the rules of the modern ‘Lakshman Rekha’, the boundaries set by the patriarchal society!
The ‘Lakshman Rekha’ confines Sita into a boundary which is proclaimed ‘safe’ but restricts her in a world full of discrimination! Modern day Sita finds roots in the orientation which stems from this concept of Lakshman Rekha. In today’s society a girl child grows up with a superimposed frame of mind to be within boundaries & limits! The daughters are ‘instructed’ to remain confined in their ‘Lakshman Rekha’ the so-called ‘safe haven’! The society talks about controlling the daughters & disembarking them to boundaries!
The hypocrisy of the Lakshman Rekha is that apathy a woman has to face when she loyally abides by the rules! The circle which restricts Sita under the pretext of her protection, the same circle, the same framework of protectionism does not come to Sita’s aid when she is abandoned by the demon ‘Ravana’! Sitas’ loyal husband rescues Sita from Ravana after a tragic war. But the rulebook says that a woman who has been with another man apart from her husband is deemed to be ‘impure’! Looking at this, Ram plays by the rules as he is not allowed by the rules to stay with a disloyal wife who has been with some other man! Ram abandons her & overlooks the faithfulness of his wife, underestimating his capacity to forgive Sita! Sita is discriminated & exploited again! The Lakshman Rekha, the boundary, neither does protect Sita nor does empower her! And the legacy is still on!
So what do we define Lakshman Rekha as- a symbol of protectionism & care or a symbol of domestication, suppression & dominance!
Another epic, from a different era- Mahabharat, re-emphasizes & escalates the exploitation against woman! Draupadi, is married to the five brothers- the Pandavas as part of a mutual treaty. Unaware of a condition out by the mother of the five brothers, Pandavas, she is forced to accept & forger herself into an understanding to marry all the five brothers at the same time. The story of Draupadi’s exploitation starts from here & happens to be an ideal case study for a woman’s harassment! Later on, Draupadi.s husbands gamble her & lose her to their opponents & she is degraded to a slave! Again she is exploited by ‘her masters’, her existence shattered, annihilated!
So is it the fact that the idea of harassment of the femininity has been imbibed in our culture since its inception?
There is another side to this argument, which outlines a positive message to each and every woman to fight back & gain an equivalent position in the society!
Kali is a ferocious goddess, dark & violent, angry & an incarnation of the evil forces of the society, balancing the ruckus created by the demons! If Sita & Draupadi are the soft targets, Kali is the character in Hindu mythology, which retaliates! Kali is an expression of rage. A story of the goddess Kali shows her killing a ferocious demon ‘Raktbija’. Another outlines Kali as a goddess who in rage & angst, set out on a path to destroy the universe to take her revenge! Such is her fury & rampage that all the Gods fail to stop her!
The goddess Kali is the representation that feminine aspect of the humanity which can’t be confined & suppressed! Kali demands respect, Kali demands independence! She demands an equal place. If Sita & Draupadi, tell the tales of harassment, Kali stands as a depiction of power & individuality!
So the idea that the sufferings associated with harassment of the women in the existing society, finds roots in our culture, might or might not be correct. If the mythological stories stand to tell stories of exploitation, there also stories & characters which define challenging the staus quo!
It is all about the transformation required! It is all about an explosion of the magnitude exemplified by the character of Kali, which predominates the fact that this cannot continue anymore! If #Metoo is an expression of the soft targets like the Sitas & the Draupadis of the world, #Notmetoo is the symbol of Kali- An expression of rebellion, an expression of retaliation!
Societies now need to underline the significance of women & the impact that their roles create! They need to be sensitive & be emphatic for their issues like discrimination, sexual harassment, etc.