Skip to main content

Is Hinduism misogynistic?

A culture that deifies nation as Mother Goddess
If one were to follow news of Sabarimala and Shani Shingnapur, he might be forgiven for presuming that Hinduism alone needs to be singled out for apparent misogynistic traditions while other religions have long transformed into egalitarian societies. 

Here, we will take up the common charges levelled against Hinduism and scrutinize them.

The greatest pitfall of Indian feminism is that most of their rallying points are Western imports lazily adapted to Indian scenario without sufficient homework. Let us begin with the most common feminist harping point - that men are afraid of women’s sexual agency and hence curtail it through patriarchal discipline - in Indian context.

Behold the pancha-kanyas, whom ladies are urged to invoke at dawn:

Ahalya Draupadi Kunti Tara Mandodari tatha Panchakanya smaranityam mahapataka nashaka

(Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari: constantly remembering these virgins five destroys great failings.)

All these five women aren’t technically “kanyas” (maidens); far from it, each one of them “knew” more than one man. Does this sound like insecurity-fuelled call for female restriction?

But Manusmriti? As explained earlier, Manusmriti never had any hold on Hindu masses the way Bible and Koran has on Christians and Muslims respectively. We simply have no evidence of Kings or government agents disposing justice by referring to Manusmriti. Even to this day, Manusmriti book-burning invites nary a whisper while one shudders to even imagine of what might befall those involved in burning Koran. What does this tell about the position of Manusmriti in Hindu consciousness?

Sati? That society never forced a widow to commit Sati is crystal-clear from incidents in Ramayana and Mahabharata. Tara (wife of Vali), Mandodari (wife of Ravana), Kunti etc. (and others like wives of defeated Kauravas) never committed Sati; and Madri (second wife of Pandu) did so out of guilt of being responsible for her husband’s death (free will). As late as 1839 (which is 10 years after Sati Regulation Act was passed by British), Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s (of Sikh Empire) wives committed Sati out of their own prerogative

The much maligned dowry system too originated with British legal intervention that outlawed inheritance to women. Hence, some part of the wealth was given off as dowry unlike earlier times when the daughter had a rightful claim to parental property (which makes the very concept of dowry obsolete). Lest you’re overwhelmed by feminist statistics about so many women being killed for dowry, know that “dowry death” is legally defined as any unnatural death within 7 years of marriage. When a case is classified as “dowry death” understand that it doesn’t yet mean that in-laws were convicted of her murder in the court of law; death of women within 7 years automatically adds to the statistic of “dowry death”. We don’t know if a case where it’s proved that in-laws had no hand in her death is removed from these statistics.

“Missing girls” misses the point

We can go on, but let’s close with female infanticide. In 1960s, West was frantic over the possibility of Communist takeover of third world. It was widely believed that overpopulation bred poverty which provided the fertile ground for rise of Communism. Long story short, West-funded institutions influenced Indian government to adopt sterilization and abortion was de-stigmatized in the name of averting poverty. Read the full story here.

Also, in most Indian families – especially the overwhelming poorer chunk – the male preference was purely a survivalist tactic. It is quite rich of those guilt-trapping Indians over the “missing girls” without realizing that girl’s life was deemed so full of destitution by her poor parents that they felt better to dispose her before it began. The preferred “boy” was not destined for a life of comfort, instead his lot was to share the collective family misery and ease the burden on individuals. Without resolving the underlying issue of crushing poverty, we cannot issue moralities far removed from reality. Earlier, son-preference to continue family-line meant that those first having daughters continued to extend family till a boy was born. Opening up abortion clinics meant that those daughters were never allowed to exist, leading to the disastrous male-to-female ratio in population today.

Finally, in West feminists are such fierce supporters of unrestrained abortion rights that Donald Trump’s recent stance that women undergoing abortion must be punished (what’s wrong with that?) caused a severe backlash to his popularity (and the typically unapologetic Trump had to issue a statement amending his position). Let this be clear: feminists think women has total right to abort if she so wills, without any genuine reason. So, their feigned outrage on abortion is barely a principled stand.

Did British civilize Indians?

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, whose disciple
Vivekananda played major role in  Hindu renaissance
It is a telling sign of feminist-propaganda’s success in urban India that many women still think that British rescued Indian women from their own men who were continuously subjugating them since times immemorial. “Whatever else they did to India they at least banned Sati, child-marriage, polygamy etc. and encouraged women emancipation.”

This is particularly unfortunate, as it is the Judeo-Christian West that – through the story of Adam and Eve – extorts men not to give in to the feminine, failing which they fall into sin. The Abraham God is unabashedly Male, while Hinduism not only has feminine aspects of divinity but also has a powerful Shakti cult dedicated to worship God as Supreme Mother. 

As a corollary of “White Man’s Burden”, British had to develop an apologia for justifying its subjugation of Indians. Hence the bogey of Indian womenfolk suffering in the hands of their men, to rectify which British had to leave their safe coasts, risk their lives in adventurous voyages and perform their God-mandated duty to civilize Indians and help them treat their women better! What else explains their haste in “banning” Sati when it was hardly a rampant issue throughout the subcontinent? Especially, when the Sati women proudly embraced it and people looked upon them as worthy of worship? Read Koenraad Elst's review of Meenakshi Jain’s book "Sati -- Evangelicals, Baptist missionaries, and the Changing colonial discourse" for deeper understanding.

The reinvigorated assault on Hinduism 

The fresh wave of feminist campaigns need to be seen in context of India becoming the new battleground for evangelism and conversion efforts - be it for product consumerism or religious ones. The road to global supremacy cannot be traversed if India is bypassed (history repeated). Hence, the need to subjugate Indians in the battle of perceptions and keep us divided, tamed and happy-to-serve White masters!

Who says colonialism is dead? It prevails, nay thrives when West stills condescends to “We know best what is wrong with your traditions and we come to save you from yourselves” (as Koenraad Elst notes) attitude and activities. But there is a deeper strains of colonialism here; welcome to Colonialism 2.0, a far more subtler and insidious version.

As author Richard Crasta, a Mangalore based Catholic settled in US, notes in the revolutionary masterpiece (unjustly silenced by establishment), “Impressing the Whites”:

“In its choice of the Eastern writers it will patronize - or not patronize - Western publishing is only following the traditional strategy of conquerors towards a conquered race: unsex the men, 'liberate' the women, reward and honor the eunuchs or race-traitors, thus letting them keep their untamed brothers in check. If the conquered women and men don't get along as a result, so much the better, for Divide and Conquer still works, though the modern-day colonial lust is for minds, hearts, and bodies, not land. Once upon a time, Divide and Rule meant causing divisions between one prince and another, or one religious group and another, and thus ensuring a cheap flow of spices and raw materials to the West. Now, it means dividing men against women, and it serves the conqueror race well, ensuring an uninterrupted flow of more cheap secretaries, masseuses, housekeepers, governesses, and erotic assistants from the former colonies”.

Indian feminists need to ponder as to why it took waves of suffragette movements for women in West to get the right to vote, whereas India boldly embraced universal franchise right after Independence without any resistance? (why didn't the so-called patriarchal forces even make an effort to oppose this, especially after the women-saviours British left?). 

Since this post is already long, I wish to touch upon one point where feminist indoctrination is causing irreparable damage. As explained here (see section "Feminism and marriage"), the window of fertility for women cannot be indefinitely expanded without consequences - no, nobody can "have it all". Taking one path precludes the possibility of treading several others. Whereas most Indian women, till recently, became grandmothers in their forties and were totally oblivious to marital market, Western feminism has been so wildly successful in pushing farther the marital age of women that the latest trend in internet circles appears to be dating tips for post-menopause women. Is it any surprise that such women have vastly reduced their chances of attracting a suitable mate, conceiving and starting a family? Instead of a content family life, feminists have bargained for tragicomic situation of aging women frantically holding on to youth through cosmetic surgeries in vain hope of retaining male attention. Who is to blame for their solitary life with pet cats, than in the merry company of children and grandchildren?

Indians have such strong family bonds that much progress was achieved simply by appealing to fair-sense of men who readily supported women empowerment, implementation of draconian laws against abuse of women and are fast moving towards making women equal inheritors of family wealth. This is because Hinduism has always evolved internally, as its commandments aren't cast in stone. Indeed, Hinduism concedes that dharma evolves in line with changing time and place. 

So, Hinduism doesn't need to give in to toxic feminism intent to destroy the cultural fabric the holds people together. Instead, through internal activism, homegrown change can be implemented instead of thrusting legal terrorism on them. I leave it to readers to form their own opinion about whether Hinduism is misogynist. 

PS: I urge the readers to read Richard Crasta's masterpiece "Impressing the Whites" for a path-breaking analysis of neocolonialism and the new dynamics of White-Brown relationship.


All-time Hits

The Controversial Caste System of Hinduism

Imagine concepts like feudal system, slavery, capitalistic exploitation and anti-Semitism being used to define the core of Christianity! Christians will be outraged at this inappropriate mixing of the core universal values of Christians and societal & historical aspects which merely existed in a Christian world.
Now this raises the question – why is caste system defined as the core of Hinduism? Especially as “caste” itself is a western construct. Sounds irrelevant?
Okay. Now imagine concepts like slave-trade, war on infidels, brutal subjugation of masses, temple destruction, and forceful conversions marking the core of Islam.
It is considered sensible to first understand what the core scriptures speak about the religion and its universal values. The ills of the community & its societal aspects are differentiated from its core philosophy.
Now, this brings us to the most interesting question – why is Caste System (caste based on birth) propagated to be the defining feature of Hindu…

Chetan Bhagat : His Literary Style and Criticism

Chetan Bhagat’s (CB) recent column created a furore, chiefly because of his audacity to speak for Muslim community and what many people conflate with his support for Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministerial ambitions.  
But what interested me most - and what this post would focus on - is questioning of his literary merit (or lack of it). Many journalists ridicule CB’s style of writing and his oversimplistic portrayals of characters sans nuance or sophistication. But I suspect this has more to do with the fact that his readers alone far outnumber the combined readers of many journalists - a point that many don’t appear capable of digesting.
No takers for layman’s language!
When Tulsidas rewrote Ramayana in Avadhi (a local contemporary dialect then), many conservative sections of society came down heavily upon him for defiling the sanctity of a much revered epic (originally written in Sanskrit). When Quran was first translated in Urdu (by Shah Abdul Qadir in 1798), it faced intense opposition by …

The concept of Dharma in Ramayana

The concept of Dharma is not adequately understood by Hindus themselves, not to mention others. Dharma is not a set of do’s and don’t’s or a simplistic evaluation of good and bad. It requires considerable intellectual exertion to even begin understanding Dharma, let alone mastering its use.

Is Dharma Translatable?
Few words of a language cannot be faithfully translated into another without injuring its meaning, context & spirit. English translations of Dharma are blurred and yield words like religion, sense of righteousness, discrimination between good and bad, morals and ethics or that which is lawful. All these fall short of fully grasping the essence of Dharma.
Every language has an ecosystem of words, categories and grammar which allow a user to stitch words together to maximum effect such that meaning permeates the text without necessarily being explicitly explained at each point. Sanskrit words such dharma, karma, sloka, mantra, guru etc., now incorporated in English, lose thei…

Trending Now