An analysis of Hindu civilization: Women of Kaliyug
In Hinduism, Kaliyuga is believed to be the last stage of the world cycle of the “Yugas” or age. Other ages preceding kaliyugas were Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga Dwapara Yuga in chronological order. According to Hindu belief, these three Yugas are considered to be based on Truth, Love, Peace and Compassion. However, the present era is known as the time of Kali where the sins of human exceed in greater length than their virtue. In Sanskrit terminology, the word Kali is translated as “quarrel”, “conflict” or “discord”. Interestingly, turns out not everybody takes the Yugas in similar fashion. Some people are challenging the approach towards the Yugas and are of the opinion that Kaliyuga is the best era if comparatively analyzed.
Speaking to a group of Law Students from Kathmandu (Female), they opinioned, “Kaiyuga is the best thing happened to the women kind”. They further explained how this generation allows women to speak their voices, choose their own life partners and most importantly live independently without their identity being attached to their male counter parts. With the brightest expression, one of them explained, no other “ages” provided women with the opportunity they have been given now. Other student added she would make Kaliyuga her first choice, if a choice was given, as this Yuga gives her freedom to unapologetically prioritize her own passion over her husband or father.
In contrary, traditional school of thought explains a different story. A number of Hindu Priest explains Kaliyuga as “a dark age” and progression of humanity in a downward direction. It is an age where human will indulge in “materialistic” lifestyle and negative sentiments such as greediness, lies, theft and anger; which will soon take over the humanity. Further, the rise of crimes such as incidents of murder, frequent rape cases, attacks on women, other events such as theft and robbery, organized wars among nations were predicted by the Rishes/Jurists long before the beginning of the cycles. In slight contradiction to the Law Student’s words, he said in the Satya Yuga, women were always respected. In fact, worshipped and celebrated for their powers, giving instances of goddesses like Lord Sita, Lord Parbati, Lord Saraswati.. He smiled and said, “to name a few”.
Both the views seem justified on the surface of it. However, if a critical eye is to be put towards the former aforementioned perspective of the Law Students, are they actually right? Is the present age and time the most liberating era for woman kind? If yes, what was wrong during the other Yugas? Was Satya Yuga really patriarchal?
Going back in history in the time of Ramayana, the idea of Ram Rajya does not quite seem appealing from the perspective of Lord Sita. She was the daughter of King Janak and wife of King Ram, however her fate had something else for her. No! Not Luxury. King Ram was considered the Maryada Purussotam, translated as righteous man. However, Sita was the one who made all the sacrifices for her husband. Sita followed her husband for 14 years in the forest when he was exiled leaving behind the royal treatment and luxurious lifestyle of the palace. Even after proving her love and loyalty towards her husband for these many years, he later abandoned her. When Lord Ram brought Sita back from the Ravan’s custody, he listened to the village gossip on the question her chastity, and finally exiled her. In contrary, she was a passionate and devotee of her husband. For some obvious reasons, Lord Ram did not share similar views. On top of it, she was pregnant during the exile and was forced to give birth to their twin sons in the forest. It might come as a surprise to some, how Ram never meet her in person in post-exile scenario and nor tried to understand how she was holding herself after going through a lot.
Taking an illustration from the story of Pandavas about “Dropati”; a woman who is known for her strong willpower and sharpness in her personality. Going back to the past, she was forced to be shared among 5 men. The “so called” Pandav men with ideal persona neither listened to her nor asked about her decision on having multiple husbands. Although known as a strong and bright woman, she was shut by the patriarchy where women’s consent and her opinion regarding her own life decisions came at zero priority. Besides, Swasthani Barta Katha (a celebrated religious text) limits a woman to just a servant to her husband and her goal to serve his desires. In case of protest or any act in contrary, her Karma leads her to some sort of body defect or possibly converts her into an animal.
Majority of women in 21st century, let alone the women of Kaliyuga has a contradictory opinion and beliefs from the aforementioned religious texts and the story of Satya Yuga. On the retrospect of these events, woman of today have been guaranteed civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights. Any person who intervenes on such rights would end up in the court or potentially in prison, through the legal remedies made available in this Yuga. Sita of Kaliyuga would be able to file a divorce case against Ram for abandoning her without any fault of her own and rightfully claim her share from Ram’s property. This way she could easily subsist herself and give her sons the life they actually deserved. On the other hand, Dropati would have chosen a loving husband, as she knows she “can” choose and make decisions for herself; and lived happily ever after.
If the facts and statistics are analyzed, women’s representation in civil services and private sector is increasing like never before in the past. From a female Chief Justice, President and Spokesperson in the parliament, we see them standing tall in the male dominated leadership roles, unlike any other yugas. Although a long way to go, this is the time of freedom, no woman had ever seen before. Turns out, the age of Kali is not entirely cruel and the era of Satya was not totally fair in case of woman, as we assumed it was.
Published Date: Friday, June 21st, 2019 | 08:56 PM