In the time of #MeToo, take cue from Ramayana, Mahabharata on dealing with rapists and molesters

If only we had been taught the Ramayana and Mahabharata in schools, we probably would have not had as many #MeToo incidents or rape cases. Surprised? Don’t be. I know that for donkey’s years now we have heard how Sri Rama hated women or that Draupadi was almost disrobed since we were a patriarchal society which hated women. I am so fed up of all these untruths and you should be too. In fact it is time that we learn to see our scriptures in the correct light and start respecting women, just the way they have always been respected in Bharat. Read on …

Ramayana: In the Ramayana there are innumerable occasions when the woman’s modesty was outraged.

  • Vedavati was almost raped by Ravana and she curses Ravana that in the event of him touching any woman against her will, he would be burnt to cinder. That is why Ravana was not able to touch Sita even once.
  • Ahalya was deceived into having sex with Indra. As a result her husband Rishi Gautama cursed Indra that he would have a 1,000 vaginas all over his body. Indra was so ashamed of the vaginas that sprouted all over his body that he went into hiding.
  • Tara was Sugriva’s wife but Vali forcibly made her his wife when he defeated Sugriva and drove him out of his kingdom. This reason was enough for Sri Rama to kill him.
  • Sita was forcibly taken away by Ravana, who wanted to make her his Queen. Sri Rama killed Ravana and restored Dharma.

There is another instance in the Ramayana when the word “NO” was not obeyed by a member of the opposite sex. This was the occasion when Shurpanakha refused to take NO for an answer from either Sri Rama or Lakshmana. The result was that her nose and ears were cut off as a punishment.

The punishment for outraging the modesty of a woman or for wanting to indulge in illicit sex was so severe and their becoming an ‘outcaste’ was so definite that people understood that it was against Dharma and did not indulge in it as far as possible.

Mahabharata: Mahabharata has several more instances than the Ramayana. I would like to quote some of the instances which involved Draupadi …

  • Jayadratha and Draupadi – Jayadratha was the brother-in-law of Draupadi and when Draupadi and the Pandavas were in exile, he tried to molest her. As a result Arjuna takes a vow that he would sever his head on the battlefield, which he does.
  • Keechaka and Draupadi – Keechaka was the de facto ruler of Virat Pradesh, the place where the Pandavas and Draupadi were living during their incognito stay of a year. He too molested Draupadi and the result was that Bhima and Arjuna executed him in a brutal manner. The king and his subjects actually heaved a sigh of relief on knowing about his death.
  • Dushasana and Draupadi – Dushasana was the evil brother who tried to disrobe Draupadi in the Court in front of everybody. Draupadi announced to the court that she would henceforth tie her hair only when it was washed in Dushasana’s blood. Bheema immediately announced that he would tear open Dushasana’s chest in the battlefield, giving an opportunity for Draupadi to wash her hair in his blood.
  • Duryodhana and Draupadi – When Dushasana told Draupadi to sit on Duryodhana’s lap, Bheema announced in the court that he would cause Duryodhana’s painful death by breaking his thigh bones and he fulfilled his vow.

Though there are other instances in the Mahabharata, the above would suffice to show with how much disgust a woman’s molestation was viewed. Those who show a one-sided view of our scriptures should answer whether there are any Scriptures in any other religion which show how molestation to women should be handled or what severe punishment should be meted out to rapists and molesters. We believed in protecting the modesty of our women, not enslaving them or turning them into sex slaves.

Yes, we have forgotten our scriptures and the lessons they taught, because of those with an agenda. It is time our scriptures are taught in the right spirit once more in every school and every family, so that people learn to stay away from wrong behaviour.