I was reading and researching numerous books and articles for the Child Abuse Blogathon. Then I saw these pictures from the 2013 ad campaign that utilizes devotion of women in Hindu mythology to strike at the country’s poor control of child-sex trafficking, rape, and domestic abuse. Suddenly, it struck me. I am utterly careful not to publish content that evokes religious sentiments. But when it comes to spreading awareness on child abuse, I didn’t have to think twice.
India is one of the oldest cultures in the world. And Hinduism is arguably the oldest of the world’s major religions. We religiously follow rituals and traditions. And like all cultures, ours too has infinite stories. If we delve deep into our Vedas and Puranas, we will be surprised to see the clarity of thoughts on various issues and the references to many social evils that prevail till today. But we have ignored these important references perhaps to escape the God’s wrath. Or so we were all taught. Not anybody’s fault in particular, but that’s how it has been handed down generations after generations. We have always been taught to fear the God first instead of loving the God. We often say that one is God fearing rather than he/she is God loving.
All famous religious followers are the ones who have taught to love God and not to fear God. For some reason, our ancestors have always felt that we need to fear someone to refrain from making mistakes.
In Matsya Purana, there are references of Goddess Saraswati having been subjected to abuse at the hands of her ‘creator’, Lord Brahma.
The Mahabharata says that Siva did not actually cut off Brahma’s head on this occasion, but was only prevented from doing so through the intercession of the gods. It was because of his attempting to seduce his own daughter that Siva decapitated him. This crime was attempted when in a fit of intoxication; hence Brahma pronounced a curse upon the gods who should hereafter drink spirits.
According to another legend, when Brahma became overpowered by the ethereal beauty of Saraswati, she changed her forms to escape from Brahma’s sexual overtures. But He did not give up. Finally, unable to control Her anger, the Goddess cursed Brahma that He would not be worshipped by any being on Earth. Hence, Brahma is not worshipped in Hinduism in spite of being the Creator. Brahma’s lust signifies the fall of humanity. In Hinduism, it is believed that the basic desires hinder the path to salvation.
Information Source: The Speaking Tree
Sharing this part of the story from the mythology to reiterate the fact that Child Abuse is not something that is new or is the effect of adapting western culture. It is not something that has been introduced in our country recently. It has been there since eternity. There are vices and virtues in all cultures. The religious texts and mythological stories must be used as a source to understand the deeper lessons that they are meant to impart.
This mythological story supports the following fact from the 11 Facts about Child Abuse
90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way.
68% are abused by a family member.
Protect your children by educating them enough about the existence of such predators within and outside of the house.
Do take time to watch this powerful video that talks about Child Abuse and Neglect: 4 Major Types, Characteristics & Effects
Beloo Mehra sent me her feedback on the story privately. Since I believe that there is always something to learn from every interaction, I decided to share it here for the benefit of my readers.
Rekha Dhyani, I didn’t want to post my comment on your blog, so am sharing it here, with humility and in hope that it will be taken in the right spirit. And let me also apologise if you find anything in my comment offensive.
I have serious concerns about this post. One, because it promotes a very literalist (and therefore distortionist) reading of mythology. Imagine if I were to do something similar using any mythological story from any other religion! Hey, for a stupid joke on Pope, the superstar Hritik Roshan had to apologise, That’s the times we live in. And I dare not even say anything about anything in Islam! I could be killed and nobody would even know what happened. Remember Kamlesh Tiwari? Or Charlie Hebdo? But Hindu mythology is easy game for everyone! What a strange, strange world we have become.
But my more serious concern is that Hindu mythology was never meant to be read so literally. Brahma, Shiva, Saraswati, Durga, and all these gods and goddesses etc are not some aggrandised super-human-beings!! These gods and goddesses are psychological-occult-spiritual powers that reside in all of us. Brahma is supposed to represent the power of creation. And Saraswati is supposed to be about inspiration, learning, knowledge. How can a creator have no knowledge and inspiration? The whole love-making of Brahma and Saraswati is supposed to represent this coming together of creation (manifestation is a better word, since Creation smacks of Christian idea of outside creator creating everything) and knowledge/inspiration/learning. The relation of father-daughter is not a literal one, it is more like Brahma manifesting Knowledge and then subsuming it within Itself to go on with the rest of the task of manifesting the Universe.
We do ourselves and those around us a big disservice when we read such old texts – produced by a tendency of symbolic mind that we have no access to, and for inculcating some very important messages and lessons – in such literal fashion like some of our popular commentators do in media.
Like I said before, I apologise if I have hurt any feelings. I read your post in the morning and after a serious thinking on whether I should respond or ignore, I decided to share my two cents here. This way, other readers who have read and commented on your post would also know my view on this.
Love and best wishes.
This post does not intend to hurt the sentiments of any individual, community, sect or religion. This is purely aimed at spreading awareness on a very important issue; that is Child Abuse.