In the Ramayana, there is the incident where Rama and Lakshmana meet the fatally wounded the brave Vulture Elder Jatayu, who had tried to fight and prevent Ravana from abducting Sita. When he showed them the ornaments that Sita had thrown out of the vimana, Lakshmana couldn’t recognise any of them till he saw the toe rings of Sita.

“Those are Sita Mata’s!” he exclaimed.

He had only ever looked at her feet as he bent to touch them!

That is the kind of respect a man gave a married woman, even if she was his own brother’s wife!

This was in the Satyuga, but women, especially the married ones, did enjoy the respect of society at large and were honoured, even as late as the 80s and 90s.

Marriage was an honoured institution. The mangalsutra and maang-sindoor were more prevalent in the southern states and were much revered. Yes, the very same Tamil Nadu, where the Dravidian parties and their fringes hold public functions now, where women break their mangalsutras as an act of defiance against ‘Brahminical patriarchy’, even though it is worn by all classes of society!

A woman sporting these symbols of her marital status was not a target of eve-teasing, leave alone molestation. So much so that, many unmarried women wore costume jewellery in the form of mangalsutras to keep away lecherous males. Perhaps it was also around those decades that widows began keeping their sindoor on, for the same reason.

Likewise, rakshabandhan is a bonding between a brother and sister, which makes him honour-bound to come to her aid when she needs help. While every brother and sister bond with this special festival dedicated to them, I personally know of scores of ‘rakhi’ brothers and sisters whose bonds lasted a lifetime just on the strength of the fragile thread, even without a blood relationship.

So what happened to this festival? The rise of feminism and the jingoism accompanying it had reached a crescendo by the turn of the millennium and the tender sentiments behind this beautiful festival came under attack for being regressive as it undermined the independent woman! ‘We women are equal to and even better than men. We are more than capable of taking care of ourselves, thank you!’

After that clarion call, it deteriorated into a crass and commercialised one with little sanctity for the bond between a boy and his sister.

Certain events like the opening up of the economy, the advent of 24×7 TV channels beaming the most ‘progressive’ western mores into our drawing rooms, international travel and work exposure, hefty salaries and perks and the rise of militant feminism did contribute to this degeneration of the values we Indians, notably Hindus, lived by. But it did not happen suddenly.

The Leftists had begun their work long before – in the 1950s when they got carte blanche from Nehru to enter academia. They had worked systematically for nearly half a century. A variety of channels were used by them to accomplish this, academic institutions, textbooks that distorted history against Hindus and even Bollywood and regional movies.

And they knew where to hit: destroy the social institutions to destroy a society, a nation and the civilisation, in that order. They started with the family, the smallest and most important social institutions of all.

These anti-Indian/anti-Hindu forces held out western society as the ideal of individual freedom, growth and independence. It is a well-known fact that these ‘virtues’ have only resulted in broken homes, rampant divorce, domestic violence, drug abuse and teenage pregnancies in western societies. But the western society was not only glamorised but beamed straight into the drawing rooms of middle-class Indian families which still held on to their moral, cultural and social values.

Propaganda does work when the subject is bombarded from all sides relentlessly. Slowly, the age-old joint family system and even the nuclear family started coming unstuck and materialism became the mool-mantra of middle-class Indians.

The parents of the millennials who belonged to the post-Independence generation and weaned on thick doses of Nehruvian socialism and Hindu-hate, had a big hand to play too in this erosion of dharmic values. They helped their offspring to move even further away from their Hindu heritage, roots and culture.

Moving in global spaces, these kids had to face ‘othering’ both in their educational institutions, workplaces and off them, where a combination of mockery, intimidation and outright threats were employed to cow them down.

Loath to fight back and lose all their hard-earned Masters’ scholarships/jobs and privileges, they tried to blend in to be accepted by going to extreme lengths. They started to deride and deny their Hindu upbringing, culture and values that held their society together. When the slur of ‘Brahminism’ was flung at their faces, they took to virtue signalling as a means of protecting themselves from the onslaught.

Suddenly all customs and rituals became ‘regressive’ or ‘superstitious’ to their eyes. Respect to elders, honouring institutions like marriage, going to temples, doing puja, taking part in family rituals and religious functions that bound family and the community – everything was junked.

The secularisation of our deeply religious festivals, including Diwali and Navaratri, followed quickly and they happily adopted Christmas, Eid and Halloween as a mark of their ‘assimilation’ and distancing from Hinduism. They had bent so far back that their dharmic backbones had been damaged beyond repair. They had become and have remained spineless, rootless and deracinated ever since. The coming generations of Hindus are going to suffer worse fates with even less connectedness to their roots.

Since the advent of Narendra Modi things have changed to some extent. Hindus have at least become aware that they must fall back on the bulwark of their civilisation — family, marriage, community and temples — if they have to survive the onslaught of the desert cults.  

We cannot bring back Satyuga mores, when a man looked upon all women other than his own wife as his mother or sister as Lakshmana did, or when a son held his father’s orders paramount in his life, but we certainly can bring back the values that prevailed in Bharatvarsha which respected women and the social, religious and cultural institutions as they existed even two generations ago.

It is about time to revive and strengthen the institution of family and its values for a strong Hindu society.


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