Connect with us

Changing Perceptions Of Ethics And Moral Values Of Life As Taught In Indian Mythology

Living

Changing Perceptions Of Ethics And Moral Values Of Life As Taught In Indian Mythology

“So Dasharatha was not a chaste man?”

As a mother, I instinctively knew that whatever I was going to say would be a foundation stone for my son’s future. A future where he will have to find his own principles and establish those very principals for his own family. My answer in this moment of absolute truth could very well decide how his character would turn out to be and how he would treat women.

Storytelling is no more what it used to be. Now we have to retell stories according to the want and need of the hour. Two days ago, I was walking with my son, Sonny, when I decided to be a good mother and tell him stories from Indian epics. I asked him which story he would like to hear and gave him three choices:

Krishna’s story
Rama’s story
A story from the Jataka Tales

He chose Rama because Sonny is very interested in archery but it’s forbidden by me. I don’t believe in learning anything that kills. My personal quirk, I know, but we have enough killers around us without adding another trained one to the mob. I feel I am doing my duty in establishing a utopian, peaceful society and other blah blahs.

Anyway, I started with the usual ‘Once upon a time’and reached the stage when I informed him that Dasharatha had three wives.

Sonny stopped me immediately and asked, “Why, Ma?”

“Why what, darling?”

“Why did he have three wives?”

“Well, in those days men were allowed to have multiple wives.”

“Oh! So the wives could have multiple husbands too?”

The dormant Indian nari immediately woke up inside me and I started a long lecture of how women were chaste and could only marry once.

“So Dasharathawas not a chaste man?”

As a mother, I instinctively knew that whatever I was going to say would be a foundation stone for his future. A future where he will have to find his own principles and establish those very principals for his own family. My answer in this moment of absolute truth could very well decide how his character would turn out to be and how he would treat women.

I’m begging forgiveness right now to my future daughter-in-law as I failed to give a reasonable answer. I failed to have a valid explanation as to why a man could have multiple wives and be considered chaste but the same quality in a woman earned her names like ‘whore’ and ‘slut’. I suddenly developed a cold feet. What if the answer I gave him now ruined another woman’s life in the future? I couldn’t just be flippant about this. Not at this day and age.

So I decided to take the coward’s way out. “You will love Krishna’s story more.” He was disheartened for he had not found the answer yet.  But hey, I am the mom and I can do whatever I want. So, we continued and I started with Kansa’s story and had to nail in the fact that imprisoning your sister is not okay. It’s against the law in the modern society and you love your sister too much for that. But most importantly, your modern-day Devaki will bash you with her cudgel if you even think of something like that. I was relieved when he understood that point clearly.

And then came the part when Krishna would tease the gopikasin Vrindavan.

“But Mom, Mrs. O, our class teacher, says we can’t tease girls.”

“Umm…yes, you can’t. Of course you can’t,” I was quick to hammer in that point. “If you do you will be in prison. It’s called eve-teasing. And it’s disrespectful to women. The dialogues like teri ma behenki beep beep would be pointing towards me and your sister. Would you like that?”

Thankfully, he didn’t ask me what was teri ma behenki for he was still worried about Dasharatha’s chastity.

“No mummy, I won’t tease girls ever. But when Krishna did it, were bad words used on him too?”

How the hell am I supposed to know that? It was in my last incarnation a few centuries ago and I have no memory of it. But, in this life I do know this is wrong. So why am I glorifying this rasa of Krishna? How can I tell him that if the Gods did it we call it a Leela and in the modern times, if men do it, words like eve-teasing and rape have been associated with it?

I left the story mid-way and started telling him the story of the crow and the fox.  But one question that went on haunting me was: To whom do I owe my loyalty more? To the Gods whose Leela is misinterpreted in the modern times or the future generations of women? Isn’t it the need of the hour that every woman teaches the present generation of men that we are Goddesses, we are warriors, we are nurturers, but most of all we are humans, with vices just like yours. So what you don’t want us to do, don’t do it yourself.

I am an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer, and marketer. I am the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. My first literary work was published in my school magazine. I then went to complete my MBA and after my marriage to my childhood friend, my travel saga started. From The Netherlands to the British Isles I lived my life like an adventure. After a short stint in Malaysia, I finally settled down in the desert state of USA, Arizona. Living with my DH and two human kids and one doggie kid, and I finally started living the life I had always dreamed about – that of a writer.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Dola

    March 10, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Storytelling is indeed not what it used to be. Loved how the author iterated the point that our responsibility is more towards the next generation. Great article.

    • Rubina

      March 11, 2018 at 12:41 am

      Thanks a ton dear Dola. It was one of those moments 😂

  2. Rubina Ramesh

    March 10, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you, Urban Tribe for featuring my article on your site. For appreciating the changing times of storytelling and the responsibility we women writers have – not only as a writer but also as a mom.

  3. Ahana

    March 10, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    Stories are about life and as times are changing so is our life and so our stories…. keep an open mind

    • Rubina

      March 11, 2018 at 12:40 am

      We have to change our fairy tales too. Today Cinderella too does not wait for Prince Charming. Perception my dear Watson, Perception.

  4. Arya

    March 10, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    Well draupadi had 5 husbands too. It was not just men whio could have multiple spouses. May be you could have explained that just to specify gender equality and then say that these are things of the past. These days no one does that. Even when we fail to give them an answer kids are smart to make their own conclusions .

    • Rubina

      March 11, 2018 at 12:37 am

      Draupadi had five husbands not by choice. 🙂 That should say it all. And yes, as a mom, I did explain that but these questions were not asked before. These questions didn’t have the negative implications that it has in today’s world.

  5. Rachna

    March 11, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    I think it is important to let our children know that morality and values do transform over time. What was perfectly fine for our ancestors may horrify us now. With that context it may be easy to not feel defensive while narrating mythological tales. At least, that is the approach I take.

    • Rubina Ramesh

      March 13, 2018 at 11:23 am

      Very true Rachna. But strangely I started thinking about this when I sat down to tell him the story. Till then I had not questioned the context. This puzzled me. How did I take all this without asking any questions as a girl yet my perceptions changed as a mom.

  6. Parul Thakur

    March 11, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    I am sure that’s not easy but like Rachna said, it is about the fact that over time (meaning many many centuries) things change. and so does the interpretation of these. Loved reading this post Rubina and I am glad you are back.

    • Rubina Ramesh

      March 14, 2018 at 9:24 am

      Thank you so much Parul for your lovely wishes. Yes, times are changing and we will change too. It has just started now I suppose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Living

Advertisement

Most Popular

Advertisement
To Top