Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Rukmini Shrinivasan (TNN) has quoted Delhi’s National Law University faculty Dr. Mrinal Satish to show that occurrence of rape, where the accused is convicted by any court, is overwhelmingly higher in rural India than in urban India, in a very relevant piece datelined January 05, 2013. It is based on data gathered from reported cases in all the High Courts and the Spreme Court of India covering a period of 25 years from 1983 to 2009 and used by the Professor in his doctoral dissertation at the Yale Law School, USA.
In analyzing the data, Prof. Satish has found, according to Shrinivasan, “over 80% of rape cases in the High Courts and close to 75% of rape cases in the Supreme Court came from rural areas. Close to 75% of gang rape cases in HCs and 63% of gang rape cases in the SC came from rural areas. Over 65% of cases involving the rape of a child (less than 12 years old) came from rural areas. On average, 75% of all rape cases in higher courts that had led to at least one conviction came from rural areas”.
This researched finding seriously challenges RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s reported claim that rapes are phenomena of India, not of Bharat, on interpretation of “India” as the urban sector and “Bharat” the rural.
Prof. Satish’s researched data being irrefutable, collected as they are from the reported verdicts; Bhagwat’s followers including the Puri Sankaracharya have started parading a different plea in support of the RSS chief.
According to them, “Bharat” means the land under Vedic culture whereas “India” epitomizes western culture.
Thus, to the rabid rightists, the Vedic system is the system that should be revived to save the country from the flood of rapes.
In other words, the heinous crime against which modern India’s educated youth and embarrassed citizenry have forced the nonchalant governments all over the country as well as the country’s bookish judiciary to rise up, is going to be used by the rabid rightists as a plea for religious revivalism.
So, it is necessary to see if Vedic culture was really against rape.
A culture is read in the light of its literature. And, Vedic literature has its popular presentations in Upanishads and Purans. So we shall peep into them a while to see how rape was treated therein.
We find, rape was given the dignity of a male fundamental right in Vedic literature where any woman was required to submit to the desire of a satyr of Vedic society. She should be thrashed by hand or stick if she refuses a man’s desire and should be subjected to brutality of rape as a punishment for refusing the man, says the seventh hymn of the 4th Brahmana under the sixth chapter of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. It says, if a woman refuses the man, then the refused satyr shall have the liberty to allure her into sex by offering her ornaments and other gifts. If she still refuses, the man, affected by being thus rejected, shall have the right to beat her down in hand or by a club in order to render her incapable for resisting and then, instead of love making, shall brutally rape her while uttering the words that for the crime she committed by refusing him sex, he is now brutalizing her vagina by the force of his organ. This is it:
“Sa chedasmai na dadyat
Sa chedasmai naiba dadyat
Kamamenam jastyam ba panina
Te jasasa jasa adada
Ityajasa eba bhavati”.
In giving this hymn a Tika (interpretative elaboration), the mega maniac of Brahminism, Adi Sankara, had prescribed that the vagina of the reluctant woman should be so violently brutalized by the rapist that after ravishment she could no more be having any iota of fame (Durvageti khyata ajasa eba bhavati) to face the society.
In my earlier discussion, I have linked the rise of rape in India with strengthening of the political economy of capitalism in the regime of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
But going by the scriptures of Bagawat’s Bharat, one gets convinced that the said Bharat had given birth to political economy of rape.
When Taittiriya Samhita (vi,5.8.2.) holds that a good woman is worse than a bad man, Chhandogya Upanishad in Vamadevya Samana has enjoined five stages of coition; such as ‘Hinkara’ (summoning a woman to the bed), ‘Prastaba’ (proposing the woman for intercourse), ‘Udgittha’ (lying down with the said woman), ‘Pratihara’ (Ridding over that woman) and ‘Nidhana’ (ejaculation) (ii.13).
The Samana as rendered by R.E.Hume in Thrirteen Principal Upanishads, gives guarantee that copulation thus practiced by a man would help him procreate himself from every copulation, reach a full length of life, live long, become great in offspring and in cattle, great in fame. One should not abstain from any woman says it.
And, Puranic depictions help us understand the Brahminic emphasis on summoning “any woman” to bed and raping any woman for her refusal to be bedded.
The Vamadevya Samana cited above may help us in better appreciation of the Puranic phenomena. It says and we understand that a rape even may beget a man an offspring through the raped woman.
But how can rape help a man become great in possession of cattle?
Here lies the stair for us to reach the political economy of rape.
Cattle were the mainstay of economy in the Vedic society. The Vedic people were nomads and the power of the Vedic man was being measured on the basis of the number of cattle herds he owned. Owner of the largest herd of cattle was called Goswamy (Go meaning Cattle + Swamy meaning Lord) and was being revered as a God.
No wonder, this particular word ‘Goswamy’ was a synonym of God.
Therefore, there were constant battles amongst themselves over acquisition of cattle herds of each other.
One who was having large numbers of sons was in advantageous position to acquire and possess large herds of cattle. Even battles were being fought for a single cow of excellent quality. When Basistha having a hundred sons had possessed Kamadhenu, Biswamitra had led a large army to take that cow to his possession. On the other hand, Drutarastra having a hundred sons had allowed his army to loot the cattle herds of Birata, who had a single son. For possessing large herds of cattle, the mania to beget large numbers of sons had become so strong that any man of the Vedic society was, sans any qualms, trying to rape any indigenous woman to get a son through her.
Mahabharata has shown us that Parasara got Vyasa by raping the daughter of a boat man when she was ferrying him across the Ganges; Bhima begot Ghatotkacha through Hidima. Even in Ramayana, Ravana had begotten Mahi Ravana through a woman he had no connection with after her pregnancy.
Begetting sons through any woman for use of them in future in enhancing and protecting properties of the father was legitimized through scriptures in the ‘Bharat’ that the rabid rightists like Bhagwat have been glorifying while denigrating ‘India’.
But the instances depicted above clearly show that rape is a political economy that cannot be seen separately from capitalism.
That, the women, to whom their husbands raping other women for begetting more number of sons was not tolerable, were asking for boons to mother a hundred sons howsoever difficult that be, like Sabitri and Gandhari, indicates to the role of rape as a political economy in those ancient days; because in those days too, it was essential to overcome the sense of defeat inherent in a society of economic inequals.
We shall continue to grope about in dark in matter of rape as long as the ‘sense of defeat’ that capitalism creates is not effectively removed. So its remedy lies in promotion of a political economy of equality.
As we have earlier also argued, ceiling on property in order to make the country a land of approximate equality is the only way to eliminate the sense of defeat by opening up umpteen avenues for prosperity of all in a pattern that would eventually free the society from inequality, exploitation and insecurity.
If our approach is sincere, it is better to appreciate that rape is a syndrome,which has its origin in political economy of inequality and hence adoption of political economy of equality can help the society in getting rid of rape.