First of all it is very unfortunate that although Krishna’s life story has so much to offer, there are people who derive misplaced arguments out of instances from the story that they either don’t fully understand or have never taken out time to read about.
“Half knowledge is worse than ignorance.”
When it comes to criticizing a religion, a lot of people hop into the parade without even knowing the context. While I truly believe that constructive criticism is the way towards building a better world, we must make sure that our criticism is truly constructive.
Case in point, this particular illustration is in no way a criticism done in the approved manner. First of all this picture propagates FALSE images from the story where Krishna is only a child when he does the ‘Vastra Haran Lila’ unlike what’s depicted in the picture. And most importantly, the entire idea of ‘Vastra Haran Lila’ has a very intense connotation to it, which is about how nudity is the ultimate test of self-acceptance and self realization. Do you love yourself enough that you can give it all away and be truly one with your soul?
It’s funny how the same drivers of social media who promote ‘nude art’ and ‘losing one’s inhibitions’ are bashing Krishna through this illustration while being completely unaware how we were exposed to these ideas through Krishna long before it was ‘cool’.
I am not at all denying that patriarchy exists in our culture, women have been undermined in various religious scriptures and there are endless legitimate examples of misogyny that can be pointed out and rightfully criticized; but not this one and not like this.
Before mindlessly forwarding and sharing some eyeball-seeking social media post, ask yourself one simple question – Do you have complete knowledge about this great story/incident used by millions to guide their lives?
Manan Desai’s Post
Today is Kali-Chaudas! Also known as Naraka Chaturdashi. I have had an intense conversation with Tushar Tere Animesh Bhatt Deep Bhatt in the last 24 hours over a picture of VastraHaranLila by Krishna in which the women in yamuna river are tagged #MeToo which was shared by Sweta Joshi
Though my perspective was about Sexism and how it is thriving in our country since years and ingrained because of hindu scriptures, the conversation went dwelling into Religion and Gods as we feel more protective about Religion & Gods compared to the women in this country.
Nonetheless it was a very enlightening conversation and this is what I have concluded after digging in deep and talking to few people especially my family friend Bhagwat Shah.
1. Understanding Krishna’s Vastra Haran Lila
In the Vastra-haran-lila, Lord Krshna confiscates the external layers which camouflage the soul. Our various desires keep the soul bound to the physical realm. To cut these bonds and free the divine soul, Krupanidhan came to remove the last vestiges of duality from the very subconscious of the gopies. The soul is neither male or female. It is neither great or small. It is sinless and pure. It is all knowing and eternally free. Temporarily it is bound in the body by illusion and self imposed ignorance. Lord came only to remove these illusions and remind the soul that it is above it all. In all his Lilas, Krshna has attempted to awaken the soul and let it realize its destiny. This is a beautiful metaphor.
Suddenly, gopies, bathing in the river Yamuna, heard Murlidhar’s flute. Seeking it’s owner, they noticed a kadamb tree covered in their fine garments! Early morning sun glinted off their bright jewels. Dismayed by Ladla-Lal’s latest prank, gopies initially tried to reason with Krshna. Failing this, they threatened to tell his father and even sought to punish him themselves. Unimpressed by their empty threats, Krshna told the gopies to come and claim their garments in person. Krshna explained that they (gopies) had offended the gods of the river by bathing in the nude during their Vrat. Gopies must ask for their forgiveness and than simply come and collect their clothes. Gopies, now clothed in the “divya”/ divine/ spiritual garments given by God, gained entry in to the Ras-Lila, the ultimate union of Soul and it’s Source.
This has been misinterpreted by me earlier like many others as the pictorial representation does not show Baal Krushna. He was 6-7 years old when he did this Lila which has been pointed out multiple times by fellow Hindus 🙂
2. Understanding Narka ChaturDashi (Kaali Chaudas)
Shri Krushna killed Narkasur on Narka Chaturdashi to recover the jewels and imperial insignia he looted from Indra. Satyabhama joined him for the battle and asked him to kill the demon for having imprisoned in excess of 16,000 women. Having saved the women, now there was an issue of where will these women go? Their families were unwilling to take them back. No one wanted to ‘marry’ women who had stayed in a demon’s palace for so long. The women had very few options – either to die, become nuns or take up prostitution.
To save the women from a life of ignominy, Shri Krushna married them and gave them an acceptable place in society. Clearly a new found respect for Krushna because of this act. Krushna was never a casanova/playboy as depicted by Godmen over the years.
I personally realize how I’ve misinterpreted the entire act of Vastra-Haran-Lila of Lord Krushna. But it does not take away the fact how sexism is relevant in Hindu Scriptures. Especially Ramayana.
It is Diwali time.. I would like to end this by telling you something about the beginning. Why did Valmiki write Ramayana?
Valmiki was going to the river Ganges for his daily ablutions. A disciple by the name Bharadwaja was carrying his clothes. On the way, they came across the Tamasa Stream. Looking at the stream, Valmiki said to his disciple, “Look, how clear is this water, like the mind of a good man! I will bathe here today.” When he was looking for a suitable place to step into the stream, he saw a crane couple mating. Valmiki felt very pleased on seeing the happy birds. Suddenly, hit by an arrow, the male bird died on the spot. Filled by sorrow, its mate screamed in agony and died of shock. Valmiki’s heart melted at this pitiful sight. He looked around to find out who had shot the bird. He saw a hunter with a bow and arrows, nearby. Valmiki became very angry. His lips opened and he cried out,
मां निषाद प्रतिष्ठां त्वमगमः शाश्वतीः समाः।
यत्क्रौंचमिथुनादेकम् अवधीः काममोहितम्॥’
You will find no rest for the long years of Eternity
For you killed a bird in love and unsuspecting.
What can be derived from this is that Society does not let two lovers live happily. Valmiki thought the same happened with Ram Sita and that’s why he wrote the Ramayana. Society is Patriarchal because usually the biological and materialistic inheritance comes from the Man and not woman. There are small pockets of Matriarchal groups as well in this world but they are very limited. This has been the case before Ramayana and Mahabharat. If Ram would have taken a stand for SITA and not heard what the society is saying… Things would have been different for Hindu Women. Unfortunately, That is not the case!
We all don’t dig deeper to understand where it all comes from. Guilty as charged. I apologize for my ignorance. But it has truly been an enlightening DIWALI for me! Signing off!
HAPPY DIWALI to you and to your family!