Tuesday, March 06, 2012

(Part 4 of this serial post) Write something good about MahAbhArata and mAdhavi's story


Question: You have a negative character or a negative style of writing. You always point out deficiencies and shortcomings of Indian Epics ignoring and overlooking all their merits. Before you start writing your feelings on Madhavi's story, write something good about it!


OK, sir.
Here is one important merit of mAdhavi's story.

1. Most Indians do not like begetting female children. (There are some exceptions of castes, families, tribes, and individuals.). For this reason only doctors conducting pre-natal sex identification tests and abortions of female foetuses have minted or probably even now minting money. This is in spite of the Government of India banning such tests and abortions. We also find abandoned female babies in dust bins, buses and bus stands, river banks, trains and railway stations etc. This may be mainly owing to the burden of paying dowry for a daughter's marriage and the heavy wedding expenses and maternity expenses. President, Prime Minister and Women/Child Welfare Ministers make some ceremonial speeches with no sincere intentions.

2. Madhavi's story highlights the advantages and merits of having good daughters and daughter's sons.

Traditional Hindu rituals do not give much importance to daughters and daughter's sons. The English word 'daughter' has an Indo-European origin and the Sanskrit equivalent is 'duhita' (another word putrika is more popular). Duhita's son is 'dauhitra' or daughter's son. Son's son is 'pautra'. Religious ceremonies paricularly funeral and yearly-worship ceremonies give great importance only to father and his predecessors and sons and their successors. That means, all along only "male" rights and duties are recognised.

3. Madhavi's story, exceptionally highlights that dauhitras (daughter's sons) can also contribute to the restitution and upliftment of their ancestors.

4. Demonstration of this in Madhavi's story. Madhavi was the daughter of Emperor YayAti. (Same gentlmen who was the husband of dEvayAni and SharmishTha and the son-in-law of the preceptor of demons SukrAcarya. This story kacha-dEvayAni-yayAti-pUrUrava-yadus is in Adi Parva of mahAbhArata. If that is part I of Yayati'
story, this is the part II of it).

Yayati gave her as a gift to Sage Galava, to enable him to lend her/sell her/marry her off -whatever we may like to call- to other kings, for obtaining dower of moon-white horses with a single blackspot on their ears.

Galava gave lent (rented?) her to three different kings, one by one, for getting the horses.

She accepted her task without demur or expostulation or protest or remonstance or weeping. She got one son for each king and left the son to that king.

After three turns, Galava gifted mAdhavi to his Guru visvAmitra, who too got a son through mAdhavi.

Later he gifted her to Galava. Fortunately, Galava without using her, returned her to yayAti.

yayAti then kept her in a Fair as "svayamvara" (self-selection of groom) as was the custom in those days for princesses.

mAdhavi might have sufficiently been vexed with the three kings and the last one Sage VisvAmitra. She chose "forest" as her husband and lived like a deer in a forest.

Her three royal sons became great kings.

Her father Yayati died and went to heaven, because of his good deeds like great rule of the kingdom, performance of sacrifices, etc.

Yayati was well-respected in heaven. One day in a moment of self-pride, he indulged in self-pride. Pride self-praise seem to have been prohibited qualities and acts in heaven. The keeper of heaven pushed YayAti downwards.

YayAti was falling on the earth, shorn of all his heavenly and royal splendor. Given a choice of selecting the place on earth to fall on, he chose a place where virtuous people met in an assembly.

He was falling on a place where his own daughter's sons were conducting a sacrifice.

To rescue their maternal grand father, mAdhavi's sons gave away all the credits of their meritorious and virtuous acts to yayAti. Madhavi too gave away her own credit balances to her dad. These benevolent transfers of the credits by a daughter and her sons (mAdhavi and her sons) lifted yayAti back to Heaven with full splendor.

Today's Indians, if they were to learn any lesson from MahAbhArata, this is the best lesson-- honor daughters and their sons on par with male descendents.

POST-independence
Of course, after independence some good changes have taken place in Hindu Law in India. Today Hindu daughters and wives have equal property rights on par with other male legal heirs.

Unmarried employed daughters are getting good respect from their parents, when compared to the past. Employed wives too command respect from their husbands, and children. This respect and strength, may partly be, from their earning capacity which is a key element in a Capitalist Economy where money controls behaviors. But this respect and strength must extend to unemployed daughters and wives also. Should stem from genuine love and not love of money earned.

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