Sunday, March 18, 2012

Part 5 of Madhavi's story: What is the difference between horse trading and dower?

A brief review of the transactions in Madhavi's story:

1. Save Galava went to King YayAti. Yayati gave away his daughter Madhavi to Galava, because YayAti didn't have the 800 white horses. He gave express permission to Galava to exchange her for the 800 horses.

2. Galava first went to king of Ayodhya and gave her to the king, in exchange for a dower (sulkam) of 200 white horses. The King has to get a son through Madhavi and return her to Galava after the work is done.

Upto this point it is ok. Reason: It is world-wide custom for fathers of brides and bride-grooms to offer them in marriage, after collecting sulkam or dower or dowry or whatever name you call it. It is not regarded as sales or prostitution, though in reality it is a sale or prostitution.

2. Galava, after one year took back Madhavi from the King of Ayodhya. He, then went to the King of Kasi. He exchanged Madhavi with the King for another 200 horses. The King of Kasi has to keep her for one year and get a son.

In case of dowry marriages, the sale takes place only once in life time. If a divorce becomes inevitable or some death takes place, probably a second sale for dowry may take place. But that is not preplanned.

Here Galava took Madhavi back from the King of Ayodhya and sold her to the King of Kasi taking another 200 hearses. This repetitive nature of the transactions is resulting in a business with the girl Madhavi, of course with her and her father's consent.

3. Madhavi gave birth to a son to the King of Kasi. Galava took her back from the King of Kasi and went to Usinara, the King of BhOja Kingdom. Galava exchanged her for another 200 horses with one year tenure.
This is the third round of sale. What should we call this? Galava called it dower!

4th round:
Galava could so far collect only 600 horses against his target of 800. Further 200 remain unfulfilled in spite of his efforts. The kite-God Garuda told gAlava that it was impossible to mobilise the balance 200 because there were only 600 such horses in the entire world.

The kite-God advised gAlava to approach the teacher visvAmitra with the 600 horses and mAdhavi, and pray him to accept mAdhavi in lieu of the remainder 200.

gAlava went to teacher visvAmitra and prayed him to accept mAdhavi and the 600 horses and discharge him from his debt.

visVAmitra accepted horses and mAdhavi; lived with her and got a son.

visVAmitra, after the birth of son through mAdhavi, returned her to Galava. visvAmitra went to forest to re-penance.

Galava returned expressed his gratitude to mAdhavi and returned her to her father yayAti.

yayAti then announced a "self-selection of husband meet" for mAdhavi at the confluence of Rivers Ganga and Yamuna. mAdhavi chose Forest as her husband and went to forest.

mAdhavi was fortunate. yayAti didn't auction her for the highest bidder.
Why did mAdhavi chose "forest" as her husband? She should have chosen another king for her marriage.
Ans: She might have been thoroughly vexed with the three kings she lived with and the teacher visvAmitra.

Ganguli's translation:

Reducing her body by means of fasts of various kinds and religious rites and rigid vows, she adopted the deer's mode of life.

Won't it be better to become a deer, rather than become a baby-producing machine of kings, after being sold for horses?

2. We get news from New York that pimps operate even in Manhattan and offer girls for prostitution on web-pages. Whether it was the mahAbharata period or the 21st Century, women on this Earth have the same fate of 'women trafficking', by whatever name it may be called and for whatever ostensible purpose it is undertaken. They are exchangeable commodities.

Will continue in Part 6..

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