Love in India – With a dash of Politics, Religion and Consumerism

Love, it’s a beautiful word. In all its forms and with all its little nuances, it’s a drop from heaven. The closest we have to God. Love, you hear the word and little butterflies start fluttering in your stomach. Today I will talk about these butterflies. Some of these butterflies are beautiful, some very ugly and poisonous.  I wish to invite you to look at South Asia, in a small village in Haryana, India. Two people were ordered by local panchayat to parade naked in the village. Their fault? They had married because they loved each other, without the consent of their parents.

That’s not a rare case. It’s one of the cases that modern India faces. An India which was home to the world’s greatest civilization and of course its many love affairs.

How Shiva had wept for his Sati? What heart will not fill with grief for their love story? A princess married a wanderer against her father’s wish, he disowned her. The daughter for love of her father still visited him only to be insulted. She bore that. But how could she have bore any word spoken against her beloved Shiva? She burned herself. Shiva in grief and anger killed his father-in-law and wandered across the country with the charred body of his love. ‘Sati!’ ‘Sati!’ I hear his lamenting across time. Sati is born again as Parvati, another princess and reunited with her love.

Krishna! In him we see the Ubermensch of Nietzsche but the one who lifts the poor and downtrodden. The dancing Krishna with his mesmerizing flute stands in almost every Hindu household with his girlfriend Radha. He married Rukmini, that was also a love affair (and a grand one, rest assured). The music of his flute is heard beyond eternity, calling all the lovers to participate in the grand dance of Ras Leela (The Divine Play of Love!).

Will the lovers participate? That my friends is the real question.

Meera, that beautiful and brave queen. She drank the poison and it turned into elixir. The thorns she walked on became flowers. She left her home, her husband, her kingdom for her love and wandered far and far to find her Krishna. (Once she was denied entry into Krishna’s temple. She laughed at the priest. Krishna lived in her heart, how could they have denied her entry their?) Legend has it that her soul found its way into a Krishna idol and the idol burst for two souls couldn’t live in one stone!

And yet the lovers can’t love today. Not in India which is ‘moral’ at least.

What’s stopping them?

Their parents because they don’t want their children to ruin themselves. More than 90% of Indian marriages are arranged and more than three fourth of them without the consent of bride and groom. Dowry plays an important role in these arranged marriages.

Society (people you have never met and yet they influence you). Because love will ruin the moral fibre. Children will go astray when they will see people in love.

Politicians. Yes, they tell people what to do. And they tell people not to love because it is against Indian culture.

Religious/Spiritual Gurus. The worshippers of Shiva and Krishna tell people not to love! It is against Indian culture!

How did love become against Indian culture? Many intellectuals tend to blame British and Moguls before them for this downfall. I will not delve into history. While reading about section 377 (the law that says love amongst two consenting adults is a punishable offence if they do not fit into gendered sterotypes) of Indian Penal Code in a blog post, I read a line, ‘the British gave it to us but we chose to keep it.’ The British scraped it from their constitution in 1960s. We still have it.

I am reminded of another story. The world was engulfed in darkness and only the offspring of Shiva and Vishnu could defeat the demoness Mahishi. Vishnu was born as Mohini and son of Hari (Vishnu) and Har (Shiva) was born,  Ayappa.

An India that worships love in all its forms says love is against its culture.

Then there is another side of the picture. Equally ugly as the first one. Many youngsters ‘love’ but only to have sex. Boyfriends are abusive and rich. Girlfriends are abusive and rich. It’s a race to more sex, more money and more power. And the race is fuelled by consumerism.

According to an estimate, 5.7 billion Rupees will be spent on 14 of Feb, 2016 in India. Valentine, a festival of love is emerging as the biggest market of the coming age. But that’s just one day out of the 365 (366 this year). There are movie tickets, bike/car rides, mobile recharges, cosmetics (which either adds up to, or is usually more than the first three mentioned) and so many other things that go unmentioned and are mostly unnecessary but amount to billion dollar industry.

This youth is not only cut off from its roots but has no sense of growth as well. They can neither count in Hindi nor in Roman and if you ask me, I sincerely doubt if they can in English though they only watch English movies. This is the youth which claims to be educated but has in truth mastered only the art of cat-calling and throwing racial slurs.

There is an old Hindi song which I love:

Babuji dheere chalna, pyar mein zra sambhalna,
Bade dhokhe hai, bade dhokhe hai is raah mein.

Loosely translated it means, ‘Dear sir, walk slower, be wary in love. Too many deceits there are in this path.

So what is the point of all what I have said? Where am I going with this? Nowhere. I have no conclusion to make. I just wanted to put forth some thoughts that had occurred to me in regards to this festival. How it’s almost next to impossible to find love and add to that the parental/societal/religious pressure. Then there are gender stereotypes to be fought with and the corporate’s greed. I am no one to provide a solution. I am raising an issue and wish to start a meaningful discussion which will find a solution. So please join me in this debate and let’s discuss on all the topics I have mentioned.

And what I believe is that love, despite all that surrounds it, is beautiful. Despite all the threats of society and religion, media and market, love will triumph. Do not give hope, but be wary in love.

Image shows Krishna and Radha. Courtesy: Saatchi Art Artist


The Solitary Ant

The solitary ant wonders
Amidst many steps it takes,
Where should it go?
It goes to the right, to the left,
To the North to the South
To the East to the West
And to many more directions in between
And yet it finds nowhere to go.
Its family has gone away,
None of the other ants are close by.
It tries to find the path
Which would take it back
From where it came
Or where it wanted to go.
But the path is missing.
It has been trodden by the dust and wind.
The marks its predecessors made
Are lost to it forever.
It must find its own path,
Make its own road,
Find its own destination.
All other journeys and destinations
Are taken and gone and lost forever.
The solitary ant must go alone.
Alone it must go.