30 October 2009

The many Indias!

Mallipoo & Martini
Times of India

Just when I was wondering what I should write this week, along came an interview with Wendi Doniger on her book, The Hindus: An Alternative History in a popular weekly magazine on October 26, 2009. I'm discussing this subject because Wendi Doniger claims according to the several versions of Ramayana, Rama was deeply in love with Sita, and had a healthy sexual relationship (thankfully that explains the origin of Luva and Kusha, unlike his own dubious birth story, and participated in some wining and dining with her, before he threw her out, presumably only because he did not want to be judged by his father's standards, as being sexually obsessed. Hehehe...

That set the tone. It took me back  a few years, when I was performing a rehearsed reading from Woman at Point Zero, by Nawal El Zadaawi, at a city college. Apparently someone had remarked, a few days earlier, if they were going to allow pornography to be performed inside the college premises!

Prof. Doniger has been at the receiving end of the stick for the past decade, because she apparently eroticizes Hinduism.  In her defence, she adds she is targeted as she has a double disadvantage: a) She is not Hindu; b) she is not male - maybe because she is not a Brahmin also. The corollary would be that if you were any, or all of the above, you are welcome to nocturnal texts in Hinduism, wouldn't it? I think the primary reason is only that she is not a man. Thankfully, the Hindu brigade hadn't been so hyperactive when A. K. Ramanujam was scripting his Many Ramayanas. 

A 2003 photograph from The Hindu of the Valmiki Temple, on E.C.R.

The first space of suburbs that spanned out beyond the walls of Kalakshetra, in Adyar, was Valmiki Nagar. Those of you who have gone past the Thiruvanmiyur bus terminus and turned into the East Coast Road, must have seen the tiny little temple, bang in the middle of the highway, a few yards before the Marudheeswarar Temple. It is the Valmiki temple, the region's border guardian, for the four fishing communities that used to reside in that area before the rich and the famous squatters. I have not yet discovered how a bandit became the guardian of this community. In spite of various efforts by the state to uproot the temple to streamline the mega cars and the air conditioned buses that ply on that route, it has stayed put. 

Here goes a living alternative history to the mainstream homogenized Hinduism. 

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