The utter generosity of the poor humbles us. They give rice to every mendicant even when their rice is getting over. That is what needs to be understood - their greatnes and their richness. That is what they are defined by. That they are impoverished is what defines us.
We are the cause of that poverty - and the onus is on us to share deeply and completely. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
FB Discussions - Menstruation and Impurity and Science
In every Indian
community, menstruating women keep away from temples. In my village, which is
liberal in many many ways, when esoteric treatments are done, 'kavusu, teepu,
antu, muttu' are proscribed. When mantrams are said and amulets are tied, the
person avoids meat, avoids people who have antu (such as where a death has
happenned, and the requisite ceremonies are not over), and women who have their
In youth I raged
against all this. Now I wonder if all these ancient customs may not have some
element we do not understand. And if to bracket it all as 'patriarchal
oppression' may not be unwise and supercilious.
RamnathSpeak to an actual scientist once in a while ... and the
realization will come that science is society's (only) hope.Yes it is limited. But over time, science builds greater
insights on the insights that have come before. That's how science works ... by
building from the bottom up.
Ramnath, could a scientist have
the humility to accept that there could be truths outside of science. That
mantrams 'could' work. With that scientisr, i would be willing to deal. Not the
majority who live in a haze of superstition saying that what is proved in their
paradigm in the only truth.
science if you mean logic, I am with you. That includes for me Ayurveda, Yoga
Sutras and Vedanta. Yes, also Newton's Laws, though that intrests me less as
for my own personal concerns of the villages it is not very relevent.
Eashwaramma to learn that every action has an equal and opposite reaction is
unnecessary ! And the village farmers are brilliant engineers, handling their
plows and motors. Far better than Nagesh who is the only one in the village
with an engineering degree - a mechanical engineering degree ! And he would be
the first to attest to this. Yes, he know all the Laws of Motion.
RamnathScience is a process that systematically tries to validate a
theory or insight through rigorous observation and experiment. This is as
opposed to making an observation and simply asserting it is right.
RamnathAparna Krishnan"And the village farmers are brilliant engineers, handling
their plows and motors. Far better than Nagesh who is the only one in the
village with an engineering degree". Ok, so great! If you are questioning
the education Nagesh (and I f...See More
RamnathIncidentally, learning that "every action has an equal and
opposite reaction" (especially understanding that these two forces act on
DIFFERENT bodies) is essential to understanding how a plow works, no?
RamnathRe: "could a scientist have the humility to accept that
there could be truths outside of science". Absolutely! Newton, Einstein,
our friend Raman with the biggest CV of them (:-)) all would accept this. But
these scientists also believed that these truths were only outside of science
for the present, and science would ultimately be able to answer more and more
and more of these unanswered questions over time.
Ramnath, I stand by that
generalized definition of science. Ayurveda and also mantrams have a rigourous
theory, and have been established thro' detailed observations. Mantrams might
involve deeper states of the mind, I would not know. But as you say, science
accepts possibility of truths beyond science, we will leave that there.
modern education institutionalises one method and system of learning, thereby
at a stroke invalidating all other. The various sustainable traditional skills
of pottery and the ironsmith (which are to a destroyed and plundered earth more
important today than a science and technology which has built into its
structure only more of createing ways of using an overused nature) cannot be
part of this structured school, however mush we change the contant. They belong
to a different life and a different way of being and learning. My other problem
with modern schooling, apart from the arrogance it builds up for the above
reason as seeing it as the one valid system, is that is inculcates individualism
at the cost of co-operativism. Maybe that can be changed to some extent in some
schools by the framework, but as the overarching tenor is that, we all fall
victim to that to varying degrees. I did, badly.
Aparna KrishnanFinallyRajiv, regarding my 'moral authority' the less sadi the better.
Twenties started with clear ethical choices. Two decades have been steps after
steps of compromises of various hues. I can list them, but i am sure it would
be a huge narcissistic...
have dealt with child after child, and seen most defeated.
RamnathAparna KrishnanOk, so now we have something specific to discuss; which is that
the educational systems that you have seen in village schools degrade the
psyche of the children. YES, I agree and we should fight to change this. BTW,
this happens in the...
Ramnath"Ayurveda and also mantrams have a rigorous theory, and
have been established thro' detailed observations." I agree that Ayurveda
has a rigorous theory, but I disagree that it has been established through
detailed observations. I think that theory in Ayurveda has been established
through detailed **introspection** - looking mostly inwards rather than
rishis may have written the texts from meditative states - I would not know.
Today it is a detailed body of knowlege rich is theory and proven practices.
Proven over 1000s of years, and not 100s. There have been many authoritative
texts right thro' the middle ages which have built up great rigour.
BanerjeeThere is no logic, given our current knowledge about
menstruation, behind barring women having periods from doing anything
whatsoever. It should be their informed choice. There is in fact a need for
open discussion to rid menses of the many taboos surrounding them that affect
menstrual hygiene adversely and contribute to serious and persistent
gynaecological problems for a large number of women.
Aparna KrishnanRahul Banerjee,
'given their informed choice' is the crux. If the women choose to stay away, it
is not anyone's proselytising mission to convince them they are superstitious
'illiterates'. Yes, it would certianly be 'conditioning', but then what is not...
Ramnathregarding schooling, in the here and now we need to work to
making it more vernacular based - both language and content. That will
necessitate a broader intervention of reservations in public and private sector
for children from vernacular
Himakiran AnugulaOur schooling teachers us 4 seasons of summer, autumn, winter
and spring whereas we live in a climactic zone with 6 seasons.
What is this knowledge that we talk about? Our
schilling merely creates labor for the people above. English educated, then
white collared and working closer to the West; Indian language educated then,
working for the English educated ones.
PeriasamyRahul BanerjeeAt least for the Sabarimala case there is a valid justification
given by the temple authorities, which is to maintain purity of Pamba river
where many devotees take a dip. The same might be valid for temples with
theppakulams. These issu...
if the women decide they wish to fight for that 'right' i would stand with them
maybe. As they dont, I dont. I certianly do not consider myself wiser or more
grounded in any sense than the woman from the village. I think the country
would benefit were we to accept in the basic sense and sensibility of the basic
indian and work from there.
PeriasamyAparna KrishnanThe keyword should be 'believing women', not atheist feminists
who would enter the temple just to register protest against so called
"culture of patriarchy" and start screaming profanities against Hindu
traditions once outside the temple.
Patnaik, for all his pop style, comes up with interesting perspectives
sometimes. "If you want to project the temple of Ayyappa at Sabarimala in
Kerala, and Hinduism as general, as an indicator of communal harmony, you can
point to the dargah o...See More
Manikandan Periasamythere is the disdain of the 'educated indian' towards the
'villager'. And his understanding, alienated from the soil of the land due to
his very schooling, has defined the direction this country has taken. If
control in many sense returns to the ordinary people, perspectives will become
more real and grounded.
why should the priests even need to come up with modern explanations like Pampa
river cleanliness. I think its valid to say that it is a practice, as thats
what it probably is.
Manikandan Periasamyas I said he pops it up a bit. But basically he is on sound
ground here. "Result of attempts to explain, or criticise, pre-modern
practices using modern filters like caste, class, religion and gender is always
problematic. It fuels outrage, but does not contribute to understanding."
PeriasamyThe modern feminists lack any rationale and cultural familiarity
that village women inherit to criticize the latter and the traditions that they
staunchly follow. Perhaps it is this sudden alienation from their roots and the
schizophrenia induced due t...
educated, especially english-educated, indian is alienated deeply. And he has
directed the processes of this country. And that imo has been the tragedy.
Manikandan PeriasamyYour good self has raised many issues. Let me address them one
by one. During menstruation, toxins which are locked up get released. These
loose nitrates may cause irritation and anger outbursts. The best place for 'to...
Manikandan Periasamythe purity of the pamba river would best be maintained by
disallowing people from taking a dip in it and instead asking them to bathe in
bathrooms and treating the waste water properly!!!
BanerjeeWell if thousands of people take a dip together in a short space
of time it does create problems and if among them a few women having periods
also take a dip they don't add significantly to the pollutant load.
incidentally nationwide the contribution o...
to the basics. If local women also choose not to take a dip, fine. If they feel
it is a burning issue and they want to claim their right to a dip irrespective
of their cycles, then also fine. In reality the choice is (1), and for me the
matter ends there. There are other more immediate battles for the women,
starting with liquor !
Banerjeethe lack of menstrual hygiene is a serious problem for many
women and therefore there is a need to discuss this openly with women. after
that it is their choice how they want to address the issue of menstrual hygiene
and related matters.
a problem for women, and with disposables flooding markets, and now also
village markets, its a concern for all. Certianly need discussing, and the
village women are not at all coy about it. My problem is only when educated
people try 'saving' them from their 'illiterate beliefs' about 'chooseing to
not go to temples for five days a month'. When we agree that its their choice,
thats all there is to it.
PeriasamyThere is no logic in religion and praying to a mountain idol
anyway, is thereRahul Banerjee? Atheists, feminists should keep away from such illogical and
patriarchy ridden festivals. Feminists who are hell bent on taking a dip in
umstream Pampa during menstruation can feel free do so the very next day of the
festivities come to a close.
Manikandan PeriasamyWhen the river has transmutation properties, the sweat becomes
medicine. This is due to invisible plants which consume them, and absorb Carbon
Dioxide from the air, use light / heat and produce Resources + Nascent Oxygen.
The Nascent oxygen further breaks down toxic organics. However, all this
happens nicely only when the Nitrate level is less that 1 par per million.
BanerjeeYes they should as there are various other ways in which to
attack patriarchy and religious beliefs!!
BanerjeeThe Ganges river water does indeed have many qualities but the
point is that there is a limit to the rejuvenating powers of the river and the
sewage load has now exceeded it. E Coli bacteria are being released into the
river in huge quantities and that is why the problem is being created. The
sewage, wastewater and industrial effluents must all be treated properly before
they are released into the environment.
KrishnanRahul Banerjeewhy would one want to 'attack religious beleifs'. That is what I
fail to understand. One may choose to be atheistic, or agnostic. But if a
simple community is rooted in its practices, so long as they are harmless
practices, why go and attack them, or their practices ? I am talking in
general, and not about Swamimaial. Why go and proselytyse a community into
PeriasamyI have no problem with atheists attacking religion unless there
is no insidious intent to sabotage religious traditions which is the absolute
right of religious people to maintain. A honest way for atheist to discredit
religion is to point out what the...
KrishnanAnyway my main concern was that the white man's burden not be
taken over by the educated-indian. As far as simple belief systems are
concerned. Wrongs and injustices are certianlyeveryone's concern. And imo those
need to be taken head on in the urban affluent community first. But taking on
that elite consumerism which is destroying the earth is a daunting task, and so
we will 'reform the poor' !
KrishnanMy understanding ofRahul Banerjee's
query was that it was a serious question. I think the very concept of all
knowlege by default belonging to all is very important. And all good processes
anyway need to spread. Name, fame, and all were always totally immaterial.
Please share the details that you have regarding the process.
PeriasamyApart from the e-coli in the Ganges, we have heavily metals like
cadmium from tanneries which pose a much bigger challenge. The decommission of
dams and ban on tanneries will itself go a long way in bringing about a modicum
of success in Ganga Mantham....
RamnathWell, "if all these ancient customs may not have some
element we do not understand", let's discuss it then. Please hypothesize
the reasons for keeping menstruating women from temples, and let's debate their
have no idea ! Forget temples - after the antram is tied, the person keeps away
from families which have had a recent death, and from menstruating women. When
I do not understand mantrams and antrams, how can I get into details of the
I can say is that maybe it is arrogant to dismiss what one does not understand,
KrishnanAt the same time one needs to be sensitive to correct all that
is wrong. Its a knife edge sometimes. And needs deep sensitivity and humility
Sekhar Chatterjeeall traditional faiths , associated it with either magic/mystery
or impurity and restricted movements not only in Temple,Mosque,Church etc , but
in kitchen ,betel vine fields etc ,though some faiths said a menstruating woman
walking naked through the field actually killed many insects ......in modern
times Sikh religion specifically mentions allowing women to enter place of
worship etc during her menses ! may be because traditional society were afraid
of hygienic problem or associated menses with end of a life, many taboos
developed .........[many aachaars/ sanskaars /customs develop in socio economic
context of an area and is associated with religion ...though it is not strictly
part of it !! ]
is the woman does not want to. Will we tell her that she is mindless, and
indoctrinated, and we are the wise beings who will guide her to light and
freedom ?smile emoticon.
Just as I do not like to light the lamp unbathed. Yes, thats also an
are complex issues. And need, I think, a localised nuanced approach, based on
humility and mutual respect.
KrishnanYes, the woman wears the thaali (mangalsutra). And has
restrictions on menstruating days. But optherwise work is expected of both in
the village. And monogamy demanded of both. And both dance the kolattam
joyously. Yes, the men drink more !!
KrishnanThere would usually be reasons. Its a sensitive call always,
when to question and when not to. It takes time, assimilation, and humility.
I also do not wish to hurt local sentiments. And I wonder if it as critical an
issue to challenge. And no woman feels 'demeaned', as an 'outsider' may think.
And i wonder if there may be esoteric factors we do not understand.
Jog SinghStill cannot appreciate this. Segregation why ? If it was the
rule of nature to segregate would probably agree that there would be some
hidden reason but here , I do not. Similarly in north India was the custom of
veil. Fail to appreciate that too. Neither was that demeaning but again
irrational. So are various superstitions related to crows, cats etc part of
traditional society & customs. All defy any rational.
What is problematic I will address. Others I will leave alone as local customs,
and as things I possibly dont understand.
Mitra'HINDU' women in the North of INDIA cover their heads, look down
when men enter. This increases Carbon Dioxide in their blood which assists them
to get out of KAAMA and KRODHA mood states and get grounded. Then, some
mischievous man cannot take advantage of her. In the South of India, Nitrate
toxicity was low and hence this practice was not necessary.