Are we regressing in the name of culture and heritage?

What is Indian culture? I feel compelled to ask this question after I read range of news reports that emphasised ‘pure’ way living and doing things like abstaining from desire, lust, eating meat and basically everything that a human needs.

It all started with reports on how you should copulate only on auspicious days to conceive a healthy child followed by how peafowls procreate by consuming peacock’s tears (no one can forget pea and cock puns). To top it all Ministry of Ayush published a report today on ‘Mother and Child care’ that said how pregnant women should not eat meat and abstain from sex for a smooth pregnancy, as these things are considered ‘impure’.

Of all things why are we so fixated on sex and eating meat? Does our culture actually preach abstaining from sex and meat? Is that why talking about it is such a taboo and virginity, especially a woman’s, is glorified?

For God’s sake there are far worse issues we could actually concentrate on than talk about why men and women shouldn’t make out or have intercourse before they enter the wedlock. It is their choice and consequences are theirs to face. So is marrying someone you love. It does not warrant a death penalty. It is high time we did away with honour killing and murder just because your child married someone of lower caste.

Coming back to the forbidden topic of sex, virginity and beef, is this something what our culture teaches us? May be not.  If that had been the case our temple sculptures would not have too many nude pictures in so many sex positions. Here we are talking about temples that are at least over 500 years old.

From what I have see and read, we as a culture had always been progressive in every aspect than what we are now. An article I read on Scroll.in only confirmed that.

The article states that we as a society have regressed. Quoting Raj Beau’s piece in Quora, it states the ideals we have now were probably not what our ancestors held centuries ago. Rather whatever we are following now evolved only recently. It quotes how Shantanu from Mahabharata married Satyavati, who already gave birth to Ved Vyas before she was married. Unless you believe in stork-drops-babies story, the concept of premarital sex existed before and she was not judged. I’m sure someone is going to argue that they are divine but it is proof that the act has existed before.

The article further states that inter-caste marriages were not uncommon either during ancient times. Does ‘Gandharva vivaha’ ring a bell? Many Kshatriya married daughters from Brahmin families without rising furore over this. Safe to say none died because of this, unlike now when headlines like ‘Dalit boy murdered for marrying upper caste girl’ are pretty common.

I faintly remember reading a story of a king who fell in love with a daughter of a sadhu. They get married and he gives her lady love a ring as a keepsake with a promise that he will come back for her. Years pass by and the woman gives birth to a son. The story goes on to say that the king forgot her due to a curse. It was a happy ending in the end as they reunite but the point here is that inter-caste marriages and premarital sex is not something new. It had existed before. 

Now the topic of eating meat, especially beef. Indians were predominantly meat eating people and even now most Indians are non-vegetarians. If you remember the story of Kannayinar, the hunter who offered meat to Lord Shiva everyday, he was not punished for doing that as he was sincere. From what I learnt from ancient Tamil texts, fish and meat were a common dish. I had mentioned the same in my previous article about sangam food culture. 

Why are things that were once a part of our culture considered so wrong now? Though violence against women is not uncommon in any part of the world, we are positioned as one of the worst countries for women to be precisely because we think what is natural to us is wrong. (I’m not even going to talk about how the way a woman dresses is one of the reasons for rape and any other bullshit.)

Mating and eating are our primal instincts. Though we have learned to mask them with our education, it wrong to teach that possessing feelings of desire or lust is wrong.

In a society where men and women are conditioned to think that way, it will create more problems than it solves.  A look at psychological forums will tell you how not only women, even men have difficulties accepting the fact that sex is something for pleasure and not something to be ashamed of. When I talk to psychologists they say they are seeing lot more cases now where men or women feel it is not right have sex. Rather they feel people are only now ready to be open about it. 

At a time when we have more than enough problems to deal with, the need of the hour is not propagating how our culture is ‘oh so pure’ because we are not sexually aggressive and practice vegetarianism unlike countries. There are various other ways of showing how great we are, by minding our own business, respecting others views and accepting their way of life, even if it is different from yours. It is not too much to ask, is it?

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