ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Embracing Feminism

Embracing Feminism

Manusamhitā can rightly be considered as a theoretical framework for the practice of misogyny, to which many, advertently or inadvertently, irrespective of caste, class and political affiliation, subscribe. Replete with verses which are demeaning and derogatory to women and absurd beyond belief, it spells out the grammar of masculinism with brutal, naked frankness.

Sometime in the 1970s I stumbled upon a book, which was to leave an indelible mark on my understanding of the “opposite-sex.” I do not clearly remember where I first lay my hand on a copy of the book—and that too a frayed, rapidly fading copy. Given my ardent faith then that the revolutionary zeal of that decade would surely succeed in removing scumbags of all hues from the face of the earth, the tattered tome seemed to me to be at par with the ruins of some long-forgotten tomb. Hoping to get a good laugh out of the outdated wisdom of the past, I casually flicked through the volume. But as I did so, my youthful expectation of mirth went on to diminish—from one point it began to occur to me that I was being introduced to the theoretical framework for the practice of misogyny, to which, irrespective of political affiliation, most of my contemporaries, including myself, subscribed.

The newfound book was more than two-thousand-year-old Manusamhitā or “The Laws of Manu.”1 I was both fascinated and perplexed by Manu’s no-holds-barred outpouring of disdain towards those who were deemed disenfranchised by the uppermost echelon of his society. I could not help marvelling at the complete lack of hypocrisy, at the utter absence of pussyfooting, customary amongst the modern breed of (enlightened) Indians. No, Manu’s text is not polluted by the currently fashionable credo of “political correctness”—it spells out the grammar of masculinism with brutal, naked frankness. My (worthwhile) excursions into the archive of premodern Indian texts began with the Manusamhitā. But, despite the later mediations and the subsequent modifications in perspective, “The Laws of Manu” is yet to lose its lustre for me. The archaic book still remains for me a stellar example of the “comic”—the “comic” that gets played out whenever and wherever votaries of “will to control” advance “cogent” raison d’être for their assumed suzerainty.

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top