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  1. #1
    arunshanker's Avatar
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    Widows and Hindu/ Brahmin tradition

    AS you all know I am new here and I safely assume you have guessed my mindset on Brahminical ways and Hindu tradition
    In right earnest after having read the section description ( If you absolutely believe that our current ways are supreme and that traditions should not be questioned in any way this is NOT the thread for you) I have shifted to this section
    My question is why are Widows shunned in the Hindu/ Brahmin tradition
    what have they done wrong to be a widow except for a tryst with fate
    Shud the custom be followed even now
    especially in the Kanchi matt context?
    Open minded discussion is welcomed
  2. #2
    happyhindu's Avatar
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    Its just a social issue, nothing to do with the scriptures.

    People began expecting things like "'this is how it should be followed" and everyone just heeded it.

    Maybe the idea of shunning widows came about in the medieval times, dunno (??).

    Why did it come about, also i dunno, except that women started being treated as inferior at some point, and if the breadwinner is gone, then the idea was that she too better be gone with him or stay around without asking for much.

    Methinks the reason was poverty, and inablitity to provide for dependents.
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  4. #3
    kunjuppu is offline Veteran
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    good thread arun.

    i do not know how this happened as in no way it makes sense ie the the disfigurement of widows.

    the muslims and the british who ruled india practice widow remarriage. their women are not physically mutilated after the husband's death.

    if she is considered a burden on her return to her home after attaining widowhood, would it not make sense, to keep her pretty, so that she can be married off again?

    even if i think of the wealth aspect. pre 1950, the girls had no right to the father's wealth. hence the concept of dowry, which in a way, is her share of dad's fortunes. so it cannot be that of scheming male relatives.

    fear of muslim lascivious behaviour? would it not apply equally to all young girls, and probably one reason for child marriage? if at all, the widow would be equally qualify to be married off again.

    the concept of sati was the utmost degradation of the widow abuse culture. all clothed under the cloak of religion.

    fyi, there is a place in thiruvallikeNi in chennai, called brahma theertham. it is a place solely for brahmins to perform the obseqies for the departed ones.

    a few years, i had to go there with my sister to particpate. in the next booth, a very young woman, was dragged by her brother (i presume) by her hair, cursing her for having lost her husband (the word m**dai uttered several times) and handed over to the waiting barber, who in front of everyone, clipped her hair off. my sister puked.

    even much later in varanasi, a similar thing happened, to a tamil brahmin widow, who had sought to commit suicide with her deaf daughter, by jumping into the ganga. she was rescued by the locals, and turned over to the ganapadigal, who i had engaged. due to some death in his family, this widow took over the shraddha cooking. but only after head was shaved and wearing widow's weeds.

    fortunately, in my own family, it has been over 70 years since such things have happened. and since we have moved, unlikely ever to happen again. another brahmin practice, hurled deservedly to the dung heap of history.

    recently, my widowed cousin, celebrated her daughter's marriage in chennai. she was right in the centre of things and given the due respect by the community. arun, don't you ever let anyone justify what does not seem right to you, under the guise of the puranas.

    also nowadays, the girls are wage earners. money brings along with it, its own respect. i would imagine, even if the son passes away, the in laws would go the extra mile to keep the dil at their home. for after all without the paycheck, maybe they would starve

    thank you.
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  6. #4
    happyhindu's Avatar
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    good god, thank god, i have not seen nor heard of such instances...

    if something like this happened in my family, i think a man pulling a woman by hair is more than enuf reason for a woman to ensure the man's head is shaved off instead of hers, if he done anything a wee bit more, perhaps his head wud have been chopped off instead of hair.

    but i really thank the women of the past 3 or so generations who went all the way to ensure women have freedom of choice and have dignity in being 'women' in the present generation..god bless all those women. now i really beleive maatru devo bhavah.

    kunjuppu-ji,

    are you saying it was purely a dharma based practice? not because of poverty, dependency, etc?
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  8. #5
    arunshanker's Avatar
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    I am new here again
    and find that everyone are addressed with a Ji or a sri
    I take the liberty to address
    kunjuppu as just kunjuppu and expect everybody to the same with me
    dear kunjuppu
    that was a great reply
    but you and HH have to comment on the Kanchi matt and widow thing
    I remember that Paramacharya was ready to see Mrs Gandhi ??? (Am I correct?)
    How can I possibly accept a person who considers it as a sin to even set his eyes on a window as a Guru
    That is the conflict!!!!
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  10. #6
    kunjuppu is offline Veteran
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    it is easier to answer arun first.

    arun, elsewhere in this forum, in other posts, i have more than once, clearly stated my views on kanchi mutt. participating in that thread, i feel, would only inflame passions, and i think it is best, that i do not contribute there. there are many here who revere the mutt to different extents, and i have to respect that.

    happy, re the widow disfigurement that i witnessed: those people practising it, had an aura of poverty over them. i have always found that it is the poorer of our class, who are more fanatical about the practices of the tradition.

    i find they do not always have a positive attitude to observances, but appear to be tied to them more as some caged ritual.

    the poor TBs seem not to have the initiative or the strength, or even further the desire, to escape from the clutches of poverty, ignorance and hopelessness. for the middle and upper classes, these are but a captive source of cheap labour in the form of cooks, care givers, household help and chavundis, and i suspect that they would keep them that way. enough said.

    the practice of widow shearing and physical disfigurement ceased in my family about 60 years ago or so. it was my great aunt, and the initiation process was of such trauma, that it was whispered among the parents of my generation.

    apparently the lady was the prettiest of the family and lost her husband within months. her brothers treated her, not to dissimlar, to the incident at brahma theertham in my earllier posting.

    such great and long lasting was her grief and sense of loss, the household turned to one of sorrow for the next two generation, as her sense of loss weighed heavily on the family and dampened any family celebration.

    her brothers (my grand uncles) harvested some bitter fruits for their adherence to stupidity. yet these were book learned lawyers and accountants, proving once again, that old adage about 'Ettu sorakkai'....

    thank you.
    Last edited by kunjuppu; 28-06-2009 at 12:34 AM.
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  12. #7
    KRS
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    Dear Sri arunshanker Ji,

    Maha Periava did see and talk to widows. He was shackled as a Matathipathi in protecting tradition. He has talked about it extesively. He refused to talk to Ms. Indira Gandhi at one time not because she was a widow. He would have talked to her, except as a PM then, she did not listen to his request on a matter regarding Hindu Temple Act.

    I am slowly understanding this great muni.

    And this widow thing has been discussed before. We all judge our saints with our own tinted glasses based on our own likes/dislikes. There are even a few in this Forum who think that Gandhi Ji was not a Hindu and Swami Vivekanada Ji was not a great person.

    Sri kunjuppu Ji,

    The main reason a lot of our TB brethren cling to ideas based on 'mooda nambikkai' (yes, the treatment of our widows in such shabby fashion certainly belongs to that realm), is because they need the support of their relatives, just in case, if they are in the street. So, they want to show that they are pucca TBs, and this takes the risk out.

    Regards,
    KRS
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  14. #8
    sapr333 is offline Banned Achievements:
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    Arun/HH/Shri.kunjuppu,

    Off late,I could'nt resist myself from penning down my views,inspite of knowing it as a sensitive issue (with my own experience),and as cautioned by Shri.Kunjuppu too. Let me attempt to share some politically correct thoughts,like a slippery eel.

    There is absolutely 'nothing-wrong' in Acharyals view on Caste/Widow/untouchablity/and denying Puri Temple entry to Mrs.Gandhi..Any learned man of 'Hindu traditions/scriptures' knows very well,that hinduism is very complex-inter twined in nature, and one has to take such an odd stand(against the current custom),for the simple reason,.... if any one such custome/ 'Point' is taken out, it will have huge logical impact in other doctrines/philosophies..For eg, Caste-Karma-Twice born-Reincarnation ideology will totally collapse, just if one item 'Caste' is shunned out. Or there is nothing wrong in Acharyal covering his feet with a cloth,when a dalit does a paadha-puja,cos purity (not hygiene) is an important aspect in ritual/varna..Thats one reason you'll find the scripturally strong people, dont buy our liberal views on current customs, and we conveniently take ease in throwing remarks as 'Fundamentalist", which is again wrong, on our part.

    I dont want to discuss this subject further in detail,cos I know many of them are not competent/mentally strong enough to take it positively, but I have learned this from my readings on Inter-religious studies in line with Doctrines/Philosophies.

    Also, I have seen HH often saying 'That bad thing is not seen in Scriptures",without understanding that they do exist (in one or yet another hindu schools),failing to understand,those things were only applicable to those time-lines/era.. Its a very good aspect, "hinduism evolved and continue to evolve" very much, but many of us fail to understand, that not alone 'hindus' evolved, but also hindu philosophy should theologically evolve. We failed to utilse this positive aspect..We are caught up in our failure to distinguish between 'Hindu Society' & Hindu Philosophy.

    In this context, the need of the hour is a good theological approach,without which we may find Acharyals in line with the Galileo-Pope..Need of hour is,the rational and systematic study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truth alligning with a worldview.

    I think the learned Acharyals, should do a thorough massive scriptural-theological work,like how it happened in Europe for over a long period of 300 years since renaissance.
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  16. #9
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    Dear Sapr,

    Quote Originally Posted by sapr333 View Post
    Arun/HH/Shri.kunjuppu,

    Off late,I could'nt resist myself from penning down my views,inspite of knowing it as a sensitive issue (with my own experience),and as cautioned by Shri.Kunjuppu too. Let me attempt to share some politically correct thoughts,like a slippery eel.

    There is absolutely 'nothing-wrong' in Acharyals view on Caste/Widow/untouchablity/and denying Puri Temple entry to Mrs.Gandhi..Any learned man of 'Hindu traditions/scriptures' knows very well,that hinduism is very complex-inter twined in nature, and one has to take such an odd stand(against the current custom),for the simple reason,.... if any one such custome/ 'Point' is taken out, it will have huge logical impact in other doctrines/philosophies..For eg, Caste-Karma-Twice born-Reincarnation ideology will totally collapse, just if one item 'Caste' is shunned out.

    so if just one thing 'caste' is removed, according to you, several concepts will collapse...am sorry but its rubbish. you say this because you have not understood several things about caste occupation jaatis, karma as inborn innnate vasanas, etc becoming dwija by removal of vasanas and so on, and reincarnation by transmigration of souls. And nothing of this has anything to do with temple issues..


    Or there is nothing wrong in Acharyal covering his feet with a cloth,when a dalit does a paadha-puja,cos purity (not hygiene) is an important aspect in ritual/varna..Thats one reason you'll find the scripturally strong people, dont buy our liberal views on current customs, and we conveniently take ease in throwing remarks as 'Fundamentalist", which is again wrong, on our part.

    whatever is this feet covering with cloth thing (i've never seen it) seems like a social practice, no scriptural thing in it. and what you call as 'scripturally strong ppl' are not scripturally strong, if they were "scripturally strong", then they wud not be following moodanambikais.


    I dont want to discuss this subject further in detail,cos I know many of them are not competent/mentally strong enough to take it positively, but I have learned this from my readings on Inter-religious studies in line with Doctrines/Philosophies.

    talk about it, discuss it. sooner or later someone will, if not you.

    but i think you have no idea abt hindu scriptures, nor philosphies, you are going by social practices as it came to be in the aftermath of unforseen conditions, and seem bent on passing 'judgements', making comparisons and doing some evaluation thingy.


    Also, I have seen HH often saying 'That bad thing is not seen in Scriptures",without understanding that they do exist (in one or yet another hindu schools),failing to understand,those things were only applicable to those time-lines/era.. Its a very good aspect, "hinduism evolved and continue to evolve" very much, but many of us fail to understand, that not alone 'hindus' evolved, but also hindu philosophy should theologically evolve. We failed to utilse this positive aspect..We are caught up in our failure to distinguish between 'Hindu Society' & Hindu Philosophy.

    go ahead. write your philosophy, who is stopping you.

    this is similar to some tamils who had not been doing any 'evolving' of themselves but instead blamed some nayaks for "promoting" telugu when they cud not find tamil poets of stature to promote in the first place, they overlook that it had already been some time since tamil poetry had already declined, they also overlook that several inscriptions and most written works as 'records' were in tamil, just that they had no poets and prose writers then...and all that judgemental stand thru their own tinted glasses was made just because it suited some 'tamil nationality' ideology of how great 'dravidians' they were and how badly they were "subjugated" by 'aryans'...obviously the 'persecuted' mentality of the lankan issue was playing inside their head...



    In this context, the need of the hour is a good theological approach,without which we may find Acharyals in line with the Galileo-Pope..Need of hour is,the rational and systematic study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truth alligning with a worldview.

    cannot understand the galileo-pope connection...i wonder what is this 'need of the hour' again....and rational thru whose tinted glasses? this whole worldview is such a crazed out idea of ppl who think they can use it to homogenize everything...people on their own will reject things they outgrow after a time and take up things as it suits their needs...no one needs to 'interfere' to ask ppl to do things in some particular manner...

    I think the learned Acharyals, should do a thorough massive scriptural-theological work,like how it happened in Europe for over a long period of 300 years since renaissance.

    its not for us to decide what others should do. its like i have no reason or wish to follow what you say and you have no reason and wish to follow what i say, we can agree to disagree, move on, live life by our own terms (i do beleive in "live and let live").. .
    Last edited by happyhindu; 28-06-2009 at 10:56 AM.
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  18. #10
    KRS
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    Dear Sri sapr333,

    I take offense to this posting, especially towards the words you have cited below.

    Please understand that you are a guest here. And also please understand that you are allowed to post here because we have deemed that as a non hindu you mean no harm to us.

    But this posting defies that assumption. It fails to understand that Hinduism already has all the 'theological' underpinnings it needs. In other words, you are again seeing Hinduism with your coloured 'monotheist' glasses, without understanding our root principles.

    If this seems harsh to you, it is because, well it is harsh. Please do not go as a guest in to a house and start questioning how that house is run, based on your own concept of a good housekeeping!


    Quote Originally Posted by sapr333 View Post
    Arun/HH/Shri.kunjuppu,


    Also, I have seen HH often saying 'That bad thing is not seen in Scriptures",without understanding that they do exist (in one or yet another hindu schools),failing to understand,those things were only applicable to those time-lines/era.. Its a very good aspect, "hinduism evolved and continue to evolve" very much, but many of us fail to understand, that not alone 'hindus' evolved, but also hindu philosophy should theologically evolve. We failed to utilse this positive aspect..We are caught up in our failure to distinguish between 'Hindu Society' & Hindu Philosophy.

    In this context, the need of the hour is a good theological approach,without which we may find Acharyals in line with the Galileo-Pope..Need of hour is,the rational and systematic study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truth alligning with a worldview.

    I think the learned Acharyals, should do a thorough massive scriptural-theological work,like how it happened in Europe for over a long period of 300 years since renaissance.
  19. All views expressed by the Members and Moderators here are that of the individuals only and do not reflect the official policy or view of the TamilBrahmins.com Website.
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