India’s “5000 years old” Hindu culture continues to baffle.
In New Delhi, the country’s capital (we’re not talking of some hidden village here), a woman — 20-years-old, married, and mother of a child — was gangraped.
This isn’t surprising in Hindu-majority India, but what is: She was humiliated and paraded, with a cheerful crowd enjoying the spectacle.
Police in the Indian capital have arrested 11 people, including nine women, after the alleged brutal gang rape and torture of a young woman that included her being paraded through the streets and humiliated.
The woman, 20, was allegedly abducted and raped by a group of men in a revenge attack. The victim’s head was shaved, face blackened, and a garland of shoes put around her neck as she was hit and paraded through the streets in East Delhi. Video of that part of the abuse went viral, causing widespread outrage.
It shows a group of women forcing the victim to walk and hitting her while onlookers cheer. The victim’s family has said her attackers are connected to a family in which a teenage boy died by suicide last November. They say the boy was stalking and pursuing the victim for a long time but when his advances were rejected, he took his life.
Dozens of Hindu women cheered the gangrape and humiliation of another woman.
Why do such practices persist among Hindus in India?
Hindu Justification For “Rape Marriages”
The news report says this gangrape was a “revenge attack,” as the victim had refused the advances of a Hindu teenager.
Well, according to the Manu-smriti (Laws of Manu), a legal compendium the Hindus followed for centuries, the Hindu teenager might be in the right.
As per the discourse 3, section 4, verses 20 to 44, there are eight forms of marriage recognized by classical, normative Hinduism.
The two last of these eight forms are the so called Rakshasa and Paisacha marriages, in verses 33-34:
The forcible abduction of the maiden from her home, while she is crying out and weeping, after having beaten and wounded and pierced,—is called the “Rākṣasa” form.—
When the man approaches the girl by stealth, while she is asleep, or intoxicated or unconscious,—it is the “Paiśāca” form, the wickedest and the basest of marriages.—
Many Hindus will argue that these two last forms of marriages are “discouraged,” but as the leading contemporary Western authority on Hinduism, Wendy Doniger, argues: “discouraging” doesn’t mean forbidding.
She thus writes in The Hindus: An Alternative History, p. 331:
By regarding these two as worse than the other forms of marriage, but not to be ruled out, the shastras simultaneously legitimized rape as a form of marriage and gave some degree of legal sanction, retroactively, to women who had been raped.
More than a century before Doniger, John D. Mayne, a British legal expert who worked in colonial India and was considered a specialist of the country’s jurisprudence, also saw Hindu marriage to basically be a form of legitimized rape.
In his 1888 classic, A Treatise on Hindu Law and Usage, Mayne makes the following observation, p. 60:
No part of the Hindu Law is more anomalous than that which governs the family relations (…) we find a law of inheritance, which assumes the possibility of tracing male ancestors in an unbroken pedigre extending to fourteen generations; while coupled with it is a family law, in which several admitted forms of marriage are only euphemisms for seduction and rape, and in which twelve sorts of sons are recognized, the majority of whom have no blood relationship to their own father.
So that Hindu teenager just wanted to “marry” the poor lady. From the perspective of classical Hinduism, he has done nothing wrong.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, an economist and lawyer who belonged to the Dalit caste (barely seen as humans in traditional Hinduism), India’s first law minister who has been voted “the greatest Indian” after Gandhi in a 2012 national poll, in his book Riddles in Hinduism writes about these deities who commit acts of rape, pp. 301-302:
The ancient Aryans also seem to be possessed with the desire to have better progeny which they accomplished by sending their wives to others and it was mostly to the rishis who were regarded by the Aryas as pedigree cattle. The number of rishis who figure in such cases form quite a formidable number. Indeed the rishis seemed to have made a regular trade in this kind of immorality and they were so lucky that even kings asked them to impregnate the queens. Let us now take the Devas.
The Devas were a powerful and most licentious community. They even molested the wives of the rishis. The story of how Indra raped Ahalya the wife of Rishi Gautama is well known. But the immoralities they committed on the Aryan women were unspeakable. The Devas as a community appears to have established an overlordship over the Aryan community in very early times. This overlordship had become degenerated that the Aryan women had to prostitute themselves to satisfy the lust of the Devas. The Aryans took pride if his wife was in the keeping of a Deva and was impregnated by him. The mention is in the Mahabharata and in the Harivamsha of sons born to Arya women from Indra, Yama, Nasatya, Agni, Vayu and other Devas is so frequent that one is astounded to note the scale on which such illicit intercourse between the Devas and the Arya women was going on.
Apart from that weird habit of ancient Hindus sending their women to the rishis (their “prophets”) to breed, the Devas (“deities”) committed serial rape.
Is this the Hindu religion that the BJP Hindu nationalists want to impose on all India?
Perhaps this is why the crowd, and women in particular, were cheering the gangrape: They saw it as a reenactment of their holy scriptures.