Wednesday December 13, 2017

Mohiniattam: Epical legend resurrected


By Akash Shukla

In an off-white saree with gold brocade border, the danseuse gathers her hair in a bun and decorates it with jasmine flowers. Decked with gilded necklaces, bangles, waistbands and anklets, she gyrates to the tunes of veena (वीणा) and mridanga (मृदङ्गं )in elegant steps and narrates epical tales like people have never heard before. Behold the musical and dancing magic of Kerala– Mohiniattam.

With Mohini as the enchantress and attam being her dance, the solo female dancer, who drapes a single piece of costume, sways from side to side and her unbroken body flow in that rhythm is the most striking feature. This beautiful and feminine dance style is teamed with surging flow of body movements and is a pretty polite reminder of Hindu god lord Vishnu who transformed into Mohini to digress demons from Amrit (elixir) as they were at loggerheads for the same with the devtas (gods); temptress Mohini’s dance at that epical juncture forms the core of Mohiniattam now.

Later in Kerala, this dance form found its way in the tradition of devdasi system until it achieved the classical status. Sculptures, engravings and inscriptions from the temples date back to the ninth century and support this claim. More allusions to the dance form are visible in the 12th century literature.

In Kerala, devadasis were called under the name Teviticci which meant ‘servant at the feet of god’ (Tevar = God, Ati = feet, Acci = woman).  For several years, they were revered. A report from 18th century details the salary of dancers.

Dabbling in the theme of sringara (love) coupled with suggestive abhinaya (acting), Mohiniattam, which employs subtle gestures, rhythmic footwork and lilting music, was revived in 19th century by Travancore’s enlightened ruler Swati Tirunal.

He promoted the study of Mohiniattam by writing 20 Varnams, 50 Padams and 5 Tillanas.  On festive occasions and in the houses of wealthy merchants and courtiers, Mohiniattam was greatly revered. Swati Tirunal promoted Mohiniattam but his followers promoted only Kathakali (a male dance style). Consequently, Mohiniattam began to slip into oblivion. The advent of British Raj brought about a prohibition on public dancing and this hit the scene of Indian dance forms terribly. The gradual disappearance of Indian dance forms in league with dilemma of dancers to include obscene dance pieces hit India like a double whammy since it was already grappling with the pangs of colonisation.

As a result, dance pieces like Polikali, Esalen, Mukkuthi and Candanam forayed into the traditional Mohiniattam.

Malayalam poet Vallathol Narayanan established Kerala Kalamandalam dance school in 1930 and played a key role in reviving Mohiniattam. He did so to revive the other local arts as well, namely, Kathakali, Koodiyattam and Thullal. In a bid to revive the essence of the dance form, the curriculum of Mohiniattam included only the classical features and rejected all that was irrelevant.

Diving further deep into the kinesthetics of Mohiniattam, Hastha Lakshana Deepika comes to fore as it forms the basis of hands’ and arms’ movement in Mohiniattam. Thanks to Vallathol Narayanan and Swati Tirunal, we not only can recollect Mohiniattam in thought, word and deed but can also continue to relish it for real as well.

See more- Mohiniattam: Tradition rekindled in dance steps!

Next Story

Rape Culture in Hinduism: Reality or Myth?

All this clearly manifests that there is no culture of rape in the Hindu religion. Instead, women are recognized as the most important aspect of human society.

Rape culture in Hinduism
Rape culture in Hinduism

Rape Culture In Hinduism / Indian concept On Sexuality / Sex & Hinduism

By Nithin Sridhar

via Exotic India
via Exotic India

An article that was published recently asserts that the Hindu religion promotes rape culture in hinduism & in the Indian society.

The article contends that the Hindu religion is to be squarely blamed for various crimes that have recently been committed against women. It tries to support its claims through selective incidents from the Itihaasas and Puraanas.

However, even a casual reading of the article will show how only selective portions of the incidents have been quoted to depict Hindu religion in a bad light.

The article takes up the incident of Krishna stealing the garments of unmarried gopis (young girls) and offers the following commentary upon it: “He did so to tease them and for the pleasure of watching the beauty of their naked bodies. We hang miniature paintings of the same act in our homes proudly. The young men who grow up seeing this, or listening to the story told in an amused tone are bound to not find such an act abhorrent.”

So, the article is indirectly trying to blame Krishna, for rape culture in hinduism & the present issues of sexual recklessness, eve-teasing and rape.

But the author of the article conveniently forgets to state that, Krishna was merely a baalaka- a child during this episode. So, how can a child take pleasure in watching the beauty of girl’s naked bodies?

Also, Krishna was no ordinary child. He was a Poorna Avatara– a complete incarnation of God, who was aware of his divinity from the time of his birth itself. Therefore, any association of mundane lust with Krishna who was God himself, and who gave us Bhagavad Gita is meaningless and may point towards deliberate mischief.

Another major incident that the article takes up towards the end is that of demoness Surpunaka. The article states, “This is the cultural environment that shapes the lives of most people in India. So it’s natural that what gods do influences us much more than the moral lesson at the end. Now consider this: we have gods who, for instance, have cut the nose and ear lobes of a woman who approached them professing her love (Lakshman is depicted as having done this to Shurpanakha), and yet we adore him and see him as a symbol of loyalty, sacrifice and righteous indignation.

So, the article is indirectly accusing Rama and Lakshmana as being the cause behind the mindset that takes pleasure in committing violence against women.

Again, the author does not mention the fact that Surpanaka was about to kill Sita, when Rama asked Lakshmana to get hold of Surpunaka and cut off her ears and nose. So the blame of violence against women is definitely not on Rama or Lakshmana.

The author (of the article) writes that Surpanaka was professing her love but conveniently forgets the fact that Surpanaka was not ready to be a junior wife or co-wife of Rama. She wanted to kill Sita and take her place.

Therefore, if the incident shows anything, it is that a loving husband was protecting his wife and a loving brother was protecting his brother and sister-in-law.

The article further mentions Indra as being a mythological hero who is praised for his acts of killing, drinking, and fornicating with multiple women. But it does not add that the same mythologies also depict how Indra was cursed by Gauthama Rishi for adultery.

The article doesn’t leave out Buddha either. Buddha has been criticized for taking renunciation, without considering the fact that, due to his intense vairagyam (dispassion), he would not have been able to fulfill his conjugal duties to his wife or fatherly duties to his child even if he had not left the palace.

The article clearly appears to be consciously targeting Hindu religion and reflecting it in poor light by somehow connecting the ills of present society with Hindu puranams and histories.

Hindu religion has given women a very high status. Manu Smriti (3.56) says:

Gods become elated where women are worshiped, and where women are disrespected, there no worship is successful”.

Manu Smriti further states that people who inflict sorrow and trouble women will ultimately face sorrowful fate themselves.

Various Smriti’s, including that of Manu, impose strict punishments for rape, harassment, eve-teasing or any other form of violence against women.

All this clearly manifests that there is no culture of rape in the Hindu religion. Instead, women are recognized as the most important aspect of human society. The status of women is not just that of equal standing with regard to men but, in fact, higher than them. As far as the Hindu religion is concerned, women are to be adored, loved, respected, and worshiped.


Itihaasa: Literally “as it happened” i.e. history which is recorded by an eye-witness.

Puraanam: Literally “of ancient times” i.e. records of the past that have been passed down from past.

29 responses to “Rape Culture in Hinduism: Reality or Myth?”

  1. It does not really matter whether a culture promotes something as grave as rape, if something is wrong, it should be stopped.

  2. The article which is referring to Lord Krishana and Rama or almost all Hindu deities is an act of subversive slaves of this soil..those are most heinous blots on the name of freedom of expression, they might lack whole the spine talking same about any other religion, as these are the most coward amalgamation of various DNAs, of a mother ……

  3. Fact is rape culture is common among Muslims and secular west. In America a women gets raped every 2 seconds.

    • You are talking absolutely rubbish, there is no culture of rape in Islam, it’s only in Hinduism because even your gods like Vishnu carried out rape against innocent girls and women.

      • Let me remind you that your prophet raped Saffiya after killing her husband and family. He did not even give the poor thing her iddah and raped her the night she was captured.

  4. Both the referred article and this one have a very interesting take on the mix of rape and religion. Food for thought indeed

  5. It is nonsensical to blame Hindu culture for rapes, in many states almost muslim rapists, as per police records, range from 10% to 40% cases. So why not call rapist Islam ??
    Similarly in nordich nations which record hi rape tates are christans, so Jesus to be blamed?

    The writers of such articles as referred here, mostly leftists shall take responsibility for all rapes done by Maoists here and in their father lands – Russia, China. So leninism, maoism, communism imbibe rapist culture for sure.

  6. The article on rape culture in Hinduism is absolutely correct from historical perspective. Indian culture was all about sexual impropriety, with all sorts of sexual acts explained in great detail in our shastras. However, as we got exposed to different cultures our perceptions of bodily freedom changed. Today we are not half as promiscuous as the people mentioned in the shastras. As for clarifications in the above article, you see as the society evolved we felt shameful of the acts of our ancient people so we started changing the stories and made them more appropriate to contemporary times. However, a closer and deeper study would reveal that India was a land of sexual perversions and all must accept this.

    • 1) In fact it was God INDRA who tried to commit adultery with a woman, masquerading himself as a hen in the morning. Pretty disgusting!
      2) KRISHNA: Stole butter when he was a little kid – Are these the qualities of a GOD?
      3) RAM: Vishwamitra or some other sage wrote about Ram how He himself confessed in a poem that due to HIS past SINS – He is in the world, living the way he did. So, how does that make RAM a GOD? If he himself confessed of sins in his past life?

      Here is a 10 part Youtube video series of a HINDU Brahmin that exposed all the ungodliness of RAM and Shiva:

  7. Dont forget… Lord Krishna saved Droupadi when Kauravas tried to pull her clothes.
    Strongly oppose who ever is trying to Insult our Dear Lord Krishna.

  8. First of all Lord Krishna didn’t stole those clothes to watch the ladies but to teach them a lesson. The gopiyas (Ladies) complaint Lord Krishna’s mother that he is stealing Makhan (butter) from their Matki. Due to which he & all his friends were punished. Also, he stole gopiyas clothes “Because” they were bathing naked in the river, to teach them a lesson so that they do not do it again. Today anyone can be an article writer, they think writing on religious things will attract more heads towards there article & they will become famous & rich. They write without any knowledge or research just to make money via Google ads.

    • Ross why are you telling them the fact. They are the genie-ass who writes anything without doing their homework. Let them live with their mere knowledge about hindus.

  9. one’s act mansha(why he id doing this) is decided by the outcome of that act…….so what his(Krishna) act did …yes ..the gopis understood that they should be careful while bathing in open(or they should not bathe in open and other measures) should be not biased if he actually wants to understand the matter..

  10. All these explanations given here are just that, explanations. The truth lies somewhere between the two extremes (nor far right is entirety correct, neither far left is entirely wrong). A starting point would be to think why these Gods were created, what ideas they represented. Puranas are never the authentic source of Hinduism. The stories were created for common folks, the mass that was largely illeterate, rudimentary in its thinking, poor, living from hands to mouth and would only understand the real idea behind religion mostly in the form of fables and folk tales. Indra was one of the primary Gods in Rig veda and all other Gods including him which were 5 in numbers had there status reduced later on as Hinduism progressed further. Sanatan Dharm has been a religion which in its quest of truth has been constantly evolved itself and culminates finally in the form of Vedanta philosophy, the advaita. Everything else and all other philosophies, Sankhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Yog, Poorva Mimansa only milestones towards that ultimate goal.

    All the mythologies are false. There is no concept of heaven or hell. India was so much “tolerant” back then that even a mere poet, author can take a god/ess from the books and create a story around him/her, portraying him as he wants to see him (even imagining a sexual union with a God/Goddess without any backlash). So Surdas’s whole poetry may be centered around वात्सल्य भाव where Krishna is is mere a child, Jaydev’s poetry depicts him as a Lover having serial sex with the women and causing jealousy in the heart of Radha. Again, this milkmaid called Radha is a concept created later on after Shrimad Bhagwat was already written but may be prior to Jaydeva (a reason why in temples across South, Krishna is depicted with his wife and not with some woman named Radha) The reason why Jaydev did this was because he was in love with a prostitute which didn’t have a social sanction. Now back then when religion was the only thing to look upon by the people at large, to decide what was wrong and right, any person with consideable influence among the ruling class would like to alter the tides in his favor. What I’m doing is not wrong because even God favors it kind of thing.
    All the lofty ideas and principles behind it come later, the ideas that it depicts प्रेम भाव of the bhakti cult that God is there with the a person like a lover is with his love, that the same intensity that a person shows for his lover, he shows for God, god will be with him and likewise ideas. Then same Krishna goes on to preach for celibacy in Gita, one would say what a hypocrite!
    The thing is that there is no reason to brush something under the carpet, to sugarcoat something or try to explain everything that is written there and is part of popular notion. Sanatan Dharm is not a monolithic kind of idea. There are various parallel streams running. Each and every person who identifies as Hindu can create a God or Goddess of his/her own choice and worship him like Santoshi mata is a creation of the Hindi films. Worshipping only means you are acknowledging the presense of God, otherwise worhip means nothing but worshipping your own powers, seeking the divinity within and for what is inside, there is no need to have any external factor. But just like in Mathematical problems to prove something, sometimes you assume what is given in the question and arrive to the given condition in the problem, in the same way you assume the existence of God and just follow the path leading towards him and you’ll reach him, this is rather simple path, Bhakti marg is based on this. Another way is to start out as atheist and try to find out the truth about the existence of God. Be sincere in your efforts. Believe in God only when you’ve find him. The Indian philosophical traditions are just that and these philosophies are the core, the roots of religion, the mythologies and rituals are secondary, tertiary parts. This is gyan marg and as we are becoming more and more knowledge based evolved society, this is the path that is going to gain importance.

    As for me I don’t even bow my head in front of Krishna standing with Radha in any temple. No, that ain’t for me because I do not believe in it and I can’t endorse or subscribe to what I don’t believe. There are so many innocent gullible women lured by cunning, lecherous, deceptive men disguised as saints in the name of Radha, assuming themselves to be Krishna. Likewise a woman who doesn’t belive in ideals of Sita (or Ram) and still doesn’t have a courage to take a pee (pardon my language) on Ramayana is no good for me too. What is required is honesty and consistency in your belief system which most Indians seriously lack.

  11. This article is so factually incorrect, I stopped reading half way. An unbiased read of Hindu scriptures would be beneficial for the author.

  12. So if you see women bathing in a river, do you hide their clothes to see their naked bodies? Is such behavior civilized? Furthermore, krishna also derived pleasure from seeing the naked youthful bodies of the gopis. He later even had sex with these gopis.

  13. I wouldn’t say or I am not sure if there are any direct references to RAPE in the Hindu scriptures, but a while ago I did read something from the “Laws of Manu”, that women are subordinate or inferior to men, this wasn’t mentioned explicitly but it was inferred or at least that is what I understood from the passage. Here is the quote: “A husband should be worshiped as a God.”

  14. How does it matter what Krishna did or what Rama did? India is a highly patriarchal society and culture seriously plays a very important role. Why are women asked to stay at home and not go to work outside i(n highly orthodox hindu families)? If their culture encouraged it, they would have always been wway more independent
    Culture or any religion is not perfect or never has been and we have to live with the truth and try to make the society more progressive instead of cribbing about is our religion good or bad.

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