Yesterday I visited a temple complex housing 22 small temples of various Hindu Goddesses. I have been there many times earlier, but it was only this time that I noticed something and can’t stop thinking about it even now. I saw that each Goddess was armed with weapons. Two thoughts came to my mind.
First one was if a Goddess (signifying women) could bear arms and if need be use those arms then the ancient society that visualized those Goddesses must be one that respected women and their strength. Why does modern society consider women to be weak? Why are women mistreated and abused in our society? Is it because at some point in history, our society – considered to be most tolerant and accommodating – fell prey to the ridiculous idea of male superiority/female inferiority? Ancient Indians were the pioneers in many fields including female empowerment, but this sudden change in attitude has lasted too long and we are still facing the consequences. As one Bollywood filmmaker had said, we call women DEVI and then we burn them. A woman is somebody’s mother, daughter, sister or wife. A person should think whether he would behave the same way with his mother, sister or daughter the same way that he behaves with other women. If the answer is NO then it is time to behave.
Second thought that crossed my mind was related to my favourite topic. Weapons. We might be singing tune of non-violence right now. But what about defending ourselves? Mind you that bearing arms does not necessarily mean that we are hostile or lust for war. All Hindu deities possess some sort of weapons. Society that visualized deities must have based it on contemporary beliefs and perceptions. Such weapons might have existed at that time and the society didn’t feel anything wrong with portraying their deities with weapons. After all deities are the ones supposed to protect them and ensure their well-being. But in due course of time – especially during British rule – due to restrictive policies and subjugation of warrior spirit, weapons have been portrayed as evil. While blaming weapons to be bad, we forget that a weapon by itself is harmless. It is the intention of person wielding that weapon that matters. We as a country have fallen for this ridiculous thought. We fail to understand that an average person loves peace, but he should also possess the means to ensure that a person with ulterior motives does not disturb it.
This lack of understanding is reflected in sad gun control laws and pathetic attitude towards weapons development. While anti-social elements have various illegal sources to acquire weapons, a law-abiding citizen will have zero chance to get a weapons license without bribing. We have been net importers of weapons as simple as rifles since independence. And I don’t see that trend changing anytime soon. Just imagine how much hard earned money have we allowed to flow to other countries. How many jobs and high-tech products could we have developed in our country? Why should we be prey to whims of other countries to use our weapons? Remember Sweden denied us shells for Bofors howitzers during Kargil conflict and we had to import shells from South Africa at exorbitant price. Would this happen if we manufactured our own weapons and munitions?
I am still searching for answers to all these questions, if any of you has answers to these, please let me know.