It is quite another question whether the news that two Manipuri women were publicly paraded and humiliated beyond imagination by 50 men fondling every inch of their naked bodies was taken to the PM on the 14th May 2023 or not, because now it has, and now he must act. Only the most depraved would conceive of this as a victory – as it was made out to be. Human nature has fallen is not a polemic – a dispute – maybe it would only be considered a polemic if we compared it with the behaviour of devils. This shameless act straightaway condemns everyone involved but that is for the law to decide. Heads will roll. There is absolutely no way we can compare the good as we knew it a few years back with anything that exists today: never in our wildest dreams could we have seen this was coming.
Whether the agent behind what is happening in Manipur is a political party, a religious group, or an incompetent Chief Minister is inconsequential; it reflects the ethics and the moral values of those involved and moral values are derived from our religious instructions. Therefore it is desirable that we go back to our religious books to see whether the current activities in Manipur have any root in our holy books on the one hand: on the other we will look to see whether a depraved religious ideal has taken centre stage in politics. We will treat with respect whatsoever record or book we will use as a touchstone for the concept of good even if we have to admit that the codes mentioned therein have no historical reference past or future, but their derivation which was for the present as it was then still has significance with the present now. Just a cursory glance of these books and we know religion is not the cause, religion condemns such activities.
Then what is the cause? On the trunk of the tree from which we drew our moral and ethical practices, the bud of vengefulness and hatred was already grafted – the sublimes and profoundest kind of graft capable of creating new ideals and reversing moral values for the reason that when one ideal is expressed its counter article is necessary without which we could never endure life. What has come about is the sprouting of this bud and with it the greatest miracle of all – the inversion of the values of India’s deep inclusive religious texts transforming them into a new and a dangerous fascination for godlessness, evilness, violence, and fascination for sensual pleasures, and wealth and suddenly the infamy of Hinduism (the Kali Yug) is revealed. This inversion of our moral values was in search of a voice and it found one.
This voice has not obliterated our religious teachings. No, the opposite is true; this voice raised its crescendo by a union of sacred religious teachings with narrow minded political ideologies – this is not as simple as it sounds. Religious teachings, deep and profound and magnificent as they are, capable of uplifting ones spirit into the purest brightness and sunlight, driven as it were into the domain of light and the heights in pursuit of the goals of that sublime ‘Being’ are not comprehended by the ambitious self seeking men who proclaim it in their saffron, white or green robes.
Politics, that cunning art, is driven by ambition and an unscrupulous politician easily seduces religion, and takes it in the opposite direction…ever lower into the abyss of hatred, covetousness and the profoundest evil which is now unraveling itself in Manipur in this age and time. If this has happened through the political party that has come to power in Manipur, very well, in that case the party must wake up because it cannot afford to be painted and accused of these world-historic inhuman scenes on social media. If there has been anything worse in human history it has been forgotten and this shame has taken top spot. Every step to prevent it from spreading is the need of the hour.
After my last write up on Manipur, “Religion is Dear to me but Manipur is Dearer” (Highland Post June 26th 2023), the situation has improved somewhat…the news that is. All news at that time was subdued and hidden from eye and ear – only social media reports were what we relied on. Finally the mainstream media has caught up and is no longer silent; exposing that the National Women’s Commission (NWC) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) were informed of the atrocious event but remained silent.
Has every institution been compromised? Remaining silent is the most disagreeable way of responding…silence is implied guilt irrespective of facts. The promise to develop Manipur is going backward; everything is visibly demonised, fanaticised, religicised (what do words matter) by a poisonous doctrine that has taken control over an entire section of the society, a poison that is irresistible and growing at a pace that may from now on grow even faster and more inhuman unless checked. Does religion have any role to play in bringing this to an end? Yes it does. So, let us see what the different religions in Manipur have to offer as advice.
For those that follow Hinduism (41.39 per cent), the most sacred texts instructing human behaviour and sanctioned into a religion are the Manusmriti, also known as the Manava Dharmashastra. For example, verse 6.75 recommends “non-violence towards everyone and temperance as key virtues,” while verse 10.63 preaches that all four “Varnas,” which we now refer to as the four castes in the Caste System, must “abstain from injuring any creature, abstain from falsehood and abstain from appropriating the property of others.” Obviously Hinduism is not in practice in violence-torn Manipur, or if anyone claims that it is theirs is an illegitimate form, bearing the stigma of an “outcaste.”
There are other verses of a similar nature but we will not enlist them all for the simple reason that space is limited and this is a very complex topic. But we can, and we must, ask ourselves the question: are the actions of the present day Hinduism groups like the RSS, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad sanctioned by any of these sacred texts when they go around making hate speeches, demolishing holy buildings and attacking people of other religions, do these texts have any relevance to these groups these days, do they even understand what these texts stand for?
And as for the atrocities in Manipur are the perpetrators unaware of the teachings from the Manusmriti? I know of no book in which so many kind and tender remarks are addressed to a woman as in the “Code of Manu.” The Book has a way of being polite to a woman which perhaps has never been surpassed. “A woman’s mouth, a girl’s breast, a child’s prayer, the smoke of a sacrifice are always pure…there is nothing purer than the light of the sun, the shadow of a cow, air, water, fire, and a girl’s breath.” In another passage it states, “All the openings above the navel are pure, all below are impure. Only in the case of a girl is the whole body pure.” Do the present day holy men of Hinduism even know of these edicts? If they did they would hang their head in shame at the thought of what’s going on.
Let it be clear that my desire is to be fair to all sections of the society that make up the Manipur demography, and in this respect I should not like to be untrue to myself – I must also state my objections to the other religious groups. Turning to Christianity (41.29 per cent) we see the same unholiness and flagrant departure from the virtues stated in the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, and so we must in a similar vein question whether the teachings in these verses mean anything to many Christian these days, irrespective of place, especially after the arrest and conviction of the shameless P C Singh who was removed from his position as Moderator of the Church of North India by the Synod for being involved in large scale misappropriation.
Christian-dominated Meghalaya has been called the most corrupted State and second lowest in terms of development in the country. The Bible attaches importance to spiritual wealth, not worldly wealth. Jesus’ injunction on amassing wealth is unambiguous; the good life is one of “poverty and charity, storing up treasures in heaven instead of on earth.” Have Christians forgotten these values, and in another instance, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Yet some of the richest Christians are priests. Islam is no different. Muslims believe a good man’s morality is linked to belief in God – a bad man’s morality is linked to “Shaitan.” Are we capable of comprehending and admitting these facts? We have renounced our religious teachings…do not blame religion, blame the sick leaders who abuse religion.
For some reason we were incapable of seeing something that has crept inch by inch through the last decade into our way of life, so that now Religio-politics has become victorious over all other considerations – even over god – even over the gods that gave instructions to Krishna, Vishwamitra, Manu, etc in India. We Indians tremble to think what we have become, we would tremble a lot more if we knew where we are being taken.