The kiss that offends but the rapes that don’t  

An FIR has been lodged in MP against two executives of Netflix India on a complaint that religious sentiments had been hurt by a kissing scene between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy in a film

The kiss that offends but the rapes that don’t  

Sanjukta Basu

It is not clear whether the kiss itself hurts sentiments or a kiss in the backdrop of temple does.

So far as temples go, I am reminded of what John Lennon reportedly said after a fall out with Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at whose Ashram The Beatles had spent some time.

“There is no guru. You have to believe in yourself. You’ve got to get down to your own God, in your own temple.” The Beatles folklore goes that the band packed their bags in disgust after Mia Farrow rushed out of the Maharishi’s camp in tears claiming that Maharishi had touched her inappropriately and made sexual advance (Jones, 2008).

The Beatles’ famed stay at Rishikesh in the 1960s was perhaps one of the earliest moments of glory for today’s Hindutva groups who see White people endorsing Yoga and Meditation as a stamp of approval for the 5000 years old civilization’s worth;But had John Lennon made this statement today, he would have been accused of “hurting religious sentiments”.

But why didn’t the following instances, all recorded and in the public domain, hurt sentiments as much ?

• A8-year-old Muslim tribal girlwas held captive and raped inside a temple in Kathua (Jammu).

• In Andhra Pradesh a temple priest D. Ravi alias Satyanarayana was arrested for allegedly raping a 14-year-old tribal girl on the pretext of teaching her the Bhagawad Gita.

•Head priest of a temple in Noida, Swami Kanhaiya Nand allegedly raped a woman inside the temple (The Hindu, July 2018).

• A 7-year-old was allegedly raped inside a temple in Pune (Indian Express, December 2019).

• Being tired of repeated rape over the years a 23-year-old law student nearly cut off the penis of 54-year-old Swami Gangesanantha Teerthapadar’s. (Indian Express, May 2017).

• A 30-year-old woman was gang raped in her home and later burnt alive in a temple in UP (India Today, July 2018). It is tiring to list out individual cases of sexual violence against women inside temples or Ashrams or other premiss of religious nature by self-proclaimed Godmen or temple priests but I had to because I do not have data to make my point. National Crime Records Bureau does not keep a record of this menace which has been attacking Indian women for decades. Minor girls, young women are often taken to these Gurus by their families to seek religious blessings, black magic cure of infertility, spirituality and so on.

The notorious list of Godmen accused or convicted of a range of crimes against women, from sexual harassment to rape, is long and includes Sant Rampal, Asaram Bapu, Narayan Sai, Nityananda, Perumalmani alias Selvamani. But as a nation we have not paid any attention to this dark side which needs proper empirical research, and judicial and legislative intervention.

It is not difficult to see the truth and spot the hypocrisy of people whose religious sentiments are not hurt by such crimes against women but are outraged by depiction of tender love in a temple in a film. As if the erotic art of Khajuraho is not a part of Hinduism. As if Kam Dev is also not one of the Hindu Gods we worship and as if the Vedic civilization did not give the world Kamasutra.

In truth, this has nothing to do with Hindu religion. By making so called anti “love Jihad” laws, there is an attempt to replicate the racial policies of Nazi Germany.

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