(This article is dedicated to all those women who grow up in the extremely shackled and patriarchal Indian society and still dare to be bold, independent and free.)
It was published in Huffington Post on 17 June 2015. Here is the link.
If one really delves into the themes of the epic, there is surely evidence of what could today be crudely termed as woman-bashing. Dasharath remarries twice and has three wives because he wanted a son. The most important negative characters after Ravan are Manthara, Surpanakha and Keikeyi, all women. Ravan is persuaded into kidnapping Sita mainly because Surpanakha is jealous of her and describes her in a somewhat titillating way. Sita’s actual kidnapping is described in quite a misogynist manner, suggesting subtly to the reader that “she brought it on herself” because of her obstinate demand for a shining deer and her poor judgement in crossing the Laxman Rekha that spelled her doom. Finally, her “character” is ruthlessly questioned. Apologists have tried their best to explain Ram’s supposedly ideal actions, but I was never convinced. It was an egregious act to abandon Sita, especially coming from a man who defended his own dubious actions like deceitfully killing Vali.