Jauhar: Courage or Cowardice?
Most of us living a monotonous life are unaware of how much we are ready to go if our survival is put to test. We look up to the real people or even fictional characters for courage, brevity willpower to survive and the best example is the popularity of the show of Bear Grylls. To survive is just one basic part of being alive and isn’t even unique to humans. Everything else after survival what makes you human. All the stories of courage, brevity always had a reason behind it and will always have one.
Recently I read an article on Jauhar in not a very popular site so I intend not to make it popular through OpIndia and I was amazed how it is portrayed as cowardice of Rajputs rather than sacrifice of Rajput women. It is portrayed that its better to live to be enslaved by enemies and additionally certainly get raped for eternity in the harems afterwards. Here most people ignore the fact that there was no third party justice system in place to give you justice afterwards in your life ever and you are at the mercy of the will of your enemy till you die. Its not probably the Rape threat but the whole concept of hopelessness of eternal enslavement that made them take the ultimate decision as even sometimes children were also sacrificed along in this act.
Nobody is here to defend somebody committing suicide for whatever reason but I have never come across of demeaning a samurai soldier for taking his life either for the action or the reason. There are values and yes they are man made and humankind sometimes keeps them above someone’s life and they should be judged in the context and circumstances of their respective times. If one questions the very idea of ‘Sacrifice’ then it is evident that all forms of it should be brought in the whole picture and then critically analyze each one. If it were as easy a subject then whole question of exercising free will and all mercy petitions to end someone’s life to escape from endless torture/illness would be void and our Supreme Court would have quashed all such petitions without a hearing. Now an argument can be put that why not simply accept defeat and move on?
Here is a fundamental aspect not to be missed; which is in the face of Islamic Invasion you don’t just lose your land but your culture and identity and the very existence of you is wiped out from the face of earth. You don’t have to look too much and just remember what has happened to all the old DISCONTINUED civilizations after Islamic invasions from ages to recent times are from Nalanda to Bamiyan Budha to Palmyra to Yezidi temples. Another aspect is how and why would you ignore the possibility that women took the decisions keeping everything in mind as a free will? Are you expecting them to get transferred to the new winning invader as Trophies just like land or Gold or other assets? Until someone counters with facts that enemy would have treated them well and their individual freedom would not have been curtailed and guaranteed no torture and pain policy overlooking historical data of how women were and are treated under Islamic or for that matter any invasion.
The purpose of this kind of discourse (Criticising Jauhar Pratha) is not to talk about woman empowerment but to bash Hindu culture black and blue in the pretext of it’s a Hindu tradition. There I said it. Actually the underlying thought process is that there is no use for the beautiful women to protect their dignity and should have simply submitted to the macho invaders. As described by Muslim historians it was a waste of life as they would have enjoyed it as a trophy but for Hindus it was courage and sacrifice. Even Aamir Khusroo admitted it was heroic. If they were really voicing the agenda of value of individual life rather than a concept of “Jauhar” they must have argued for women to be submissive and not resist rapes which are happening everyday and fight it out later right? That wasn’t the case.
It’s the perspective to see an individual as an independent self-serving entity and is inferior to none attitude which flowers such criticisms. Individualism hasn’t been our cultural concept ever and there are very good reasons for that. If you really want to be individually free you would rather take the path of a Sanyasi. Today when people complain about “How can so many people just pass by when somebody is left to die in a street accident?”, there is a connected thread to individualism there. When entire generations are brought up with a mindset that its all about YOU and everything else comes second then people will behave as they do when they see an accident.
Traditionally we valued the fact that individuals are building blocks as a primary entity of a larger Jaati, Janjaati, Samaaj, Rastra, Prakriti and Bhramand and so we were obliged with Dharm n Karm with respect to the relations with each such bigger causes, values and entities with an mere individual. It can be seen still today in many communities with respect to social, cultural and economic and financial aspect of relations within them which has been thoroughly and systematically uprooted by British Raj so as to comply them according to their standards. Until we see ourselves as a component of a larger entity than individuals which priorities its own interests than anything else, we will never see any value in anything which isn’t directly personally affecting us which in this case is a tradition called “Jauhar”.