“NO, is not a word Your Honour, it is a full sentence in itself. It does not require any explanation. My client said NO and these boys must have understood this. When a girl says NO, whether she is friend, acquaintance, girlfriend, sex worker or your own wife, NO means NO. AND WHEN SOMEONE SAYS SO, YOU STOP.”
The above argument of Amitabh Bachchan (Advocate Sehgal), in the penultimate scene of the movie PINK, resonates in one’s ears and is the foundation stone on which the rest of the movie’s structure is built. It votes for primacy of women’s choice over all other factors, in the matter of sex.
Choosing a partner for sex is the sole right of women in all circumstances or situations. If she is not ready, then men should respect that choice – is the message of this movie.
Pre-marital sex with multiple partners, live-in relationships, drinking and partying late and other such indulgences were considered taboo by the old school in the not so recent past. These were associated with vices that some men indulged in, at times surreptitiously. In today’s age and times of equal rights and emancipation, firstly these indulgences are no more considered taboos, secondly these indulgences are no more fiefdom of males only anymore.
So far so good, but then what is the issue which PINK deals with?
The issue, as the movie shows, lies in feudal mentality of males, who refuse to change with society, as women would like to see. Exhibiting double standards, these male chauvinists judge a woman’s character, without applying the same standards to measure their own.
They think that a woman seeking same level of indulgences is of loose character, and does not deserve to be respected in matters of choice of sex. The movie PINK sends a loud & clear message to men to come out of this feudal mentality and respect a woman’s choice, or get punished by the heavy hand of law.
In the movie, three girls – a middle class Hindu from Delhi, a Muslim from relatively small town of Lucknow and a Christian from North-East – come from diverse backgrounds. It sends a message that the independent woman is now pretty much pervasive in all sections of society.
As the movie progresses, advocate Sehgal sarcastically lists conventional Dos and Don’ts of the social RULE BOOK for women, cherished by the old school, as these rules are heavily loaded to regulate women’s behaviour.
These are the facts stated as it is from the movie.
Lessons from Bharat’s past
The movie reminds me of an unrelated event that happened in Bharatiya society some 5000 years ago, which Maharishi Ved Vyas dictated to Lord Ganesha in the epic of Mahabharata.
A young and handsome Rishi Parasher muni was crossing a river on a wooden boat with a very beautiful lady named Satyawati working as ferrywoman on this boat. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyavati) They fall in love at first sight, spend time together (which can be considered ‘live-in’ in today’s parlance), and a child is born out of this relationship.
In spite of Rishi Parashar’s request for living a formal family life, Satyaviti, a very ambitious woman, decides to leave both the Rishi and their child. Rishi Parashar honours her decision and takes the responsibility of the child as a single parent.
Satyavati erases this episode as a momentary event in her unstoppable ambitious life, and moves on. As destiny has it, this child nurtured by an upright Rishi becomes Maharishi Vyasa himself, the legendary story teller of Mahabharata.
This historical story, told by a son about his mother who belonged to a very humble background, shows that in the past even unmarried women from humble social backgrounds were making choices in matters of sex, and owning/ not-owning certain consequences arising out of these choices. Here Rishi Parashar’s example also shows that good and earnest males respected these choices.
Fast forwarding to some 2000 years ago, and a lady name Vasantsena, described in a Sanskrit play Mṛcchakatika (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%E1%B9%9Bcchakatika), was again shown as a fiercely independent woman, wielding lot of power and position in society of that time as nagarvadhu. This story was re-told by famous Hindi novelist and writer in his novel- ‘Vaishali ki Nagarvadhu‘ (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagarvadhu).
Incidentally, nagarvadhu of those times would be labelled as a high-society prostitute in today’s times, showing the degradation of a social system that respected women’s choice.
So somewhere down the annals of history, with repeated foreign invasions and consequent cultural degradation that led to excessive protectionism by Hindu society, the independence of women of yore was compromised. Her everyday life was now bound by the RULE BOOK that Advocate Sehgal describes.
Need for Discernment in Exercising Freedom
But now that women have started reclaiming their right of primacy for making independent choices, which they already had earlier, a genuinely peculiar issue emerges which needs handling with tact & dexterity.
A city or society always has bright sides, places and people where one would be able to freely express the best of liberal ethos without fear. But within the confines of the same city or society, lie dark, unilluminated corners where expecting reverence for a liberal ethos would be considered naive, a wishful thinking of lotus-eaters.
Law alone as a source of illumination cannot enforce liberal ethos in these dark corners of society, and expecting dark corners to illuminate fast would again be wishful thinking.
So till the time these dark corners get illuminated, it would be prudent for today’s women to drink and drive freely in illuminated parts of city and follow the RULE BOOK when in dark corners. It is anybody’s guess that identifying the dark corners is a considerably complex task, which needs experience and understanding of the world.
Till one develops this judgement and ability to discern dark from illuminated, there is no harm in following the RULE BOOK and being labelled ORTHODOX, rather than burn one’s hands at the altar of LIBERTY.
For, in today’s world with abundant means of contraception available, living a life of Satyawati who can make independent choice has become much easier, but finding a Rishi Parashar who would honour that choice has become equally more daunting. There is still no replacement for discernment and wisdom, not even law.
We have received a comment from Nitin Shambhu (twitter id: @boringTinTin) questioning the authenticity of the Rishi Paraashara & Satyavati story quoted in this article. The comment & the response from the author Pankaj Prasad are reproduced below.
Comment from Nitin Shambhu:
ChaturMukha Brahma has a maanasputra Vasishta. Vasishta has a son, Shakti. Shakti’s son is Paraashara. Paraashara does penance to become the father Paramaatma (Vishnu). So, Vishnu tells Paraashara – there is Vasu raja who gave birth to a daughter Satyavati. She has also done penance that I should be born to her. So, find Satyavati and marry her. I will be born as a result of that marriage (of a male & a female).
So, Paraashara goes in search of Satyavati and sees her near Yamuna river which is near a small island (dweepa). It’s on this dweepa that Paraashara marries Satyavati. This marriage wasn’t a secret affair. The marriage happened in the presence Paraashara’s grandfather Vasishta (as his father Shakti wasn’t alive anymore) & Satyavati’s father Vasu raja. Some other sages like Yagnavalkya were also present.
It’s after the marriage that Paramaatma assumes the form of their son, granting the boon to both Paraashara & Satyavati, to be born as their son. The son was named “Krishna” by his parents. As he is born on that dweepa, he got the name “Dwaipaayana”. That’s how Veda Vyasa got the name Krishna Dwaipaayana.
It’s important to note that God was never born like an ordinary child (from mother’s womb). How? Just like how God took the avatara of Narasimha and comes from a pillar, Krishna Dwaipaayana took the avatara without Garbha(womb) vaasa. The popular impression that Vedavyasa was born and that too when Satyavati was a virgin is not correct.
Dwaipaayana thanks the couple for giving one more reason to take this avataara. His main purpose in life is different. So, he is going to move on. However, he tells them that anytime in the future if the going gets tough and you think (smarana) about me, I will appear & help you. He also blesses Satyavati that she will be a kanya inspite of the marriage as the divine purpose is served. That’s how Satyavati in the future goes on to marry Shantanu (father of Bheesma).
Mahabharata, which is referred as panchama veda is perverted by a lot of people. Every event in Mahabharata has numerous reasons. If we don’t understand those reasons, things look perverted. So, let’s not justify party culture of today by quoting the perverted version of Mahabharata.”
Response by author Pankaj Prasad:
“I agree with Nitin ji that every event of Mahabharata has numerous reasons. That there is a divine cause to Rishi Parashar and Satyavati’s marriage is not doubted. But as the story written in 1st volume ‘Bandhan’ of 8 volume ‘Mahasamar’ by Prof. Shri Narendra Kohli ji (https://archive.org/details/
There was no intent to compare and sanctify today’s western culture i.e. sex out of wedlock, and justify it by distorting the writings of Mahabharata.
However, it was my intent to show that some of the despicable attitudes of male society towards women today, were non existent in older times, before Bharat suffered invasions.
I would definitely be more careful in future writings, so that no distortion of any kind is perceived by readers, through my writings. My sincere apologies.”
(Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and the Author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content. HinduPost will not be responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information, contained herein.)