The Oldest Form of Slavery

Garda Ghista
“Today the clattering chariot wheels are turning. That din is making the hearts of the opportunists quake. This is the decree of fate. The pace of change is fast accelerating. Women in many communities of the world still do the household chores, but the men are earning the money. That is why the men are in an advantageous position. The women are still subservient to the men and the men want to keep them in that state of servitude. But when the situation changes, this cheap slave labour will escape from men’s control.” – Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar

The above statement reveals the glory of its author. No other spiritual person in history has had the courage or the honesty to so boldly state the utter truth – namely that the endless labour of housewives all over the world is nothing but slave labour. To say this openly in a society such as India where women are brainwashed by religious dogma to touch and wash their husbands’ feet, where husbands order their wives around like servants, where women have the highest suicide rate in the world, is an act of indomitable integrity.

The Rage of Quaking Hearts

In the face of the integrity shown by women, the hearts of male opportunists are quaking. Just as the advances in the women’s movement in the West during the sixties caused a severe backlash in the eighties, similarly the advances in the women’s movement in the nineties has caused a severe backlash in Eastern countries in the form of dramatic increase in wife abuse, rapes, and violent degrading pornography. The rapidly rising number of acid-attacks on young girls and women in India and Bangladesh is a clear reflection of men’s deep-rooted psychological insecurities as well as the most brutal and callous attitude towards the female species, such that a man thinks nothing of throwing acid into her nose, eyes and mouth, causing the flesh to melt and disintegrate, thus destroying her faculties and her life forever – only because she rejected his advances. Just as the movies of Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson endlessly showed rape as something natural, similarly the modern movies of India always manage to show a rape scene. Just as the revival of TV evangelicalism in the West has furiously fought to bring women back to the subservience advocated by the Bible, similarly in the East fundamentalist fanatics fight right now to bring women back to the even more debased subservience of the Vedas or the Koran.

In Africa right now we are seeing the violent backlash against women in the form of the militia violence in Sierra Leone. But this extreme violence masks the day-to-day quiet violence of women kidnapped, raped and set ablaze in the Third World. Women in India who try and control their dowry money given by their parents are bathed in kerosene and set on fire every two minutes by outraged husbands and in-laws. If a lower-caste woman or a kidnapped prostitute asks for help from the police, the police usually rape her. In areas like Assam where there is extreme exploitation by capitalists from the Western Indian states, militancy has sprouted like mushrooms on the dead tree of justice. In combating the militants, the police, the army and especially the pro-government militias (like those in Columbia, Sri Lanka) routinely rape women when punishing a village. This is because in the military culture of Third World countries (created by colonization) rape is an accepted form of behaviour. We find the same behaviour with the Russian army. In these countries the public conscience is not yet awakened to protest such crimes as for example the Vietnam War awakened the American conscience. Women are expected to endure rape and violence just like the earth endures industrial violence. On the day-to-day level this means women are to endure commands, humiliation, ridicule, and slander just like the ever-silent Sita of Indian mythology who walked through fire to save the prestige of her spineless husband Rama. Just as a dog after being beaten or scolded rushes back, whines and lovingly licks his master’s hand, so are women expected to behave when faced with petty raging, shouting and even beating. This is perhaps why dogs are not so beloved in Asia as they are in the West where they are man’s best friends. Who needs a dog when you have a wife!! This is why Hindu religious leaders hold Sita as a role model for Indian women who even today call their husband ‘pati’ or Lord.

As Sarkar has stated:

“The inhuman rules and regulations and tortures inside the house filled a woman’s life with bitterness. Nobody knows how many have wept away sleepless nights having suffered tortures for which no redress is possible. The dogma of the scriptures crushed their emotional feelings, their hopes and aspirations like a steamroller flattening soft clay. Nobody has paid any heed to their sobs and tearful outbursts.”

The fury and the passion of these chauvinistic fundamentalists arise from their deep-seated emotional insecurities. They are emotionally not evolved enough to have a relationship of equals. The only intimacy they are capable of is that of the benevolent master to an adoring, childlike slave. This form of relationship mimics and reflects these males’ own relationship at the workplace where they smile and flatter their exploitative bosses while cursing them in their minds. In Third World countries the employees are forced to act like simple, innocent children in order to be patronized by their bosses. This is the same reason why African slaves in America were always called ‘boy’, no matter how old they were. They take out their frustration by re-enacting the same drama in their relationship with their wives. Just as employers are benevolent to employees so long as they remain completely subservient and dependent, similarly husbands are kind to their wives so long as they remain subservient. Even in the major cities domestic violence has increased, as for example when wives refuse sex, the outraged husband beats her. In the villages this violent mimicry is revealed in the way in which lower caste men are often more chauvinistic that the more Westernized higher castes. Just as with the trauma of globalization, the unrest and awareness of workers has increased in Third World countries, so also the unrest and awareness of their wives has increased. This is one of the reasons for the acceleration of prostitution in Third World cities like Bombay and Bangkok. Men feel more comfortable and secure in relating to a kidnapped and enslaved prostitute than in relating to a real woman with her own mind, heart, and above all her own spirituality. This is the reason why the movie “Pretty Woman” was so enormously popular in Third World countries.

Dependence & Slavery

In the quotation given at the beginning of this article, the key reason domestic slavery is highlighted is namely that the husband controls the money. No one has ever told the terrible tale of the countless humiliations faced each day by wives having to grovel before and beg their husbands for money. Just as many slave owners flattered themselves that they were kind, generous fathers to their slaves, so do many Third World men flatter themselves in relation to their wives. This is the same relationship as when one’s pet is a good doggie and stays quiet, she is given a biscuit and if the dog is too independent and barks too much, she gets a beating! Recent research on emotional blackmail has shown that the ways of coercion are very subtle. It is a tragedy that so many Third World males misuse their intellect to manipulate and inculcate inferiority complexes in their wives by taking advantage of their financial dependence. But, as Sarkar has stated above, the chariot wheels are turning!

What research on emotional blackmail has also shown is the amazing depths of pettiness such husbands resort to. Just as in the fifties most men in America felt angry and insecure if their wives developed a life outside the home, so is the case with men today in the Third World. Sarkar has pointed out the shameful fact that the bangles worn by women all over India originated from the chain that formerly kept women tied to the house like a dog. The prime reason for this anger and insecurity is not merely the irritation of not having 24-hour service but the fear that their wives will lose their innocent joy in working like a slave.

It is truly only an utterly insecure and pathetic person who takes pleasure in having his wife at his beck and call. If one travels on the trains in India one can note the despicable way in which arrogant husbands order their old wives around to do the simplest of chores and to help them stuff their bellies. One can with shame see how these old women are not allowed to rest at all so long as their husbands are awake. In Himachal Pradesh and other parts of northern India the women do even all the labour of harvesting. In Ibsen’s play, The Doll’s House, the wife realizes that she has behaved like a silly girl (with a petty mind and a shallow heart) in spite of her being in her 40’s because this is how men have conditioned her to be. Similarly, now, women all over the Third World have started to reject the role model of the mindless, adoringly subservient women portrayed in Hindi movies. This is one of the reasons why religious fundamentalists hate so passionately even the news and science channels on TV, because those programs show Third world women the reality of liberated and active women in other countries.

All over Asia there is domestic turmoil in the Westernized cities because the wife has some financial independence as a result of working. Husbands, especially in the poorer, less educated communities, are outraged when women do not simply hand over their earnings. It seems to be a crime for wives to control their own hard-earned money. Often the wealthier husband will contrive numerous sordid schemes and blackmail to get his greedy paws on his wife’s money. However, it is also true that in more educated communities in the cities many young Asian men are being forced to grow up and treat their wives with more respect and even to share in the domestic chores.

Escaping Men’s Control

How do we translate the rhetoric of freedom into the reality of liberated living? With this in mind, Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii (Sarkar’s spiritual name) created the Ananda Marga Gurukula. It is a university based on Tantra or the spiritual practice of expansion. It is only in the Tantric tradition that women were granted full equality to expand themselves mentally and spiritually, and were able to burst the chains of dogma and domestic tyranny. For real freedom, women must become free from the mental complexes arising from millenniums of exploitation. This can only be achieved by a spiritual practice that liberates one from the limitations of propensities, petty thoughts and emotions. In Ananda Marga Gurukula the knowledge that is imparted through so many subjects is the knowledge of permanent liberation from all limitations. Unlike in other religious universities, which were run by dry, pedantic priests, Ananda Marga Gurukula is a university based on Neo-Humanistic love. Neo-humanistic love involves the passionate love of the Supreme Beloved in each and every being, in each and every grain of dust. It is thus a university tailor-made for the greater emotional dynamism of women

Ananda Marga Gurukula is the first university in the world to have a Faculty dedicated to making women economically independent. It is a faculty whose sole purpose is to help women organize and educate themselves to become financially free. As Sarkar has declared,

“Ananda Marga recognizes that women are as dignified human beings as men. Ananda Marga, in addition, wants to encourage women to be economically independent of men.”

Ananda Marga Gurukula also has another Faculty of Women’s Liberation to raise the consciousness of women, to unshackle their minds from denigrating dogma, and to encourage them not only to be free to work but free to become the spiritual guardians of our society. For it was the firm belief of the founder of AM Gurukula that women are innately more spiritual and devotional than men. Thus while women and men have an equal responsibility to serve the suffering and downtrodden humanity and all creation, women have an even greater responsibility than men to protect the spirituality of humanity from the onslaughts of selfish, violent materialism. Sarkar has declared to the world:

“There is a greater degree of sentimentality in women. Consequently, women can perform extraordinary feats that men cannot!”

Quotes from:

Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar’s The Awakening of Women , Ananda Marga Publications

Copyright The author 2011

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