"Masculine Pakistan, Feminine India"
abhinav at DEL3.VSNL.NET.IN
Tue Aug 31 11:24:25 UTC 1999
Shrinivas Tilak wrote:
> In a recent post he sent to Edwin Bryant (and forwarded by EB to Indology
> list) Jan Brzezinski asked,"Did the conquering Muslims ever overtly accuse
> Hindus of being effeminate?" The following excerpt entitled "Masculine
> Pakistan, Feminine India" is cited by Shahnaz Rouse in her chapter "The
> Oursider(s) Within" in Appropriating Gender: Women's Activism and
> Politicized Religion in South Asia," edited by Patricia jeffrey and Amrota
> Basu (pp65-66). I thought it might be relevant to Jan's query. The excerpt
> comes from a 1994 article by Rubina Saigol in the context of her discussion
> of government sponsored school texts in Pakistan.
> "The period before the advent of Islam [in India] is always a "feminine"
> period. It represents unbridled desire, darkness, mystery, strangeness and
> uncontrolled moral laxity. After Islam conquers and subjugates the sensuous
> pre-oedipal/pre-Islamic society, it brings the Law of the Father and the
> society enters its moral and cleansed oedipal phase...The masculine finally
> defeats the feminine and establishes its law. Conquest here is equivalent to
> purification through insemination."
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In this whole construction of "hindu feminity", it is important to note as to how much
of it was a part of the minds of the conquering aristocracy of the Turks, Khaljis,
Lodi's and Mongols, Taimurites, Mughals and finally the BRITISH. Through my readings of
the medieval histories (in translations in English, hindi and urdu) right from the
virtually earliest like the Tabkaate-Nasiri which begins with the reign of Delhi
Sultanate (12th century) to those written in Auragzeb's time, the theme of hindu
"femininity" and sexual decadence is NOT much notable. The great hindu/brahmin hater
like Barni (14th cent.) emphasises Kufra or disbelief in Islam as the justification for
eliminating hindus and brahmins.
Effiminate hindus are a construct of colonial writers. Even vegetarianism of hindus was
imputed to have made them weak in the face of invaders. If scholars of medievals history
could shed more light on this , we will be better informed.
By the way, all muslim medieval rulers patronised hindu music and dance with immense
fervour and their Sunni critics ridiculed them for being irreligious not effeminate.
The bias against fine arts and music and "softness" has neither an arabic or an islamic
origin. As recorded historically, it is Christian that started with the Chruch killing
Greek theatre and other performative arts that were based on arousal and ecstasy.
For the Christians god never causes enthusiasmos, not devil does so.
Hence the colonial rewriting of Indian history.
Associate Prof, DelhiUniv.
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