Tuesday 12 September 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 61


...It is essential in all cases, but particularly in India at the present day, not to destroy faith and reverence. Can you eliminate the evil without bringing graver dangers into existence? There was neither child-marriage nor purdah in ancient India — nor do they exist in all parts of India today. They are only in the provinces which have been under Mohammedan domination. What has it done? It has preserved the chastity of the race. Not only must women be chaste but men as well. The chaste woman must not so much as look at another man nor must she allow her face to be seen.

To him it seemed incredible that any man should look with contempt upon the institutions of his country or upon past institutions of which they were the product. But he was not blind to the other side. "We are degenerating in physique. Is this the cause? What is the remedy?" Of the evils that followed in the wake of child-marriage, he said little. Were they not too well known? He did not say that they must be ended. for he never gave expression to what to him was obvious. Here was an institution that entailed suffering, that made for weakness, that was evil in some of its aspects. One cannot believe that after having faced the facts he did not at once try to find some way to eliminate alt the undesirable elements. But was there any reason why he should adopt methods which would result in still worse evils. His was no stereotyped mind: then why expect of him stereotyped methods? Some of us were later to know why this subject stirred him so deeply.

After perhaps hours of thought on the subject, he would heave a deep sigh and say, "Well, well, the economic pressure will bring about changes. This together with education will do much to end it. Education! We must educate our women! But not the kind of education that is open to them now. Heaven forbid! That would be worse than the existing evil."

(from Prabuddha Bharata, Golden Jubilee Number, June 1945)

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