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I want to start my post with a verse from Neetisaaram written in the 13th century :
Karyeshu Dasi, Karaneshu Manthri; Bhojeshu Mata, Shayaneshu Rambha, Roopeshu lakshmi, Kshamayeshu Dharitri, Shat dharmayukta, Kuladharma Pathni.
How I came to find this verse is actually interesting. This verse was playing in the background of one the daily soaps influencing our TV lovers. And when I found this playing in a scene where the wife was accused of disregarding her in-laws, I thought to find it’s meaning.
The above verse says about being a “good wife”. As per a Telugu Poet who has written Neetisaaram , a good wife should have following qualities:
A woman who has the above six qualities is a good wife for sure according to our ancient morals and ethics. As per the writer, being a wife is like a round the clock service to the husband and family. This age old concept of how the wife should be, still exists in our society. I might be not aware but I don’t think the writer thought of writing about similar six Noble virtues of an Ideal Husband necessary.
In the same Hindu mythology, it is said that ‘where women are honoured, the Gods are pleased; where they are not honoured, all work becomes fruitless’.Sadly all our elders and so-called modern TV soap makers ignore this one for some reason and firmly believe in the first verse which is about being a good wife even if husband is not good.
In today’s world, when the role of a wife has completely changed, I feel we need correction in such mythological facts just like we go for amendments in our constitution. Because the situations and measures that worked in 1950 may not work in the 21st century. Today's woman is a strong, independent and powerful personality who manages both home and office. Still, her contribution and role in one’s life and family are often taken for granted. Thanks to the typical Indian male mindset, a woman’s efforts are acknowledged and appreciated very few times. Even though the qualities outlined in Neetisaaram (written above) are for a wife of that time, it is seen that most Indian men expect their wives to fulfill the same criteria even if she is today's working woman. They still want the same treatment from their wives that she should have a mammoth of strength to play both the roles at the same time.
In this modern age, how far these six desirable characteristics of an ideal wife are possible? I even don’t want to think about it. No wonder, woman like me finds these verses Male chauvinistic. I accept that some of the above qualities can help in living a happy married life. But being beautiful like Goddess Laxmi doesn’t guarantee a successful married life. I believe in respecting my husband but I hate when the verse says to be like a servant for qualifying to be a good wife. A marriage is supposed to be an equal partnership between the Husband and Wife. If this partnership is not about giving equal treatments, at least husbands are expected to respect their wives as well. Is that so difficult?