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What the hell?


We decided to go indie for movie night last Friday night. We chose the movie 'Water', an Indian movie about the fate of lower caste widows in 1930's India. The movie begins with newly widowed young woman being informed of her husband's death. The widow is pictured above and may have been all of six years of age. She had been promised to an older gentleman at an even earlier age and was married around the age of four.

In accordance with sacred text, the widow was cast away to live in the company of other widows, because:

A widow should be long suffering until death, self-restrained and chaste.
A virtuous wife who remains chaste when her husband has died goes to heaven.
A woman who is unfaithful to her husband is reborn in the womb of a jackal.

The Laws of Manu
Chapter 5 verse 156-161
Dharamshastras
(Sacred Hind texts)


If the widow were to remarry at any point in her life, she would be condemned to everlasting hell. Needless to say, this scare tactic worked wonders with the young protagonist of the film. The movie did contain some hope, chiefly in the person of Ghandi, but the overall tone was less than sunny, to say the least.

I was thinking afterward about this backward caste-based culture and how ruthlessly religion and the threat of hell was used against the poor, afflicted and underclass. I was thinking that we were lucky to live in more modern enlightened times, but then I remember how often Jesus is thrown at you like rocks (to use a phrase from the late great Richard Marius). I remembered how we young teenagers boys were told at school that if we dwelt on sex or thought too much about sex that we were risking eternal damnation, and I realized that even though the trappings were different, religion is still being used as a weapon way too often. Telling a 13 year old boy to not think about sex is like telling a nun to lay off the 'Jesus-stuff' for a while.

Thank God for the Ghandi's and the truly spiritual people of the world whose simple words cut through the bullshit and reach into hearts transcending the religious claptrap that alienates and divides. We are to be healers and breechmenders, not rock thowers and fearmongers. We are to treat others like we want to be treated, and I for one, don't want to be treated like hell.

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About me

  • I'm John H
  • From Salemtown, Tennessee, United States
  • Cruising past 50, my wife and I have reared three kids and several dogs. I work for state government and daily conspire to deflate bureacracy.
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