India: Mangled by Western Historians

Posted in British Raj, European History, Feminist Issues, History, India by Anuraag Sanghi on May 4, 2012

How the myth of courtesans and nautch girls has persisted in Indian history?

Ochterlony, like many Britishers of his age, lived a double life. By night,he lived in Mughal style with his Mughal wives, as seen in his celebrated image on view here, dressed in turban and kurta pajamas watching his dancing girls. By day he promoted the interests of the Company. He also fought in the Anglo-Maratha war of 1803–5, and the 1815 Nepal War of 1815, and was a prominent person in the Company’s political service.

Ochterlony, like many Britishers of his age, lived a double life. By night,he lived in Mughal style with his Mughal wives, as seen in his celebrated image on view here, dressed in turban and kurta pajamas watching his dancing girls. By day he promoted the interests of the Company. He also fought in the Anglo-Maratha war of 1803–5, and the 1815 Nepal War of 1815, and was a prominent person in the Company’s political service.

Patrick French recently claimed in a rather prolix manner that India is xenophobic and gives little place to foreign writers on India.

Aatish Taseer made short work of French by saying that since foreigners have done such a shoddy job on Indian history, a little xenophobia is not bad.

Especially in India.

Foreigners tend to distort India. Some deliberately – like creators of the Aryan Invasion Theory, or the Caste-System Theory.

Some other foreigners were simply ignorant.

A case in point is Fernão Nunes. A Portuguese writer, he created the myth around Indian military and soldiers.

Nunez, the Portuguese chronicler, who was contemporary with Krishna Deva, the Raja of Vijayanagar, in the sixteenth century (1509–30), affirms that that prince led against Raichur an army consisting of 703,000 foot, 32,600 horse, and 551 elephants, besides camp-followers.

Did Fernão Nunes go and count the 551st elephant?

Another Portuguese writer, Faria y Souza mentions 586 elephants. These numbers apart, Fernão Nunes also made a very important contribution to Indian history.

An Indian soldier with the Madras Native Infantry and his wife, circa 1810. Watercolour on Oriental paper, by a EEIC artist, at Tanjore, 1810 (circa)  |  Source - national-army-museum.ac.uk  |  Click for image.

An Indian soldier with the Madras Native Infantry and his wife, circa 1810. Watercolour on Oriental paper, by a EEIC artist, at Tanjore, 1810 (circa) | Source – national-army-museum.ac.uk | Click for image.

Nautch girls of Indian armies

Nunes wrote of courtesans, nautch girls who travelled with Indian armies, soldiers, generals and kings.

Dissolute Indian military that was defeated  by every invader.

Many in modern history think that the Third Battle of Panipat was lost due to the ‘encumbrance’ of women in Maratha forces.

A modern general, Jagjit Singh Arora who obtained the surrender from ‘Tiger’ Niazi in Bangladesh also subscribed to this view.

At one stroke, the equation in the entire game was inverted.

Shop till you drop

What of British ‘traders’ who built harems in India like Ochterloy? See first image.

Islamic trade in Indian women slaves drove the practice of sati and jouhar. Indian women rather than taken captive as slaves, committed self-immolation. For instance after the Third Battle of Panipat, a reported 22,000 Maratha women and boys were captured as slaves by the Islamic army of Durrani.

Wrong turn, Nunez

Now how did Nunes know that these 20,000 were courtesans? A couple of factors that would go against Nunez: –

1. Indian women in 17th century did not wear a top garment – but saree of varying lengths. See image no.2 of the Indian soldier with the Madras Native Infantry and his topless-wife.

2. Compared to near-universal marriage in India, marriage in the Desert Bloc was a upper-class phenomenon till about a few hundred years ago. Stable marriages in the West, that will celebrate shashthipoorthi are still a very low figure – probably single digits. Only the rich could marry their daughters.

3. Remember, Alexander’s Indian wife, Roxanne, from modern Afghanistan, then a part of Bharat-ah travelled with her husband on battles and wars.

4. Is it a simple case of brave Indian wives travelling with their soldier husbands – taking care of injured soldiers?

To a European Nunes,

1. 20,000 of these women (so many married men?)
2. Without a top garment (shameless women!)
3. Accompanying the men to battle (which woman would be stupid to go to battle unless paid handsomely!).

would seem, most likely to be courtesans.

At least, on a per capita basis, modern India has lesser prostitutes than modern Europe. Patronage of courtesans by common soldiers is also not a common practice. Everything, I know about Indians goes against this ‘observation’. However, when you take the context into account, the picture would be different.

But can a foreigner understand this? Unlikely. Many Indians don’t.

And that bring me back to Taseer.

When you don’t study your past, you expose yourself to people distorting it. It was like Churchill said: “India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the equator.”

Such an offensive thing to say! A near complete dismissal of India’s classical past. And so untrue. I grew up around many such distortions.

But there have been many: old and new, they range from mangoes and slum dogs to apologising histories of the Mutiny; there are the correspondents with their povertarianism and exaggerated fears of Hindu fascist take-overs; and there are the orientalists, who would turn hard gritty India into a fantasy of sweetmeats and fakirs. All problematic, all irritating enough.

Patrick French is right: there is defensiveness these days, there is over-sensitivity and perhaps a degree of xenophobia too. But in a country which has bended so easily to the will of foreigners in the past, and where foreigners are still invisibly able to occupy positions of great power, both politically and intellectually, a little xenophobia is not such a bad thing. (via A vibrant entity – Hindustan Times).

92 Responses

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  1. admin said, on May 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

  2. Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Regarding the portrayal of Indian women in terms of dress, all one has to do is go to any temple and they will find numerous statues of woman with not top covering. This was a common feature of Indian dress for thousands of years.

    • manoj said, on May 5, 2012 at 8:33 am

      You are so ignorant on this topic. it was never the case in India even 1000 yrs back. I am a Hindu and i have never seen Indian women topless in any of the scriptures or in temples whatsoever. Why don’t you mind your own business and write about your own religion then figuring others

      • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm

        Manjo, et. al., The fact is, I have been to virtually every significant temple in south India. virtually every temple has statues of bare breasted women but covered from the waist down. It is a commonly known feature. Furthermore, it is commonly known that the women of Kerala wore set mundu (meaning dhoti like skirt with no top) traditionally until ailien rule interjected their morality. There is no shame in this. It was a classical style. This has been a tradition all over the world and still exists in many cultures. If I could insert a photo here I would. Perhaps you have never been to a temple in South India? I teach ancient art and architecture of South India and have seen thousands of such sculptures. I have spoken with my teacher (Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati whose ancestor built Tanjour temple) and he has told me a number of times that women dressed like that in past days prior to alien rule.

        Tanjour temple was built 1025 years ago and the women are shown bare breasted. Even modern temple sculptures are bare breasted. Take for example the beautiful sculpture by the legandary temple architect Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati – Vaishnavai Devi which can be seen at http://www.vastuved.com/gallery.html

        By the way, Manjo, this is my business and my religion.

        • x said, on May 9, 2012 at 1:38 am

          Interesting to note is, women were respected in this society.
          Not wearing top garment did not turn them into object of sexual pleasure. Sculptures of temples prove that women received dignity and respect.

          When a person of that samaj looked upon a woman, he saw not just a physical body, he saw a mother, a daughter, or a sister, (or wife if that was the case) and loved and respected them.

          It points to the values and ethos of that samaj. Which comes from realization that physical body is like a garment. and realization of atman.
          and the transmission of those values and realization through generations.

          The knowledge that life is more than what appears physicaly and much more than about merely enjoying sensual pleasures, drawing from realization of self and purpose of life, is so much in constrast with the western systems prevalent in society of today.

          • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 9, 2012 at 7:18 am

            Interesting to note is, women were respected in this society.
            Not wearing top garment did not turn them into object of sexual pleasure. Sculptures of temples prove that women received dignity and respect.

            When a person of that samaj looked upon a woman, he saw not just a physical body, he saw a mother, a daughter, or a sister, (or wife if that was the case) and loved and respected them.

            I think hidden in these words somewhere is the important thought.

            1. Women going topless did not make invite rape.Women were not things like some of the comments seem to imply. Just like men can go topless, so could women.

            2. It is our modern sexual ‘conditioning’ by 800 years of Desert Bloc values, that we are making such a big issue of this.

            3. Reading the Padmini-Khilji story as a child, I could never figure out what thrills did Khilji get by seeing Padmini? Could not understand it even as an adult. But if you now add this element of freedom in India, and restrictions in Islamic societies, a different story emerges.

            Finally, it is said, a mirror was placed in the tower (on the left). Rani Padmini sat on the steps of Jal Mahal (bathing house). I wonder what type of view did Khilji get of Padmini from Rawal Ratan Singh?

            4. If you look at Khajuraho and Konark Sun Temple, women had sexual liberty. Liberty that was not granted or given as a favor. The Panch-kanya stotra also points towards a society that ensured that men do not impose their values on women. Like wearing a top garment.

            5. Like I mentioned, in my community, the 100% usage of top garment in the last 70 years has happened due to male pressure. 70 years earlier, the top garment was not an essential to daily dress.

            6. Like the Vikramaditya, Shani story that I posted on earlier showed that women were equal sexual partners – and in some cases even the initiators.

            But in this debate the real issue is that women accompanied their men t o the battlefield.

            Military nursing is something that the West started after the Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856), when paid nurses like Florence Nightingale. Another nurse during the Crimean War was Mary Jane Seacole (1805–14 May 1881), sometimes known as Mother Seacole or Mary Grant, a Jamaican nurse best known for her work in the Crimean War. She set up and operated boarding houses in Panama and the Crimea to assist in treating the sick. Seacole was taught herbal remedies and folk medicine by her mother who kept a boarding house for disabled European soldiers and sailors.

            The scenes of death, disease and injury during the Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) covered by Western mass media created furore – and brought the work of people like Florence Nightingale to the fore. And work of Africans like Mary Seacole has remained largely unknown.

            But here in India, it were the families of the combatants that took care of the injured, wounded and the dead.

            • x said, on May 10, 2012 at 2:24 am

              It is this difference in Samskrti that causes a person from middle east, when he looks upon a woman, see an object for sexual pleasure, that must b covered up from other eyes, like any other object.
              or causes a western woman (including westernized indians) to flaunt her physical features, identifying her worth with physical appearance.

              The difference in samskrti, life’s lessons handed down through generations, shape and direct human behavior and future of planet.

              Samskrti is passed down to generations through family ties. In Bharat, family support was extensive, in contrast with west.
              In the absence of family support and wisdom of samskrti handed down through generations, westerners r dependent on ‘nurses’ in times of illness and on ‘son of god’ or ‘prophet from allah’ for showing them how to live life.
              This external dependence by westerners induce insecurity within and cause them to aggrandize as a means to compensate for their feeling of inadequacy.
              But, such aggrandizing acts does not address the real issue of insecurity, yet give misery to others.

              Not being inspired to introspect, (like samskrti inspires bharatiya), westerners (and westernized indians) continue with their never ending drive for self-aggrandization, voracious consumption, chasing the mirage of self-satisfaction, at fatal cost to environment and damage to rta.

    • samadhyayi said, on May 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      once again u display ur ignorance about indian culture. please abstain from making silly comments.

      • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm
        Manoj /Samadhyayi – Dr.Jessy has been regular contributor to this forum for nearly five years now. In fact one of the original participants. Her knowledge and study by far, definitely exceeds what I have seen from your side.

        It is time that we discuss ideas, condemn ideas, critique ideas and stop passing fatwas like you are doing.

        Exactly who are you to ask Dr.Jessy to stop!

        • samadhyayi said, on May 9, 2012 at 4:41 am

          ok . the stop was too much. i admit mistake.

          • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 9, 2012 at 7:28 am
            samadhyayi – I am very grateful to you for admitting to your mistake.

            It is a rare adult who can do that – so easily and gracefully.

            Once again, thank you.

      • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm

        please read my above post if you are referring to me. I am not silly or ignorant on the topic. I have PhD in this field from an Indian Institute.

    • samadhyayi said, on May 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      the statues contained women fully naked. does that mean indians did not wear dress for thousands of years even after they started building temples. pleasse take ur silly arguments some other place.

      • Tim Put said, on May 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm

        Dr.Jessy – It has been my deepest belief that these Hindus and Mohammedans are basically an intolerant lot.

        Have you seen how they have been cutting each other for the last 100 years.

        Instead look at how Catholic France and Protestant Germany (errata – France) have come together in Brotherly Love to give Western Civilization new direction.

        My advice.

        Stop wasting time with these people.

        NB – I have requested the site-admin to make a correction; replace Protestant France with Protestant Germany.

        • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm

          Yes, there is a point at which it becomes a waste of time when people react out of raw emotion rather than factual understanding. And, I probably will stop wasting time on them. I had hoped for intelligent conversation but it seems pointless. The fact is the author of this blog is a brilliant researcher and scholar – I enjoy his work and am in fact very grateful for it hence I have remained. He offers a perspective that the history books don’t.
          He is also very polite to even those who are ofensive. We could all learn from them.

          Thanks for your post.

        • AAA said, on May 21, 2017 at 10:24 am


          That’s rich coming from a christfag [Moderator Note: AAA: You have no business to make assumptions about anyone religion or sexual preferences.] whose ancestors have killed countless innocents across Europe and the American continent to convert people into their shitty little cult. I would agree with muhammadeans being an intolerant and bigoted lot and so are christians, they both are a plague onto this world.

  3. senthil said, on May 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm


    In india, the jathi structure enabled that both men and women are trained in same profession.. so both husband and wife are always equal partners both in family life and in family profession, because both are experts.. whereas in western society, the wife is just a home maker, and business is left to husband..

    So when a soldier goes to battle field, his wife knows how the war would be and had assisted her husband if he is wounded.. so our soldiers are self-cared and self-supported one.. whereas in modern battles, there is separate military medical department for the same..

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 6, 2012 at 10:45 am
      Interestingly, even in Mahabharata, with so many deaths, the post battle scene describes the women as completing the funeral rites and sorting out the dead.

      If the soldiers were from Madra and Gandhara-desha (modern Pakistan and Afghanistan) and the battle was fought in Kurukshetra (modern Haryana), it means the women travelled with their soldier husbands.

    • samadhyayi said, on May 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      wives going with soldiers to war. walking miles and miles. fainting in between. slowing their husbands. where did u people learn logic.

  4. Dhiren said, on May 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    The sari without a blouse? That seems pretty silly. The blouse is a part of the sari. I would love to see proof of your statement. Cloth was invented in India during Indus Valley Civilization. What the Ancients did for us, The Indians, a BBC series even shows British using India’s methods in creating cloth. Why bother wearing a sari.

    India’s history of modesty is more ancient than Islam. Even in period of Muslim invasions there is proof that Indian women were required to be modest. So all the ancient Vedic dances of India, the sophisticated ones, they were naked in public. I doubt this highly. Please give proof. yes, In tribal parts of India, this is a phenomenon, just like anywhere else in world, but not in the cities and the very ancient ones.

    All of India’s art from thousands of years show Sita, Radha, covered. In the Vedas, it is stated specifically women should be modest and inspire their husbands to religious activities.

    You take one “artist drawing” and use that to classify a whole population? So this drawing….is 100% wholly accurate and might not be just “a work of art” as were M.F. Hussain’s pictures of India’s goddesses in porn?

    Our perhaps some Hindu artist drawing European woman in half clothed attire? One artist defines a whole nation’s fashion and clothing sensibilities. Very distressing, and more than that, very false.

    Watch Timeless India, another BBC documentary, giving more India’s customs and culture are ancient…the sari was worn fully around a woman, SPECIFICALLY TO NOT SHOW nude parts of her figure. THE SARI is cloth worn fully around the body. Meditate on that for a second. Why would one part be nude while the rest not. Logically, it makes no sense, and this post is not grounded in any type of logic or fact.

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 6, 2012 at 9:43 am

      India’s history of modesty is more ancient than Islam.

      Dhiren – Kamasutra, Sun Temple at Konark, Khajuraho, Jayadeva’s poetry on Krishna and gopis point out to a rather immodest India – which gave sexual liberty to men and women.

      Unlike Desert Bloc religions – like Christianity, Islam.

      If you find that bad, that is a separate story.

      • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm
        Dhiren – What would you prefer given a choice between: –

        1. Evidence which shows immodest, Indian women going to battle-field, to care for wounded soldiers

        2. Prejudiced ideas of Christian writers portraying Indian women as courtesans and prostitutes

        I have checked on this story in my community. I cant speak for the whole of India, but in my community (considered conservative Guptas), about 3 generations and before; i.e. my grandmothers and before,

        – The top garment as women’s blouse was used irregularly.
        – Some of those ‘cholees‘ were tinier than what the Indian censor would approve in Indian films today.
        – Few women wore a lower inner-garments (variously called petticoat, lahenga today).

        It appears that women wore a saree – simply for 300 days of the 365 days in a year. These small cholees were worn when dressed formally or occasionally.

        • samadhyayi said, on May 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm

          Indian women in 17th century did not wear a top garment – but saree of varying lengths. See image no.2 of the Indian soldier with the Madras Native Infantry and his topless-wife.

          -anuraag sanghi.

          without proper evidence the conclusion has been made that indian women did not wear top garments. and later on the author tries to defend himself by silly arguments saying. would u prefer this or rather prefer foreigners consider our women prostitutes.

          this calls for admission of mistake.

          • samadhyayi said, on May 8, 2012 at 3:07 pm

            silly is not the word. dubious. and insulting is the word.

          • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm
            Hmm. This is my interpretation.

            So, what is your reading of these thousands of women who were the camp followers of these Vijayanagara armies and Maratha armies?

            How do you think the war-widows of Madra (modern Pakistan), Gandhara (modern Iran-Afghanistan), Vanga (modern Bangladesh), during Mahabharata were doing the funeral rights after the war.

            • samadhyayi said, on May 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm

              what are your credentials for interpreting the mahabharat. do u know vedic rituals, do u know sanskrit. after reading ur article on sanskrit being a database table of 8×3. anyone with half knowledge of sanksrit would know that u dont know sanskrit. interpretation of mahabharat needs vedic knowledge and mantra sastra rahasya avagahana. the itihasa part is overlayed by vedic allegories and tantra, mantra rahasyas and one more layer of bhakti. and it is scrambled by poetry. i suppose u figured it all out. all Jagadgurus and pandits can retire now.

              • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm

                what are your credentials for interpreting the mahabharat.

                I think it was about 4000-5000 years ago that a Shudra gave me liberty to interpret Indian history and understand India’s classical texts. He was in turn given this idea of writing India’s history by a wandering minstrel. These two interesting personages were Narada Muni (a Brahmin) and Valmiki (a shudra).

                This shudra did what all Jagadgurus and pandits could not do!

                So, will you accept Valmiki permission as valid?

          • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm

            this calls for admission of mistake.

            Samadhyayi – I am still waiting for your post on Vivekananda for the last 3 months.

            I would be more than happy to withdraw my theory, if you have an alternative.

            Taking potshots without one idea of your own, is simply Talibanic.

            Grow up!

            • samadhyayi said, on May 9, 2012 at 4:40 am

              look what u have done. u have spread a misinformation that indian women didnt wear tops before 17th century without any definitive evidence. now we are having to face people like mercay and timput and waste our energy. no doubt this is great service to the nation.

              • vihang bhatt (@bhattvihang) said, on July 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm

                As I interpret anurag’s argument, It explains me one thing. That is, Muslim lust for Hindu women folk. To preserve chastity of women in new Islamic and then christian order, Blouse might have been added on later part. One thing I noticed that Mahabarata and Ramayana teaches morality to men too but Abrahamic faith put all burden of morality on women. women in this block are recently relieved of this.

              • Anuraag Sanghi said, on July 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm

                As I interpret anurag’s argument, It explains me one thing. That is, Muslim lust for Hindu women folk.

                Indian mean and women were captured as slaves by most of these Islamic invaders. Slave trade was big business till middle of 19th century. Central Asia was a major destination of Indian slaves captured and transported over the Hindus Kush. That is why Hindu Kush was named as Hindu Kush – killer of Hindus. Like many White Americans used African slaves as sexual objects (including Washington and Jefferson), so these Islamic slave traders also.

                Blouse might have been added on later part. One thing I noticed that Mahabarata and Ramayana teaches morality to men too but Abrahamic faith put all burden of morality on women. women in this block are recently relieved of this.

                This is a brilliant observation.

                Eve, till modern woman, women are the root of all even.The burden of morality is on the woman – and women are evil, as per Desert Bloc.

                Abrahamic faith put all burden of morality on women. women in this block are recently relieved of this.

                Actually underdressed (from earlier Desert Bloc standards of overdressed) women is new found liberty for Western women. Every right that a Western woman has got happened due to WWI and WWII – and when women workers were needed in factories. Today these women are celebrating their new found freedom.

            • samadhyayi said, on May 9, 2012 at 4:51 am

              i didnt say u shouldnt interpret the mahabharat. i said what are your credentials? if u have any that might add more authority to your statements. i have been suffering from disease so i couldnt write up the vivekananda story. i am still suffering from disease. its on and off frequently. so i cant write the vivekananda story.

              • samadhyayi said, on May 9, 2012 at 5:16 am

                and where have i talked about Jati credential in interpreting the scripture. i talked about knowledge. what is the point in writing that big rebuttal when i havent even said anything about Jati credential.

          • x said, on May 9, 2012 at 1:48 am

            The diffrnce is that when a Bharatiya looks upon a woman, naked or clothed, he is conditioned by Bharatiya Samskrti to view her as a person, not just a physical figure (which is what west does), and to give her due respect.

            It is the Samskrti that does it.

            • x said, on May 9, 2012 at 2:01 am

              This same Samskrti also helps a person see the divine (murti puja) where another see a stone.

      • samadhyayi said, on May 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm

        yep. lets Just ignore bhagawan shankar not looking anymore at sati after she impersonated sita. let us also forget sita not looking at ravan and putting in a grass blade in front of her and talking to it instead of ravan. Indians have no concept of modesty. lakshman only looking at sita’s feet .all that is maya. indians have no modesty. indians Just learnt to wear blouses from british. thanks british for teaching us how to wear clothes properly.

        • Manu said, on May 9, 2012 at 12:41 am

          Tell me samadhyayi… Lakshman’s/Ram/Ravan’s modesty/character is subjected to the condition that Sita/women around them should be covered… Else they will loose control and do whatever… ? So if covering up women is the true test of modesty than Burqa clad cultures beat us all hands down… Is that what you are saying?

          • samadhyayi said, on May 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm

            there are many different communities in india and each dresses differently. my argument is that without proof one shouldnt spread such misinformation that indians went topless all over the place for centuries. why the great phd has said thousands of years we have been topless. where is the proof. no proof. simply make statements and go on wild with imagination. that is all that u give. this is to suggest we were savages. next thing they will tell you. you couldnt have written the vedas. they were brought here by aliens from outer space. mark my words. thats where this is going.
            moreover anuraag says indian women were immodest. now thats the part uncalled for. saying indian women wore no blouse is one thing. calling them immodest is another.
            either way. indians wore vasas and upavasana and adhivasa. garment and overgarment and undergarment during the vedic period itself according to moti chandra’s research. a bodice, Jacket known as pratidhi,drupi or atka was also worn.
            costumes,textiles,cosmetics and coiffure in ancient and medieval india 1973 by motichandra.
            it is u guys who are disconnected from indian culture. i am well rooted in it and have been brought up on the shringara kavita of annamayyacharya. where even the sexual act of the Lord is described. please dont make assumptions in ur own head and go on making meaningless arguments.

            • samadhyayi said, on May 10, 2012 at 5:03 am

              dr.mercay has already made three consecutive attacks on indian culture on this blog. after showing some token sympathy for indians. she has attacked the core of indian culture by attacking veda vyasa , shankaracharya by calling them text manipulators and then now by reducing indians into savage state by saying that they didnt wear tops for thousands of years. i see this as nothing but declaration of enmity with india. naturally the animosity.

              here i have two different obJEctions one is with mercay about toplessness. and another is with anuraag inferring the indian women were immodest from kamasutra and khaJurao. since when did kamasutra and khaJurao become the definitive authority on what indian women did and were suggested by the religion to do. do not mix up my two different arguments. i am not talking about whether a woman should cover up or not or whether that invites rape or not or some other silly thing. mercay’s statement attacks indian culture’s sophistication and anuraag’s inference is simply stupid and ignorant and defnitely insulting.
              i am not worried about whether women wore sexy or not. i am worried that
              people here are suggesting that indians were not developed enough or sophisticated enough to even wear full dress. dress is the indicator of civilisation. the more items one has to one’s dress. the more sophisticated that culture is. that is why i feel this is as a direct attack on India.
              manu here is imagining things in his head and making stupid arguments like so women should cover up or they cant control themselves and so on. there is no call for such arguments.
              i am here to suggest that indians were sophisticated at that very early stages itself and have a sense of honor and modesty, loads of guidelines of what to wear and how to behave. i dont know what Jesse mercay has contributed here except for some token words of sympathy in the beginning and then attacking indian culture. she has still not provided any proof for her statements on veda vyasa and shankaracharya or atleast apologised for making unproven defaming statements on them.
              moreover anuraag sanghi’s rebuttal that valmiki has given him the permission to interpret the mahabharat also doesnt make sense. i didnt ask him about Jati or suggest a Jati eligibility for interpreting mahabharat anywhere. anuraag sanghi has still not replied whether he knows sanskrit or not.

              • manu said, on May 10, 2012 at 9:23 am

                “dress is the indicator of civilisation.” …..

                OK sir you have made it clear …..no more comments…

              • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 10, 2012 at 11:08 am

                I mean …

                If women wear blouses we are civilized. If women dont wear blouses we are uncivilized. The entire Indian civilization rests on women wearing blouses!

              • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm

                Samadhyayi, I have not said one thing that is slanderous against India and Indians. Nor have I said anything that is not true base on history. If you are offended in some way I am sorry to hear that but I think you are either misreading many statements on this site or misunderstanding the intent. I don’t think I apologized for making the statements regarding historical figures, I believe I said I was sorry if I offended anyone. It is not an apology for what I said. I do believe I gave some sources for my statements. They are true and based on historical fact.

                Later in your comment you said that you were “here to suggest that Indians were sophisticated at very early stages…” I could not agree with you more. Indians were highly civilized while the rest of the world were living in caves.

                The things that I have mentioned in my posts are in fact signs of advanced civilization/advanced thinking. For example, the mere fact that Veda Vyasa and his contempories had the developed intellect to put what are called “knots” (unrelated information – twisted information) in the veda to protect the knowledge shows great intelligence and advanced thinking.

                Furthermore, have you read the Brahma Sutras without commentary? Then have you compared the uncommented with Shankara’s commentary (and the commentry of other theologins)? You will find that Shankara (and others) added words to his commentary that support his theology which were not in the actual Brahma Sutras. Until you actually read and study both then you have no rightful cause to make claims against me. Modern theologins have done the same.

                The three main branches of Vedanta philosophy are: 1) Advaita (non-dualism), propagaged by Shankara (circa 788-820 – the dste has been debated), 2)Visishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism), which is represented by the teachings of Ramanuja (c.1056-1137), and 3) Dvaita (dualism), which is represented by the teachings of Madhva (1197-1276). Shankara argued that Brahman is undifferentiated being and that Brahman and Atman are a unity. Ramanuja argued that Brahman is a unity, but that it has two forms, the self and matter. Madhva argued that Brahman is differentiated being, and that it is different from both the self and matter. These three sages each had their own understanding and each used the Brhama Sutras to support their theology. Three different philosophies using the same scriptures to assert their theology. When you read the original uncommented texts and compare those texts to what these great theologins said you will find words or phrases claimed to be in the Sutras and other texts are added by the commentator. And those words or phrases tend to support their individual theology and do not support the theology of the others. In addition, you will find the meaning of certain words changed to protect their theology.

                Until you actually sit down and read the Brhama Sutras etc. etc. and read the commentaries of the theologins and then compare them please do not condem me.

                You keep asking for examples so I will offer just one here as it is a bit lengthy. Let’s consider Shankaras attitude toward sudras and how he at once uses it to consider low casts then later changes the meaning to fit his own theology. Adi Shankar devotes an entire section of his commentary on Brahma sutra to explain this. The main point Adi Shankar wishes to establish is that the sudra is not entitled to the philosophical wisdom in Shankar’s sense. In his view, this philosophical wisdom and this alone can lead one to liberation but a sudra is not worthy of such liberation.

                If, therefore, the sudra is debarred from the philosophical wisdom Shankar speaks off, this prohibits the sudra from ever attaining liberation. Living thus under eternal bondage, the sudra is supposed eternally to serve the dvijas. But why is the sudra not entitled to philosophical wisdom? Adi Shankar answers (Shankar on Brahma Sutra i.3.34): The sudras have no such claim, on account of their not studying the Veda. A person who has studied the Veda and understood its sense is indeed qualified for Vedic matters. But a sudra does not study the Veda, for such study demands as its antecent the upamayana ceremony [i.e. the initiation ritual conferring on one the status of the dvija] and that ceremony belongs to the three higher castes only.

                Adi Shankar himself says: (Shankar on Brahma Sutra i.3.38):The sudras are not qualified for that reason also that Smriti prohibits their hearing the Veda, their studying the Veda, and their understanding and performing Vedic matters. The prohibition of hearing the Veda is conveyed by the following passages:’The ears of him who hears the Veda are to be filled with [molten] lead and lac’, and ‘For a sudra is like a cemetry, therefore, the Veda is not not to be read in the vicinity of a sudra. ‘From this latter passage the prohibition of studying the Veda results at once; for how could he study scripture in whose vicinity it is not even to be read? There is, moreover, and express prohibition [of the sudra studying the Veda]:’His tongue is to be slit if he pronounces it; his body is to be cut through if he preserves it. ‘The prohibition of hearing and studying the Veda already imply the prohibition of the knowledge and performance of Vedic matters; there are, however, express prohibitions also, such as: ‘He is not to impart knowledge to the sudra’, and ‘To the twice born belong study, sacrifice, and the bestowal of gifts.’ Hence, according to Shankara Sudras cannot gain eternal freedom and are destined to be servants all of their life.

                Later, Shankara, back paddles and changes the connotation of the word sudra to defend his position by saying that in the Upanishads the meaning of the word “sudra” is different. He makes a comment on the famous Upanishad story in Chandogya Upanishad IV. The story is briefly narrated here: There once lived a very prosperous person called Janasruti Pautrayana, who was a liberal donor and proud of being so. One night some birds flew past him, discussing amongst themselves rather disparagingly his fame as compared to that of a philosopher called “Raikva, the man with the cart”.

                On hearing this Janasruti went to the sage Raikva, offered him six hundred cows, a gold necklace and a chariot drawn by a she-mule and, and in exchange, wanted to be initiated into the secret wisdom of the philosopher. But Raikva indignantly refused the request. Janasruti went to him again, and this time offered him a thousand cows, a gold necklace, a chariot drawn by a she-mule, the village in which the philosopher lived, and Janasruti’s own daughter too for the same purpose. The lovely face of the young girl melted the heart of the philosopher and he agreed to initiate the donor into the secret wisdom. The Upanishad goes on to say, “Then, lifting he face towards himself, he (Raikva) said: ‘He had brought these [gifts] along! Sudra, merely with this face you would cause me to speak.’ If truly a sudra is not to be given knowledge of the Veda, it is a strange picture to see the Upanisadic sage scratching his itch underneath his cart and agreeing to impart knowledge only in exchange of a young girl!

                Adi Shankar comments on this by saying that really,the word sudra means suffering. He says that sudra means suffering; one who suffers therefore is figuratively called sudra. What seems to bother Shankar is the fact that Janasruti is addressed as a sudra, and yet he receives the Upanisadic wisdom. How can this be at all possible? Does the internal evidence of the Upanisadic literature go against Shankar’s claim that sudras (the caste) are not entitled to wisdom? This is an outrageous suggestion for Shankar as he clearly holds that a sudra should not receive knowledge of the Veda.

                So, to support his contention, he argues that sudra in this context does not mean an actual sudra, but that the word is figuratively used in the sense of one afflicted with sorrow, which Shankar wants us to believe, is the etymological meaning of the word. To defend the Upanishad (and his personal position), Adi Shankar writes (Shankar on Brahma Sutra i.3.34): The word sudra can moreover be made to agree with the context in which it occurs in the following manner. When Janasruti Pautrayana heard himself spoken of with disrespect by the bird, grief arose in his mind, and to that grief the Risi Raikva alludes with the word sudra, in order to show thereby his knowledge of what is remote. This explaination must be accepted, because a [real] born sudra is not qualified [for the philosophical wisdom]. If it be asked, how the grief which had arisen in Janasruti’s mind can be referred to by means of the word sudra, we reply: ‘On account of the rushing on (adravana) of the grief. For we may etymologise the word sudra by dividing it into its parts, either as ‘he rushed into grief’ (sucam abhidurava) or as ‘grief rushed on him’ or as ‘he in grief rushed to Raikva’; while on the other hand it is impossible to accept the word in its ordinary conventional sense.

                Hence, we see that Shankara changed the meaning of the word sudra to defend his theology.

                I hope this does not offend anyone but it is there in black and white.

              • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm
                Jessy – You must take a 2ndlook at Shankara.

                Would you teach vaastu-science to anyone, whose stated aim was to mock it and make fun of it? Would you advise your co-practitioners to teach it unbelievers, so that they can mock it?

                Let me give you the context.

                Recently we had the case of a beef-eating ceremony by Dalits in Osmania University at Hyderabad. The cow has been venerated in India because as long as a family had a cow, they would not go hungry or starve. Hence, the cow was to venerated. Possibly, this started when India migrated from Saraswati Basin cities to the Ind-Gangetic plains. More than anyone else a cow is vital to the Dalits. However when they cut their nose to spite their face, they are losers.

                We have had similar cases in the past – when new converts to the Desert Bloc would insult and provoke their ex-co-believers.

                Remember the huge numbers of slaves captured by Islamic, Christian and Mongol armies. Where was the anti-slavery oasis in this world at that time.

                Only India.

                And I think there hangs a tale.

                During Shankara’s time, Islamic armies were rampaging from Indian to Europe’s borders. Many Indians also converted to and supported Islam because it allowed them freedom to get rich quickly – and deal in slave-trade.

                These slave traders would also be ‘shudras.’

                Now you are making the same mistake that most others in the West (and many India also) make. They isolate India and contextualize events in a narrow band.

                Read Shankara with this historical perspective – and I am sure you will gain a better understanding of Shankara.

              • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm

                You have made some good points. I will do as you suggested. But, I see that I have not really made my thoughts and feelings clear. That is my failing. I understand and appreciate your comment completely. I fully agree with your comments regarding teaching. However, my point was not about who should or should not learn the Veda but rather to simply use the story as an illustration of how words have been (and still are) manipulated to meet the needs of others. (all you have to do is look at American politics to see that in action on a daily basis).

                I do not wish to disparage any of the Saints of India especially Adi Shankara – whom I admire. I simply meant to take a look at and make note of certain methods of discourse used in ancient days that I find are interesting in a scholarly sense. I think they are brilliant. I do not personally think that analysis needs to be viewed as negative and is in fact interesting to me. Part of my approach has been to look at all of the world philosophies/theologies and their exponents for the past 50 years of my life. I find that virtually all of these theologies have used various other teachings to their benefit to prove their own stance. For me, I can love a teaching and yet see its’ flaws and the flaws of the teacher. And,vthis does not mean that I don’t understand the context and politics which are at play at the time. It’s just an interesting area for me to look at. It is probably better for me to not comment on my own research over the years as it seems to offend others deeply and that is painful to me.

                Thank you for all of the work you have done here.

              • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm

                point was not about who should or should not learn the Veda but rather to simply use the story as an illustration of how words have been (and still are) manipulated to meet the needs of others.

                Jessy – This is one place that many Westerners – and Indians trained by Western schools of thinking take a wrong turn.

                Indian holy and classical texts were living documents. Anybody could make any number of changes. Unlike Bible, Koran.

                But since Brahmins did not operate with any authority except their learning, any change could only be accepted by others, if it made sense to others.

                Would blasphemy be the correct word, if the Bible and Koran were to be changed ever so slightly? So, we have a rather serious situation, where the Dead Sea scrolls are still being translated and published in small little dribbles by the Vatican.

                However, the modern West has allowed the Bible to be partly modified. For instance, King James version of Bible was produced by the authority of the State.

                But in India, Vighneshwara, a Kannada legal luminary sometime in 11th century (I think) developed the Mitakshara system of law. This law was accepted by more than 1000 kingdoms, over the next 800 years. A king’s proclamation was of no use. But Vighneswara’s ‘authority’ was higher than the kings’.

                So, Shankara was well within his rights to change, delete, add, modify, interpret these texts any which way he wanted. This was the way that all Indians gurus worked. Only in the last 500 years of so, have we adopted a rather rigid system, with ‘authorized’ publications.

                To allege Shankara manipulated Brahmasutras would be to falsify and misrepresent the tradition under which Shankara lived – and worked.

              • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 10, 2012 at 11:06 pm

                Yes! this is exactly what I was talking about. Thank you. You added clarification for me. I didn’t mean to imply that Shankara or the other great sages “falsified” the holy books. I simply meant to say that they altered the meaning to support their theology. You can say interpret, alter, changed or any such word but it amounts to the same thing. Each sage did that. Hence there are multiple commentaries of texts such as the Brahma Sutras (one of my favorite texts and very dear to me) that give a completely different interpretation by the various sages.

                In my study of these texts I was dumbfounded when I read various commentaries by great saints that took the very same text and arrived at quite different meanings. So I did some research and discovered what had happened. They had every right to do that. They were spiritual authorities. But the fact remains that they di it. I think just about every spiritual person of any fame regardless of their belief or philosophy does that.

                Earlier I mentioned three comentators on the Brahma Sutras that represented three different schools of theology with distinctly different points of view. The Brahma Sutra as you might know is a relatively terse text. To find a number of differeing theologies arise from this one text is interesting to me. And the conclusion is simple – each sage interpreted it in their own way. This was in support of their theology. This is not an admonishment against the sages – simply an objective observation.

                Every major religion today has various sects that exist because someone took their holy books and made their own interpretation.

                As an aside, and this may spark some controversy – it is not meant to – I personally find the major commentaries/ theoloigies to all be correct in their own way. That is, each interpreter has taken a perspective of the text which they saw from their own inner experience or inner knowing. It’s what they personally “saw.” Even though they differ, from the broadest perspective when viewing it from the all encompassing Brahmam – they are all correct. This point has little to do with the discussion but it is my point of view.

              • x said, on May 12, 2012 at 2:15 am

                >>>”The main point Adi Shankar wishes to establish is that the sudra is not entitled to the philosophical wisdom in Shankar’s sense.”

                which is true. sudra is one who is motivated by purushartha of kama. which is not conducive to brahma jnana.

                sudra is a varna.
                varna depends on predominance of guna.
                predominance of tamo-guna makes a person sudra for the time that guna is predominent.

                guna vary depending on purva karma samskara.

                >>>” Living thus under eternal bondage, the sudra is supposed eternally to serve the dvijas”

                u r fancying a fixated thing called sudra. its wrong. as explained above.

                Janasruti is sudra in first instance bcos he displayed sudra character. attachment to name and fame.

                second time he displayed perseverence and desire for knowledge.

                Raikva did not need riches or the physical beauty of girl and it was not for these that he imparted the knowledge. It was bcos the daughter of Janasruti realized the real worth of Raikva, though physically looking like a tramp, and looked upon him recognizing him to b a realized person. It is that which Raikva appreciated and gave his knowledge to.

                >>>”Adi Shankar comments on this by saying that really,the word sudra means suffering.”

                sudra varna is about attachment. attachment to what are actually fanciful creations of mind. this attachment naturally leads to suffering if indulged in to extreme.

              • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 12, 2012 at 1:51 pm

                I like this interpretation. Is it your own analysis or from a commentary – if it is from a commentary please give me the reference as I would like to read it. At the end of the day, I have my own interpretation of this story. First let me tell you the background of my interpretation. Last January I met with an amazing person in Bagalore. He is called Chaturvedi. He is 125 years old according to him. He memorized all of the Veda at an early age and then went to study in a great academy over 100 years ago. He was close to Gandhi and influence him in many ways. I could pick any verse from any Veda and he would recite it from memory and then translate it into English. As he translated he told me that the root words in the Veda are very important. He said that Veda was not written in Sanskrit (I know that this comment will be seen by some as debasing the veda and India and religion etc.etc.etc. as a whole but don’t take it up with me please take it up with Chaturvedi and his ancinet lineage of teachers). He said that the language is called Vedic language and Sanskrit was derived from Vedic language. He said the roots are very very important in terms of determining real meaning. Then, one has to look at context and how the word was used elsewhere in order to understand the meaning. I had also read this in Nairutti. As our discussion on Veda proceeded the second thing he said was that there is a misbelief that the Veda is only for certain people. He said that the Veda is for all people who desire it. It is a guide for life for all people (and of course more than that).

                With this in mind, when I think of this story under discussion, personally I see it as a story that illustrates that the Sage Raikva was softened by several things. 1. Janasruti was willing to give up everything – his material wealth and his daughter to gain the knowledge of the Veda. And, 2. He was softened by the beautiful gaze (love and beauty) of the girl – love and beauty open the heart. It may be that these two things contributed to the sages openess. With this, if I consider the discussion with Chatur Vedi, this Upanishadic story may be pointing to the idea that the Veda is open to any who seriously seeks truth. We can look at the name “Janasruti”. In this name, we find words that imply divine knowlege or revealed knowledge. This may be a hint to my interpretation. Jnasruti had inherant in his being the urge to seek Divine revelation – the Veda but it took the incident with the gossiping birds to spark that desire. This alone is a great teaching in that it might show that even what might be considered negative responses or negative situations can spark one to seek Truth and higher knowledge.

                Thanks for your comment. It helped me to think more about this. And, maybe we all can take this discussion as a means for us to think more, be open and loving and seek Truth.

              • x said, on May 13, 2012 at 1:11 am

                Interesting about Chaturvedi.
                Perhaps he must publicize his knowledge. with internet available, that is not expensive.
                That about vedic language is also interesting. cud b what was used in Saraswati valley civilizatn which NS Rajaram is in the process of deciphering.

                veda is indeed for those who seek brahma jnana. as you stated-‘all people who desire it’.
                That ‘desire’ for brahma jnana comes with predominance of satva guna. such people are called brahmana.

                Brahma jnani are neither soft nor hard. nor r they hardened or softened by anything that occurs. ‘Love’ word is inadequate to express the various emotional meanings that are attributed to it. Samskritam has different words to apply to different emotions such as sneha, prema, vatsalya, anuraga, so on.

                ‘love and beauty open the heart’ is inapplicable in this context. A brahma jnani’s heart is not closed that it needs to be opened with ‘love and beauty’. Beautiful gaze etc are transient with time.
                In this context, ‘beautiful’ is that the girl, though young, realizes the essence of life, the impermanence of the physical and recognizes respect-worth in Raikva beyond his physical looks. Such a pupil is rare.


              • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

                Yes, Samadhyayi, I agree with what you said particuarly this that you wrote: ” In this context, ‘beautiful’ is that the girl, though young, realizes the essence of life, the impermanence of the physical and recognizes respect-worth in Raikva beyond his physical looks.”

                The idea that there was something in her gaze (I don’t recall the exact expression in the Upanishad) verifies what you say. The eyes are the doorway to the soul.

                Regarding Charturvedi: He personally does not connect with the internet but there is a blog that discusses some of his knowledge re the Veda and some of his teaching (it is not solely focused on Chaturvedi but there is a lot there). He has a student (Sri Sudhaakara Sharma) who lectures and another student (Hariharapura Sridhar) who has a blog site based on those levctures: http://blog.vedasudhe.com/

                They are not in English so I cannot read many of the articles but the ones that are are really interesting. I will look for one article that is deeply interesting that illustrates the proper translation of the Veda. It is entirely in English and posted on another blog. I will try to find it for you and post it here.

                FYI On this blog are also some videos of some of my conversations with Sri Sudhaakara Sharma and Chatur Vedi I believe. These are really great men living in our time.

      • Sridhar said, on August 20, 2012 at 1:58 am

        What if art depicted women as nude? Why this assumption that Indians drew what they saw… there are numerous westerners who drew nude women in 16-19 th century, should we consider them to be nomads too?? If women were nude till VIjaynagar times (~ 16 th century) where did sari come from? Why is sari and other clothings like them depicted in ancient literatures?? the dessert bloc has a habbit of moaning about any culutre that doesn’t resemble their own. Take racism in modern west for example is there one race (other than whites ofcourse, where these *people* don’t have a problem??). I think records made by asians themselves should be considered legititmate , everything else is utter crap. It’s like asking Pakistanis to write about kargil war… without anyone supervising them… why would they accept their inadequacies?

        admin note *comment edited.* Sridhar no more of such language.

        • Anuraag Sanghi said, on August 20, 2012 at 4:08 am
          Sridhar – Your language needs cleaning up! Any further breach of etiquette will mean blacklist.
    • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 8, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      Dhiren, Why would one part be nude and another not?? you ask…. have you noticed that the choli worn with a sari only partially covers a woman’s body? take a walk down the street and notice how bare the Indian woman really is even in modern times… mid driff, back, arms and low neck line are definitely nude. Have you been to a temple and seen the thousands of bare breasted figures? These were patterend afer the common garb of the day.

      Have you not heard of naked Indian aestetics? including women such as the beloved saint ananda mayama.. Se whas naked at the side of a river and approached by a group of men aestecis. They admonished her for her nudity among men. She replied “when I see a real man I will cover myself.”

      Why is it so difficult for you all to grasp that this is historical fact – women in India were barebreasted historically. It has nothing to do with religion etc. – it is historical fact.

      • samadhyayi said, on May 9, 2012 at 4:53 am

        Why is it so difficult for you all to grasp that this is historical fact – women in India were barebreasted historically. It has nothing to do with religion etc. – it is historical fact. -mercay
        blouseless is not enough. now barebreasted. hope anuraag sanghi is very happy.

      • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 9, 2012 at 7:38 am
        Jessie – Since Indians have grown up seeing bare midriffs, exposed backs, low necks, short /no-sleeve blouses, that this will not be seen as exposure by Indians. But as normal. Even modest.

        I could ‘see’ this exposure only after travelling abroad, seeing women fully covered – and reading Western descriptions of Indian ‘exposure’ that it could register on my mind.

        Words are particularly ineffective in this aspect.

        • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm

          Anuraag, yes, I understand what you are saying. It iperhaps why some gentlemen in this discussion have not “seen” the bare breasts in temple art. It may simply be so common that it is not “seen.” Actually this whole discussion is rediculous.

          • kumar Mainali said, on June 8, 2014 at 8:31 pm

            I guess you have Never Heard Word like Kanchuka,shatika,Cholika,kabhach,udoni, and other various Garment used as Upper body covering. the erotic arts in the temple doesnot represent all population. if you read Bhuddist text it says women dressed in gowns. and women warriors wore Tunics.

          • AAA said, on May 21, 2017 at 10:32 am


            you seem obsessed with bare breasted sculptures of some temples.. I personally have never observed this being a common phenomenon. There are some very specific temples that contain these statues and they are depicting celestial beings, apsaras and art forms

            Some of these temples are dedicated to love and sex as well, the relationship between a man and a woman, that in no way, proves that women were bare breasted in ancient India.

            This convoluted and bizzare theory of yours seems idiotic given that elites of any time period are generally more liberal than the lower classes and hence have no issues with nudity. A lot of these statues are also artistic depictions of legends and stories from Hinduism so they don’t necessarily portray the day to day life of India.

            And if you really have travelled across India and the numerous ancient temples within the country, you must have also observed women clad in drapings, that is a much more common depiction of women’s clothes than the bare breasted one.

            You sound quite uninformed to me and come across as a stubborn liar[Moderator Note: Dr.Jessie needs no such labels. Please refrain from such disrespectful commenting.], its hard to take you seriously.

      • samadhyayi said, on May 10, 2012 at 5:08 am

        at one point you say indian ascetic woman ananda mayama went about naked.
        i would obviously assume spiritual pursuit being the reason for this. and at the very next paragraph you say it has nothing to do with religion.
        there have been many historians who have distorted indian history but surely none has as yet suggested that indians went barebreasted and werent sophisticated enough to make a few more clothes.

        • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm

          Sir, I have to say, you have no idea of what you are speaking. Youu aparrently read into what is written things that are not written.

    • samadhyayi said, on May 10, 2012 at 5:37 am

      dhiren hasnt shown any indeceny or inappropriate behaviour and yet some people here find his post full of anger and chagrine. God only knows where they found that. perhaps they could point me a statement made by dhiren that suggests such a thing.

  5. Manu said, on May 6, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Anuraag you seem to have offended the moral/modest religious indians by your post … I hope your posts can free these islamized/Christianized HINDUs and make them more Indian 🙂

    • samadhyayi said, on May 10, 2012 at 5:09 am

      so you get to decide who is an islamized/christianized hindu and who is a regular hindu. i suppose you know all about islam , christianity and hinduism to make such a Judgement.

      you people are so disconnected from indian culture and religion that you think it is extinct and you are rediscovering things that no one knows. indian culture is living well and nicely and you are simply exposing your disconnect with it by making nonsense statements about it.

      • manu said, on May 10, 2012 at 9:19 am

        Since you are an expert in vedas and ancient texts… Find me one text that uses the word HINDU … Gada neechey rakho gadadhari bheem ….This is not a war but a discussion…. I am not a HINDU … HINDU is a name given to us by people living on the western side of SINDHU river… SINDHU-STHAN(as defined by Vikrama-aditya) became hindustan… And in this hindustan were born religious HINDU’s like you…Guess what samadhyayi your religion’s name is given by outsiders ..here is one more attack…

        • samadhyayi said, on May 10, 2012 at 2:33 pm

          every religion and every country has a name given by outsiders. so dont know what your point is

  6. balai_c said, on May 6, 2012 at 8:43 am

    at the angry and chagrined gentleman Dhiren – Could you please provide your source before asking others?

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

      I am getting confused. Can I have the context where I have asked for the sources?

      • balai_c said, on May 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm

        Anuraag, I was not talking about you,My comment was directed at the angry and chagrined gentleman Dhiren, sorry if you feel flabbergasted.I apologize for my haste. Please do not take offense.

  7. Kalki said, on May 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Having ad-filters , spam-filters is not internet-phoia
    Similarly filtering cultural & history spam targeting india is not xenophobia

  8. CM said, on May 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Anuraag ,
    Check this. The background behind Sati –> http://pushti-marg.net/bhagwat/sati.htm

  9. balai_c said, on May 8, 2012 at 9:46 am

    One thing that most moral puritans are ignoring is that in India, there was no single codified system of aesthetics and morality. People actually could develop their own notions of beauty and social perceptions without any big brother or as Anuraag eloquently puts it ” Desert block ” type overarching guardian interfering at every step. So, women and men could actually dress in ways that could be considered as obscene by today’s moral guardians. Just let people be as they feel, even allow them to make mistakes. They will certainly learn from it.

  10. vv said, on May 8, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    The level of deracination of a person from India is directly proportional to the level of outrage expressed here.

  11. samadhyayi said, on May 10, 2012 at 5:26 am

    playing the Jati card when incompetency is exposed doesnt show good on you friend.

    whats with the attack on Jagadgurus and pandits. valmiki was the adikavi. He himself would be called a Jagadguru and pandit. so your valmiki comment doesnt make any sense whatsoever.

  12. samadhyayi said, on May 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    anuraag i have a very clear comment and your reply has been very inadequate. you replied
    something like this
    I mean …

    If women wear blouses we are civilized. If women dont wear blouses we are uncivilized. The entire Indian civilization rests on women wearing blouses!
    -anuraag sanghi
    should that be taken as a defeat. as that is not even the main point that i talked about. you still havent responded to how kamasutra and khaJurao became authorities on indian women of 10000 years and numerous regions.

  13. samadhyayi said, on May 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    i have had my say. i will rest my case here. no point arguing further. nothing to gain for me.

  14. samadhyayi said, on May 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Dr. Jesse Mercay
    your story of shankaracharya is not the whole story. shankaracharya was a lifter of castes. he grabbed a bunch of fishermen and turned them into brahmins and then he grabbed a bunch of baluchis and turned them into brahmins. moreover shankara proposing only advaita is also not the full story.
    remember bhaJa govindam. the story of shankara is known only to a few and its full significance understood by none. it was shankara who rediscovered the ancient rythm of the vedas. it is not possible to write commentaries on great texts without understanding the vedas. shankara didnt manipulate any texxts.
    what he did was make definitions of certain words like bhakti and sudra into whatever would serve his purpose and aim. this is well known in india.
    Like i Said India is not something extinct. it is living and doing well. there are thousands of people with great knowledge living in India who might not come under your radar. because of the disconnect some people are thinking that they are discovering things which were extinct and unknown to the common public.but the common public knows more things than most in the cities would guess. i would no longer pick a fight with you. but if some one suggests that my people didnt know how to wear clothes or comment negatively on one of our gurus it makes me angry. especially because i have been exposed to atleast a tiny part of how great these men were. i would not suffer negative comment on them. this remains consistent with my religion. i dont trust indologists(phds). i believe all of them make money in the only way they can. by
    insulting india , by conspiring against it. either way my conscience is not allowing me anymore to pick up fights with people . next time some one makes a negative comment about something sacred to us on this site . i have decided that i would Just leave the place and never visit it again. because one shouldnt stay in a place where one is insulted.

    • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you very much for your information. It is very interesting. I think you are right about indologists – one has to be careful. They have conspired against India and mis translated and misinterpreted the great sacred texts of India. My beloved teacher the late Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati taught me a great deal about such things. Beyond being a great Sthapati, he was a great scholar as was his father and other ancestors.

      I understand your sentiments regarding your Gurus. I am sorry if my remarks offended you – I said them with objectivity rather than critisism in mind and perhaps it wasn’t appropriate or perhaps I failed to make my point objectively. I learned from Dr. Sthapati that it is good for me to look at all aspects of our great teachers and sages as it helps me understand my own human failings. I have had to come to accept that even great people have failings and that it is really ok with me – I can still love them and admire them for all the good they have done and not hold it against them for the one or two things that might seem off. In any case please understand that my intent was not to cause harm. I would hate to see you leave this discussion board. This whole situation is a good experience for all of us to try to understand each other better.

  15. parikhjigish said, on May 10, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    @ Anuraag & Dr. Jessy,
    Pls do not waste time/energy in defending your research. I would much rather like to see another brilliant post from Anuraag instead for the time spent explaining the folks.

  16. samadhyayi said, on May 11, 2012 at 5:31 am

    i am no expert on scriptures. but i know this much. there are numerous art paintings of europeans naked in public situations. like one in which alexander in battle is shown wearing weapons and helmet and nothing else . not covering what should be covered. would that mean alexander didnt wear clothes when he went to war . how can anyone conclude that people didnt wear clothes based on art work and sculpture in temples.

    alexander’s hair appeared like helmet. and that was a marriage not war in the picture. i had written the comment from memory before i pasted the link to the picture.

    • Dr. Jessie Mercay said, on May 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      Yes, Samadhyayi, you are correct in may ways. I have to admit, I got my information from my late teacher Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati, the doyan of temple and traditional architecture. He took me to many temples and showed me secrets about the buildings and forms that only a Sthapati or Shilp would know. He shared with me secrets behind the forms of Nataraja, Siva lingam, Vishnu etc. He showed me things the shilpis did to visually encode sacred knowledge. He told me special points about the archtectural methods, the symbology behind certain features.. really brilliant and beautiful teachings. To be honest, I was humbled, and still am, by the brilliancy of ancient architects and engineers of Inda.

      I finanlly got the courage to ask him why the women were portrayed bare breasted. He matter of factly told me that the shilpis in those days carved the clothing of the people of the times. So, according to him, the statues of Raja Raja Chola and others carved at the great Tanjour temple were depicting the dress of the day (topless women). When we went to other temples such as Meenakshi, Sri Rangam, Jambukteswara and many others he would then point out the same features. He said there was no shame in this. It was common and appropriate for the times. And, in his stone yard, he maintained the traditional forms handed down by his ancestors (the Sthapati who built Tanjour temple was his g.g.g.g.g. etc., grand father) and continued to carve bare breasted women even today specially if they are forms related to that time period. The Shilpa Shastras give specific information related to this. Over time I came to understand this and soon no longer saw that aspect but saw the whole beauty of the form, the grace, elegance, and artistry.

      So, my information on this is really second hand from my Shilpi Guru. As a westerner who seeks truth, beauty and love, I will never fully understand Indian culture – but it is the only culture that I have found that can fulfill my want of these three qualties. I can love it, absorb what I can, follow what my Guru taught me and told me to teach, and do the best that I can to convey what I know.

      • samadhyayi said, on May 12, 2012 at 6:17 am

        what can i say. i give up. what is the point in fighting. though i might add a few lines of sanskrit now and then to this page which suggest people wore full dress whenever i come across such passages as i keep reading

    • samadhyayi said, on May 12, 2012 at 6:25 am

      it was supposed to be not expert in sculptures not scriptures.

  17. A Fan of Your Blog said, on May 13, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Are we not superimposing western values of modesty on Indian women? If Indian women lived in a society where they did not have to cover themselves to be modest, why is that a bad thing? In a society where women were empowered to have multiple husbands, women were treated equal, or may be even more than equal. I do not see why everyone seems to be getting offended by half naked Indian women. Chill, folks!

    • samadhyayi said, on May 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      Go out and tell the people . take a mike and say what is said on this blog and see the reaction. ok if u think masses are stupid and that is how they would react. Go to some pundit(by which i mean scholar. gosh the word has such negative connotations among you people. shows how disconnected u are) sabha and say the same thing that is said in this blog and see their reaction and dont think they are fundamental or something. that would once again show complete ignorance. as the mammoth literature contains huge spectrum of situations and dharmas. it is Just not possible foor the pundits tto become fundamental.

    • samadhyayi said, on May 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      who exactly has superimposed when on this page on indian women. except for some people declaring that they went about naked all over the place. which is definitely a superimposition.

      • Anuraag Sanghi said, on May 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm

        Samadhyayi – Your repeated assertions and strident tone is getting unpleasant.

        Please come back with some research. With some links. Your silly assertions have completely changed the topic. I making a point that wives of Indians soldiers probably accompanied their husbands to battlefield.

        Instead you have made this into silly ground for repeated assertions – without an iota of evidence; links; theory; hypotheses.

        Since you are a great admirer and ‘pundit’ on Shanakaracharya and Bhaja Govindam, read it again. You will get another indication of what I am saying is correct.

        Please do not post any more assertions, unpleasantly toned, without data or facts. Your comments in this post are nothing except your feelings, judgements, notions of aesthetics.

        Please understand that this forum which has nearly 1000 followers – is five-years of work by a lot of people; apart from me.

        Dont misuse the hospitality and the forum.

        PS – My feeling is that you have not seen female breasts. Why are you besotted? Maybe you need to spend more time with female company and less time on making these repeated assertions.

  18. samadhyayi said, on May 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    vedas were written in vedic sanskrit and not classical sanskrit. except for vedic sanskrit everything else is braying . we have heard it all before. India is not extinct. how many times do i have to say.

  19. senthil said, on April 14, 2013 at 2:15 am

    One important factor is NOT considered here.. Women and men were married at younger age on those days.. in case of women, even before their puberty.. So when they get matured, the natural sexual feelings that emerge out in the initial days are fulfilled naturally.. and our society, transcended sex, to focus on dharma & artha..

    On the other hand, today, a child is forced to be single up to 30 years (in case of male) and 20-25 years in case of female (atleast in south india).. what can they do with their natural sexual feelings.. They only become perverts of sex unable to cross that line..

    The current forced “18” yrs as marriage age has to be discarded.. this issue has to be left to each community as they want.. the government, by forcefully preventing Natural Marriages, is collapsing the society and its marriage systems..

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on April 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

      One important factor is NOT considered here.. Women and men were married at younger age on those days.. in case of women, even before their puberty.. So when they get matured, the natural sexual feelings that emerge out in the initial days are fulfilled naturally.. and our society, transcended sex, to focus on dharma & artha.

      You seem to imply that Indians lived a life like in the Hollywood movie, ‘Blue Lagoon’.

      I think that child marriage was a social response to stabilize the population and the economy in the face of cannibalism of the British Raj. While we succeeded in the face-off with the British Raktasuras, we became dependent on child labour and the education of children in those generations suffered.

      In classical texts the one major case of teenage sex that is mentioned was Kunti. Shakuntala was no child when she did gandharva-vivaah with Dushyanta.

      In fact shastras recommend an age of 25, as a Brahmacharya.

      But all this was voluntary, with familial base – and not a Statist intervention, using prisons, police, courts, law, penalties, etc.

      Big difference.

  20. sudharma said, on May 17, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    samadhyayi is so true on every account

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