Friday, March 22, 2013

Who established fidelity in marriage ?

Mahabharatha Adi Parva .122

Pandu lost his procreate power due to the curse of a deer. He tries to convince Kunti to raise a progeny from someone else.

"I shall now tell you about the ancient practices established by the great Rishis, who were authorities on every aspect of morality. Women formerly were not confined to the houses and dependent on husbands and other relatives. They used to go about freely, enjoying themselves as they wanted.. They did not not have to be faithful to their husbands and it was not considered to be a sin then.. This practice is followed even today by birds and beasts and jealousy is seldom found among them. This has been the practice of antiquity approved by the great Rishis and the present practice came into existence lately.

There was a great Rishi by the name Uddalaka and his son Shvetaketu was also a great ascetic. The present virtuous practice of fidelity between husband and wife was established Shvetaketu out of anger. One day, he witnessed his mother being held by hand by another brahmin and being taken away  saying "Let's go". This brought great anger within Shvetaketu. Uddalaka tried to convince his son saying that there is nothing wrong as this is the practice sanctioned by antiquity and women are free to do what they want. Shvetaketu disapproved and laid down the law of absolute and exclusive fidelity between husband wife. Women transgressing the limits of marriage and men violating a woman who observes the vow of purity would be sinful to the extent of bhrunahatya ( causing abortion )."

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