Bajrang Dal was seen creating chaos across atleast three cities on ‘Valentine’s Day’. First visuals of the organisation effecting chaos were seen from Ahmedabad’s riverfront where couples were trying to spend quality time, until the pseudo-protectors of Hindu culture descended upon them.
Reports of Bajrang Dal indulging in vandalism also appeared from Nagpur and Hyderabad. In Nagpur, the activists chanted slogans of “Valentines Day Murdabad” and burnt red coloured gifts. In Hyderabad, activists vandalized malls and shops.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) February 14, 2020
“Bajrang Dal activists have asked all the lovers they found at various places not to celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is not our culture. They were also asked to pay tributes to the Pulwama martyrs instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day,” Subhash Chander, State Co-Convenor Bajrang Dal’s Andhra Pradesh chapter said.
The scenes in Ahmedabad, however, were more frightening. While only vandalism was reported from other parts of the country, direct targeting of couples was seen in Gujarat’s capital.
In the name of preserving and protecting Indian culture, what the Bajrang Dal does is go against the very traditions it claims to so religiously protect. The organization, which should rather concentrate its efforts towards preventing forced conversions is seen threatening harmless couples. This sort of moral policing by an organization which claims to be ardent followers of Bajrangbali, goes in direct contest to Indian ethos. Over the years, it seems Bajrang Dal has grown to like the reputation it has carved for itself. It seems to like the media attention which it gets for one day in a year.
Bajrang Dal is named after Bhagwan Hanuman and Bhagwan Hanuman was a Brahmachari. He would not have even thought that his celibacy would be mocked in this way. Bhagwan Hanuman is an ardent devotee of Lord Rama, the same Lord Rama who was married to Mata Sita Sita. When Lord Rama went to Mithila, seeing Sita Mata in the garden, the feelings of love were awakened in his heart. He crossed the sea and delivered Bhagwan Ram’s message to Sita when she had been taken hostage by Ravana. Hanuman fought for Bhagwan Ram and Mata Sita’s love. What he did not do was vandalise restaurants and stop young men and women from befriending each other. With such acts the organisation is maligning Hindu Gods, especially, Bajrangbali.
Love has never been seen as an immoral aspect of one’s life in Hindu culture. Neither have the concepts of love marriages or live-in relations been perceived as taboos. Infact, the smritis recognize Gandharva Vivah as one of the eight types of permissible marriages. This ancient marriage tradition was based on mutual attraction between two people, with no rituals, witnesses or family participation. The marriage of Dushyanta and Shakuntala is a historically celebrated example of Gandharva Vivah.
The Rig Vedic opinions suggest that the most common marriage was Gandharva vivah, in which two people meeting in a village life or a social gathering who would come to like each other’s company would eventually decide to live together, without performing any religious rituals. Parents would never interfere with the choices of their children. As a matter of fact, the Atharva Ved suggests that parents left the daughters free when it came to selection of a partner, and would encourage daughters to be upfront about love affairs.
In Mahabharata, Rishi Kanva, the foster father of Shakuntala, recommends Gandharva marriage with the statement “The marriage of a desiring woman with a desiring man, without religious ceremonies, is the best marriage.”
Over time, the concept of Gandharva Marriage began to be debated. After the onslaught of invasions by Muslim marauders, this type of marriage declined to a great extent. Coming under the influence of Abrahamic thought and as a reaction to the cultural onslaught carried out by the invaders, Indians became more stringent about their day-to-day lives.
If anything, what the Bajrang Dal is today protesting against, is a resurgence of Gandharva Vivah among couples. The organisation must understand that roughing up couples goes against the tenets of Hindu culture, apart from giving Hindu-baiters a chance to pounce on the community. Bajrang Dal must stop maligning India internationally, where, due to its stupid behaviour, couples are beginning to fear going out on 14th February. The group, anyway targets people from the poorer sections of society, those who cannot afford the luxuries of high end pubs and five star restaurants, and visit public places like parks. We as a culture must act to prevent tendencies prevalent among extremist right-wing groups in certain desert nations from making their way into India.