don’t know what led the much-acclaimed scholar, Chanakya, to believe that women could not be trusted or they have inherent tendencies of “low moral character and falsehood”. A man of tactics, who made great contributions and changed the course of Indian history forever, has given numerous offensive references to the fairer sex in his book Chanakya Neeti. So, did this spiritualist who had all the qualities of head and heart also a misogynist thought of woman as a mere object? Let’s explore…
Why such a great visionary had such beliefs?
In this blog I have no intention of denigrating this great personality for he surely was a great visionary and his theories of administration have no parallel anywhere in the world. But what made him think so little about women is a mystery to me. Chanakya begins Chapter-2 of Chanakya Neeti with “Anritam Sahasam Maya Murkhatramatilubdha Ashochatvam Nirdayatvam Strinam Dosha Swabhavaja.” (Speaking false, starting a work without giving it any thought, daredevilry, deceitfulness, foolish acts, greed, impurity and cruelty – these are basic of a woman’s nature.)
Beware of women!
Now have a look at another couplet in Chapter 14 of Chanakya Neeti: “Agnirapa Striyo Murkha Sarpa Rajkulani Ch Nityam Yatyen Seryani Sadhya Pranharaani Shat” (Fire, water, women, fool, snake and the royal family – beware of all these. They can prove fatal.) Analyzing these two couplets, one is compelled to believe that gender bias is deeply rooted in our ancient times. That is why it looked to Chanakya that ‘only women could speak falsehood’ and is a symbol of greed, impurity, cruelty.
Chanakya Neeti has many anti-women verses
A great economist and revolutionary, Chanakya, somewhere failed to understand woman and under estimated her power in shaping the society. If he had any idea about the importance of woman in sustaining life and values, maybe he has a different opinion. One is simply is at a loss to understand that with what yardstick Chanakya had measured these abstract ’qualities’ of a woman? There is more anti-women material stored in Chanakya’s kitty. Take a look…
How Chanakya defines a good woman
He claims that poets can imagine anything and women can do anything like a drunkard or a crow that can say anything or eat anything. For Kautaliya, a good woman is one who is pious, expert in household chores and true and faithful to her husband. Chanakiya’s male dominant attitude comes to fore in one of his shalokas: “A woman, who keeps fast without the permission of her husband, shortens the life of the husband. She goes to hell and is punished with great horrors of hell”.