Embarrassing and Insulting Situations!..
The mental torture resulting from unintentionally carried out actions that differ somewhat from the customary manners and practices are referred to as Embarrassments. Although these do not involve moral issues as such, they do cause considerable damage to one’s ego and personality. A boy riding a bicycle to School falls down due to imbalance. His peers laugh at him even as he falls. The fallen boy feels ashamed. If he pretends that nothing happened to him, he is ridiculed more. Psychologists say that the solution for that is for you yourself to join with those who are laughing at you, instead of showing your displeasure. As you do that, it becomes harder for others to continue laughing and the ridiculing stops. They recommend you to be aware of the incidence and take care not to create a similar situation again. It is natural for everyone to face a few embarrassing situations in their lives. The severity of embarrassment becomes proportionately greater to the number of people who notice such incidents. The more you try to cover them up, the more you are prone to be ridiculed. It is better just to ignore it or laugh it off. People soon forget it. They opine that to cry, to react, or to get angry is useless in such situations.
In some instances, even if an embarrassing situation is created by one individual’s behavior, it becomes an embarrassment to a second person who hasn’t done any such thing. There was an English teacher named C.P.B., for short, in one of the schools run by our Math. He is still highly regarded by many as an affectionate teacher loved by most students. He used to meet us often during our leisurely evening walks from the Math to the School campus and would dutifully bend down to touch our feet and pay his respects. Because his home was on our walking path, these meetings were fairly frequent. He had stayed on at Sirigere since his retirement and due to his advancing age his eyesight was getting weaker. Highly dedicated person that he was towards the Math and the Guruji, once he thought he had seen us from a distance and assumed that we were on our walk. As we were passing by his home he had bent down and touched the feet as usual. But the one who came that way on that day was not me. It was a Muslim lady wearing a red saree! ‘O! Master, it’s me, Fatima”, shrieked that Moslem lady and fell at the teacher’s feet and begged his pardon. The lady was clearly more embarrassed than the teacher!
You need not be surprised if I tell you that sometimes people with no fault get embarrassed instead of the one who was responsible for creating that situation. Remember your childhood. Everyone born in this world has grown up into adulthood embarrassing their mothers in one way or the other. A mother does not need an explanation for the phrase, ‘An undisciplined child embarrasses his mother’. Oftentimes, a person is not aware of his fault in the beginning, but begins to feel extremely embarrassed after being told what he has done. A mother had gone on a pilgrimage to Tirupati with his son. While signing in to a hotel, the hotel owner noticing her son asked her in Telugu who was the accompanying boy. Not versed well in Telugu language, the mother thought that a simple addition of the prefix “...du’ to any word, like Ramudu, Bheemudu, would suffice, and replied, “magadu” (‘maga’ means ‘son’ in kannada). But she did not know that in telugu, ‘mogadu’ means ‘husband’!
It is not always easy for a person subjected to embarrassment to laugh it off and forget the incidence. For example, consider the following incidence. A few years ago, Prince Charles of Britain came to visit the ‘Panna Tiger Reserve’, the National Park primarily maintained for protection of tigers near Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. With all due respects befitting the Royalty, the Prince was driven towards the preserve. The light was fading as the day was turning to dusk. All along the way women were sitting for their toilet chores. As the lights from the approaching car struck them, they would stand up instantly. The Prince, noticing this, asked why they were all standing up like that. With the fast reflexes typical of an administrative officer, the district collector replied, “Sir, they were all waiting for your arrival and now they got up to greet you”! Dr. Manu Kulkarni is saddened by this incidence and has aptly commented in his recent book, “Managing Human Development”, that our country’s bureaucracy is more concerned about safeguarding the false image of the country than to address the honor issues of our unfortunate women. In this regard, I really liked the “Purification of Karnataka Plan” projected by the Government of Karnataka several years ago. Under this plan, we had selected from our Math, hundreds of villages in Davangere and Chitradurga districts and built toilet facilities. The villagers were immensely happy. A very old woman had approached me on one occasion and bending down to touch my feet, had remarked, ‘Swamiji, you have upheld the dignity of our women folk’ reflecting the utter negligence that is accorded to our women folk.
The Christian belief is that shyness that is inherent in man started with ‘Adam and Eve’. The legend says that Adam and Eve, believed to be the first father and mother of this human race, were walking naked everywhere in the garden of ‘Eden’ without any embarrassment whatsoever. The God had instructed them that they could eat any fruit in that garden except the fruit from an apple tree. Accordingly, they obeyed that command for a long time. However, prompted by Satan mischievously, once Eve plucked an apple and shared it with Adam. Christians believe that eating the forbidden apple made them conscious of their nudity and they tried to cover their nakedness. Complete blame is directed towards ‘Eve’ for all the sadness and grief that has befallen mankind as she disobeyed Adam’s advice not to touch the forbidden apple. As Non-Christians, we cannot accept their logic that Adam had no part in this action and the fault lies with only Eve. He had a desire to taste the forbidden fruit too. Eve just happened to be a medium to satisfy his desire. In Adam, actually we can trace man’s inherent habit of switching the blame on others. It can be argued that even if Eve did pluck the apple, she was not selfish as she did not hide it from Adam and eat it all by herself. Whether it is a man or a woman, a part of Satan resides in everyone. The main goal of any religion is to suppress and destroy the resident Satan in everyone. As said in Katopanishath, “shreyashcha preyashcha manushyamethah”, the shreyas (the good) and preyas (the bad) seek every human being. We need to understand that the decision to choose one of them is ours.
Even if the pain is unbearable for a person who has been embarrassed, it does not last long. Embarrassments happen without notice and in due course, they are forgotten. No one has any ulterior motives behind those instances. But it is not the same with Insults. They do not happen by themselves. Behind them is a person creating them. The mental torture that an insulted person undergoes knowing that it was premeditated by another human being is unimaginable. Let us look at some instances.
Duryodhana after having won over Dharamaraya in the game of dice, mainly through the treachery of Shakuni, sends a messenger to bring Draupadi to the royal court. Draupadi refuses to go to the court when the messenger brings the royal order. She sends the message, ‘was it proper for Dharmaraya (what right did he have?) to wager me after having wagered and lost himself and his brothers. Let the elders in the royal court discuss and decide on this before I can enter the royal court”. Hearing this message from the messenger, Duryodhana gets very angry and orders his brother Dushyasana to go and drag Draupadi to the royal court. Listen to the dialogue between Draupadi and Dushyasana as narrated by Kumara Vyasa:
You are the King’s brother and
My brother-in-law as well, what is wrong here
Dharmaraya may have lost, but let me get the response to my question
Brother, listen to me, it is the day of my period now
Entrance to the royal court
Improper is it not, go tell the king – hearing this he gets enraged ||
From where is the query and from where is the response?
You may have your periods now
So will you become fertile in the Kaurava Lord’s court
Five of them are all lost
What is proper or improper?
Show it there – so saying he starts dragging her by her hair ||
When Draupadi very politely says, “You are my brother-in-law, Dharamaraya may have lost. But let me get the proper response to my query. I have my periods now and it is not proper for me to enter the royal court in my condition. Please go and tell the king”, Dushyasana ignores her words and arrogantly responds while dragging her by her hair, “You have your periods here; you will also become fertile there in the court of Duryodhana. His lewd behavior towards his sister-in-law considered motherly in stature, appears unbearable. Such caustic words often leave an imprint for revenge in the minds of the insulted person. The result of such lewd words brings the worst of Bheema to the fore making him appear as a ‘bloodhound’ as he utters these ominous words of vow, “The undone hair of Draupadi will get sprinkled and showered with blood from Dushyasana’s heart”.
Dear readers! Like our women folk from villages sing, ‘Gone are the grains of our corn, but the rhymes of our song still remain’, so does our woeful tales of women not finished as yet. Please digest the lines from above until next week. When you look at the atrocities committed on modern women in our contemporary society, does it not make you feel that Mahabharata is still very much alive?