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Women in The Ramayana

Shenai Marks, Michael Waples
by

Shenai Marks

on 10 April 2013

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Transcript of Women in The Ramayana

Representations of Women The Ramayana Women are seen to be evil Defiance is dangerous
Kooni, described as being "a freak and a hunchback (and nicknamed as thus on account of her deformity)"(pg 37), persuades Kaikeyi to force Rama’s exile. It is curious and worth noting that the initial instigator of the whole affair is marked
as being disfigured, as if her physical form is a reflection of her inner intent.

She persuades the hitherto loyal and obedient Kaikeyi into pursuing Rama’s expulsion; thus, the ugly, twisted Kooni corrupts the previously untainted and beautiful Kaikeyi. This is perhaps a suggestion that Kooni’s physical corruption is a result of her inner corruption, her deviousness, her scheming nature.

Although Kaikeyi soon becomes the main schemer and manipulator, she
was convinced to do so by one disfigured not only in body, but also,
perhaps, in soul. Kooni's and Kaikeyi's actions make them evil In essence, Kooni and Kaikeyi are presented as
being evil because they meddle in the affairs of
men; they interfere where they are not supposed
to and are condemned as a result.

In contrast to the loyal queen Kausayla, and
Rama’s steadfast wife Sita, Kaikeyi and Kooni
have ambition and independence, which, as it
turns out, are the wrong qualities for a woman
to have. Beauty is Power Kaikeyi's actions are nearly always revolved around her physical appearance. Kooni reminds her that her only strength is her beauty and when she loses that, the King will surely lose interest in her and sweep her aside. Innocent turned evil Ahalya, the daughter of Brahma, was the total
opposite to the other women seen previously. She is the epitome of innocence, purity, beauty and perfection. She was said to be a "perfect wife" (pg 20) because she acted upon and respected her husband's needs.

There is little to no pity shown towards Ahalya. She was raped by Indra, but because her husband saw both her and Indra in the same bed, he refused to believe that she thought Indra was him, seeing as he shape-shifted into Sage's form. It was only something as derogative and disgusting, the dust off a man's foot, that she was able to reawaken, become human again and return to the service of her husband (pg 21). What is it about women that is considered to be so vile and dangerous?

Why are they portrayed this way? Even when the woman is the most pure of all creations, they are brought down to the level of impurity and vulgarity, along with being seen as dangerous and dishonorable beings. There are lots of examples of women being creatures of destruction, whether it's relationship-wise, such as Kooni and Kaikeyi, while on the other hand there are some women who are seen as innocent beings who are transformed unwillingly into such monsters, such as in the case of Ahalya. When Dasaratha finds Kaikeyi in a morose and irritable mood, he tries to cheer her up by getting her to dress up, asking her to “put on your festive clothes and jewellery so that you may shine like the resplendent start that you are”. It seems that Kaikeyi doesn't have any other worthy qualities except for beauty and so she seems condemned to be an object; an object of desire perhaps, but an object nonetheless. Moreover, her beauty has made her vain and arrogant; when Kooni persuades Kaikeyi to get Rama removed,
it is not the revelation that her husband, Dasaratha, is dishonest, which ultimately sways her, nor is it the suggestion that her son, Bharatha, may get banished or executed by Rama, but the suggestion that she may end up having to serve the queen mother, Kausalya, as a handmaiden, therefore lowering her status. Kooni and Kaikeyi http://www.ijem.in/articles/2012/16/2/images/IndianJEndocrMetab_2012_16_2_292_93772_f1.jpg There is an underlying yet consistent theme that is seen through the images of women throughout the story:
Women are explosive, destructive, untrustworthy creatures who seek to destroy and corrupt everything within their path.
Most females within the first few chapters of the story have been viewed in this way, and so the world needs Rama's skills and powers to remove the evil which plagues the earth, such is proven when Viswamithra tells him: "...you are born to restore righteousness and virtue to mankind and eliminate all evil." (pg 21)

Meanwhile, the men in the book are seen to be upright and ethical in all of their actions and motives, they are respected, revered and honored, even if they have committed horrible crimes in the past. What is it that makes Kooni and Kaikeyi such evil creatures?

Why was there no justice shown towards Ahalya seeing as she was raped and not an adulterer? The two women responsible for Rama’s expulsion, Kooni and
Kaikeyi, are presented as being evil because they go against the
ideals of what is considered to be the ideal woman:
loyal and obedient towards men. Indra's curse for raping Ahalya was to be forever covered in the female organ, so that the world would always know what he continuously thought about (pg 20-21).
However, after a few years the gods pitied him, including Sage Gautama, the one who cursed him. So the organs were changed to eyes.
Indra's punishment was removed in some sense, but Ahalya, the innocent, the pure and the most perfect one of all, was to remain as a rock for thousands of years until Rama came to pass her and turn her back into a human form. Why was she not forgiven and yet he was? Differences between treatment Why are women "evil"? Ahalya's redemption http://hinduspirituality.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/ramayana-story.html
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