by Jayaram V
Although India derives its original name (Bharat) from the legendary Bharata who
was born out of a premarital relationship between Shakuntala, a beautiful maiden, daughter of sage Kanva, and Dushyanta a King, Hinduism neither approves free sex nor condones premarital sex. This has been the situation from the earlier times and not much has changed as far as the social attitude is concerned.
In the epic Mahabharata, Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, begets a son (Karna) from the Sun before her marriage to Pandu. She suffers for the rest of her life for this transgression. Fearing condemnation from her family, she deserts the
new born baby who eventually grows up to become a great hero and an arch enemy of the Pandavas and participates in the Mahabharata (the great Indian) war against his own brothers.
The stories of Shakuntala and Kunti amply illustrate the fact that Hindu society has been sensitive to the problems of premarital relationships but never approved them. In ancient times premarital sex was not an issue because the girls were mostly married before they reached puberty and sent to their husbands' homes where they would grow up under the careful attention of the elders of the families. Besides girls were not allowed to study or go outside freely on their own.
But today the situation is different. For many Hindus the influence
of western education and culture is a matter of great concern. Whether they live abroad or in India, premarital sex is not just a taboo but a great sacrilege in many Hindu families who are committed to Hindu way of life. For parents it would be a great calamity if their children are found involved in a premarital relationships. If the matter becomes public, life would be really difficult for the whole family. Parents therefore pay closely follow the activities of their children as they reach adolescence.
Segregation between the sexes in schools and colleges in the Indian subcontinent is also very common. The system of dating between a boy and a girl is foreign to Hindu tradition and not approved. Since normal communication and
friendship between a boy and a girl is hindered by social taboos, the two sexes live in two different worlds and suffer from a great communication gap.
Financial pressures often drive some poor girls into prostitution and night clubs. Their percentage is comparatively very less and they come mostly from poor families and broken homes, with little parental controls. They are an exception rather than a norm.
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