Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Some youngsters to day seem to have very low opinion about the institution of marriage, considered sacred by out forefathers. Probably they may have their own logical reasons to view marriages as being organized during early days, which were formal, ritualistic and practicing caste rigidity, as impractical and unacceptable. It pains many old generation and old fashioned people like me to see the sacredness of marriage being progressively diluted due to many reasons, some stupid and others valid. Unfortunately our seers have not moved with time and are slow to respond to modern developments and highly interactive nature of society to day. It is no wonder that the new generation descendants are asking inconvenient questions to which we have no logical answers to provide!. Modern education has instilled a sense of self respect and empowerment to women which were denied to them for centuries. We respect and worship Goddess Durga but consider our own women folks as subservient to the interests of the dominant males! Wailing about shortage of brides does not carry us any where and this is the time for deep introspection for self correction and change our society into an equitable one with mutual accommodation and appreciation, irrespective of gender. The guiding principle in life should be that "bow before knowledge and prostrate before a person if he or she is more knowledgeable than you". I am reproducing below an incisive article which appeared recently which is very relevant to most nucleus families to day.  

"N Gopal Rao, headmaster of the Vivekananda High School in Sullia, Karnataka, has an interesting hobby. He loves scanning the matrimonial advertisements in newspapers. Sometime ago, he got intrigued by an ad in Vijaya Karnataka. It was inserted by a Bangalore-based Brahmin photographer looking for a bride. As the ad started reappearing regularly, Rao continued to keep a tab on it. It's been two years now, but the search is still on. Across Karnataka, lower middle-class Brahmins in traditional occupations like cooking and farming arefinding it difficult to get a bride. The prospective brides, who are mostly well-educated, prefer upwardly-mobile bridegrooms with modern education, urban lifestyle and high income. The boys have now started looking beyond the borders of Karnataka, sometimes as far as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir, in search of brides".

"M.G. Sathyanarayana, director of the Kashyap Seva Kendra, a Brahmin organisation, is spearheading the campaign of finding brides from north India. He hit upon the idea in 2007, after a visit to Rohtak, Haryana, where he had met several Kashmiri Pandits. The National Capital Region is home to more than 1,00,000 displaced Kashmiri Brahmins. Though he approached the Pandit leaders with the profiles of nearly 20 Kannada bridegrooms, Sathyanarayana was asked to wait till January 2013. But, in February 2012, hundreds of Pandits returned to Kashmir, after the government promised that their assets and properties would be returned. The government also offered them financial assistance for acquiring a house, free transit accommodation, a waiver of interest on loans and 15,000 jobs. But the government is yet to deliver on these promises. The fate of Sathyanarayana's bachelors now depends on whether these Pandits decide to return to Delhi or prefer to stay on in Kashmir". 

'Since the Pandits remain undecided, Sathyanarayana travelled to Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in September in search of prospective brides. He also placed matrimonial ads in three regional newspapers, but received only a handful of responses. He even sent a delegation to Assam to scout for eligible girls, who were orphaned by the riots. Though the inter-regional alliances can be hampered by language barriers and differences in culture and lifestyle, Sathyanarayana argues that the north Indian families are not averse to sending their daughters to Karnataka. The relatively high standards of living and the absence of dowry are big attractions. But since this is the first time that such a social experiment is being attempted, the Kashyap Seva Kendra is taking all precautions. They are collecting the birth and medical certificates and educational records of all the girls and boys. They will also be closely monitoring the couples for the first two years of their marriage".

"There are several reasons for the scarcity of the brides. The skewed sex ratio is the primary culprit. According to the 2011 census, there are only 968 girls for every 1,000 boys in Karnataka, and this ratio is even more skewed among the Brahmins. The socio-cultural and economic norms prevalent among the Karnataka Brahmins have accentuated the crisis. "The predominant feature of the Kannada Brahmins has been their migration from rural to urban areas and their ability to turn agrarian capital into non-agrarian capital and thereby establish their dominance over the knowledge economy, be it in education, bureaucracy or law," says Ramesh Bairy, professor of sociology at IIT Bombay. "The Brahmins took up new spaces that opened up in the economy. However, a section of them, like the Havyakas, whose primary investment was in plantation cropping, decided to stay back and not partake in the modernisation wave. Concomitant to this was the education of the girl child, with the establishment of good colleges, even in the interiors." 

"Notably, the scarcity of brides is more common among four sub-castes of the Karnataka Brahmins, who trace their origins to north India: Shivalli, Havyaka, Karhade and Chitpavan. The Havyakas, for example, claim that they were brought to Karnataka around the end of the 3rd century AD from Uttar Pradesh by the efforts of the Brahmin king Mayooravarma. "If a Brahmin couple has a son and a daughter, they will make the son a priest, and educate the daughter. Because of this, girls are better educated and they demand a bridegroom with equal education," says Jitendra Bhat, a journalist from Mangalore, who has been searching for a bride for quite sometime now. Venkataramacharya, a Brahmin who has been running a marriage bureau in Udupi for three decades, says he started noticing a paucity of brides from the mid-80s. The cooks and priests might earn up to Rs. 60,000 a month, but the girls consider it demeaning to be married to them. They are also unwilling to settle in villages or stay with joint families. "Earlier, the preference was for sons, but now, Brahmin families are praying for daughters," says Venkataramacharya. "If I could do it again, I would still become a cook. But I wish Brahmin families would educate their daughters about our culture and traditions so that they would not be ashamed to be married to us," said 38-year-old Gopal Bhat from Borkatte, who now rests his hopes with the Kashyap Seva Kendra, after 
ads and brokers failed to find him a bride". 

"Some exasperated boys now seem to be amenable to the idea of seeking brides from other castes. Their only condition is that the girl should be a vegetarian. Says 37-year-old N.R. Anand, a Smartha Brahmin from Mysore, "For me, caste was never a priority while searching for a bride. But it is important for the older generation. Today, heads of mutts and priests themselves are advocating inter-caste marriage because of which there is a shift in the rigid principles of our fathers and grandfathers." Anand started searching for a bride seven years ago. He is now looking for an alliance from the Gowda community. He is encouraged by the fact that there was a precedent of inter-caste marriage in his family.  While some mutts have openly endorsed inter-caste marriages, others staunchly refuse to do so. "Brahmins have a unique culture and tradition which will be diluted by inter-caste marriages," says Shri Visvesha Theertha Swami of the Pejawar Mutt. Others like Shri Laxmivara Theertha Swami of the Shirur Mutt have adopted a milder stance: "The times are changing and we have to change with them. Maintaining purity of castes might not be feasible in the future." In his famous book The Annihilation of Caste, B.R. Ambedkar advocated inter-caste marriages for eradicating caste system from India. Today, the Karnataka Brahmins are following his advice. May be 'not by choice', but by the 'lack of it'."

Is it not an irony of history ( or mythology?) that Shivalli Brahmans who were supposed to have been brought from Ahichatra area ( now in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh) by the great Kadamba King Mayura Sharma, a Brahman himself, to purify his kingdom through brahminic rituals and worshiping practices, are now trying to reach out to the North for sustaining their Kula through marriage alliances? Whether the Ashtamuta Swamijis condescend or not there appears to be no going back on this new trend because of practical compulsions. A moot question that will remain unanswered is whether there will ever be a union of old traditions and new developments in the society which only can prevent conflict of minds which other wise can accentuate with each passing generation! Unless the Ashtamuts make a conscious effort for such a reconciliation and recalibration it is a question of time before Shivalli Brahmans become an extinct species in this planet!   

I am not sure as to how many parents in Badettu family umbrella are facing problems in finding peace and tranquility through marrying of their sons and daughters against the background of the above article. Many parents feel that their responsibility on earth is over once they make enormous sacrifice to educate and settle their sons and daughters comfortably in life and then recede to the background without being a drag on their off springs. But unlike our forefathers to day.s children have their own mind, aspirations and ideals which may be totally different from that of the parents. Best course to day is to work hard till children are well educated and self supporting before conceding them their right to do what they want. Providing advice, guidance and help can only be attempted, if they are sought. The old type perception that children are investment for future of the parents is no more valid under to day's environment and perpetuating such hopes would end up in disappointment, strained relations and frustration which can be easily avoided.

History has shown us one thing, that is the relatively stable family life most of our earlier generation people had and divorces were an unheard thing, probably due to many reasons but that is a fact. Whether one marries as per the established system of horoscope matching or by mutual family appreciation, enormous efforts have been made by the newly wedded couples to understand, adjust, forgive, forget, share the grief and happiness together and make the marriage a success. According to my limited understanding, family to family bonding is the true foundation stone for a successful marriage. I cannot imagine a life without my parents or my wife's parents to whom I invariably turned to when in distress and if I am playing the same role our parents did 5 decades ago, it is because of what I learned from them during my early periods of married life. Given an opportunity again I will do the same thing by actively seeking and listening to the elders about what they advice. 


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