Charitropakhyan and I, a Woman
I am a woman with two teenage daughters and I have recently finished reading the English translation of Charitropakhyan. The whole text of Charitropakhyan deals with different aspects or shades of a woman's nature, some good some bad. The claims by some that these are useless sensual tales arise from incomplete reading of Chritropankhyan with a fickle mind already polluted by the kaamic mud which is all around us. Charitropakhyan should be read in its totality. If one finds them to be sensual tales, it is because all around us there is nothing but 'kaamic' play of the dark-age, kalyug, which has increased millions times more since the time of rachna of Sri Dasam Granth. Guru Granth Sahib Ji teaches us to do bhakti and have gyan too. Bhakti is like a boat which will carry us across this terrifying ocean of fire, and gyan will teach us how to swim across this dark ocean. Charitropankhyan read with a discerning mind will give us gyan so that we can build a strong fort of viveka to overcome one of the five vikaras called kam or lust.
If you all read Sri Guru Granth Shaib Ji, you will understand that we are asked to reach the turiya state where we become the knower or the observer in us. This observer in all of us who is gone through infinite experiences in infinite lifetimes, and is now here in this human body and has the great gift of being a Sikh and know Guru Granth Sahib Ji as our Supreme Guru, the King of this kalyug, that observer can greatly appreciate the lessons Guru Gobind Singh Ji is trying to teach to his beloved Khalsa in Charitropakhyan.
Let us think about a Sikh Sirdar, our Guru Sahib’s beautiful incredible creation called Khalsa. Guru Gobind Singh Ji created the Khalsa and put him where? Did the great Guru create a perfectly pure place, sterile from all vices for his Khalsa to live in? No. Guru Ji ordered his Khalsa to live here amongst everyone else, to marry, to have family, to earn an honest living. You all know that to live in a grihasta jeevan one has to constantly interact with a woman in different forms - his mother, his wife, his daughter. All you women also know that not much harm can be done to a good man by his mother or daughter, but it is the stage of youth and the problems and the enjoyments that come with it, which can either raise a man or drown him into kaamic mud.
All the young women must be able to fully understand how much influence they can have over a man. Now do you all young women, Sikh or non-Sikh, have not come across some woman who is so vile and of bad character that you would never want your husband or fiancé to even know her? Would you not try to protect the man you love from such a woman? Of course you would. We all do, just as a man would protect his wife/daughters. Try to understand, though by keeping away from a bad person may work in case of a woman, but when it comes to protecting a good man from a woman of bad character, it would not be that simple. I bet you all have seen numerous ways women try to deceive a good man or lure him into doing the kinds of things which are sinful. Would we (all women of the world, Sikh and non-Sikh) not try to protect our sons and husbands from women of such low characters? And so did Guru Gobind Singh Ji through his composition, Charitropakhyan.
Why can’t Guruji describe to his Sikhs, whom he considers his sons, different ways a woman can deceivingly lead a man down into the dark and twisted path of kaamic sins? If Guru Gobind Singh Ji said "Khalsa meero roop hai khaas" then how can he not try to protect his Khalsa from all kinds of deceit and sensual treachery of women? After all men and women are both present in kalyug and brahmacharya is not the way to Moksha. If grahasta has and can lead to moksha then who is the other very important character of the grahsta jeevan other than man? Of course it is the woman. Can any woman on this earth say honestly that the men know all about how deceiving a woman can be? A man can be as evil as it can get, as is depicted and taught plenty of times to a girl while she is growing up. But the subject of a woman's deceit is still avoided due to various reasons including the fear that such an education can be considered as anti-feminine, or being unfair to the fair sex, or fear of being disrespectful to woman.
Haven’t women all over the world, in different time periods, in different continents, in different yugas, in different lokas have done that? Is the woman of today not doing that? Do not Bollywood, Hollywood, Hindi songs and all kinds of this world’s so called entertainment industry depict that? Can any woman Sikh or non-Sikh honestly deny that even one of the scenarios told in Charitropakhyan can never really happen? Can any woman Sikh or non-Sikh say that women are not capable of behaving in such shameful ways? No one can say it. I can also bet that all women in this world would have known some female with such deceitful character as described in Sri Dasam Granth.
Women are capable of committing such acts. Just as men can commit evil and heinous acts so can women.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the Great King who wanted to keep his Khalsa pure, and his composition Charitropakhyan plays that role of warning the Khalsa of the challenges it might face. The supreme Badshah has tried to show to his Sikhs that the fair sex is not so fair after all and has its own share of blame to take for the ills of the society. What is wrong in such a teaching? Is it not true that Guru Gobind Singh Ji is trying to protect his Khalsa? And is it not that this is what we all women want too and is it not that all the different chritras of women in Charitropakhyan, bad and good, are true? Guru teaches his Sikhs to be brave through all that.
If anyone finds these Charitars sexual it is because of two reasons, one he is not reading the whole chapter and just stopping because some of his hidden kaamic fantasies are popping up in his mind, or second he totally refused to see the tamasha of kaamic maya around him and failed to realize that our Great Guru did a great favor to his Sikhs by trying to protect them from all the deceitful sexual treacheries of women. There is no reason for any good man or woman to feel offended by it or feel sexually aroused by it. It is a dirty pile of all of our own fantasies gathered from the kaamic mud around us which is the cause of that. Our Guru is trying to give us his hand to pull us out of this kaamic quagmire.
If one reads Charitropakhyan and feels sexually aroused it is not the writings, but their fantasies which are responsible. Where do these fantasies come from? They come from Bollywood, Hollywood, billboards, and the list goes on. Everyday we all are bombarded by ashleel messages, overt or covert, from songs, movies, magazines which denigrate woman’s physical integrity. Yes it is true that one cannot control and stop all that nonsense, but as a Sikh you should rise above this and should be able to see the futility of all this - the evil effect this all can have on us. How can we not understand that these sound waves emitting from all the ashleel songs around us do affect us. These are the cause of all your sexual fantasies. Getting rid of them is not easy, but if you read and understand Charitropakhyan it is bound to stop you from following that track and you will ask yourself, “Wait a minute, there is so much trash around me. This is not how my Guru wants me to be”. You will try to make an effort to free yourself from all the kaamic quagmire which surrounds all of us. Remember that our Guru Granth Sahib Ji does not prescribe the solution of running to jungles. We have to be here, and become jeevan mukta in the grihasta jeevan. No matter what way you look at it this is a spiritual war and Charitropakhyan is one of the many different ways our great Guru Gobind Singh Ji has shown to win this war.
Rise above this kaamic quagmire and you can clearly see that it is the kaamic mud of our minds which is not letting us realize the true purpose intended by our Great Guru Gobind Singh Ji in composing Charitropakhyan.
The content of Charitropakhyan is not “ashleel” as described by some. The details about a woman’s beauty and form wherever described in Charitropakhyan are there to explain about the twisted deceitful plan of action indented by her in all the tales.
Also as claimed by some, Charitropakhyan is not an attack on women. I think every woman should read Charitropakhyan and I assure all the Sikh women that you will not at all feel offended because Guru Gobind Singh Ji is not criticizing women. Once a woman has read Charitropakhyan in all its totality only then she can come to her conclusions about the main idea and teaching that this composition intends. In it she will find help, a guide, an eye opener, for the good men in her life, not to get entrapped in this kaamic pitfall. We all know that a woman of bad character can make the dark hole of sin appear like a paradise to an unsuspecting man. Charitropakhyan opens his eyes and shows him that it is a dark hole of sin and nothing else. This is one of the numerous gifts of Guru Gobind Singh Ji to his beautiful Khalsa. It is my request to all Sikh women that do not take it personally. I want to ask all Sikh women that you all know quite well the extents of the great goodness of a woman’s heart, and you all also realize the devious and deceiving plans a woman is capable of plotting. There is not only the good heroine in the movie there is also a female villain, a vamp. Now project this to a real life. Don’t you believe that there are real life female villains too who are amongst us all? I am sure you can come up with many examples where a female character is evil beyond description. Once again I will humbly request all the Sikh women to read the Charitropakhyan in its totality.
You would be surprised as how much Guru Gobind Singh Ji loved his Khalsa and how he will always protect him. After all it is Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa. It is not some ordinary distinction. It is the greatest honor.
For those who think that Charitropakhyan cannot be read in front of their daughters and wives, probably do not understand that the intention of Guru Gobind Singh Ji in writing Charitropakhyan is not to insult women but to make men and women both understand how deceitful and devious a woman's character can be. I would request these people to sit with their wives or daughters or any other women dear and near to them and ‘finish’ reading Chritropankhyan. I am pretty sure no one will feel offended. There is one condition though - that you have to finish reading the whole tales. Why? Because, its only at the end of the tale that you will realize the warning which is given to a person to protect his honor.
Only after reading the whole of Charitropakhyan you will be saying “Oh my Great Guru Gobind Singh, you are amazing!”
* Sanjam Kaur lives in Long Island, NY, USA