Sri Jawhar Sircar speaks at the 245 Birth annoversary of Raja Rammohun in Kolkata
Jawhar Sircar speaks at the Museum
The Raja Rammohun Roy Library celebrates the birth anniversary each year. Each year they get a special guest to speak at this august occassion. In 2015 it was Prof. Sugata Bose and this year it was the Ex CEO of Prasar Bharati Sri Jawhar Sircar speaking on Hindu Patriarchy in Rammohun's Time : Durga & Other Issues.

Sri Sircar tried to explain the cause for increase in Sati and oppression of women in Bengal between 1707 and 1775. This was the time of transition from the old order of Mughal India to the rise of a landed class due to the new zamindari system, as started by Mirzafar and given legal stamp by East India Company in 1772. The British wanted to govern India according to the Mohammedan laws for Muslims already codified by Aurangzeb and Gentile laws for Hindus which was not codified. While trying to codify Hindu law a lot of misinterpretations and conflicting ideas crept in. William Jones who was trying to codify the Gentu laws had to depend on the Brahmin pundits.

Rammohun at one point of time was part of this excercise. He seemed to have differed with the pundits regarding their misinterpretations. Since in Bengal the Daibagh allowed women to inherit properties, therefore there was a vested interest in promoting Sati, sending young widows to Kashi and Vrindaban in order to deprive the women of their right to property. Further the permanent settlement act encouraged more cultivation for increase in revenue. This involved clearing of marshy land, generally inhabited by buffaloes.

Hence it was a calculated portrayal by the pundits to bring in the cult of Durga was introduced where she was seen slaying the buffeloes. But the aggressive stance of Devi Durga needed to be curbed just as the women were subdued. Hence she started getting projected as the domesticated daughter complete with her children. Therefore domination of women and their complete subjugation was a feature of the times when Rammohun was born. He was a direct witness to this transition and that provided him with the impetus to fight against this evil.

Sri Sircar also drew references to the numerous statues of Durga that have been unearthed in Bengal. Prior to the 17th century she has not been depicted as riding a lion. Sri Sircar's opinion was that lion was a foreign animal in Bengal and that the artisans had no idea how it looked. It was only after the Calcutta Zoo was establisahd - did the proper shape of a lion became known to the sculptors.

The discourse was well attended and followed by a Q & A session at the end.