Kanyadaan by Vijay Tendulkar, is a wonderful book that sheds light on the sensitive issue of spousal abuse and through a story of a wife caught in the web of domestic violence, shows the reader the minute intricacies of such situations that cause the victim from protesting against or reporting the abuse, and hence, allow the abuse to continue (Tendulkar). The thesis of the book revolves around the notion that perhaps the incorporation and implementation of the caste system in marriages is the safest bet to increase the chances of the success of the marriage.
The poignant account of a young girl being subjected to ill treatment by her husband who is of a caste different to hers leaves the reader pondering upon the legitimacy of the modern day liberal views of stamping out the caste system from marriage traditions (p. 77). Tendulkar introduces us to a girl belonging to a sophisticated family that is revered for its strength in politics. The girl, as we see her, has been brought up to respect and appreciate modern approaches to culture.
She decides to marry a man who is not from her caste. We see that the girl gets inspired by the man who is a poet and she finds herself helplessly enchanted by his poetry (p. 15). But the book does not center on the girl as much as it does on her father. It is the liberal ideas that the father teaches to his daughter that give her the courage and will to break the caste-based marriage tradition as she goes on to marry the man, Dalit.
Unfortunately for her, after getting married to Dalit, she realizes how mistaken she was and that Dalit was not at all the man he appeared to be (p. 65). Societies must evolve in order to succeed in the world, and in order to evolve in a manner that allows for the attainment of the same, it is necessary that the engineering of the society during this course of evolution is performed correctly.
It is the cultural trends which dominate and are allowed to dominate by the people of the society that eventually engineer the evolution of the society, and after having gone through Tendulkar’s perspective, one cannot help but realize the significance of marriage in this very process, and the role that the caste system plays in it. I believe that regarding the case we see in Tendulkar’s Kanyadaan, perhaps it was the caste-based marriage system that keeps us safe from falling into situations such as the one in which the politicians daughter found herself.
However, it is not merely the caste-based marriage system that Tendulkar has brought into debate through Kanyadaan, but also the fact of that a number of domestic problems that are prevalent in society are going unnoticed and a few are of such a horrible nature that a person can neither escape them, nor oppose them since in neither of the two actions will a person be able to avoid the pain that these domestic problems inflict.
The most serious of these problems, as Tendulkar shows us, is domestic violence and domestic abuse. For instance, we see occasions in Kanyadaan where Dalit, the husband, chooses to drink and abuse his wife, and the helpless wife can do nothing about it. We see in Kanyadaan how not only is the girl who chooses to cross the barriers of tradition for her love, affected by it, but also her father who was the person who developed the values of modernism in her.
The father is helpless to do anything to prevent the pain that his daughter is going through (p. 43). This comes as all the more reason to understand that unless a complete understanding of the parties involved in the marriage has been reached it is unwise to carry out the nuptials since once the process has begun the husband and the wife are rarely in a social position where separation is an option. What follows is the barrage of unexpected circumstances out of which domestic violence, as we see in Kanyadaan, is often one.
From Tendulkar’s perspective, one cannot help but recognize the significance of the caste-based marriage system and the significance of its role in the evolution of a society. The book leaves no doubt in the readers mind that the abolishment of the caste based marriage system is an issue that requires serious attention since it cannot be under any circumstance be considered a success formula for all cases. On a more personal note, upon having gone through the book, I found myself to be in agreement with many of the critics who had reviewed this book.
The caste-based marriage system was indeed a system that had its advantages. But I am doubtful about the reasoning that I came across in many of the reviews of the book. It is important to note that Tendulkar has shown only one case in which an inter-caste marriage has failed. In terms of a statistical approach, the size of the considered subject being one case alone is much too small to draw any concrete inference. Works Cited Tendulkar, V. Kanyadaan. Oxford University Press, 1996.
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