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Ego, politics and identity

Revenge is more usually than not an act of ego - a reaction when ego has been defied in some way.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2006 16:25 IST

In ancient society, men and women had equal rights. Later, when some distinguished women such as Gargi, Maitreyi and others excelled against their male counterparts in intellect, learning, humanity and power of contemplation, a group of male conspirators started curtailing their rights one after another in order to engender an inferiority complex in their minds.

A set of rules was created, which actually debarred women from educational rights and intellectual prowess. It extended to prohibiting their right to monetary control and inheritance.

Luckily, these rules are reversed in modern times, but the old prejudices linger in the backward minds even today.

Why did this happen? Why did the male ego seek to revenge itself on womankind for daring to have opinions and ideas? But that's how ego works.

In fact, the phrase, "revenge oneself" reminds me of a story - of how King Ballal Sen revenged himself on the Suvarna Vanik (merchants) of Bengal.

The royal treasury of Bengal was controlled by a handful of wealthy merchants. Their principal centre was Suvarnagram.

King Ballal Sen was given to much pomp and luxury and was a lecher to boot. His son, Lakshman Sen, was extremely unhappy with his father.

King Ballal Sen often demanded more and more funds from the treasury. Since it was the king's order, the merchants could not object. But later, when the treasury was depleted and the king showed no signs of returning the funds as promised, they spoke to Prince Lakshman Sen. Through him, they conveyed to the king that if he continued to draw funds from the royal treasury, the country's economy would meet with disaster.

King Ballal Sen was enraged by the merchants' wise advice. He vindictively retaliated and declared the whole community of Suvarna Vaniks - well-educated, intelligent and talented men - as outcastes.

Thus he revenged himself against them in an act of political interference in socio-religious identity.

Such stories come to mind even more today when we see how politics meddles in the lives and identities of communities. And certainly, in gender issues.