by Jayaram V
Although India derives its original name (Bharat) from the legendary
was born out of a premarital relationship between Shakuntala,
a beautiful maiden, daughter of sage Kanva, and Dushyanta a King,
Hinduism neither approves free sex nor condones premarital sex.
This has been the situation from the earlier times and not much
has changed as far as the social attitude is concerned.
In the epic Mahabharata, Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, begets
a son (Karna) from the Sun before her marriage to Pandu. She suffers
for the rest of her life for this transgression. Fearing condemnation
from her family, she deserts the new born baby who eventually grows
up to become a great hero and an arch enemy of the Pandavas and
participates in the Mahabharata (the great Indian) war against his
The stories of Shakuntala and Kunti amply illustrate the fact
that Hindu society has been sensitive to the problems of premarital
relationships but never approved them. In ancient times premarital
sex was not an issue because the girls were mostly married before
they reached puberty and sent to their husbands' homes where they
would grow up under the careful attention of the elders of the families.
Besides girls were not allowed to study or go outside freely on
But today the situation is different. For many Hindus the influence
of western education and culture is a matter of great concern. Whether
they live abroad or in India, premarital sex is not just a taboo
but a great sacrilege in many Hindu families who are committed to
Hindu way of life. For parents it would be a great calamity if their
children are found involved in a premarital relationships. If the
matter becomes public, life would be really difficult for the whole
family. Parents therefore pay closely follow the activities of their
children as they reach adolescence.
Segregation between the sexes in schools and colleges in the
Indian subcontinent is also very common. The system of dating between
a boy and a girl is foreign to Hindu tradition and not approved.
Since normal communication and friendship between a boy and a girl
is hindered by social taboos, the two sexes live in two different
worlds and suffer from a great communication gap.
Financial pressures often drive some poor girls into prostitution
and night clubs. Their percentage is comparatively very less and
they come mostly from poor families and broken homes, with little
parental controls. They are an exception rather than a norm.
Suggested Further Reading