Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Indian Husband of Noble Character

Sometimes I think about feminism and gender roles in general and I can't help but wonder where things went awry. In ancient literature men and women had well defined roles within society but it seems like everything mentioned mostly how women needed to act and what a bad woman acted like. I don't like that. Men can have just as unsavory character as women - as we all know. So, I thought it would be fun to rewrite Proverbs 31: 10-31 to reflect what a good husband (IMO) would be like.

I think this is a great way to prepare for Domestic Violence Awareness month (October). 

As you read over this, think about your husband (or yourself). Would you be able to say the same or similar words about him? You don't have to be a Christian to follow along with this kind of character. A true man works hard, loves with all his heart and never brings harm to his family. A man like that will truly be treated like a god by his wife.

I changed more than just the him/her part to reflect more modern times. For example, in verse 10, the bible says her worth is far more than rubies. I chose diamonds because many women these days want a nice big one in their wedding rings. An honorable husband is worth far more than any engagement ring. The words/phrases in bold are key to what a man should act like.

The following scripture is from the

Epilogue: The Husband of Noble Character

10 A husband of noble character who can find? (Dharmatma) He is worth far more than diamonds. (heera...bling bling!)
11 His wife has full confidence in him and lacks nothing of value. (atbar)
12 He brings her good, not harmall the days of his life. (ahimsa)
13 He selects cotton suits and methi and works with eager hands.
14 He is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
15 He gets up while it is still night; he provides food for his family and portions for his servants. (denwala)
16 He considers a field and buys it (patwari); out of his earnings he plants a vineyard.
17 He sets about his work vigorously (mihanati); his arms are strong for his tasks.
18 He sees that his trading is profitable, and his lamp does not go out at night. (faidemand)
19 In his hand he holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with his fingers.
20 He opens his arms to the poor and extends his hands to the needy. (narm dil)
21 When it snows, he has no fear for his household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 He makes coverings for his bed; he is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 His wife is respected at the city gate, where she takes her seat among the elders of the land. (sarpanch)
24 He makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. (dukandar)
25 He is clothed with strength (majbuti) and dignity (izzat); he can laugh at the days to come.
26 He speaks with wisdom (buddhmani), and faithful (imandar) instruction is on his tongue.
27 He watches over the affairs of his household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 His children arise and call him blessed (bhaganwala); his wife also, and she praises him:
29 “Many men do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a man who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor him for all that his hands have done, and let his works bring him praise at the city gate.


  1. Yes, I can honestly say all those things are true about my husband.
    Maybe that's why I married him?
    Well, sometimes he doesn't speak with a lot of wisdom, but he eventually comes around & will listen to reason.
    (Sure hope Apple doesn't throw another tantrum because I pointed out my Indian husband says dumb things sometimes.) ;)

  2. This is an interesting post especially during Domestic Violence Awareness month!

  3. I think not just men or women religion does give outline for everyone to perform one's duty and be good members of society if at all we followed them. For example according to Hindu scriptures human life is divided into four stages or ashrams:

    1 brahmacharya ashram: (upto 25 yrs) a child goes to gurukul for education. He lives close to nature and learns valuable lessons by being self reliant from his guru.

    2. Grihysta ashram (25 to 50) man marries and fulfills responsibility towards his family and society at large.

    3. Vanaprashta ashram (50 to 75) people start to slowly move away from the family towards spirituality and working for the betterment of society.

    4. Sanyasa ashram (75 onwards) people renounce worldly life, go into forests and submit themselves to God's service.

    So, life was neatly divides into stages whereby a human being performs his duties towards his family, society and god. We are unable to follow it due to our attachments to worldly desires. The world itself is an illusion of pain and pleasure. This path is prescribed both for men and women. I may be slight here and there with the ages.

  4. I'm impressed. Men like that are hard to find.

  5. The bible does give some instruction to men but it isn't nearly as detailed as all the rules that apply to women.

  6. I love how you reversed it, because I honestly think that marriage is a partnership and that each needs to give 100% to the relationship. I do believe we are not able to do the same things ( even our anatomy is designed differently), but we have the same potential to love and honor one another.

  7. After leaving a very violent relationship I met my husband. He is a 13 out of 10 for husbands and my savior! Love this!

  8. This article describes the qualities of good Indian wife according to religious scriptures. Not very flattering I must say, I guess it was for those times.

    Unfortunately, most scriptures of the world are written keeping the man in mind. Even god is a man most of the time, when creation itself is impossible without a female energy. It is believed that there is all pervasive female energy in the universe called Adi Shakti which pulsates in every atom of the universe:

    "Adi means Primordial and Shakti means Power. So Adi Shakti means Primordial Power of God. At the beginning of time only these Two existed: God and His Shakti. God is the Observer and She is the embodiment of His Will, of His Dreams, of His Emotions, of His Feelings and Plans. So She started to create and with Her endless love She has created the whole universe and universes which are nothing else but a beautiful cloak which Adi Shakti has made for God to wrap Him with it and to make Him visible"

    I do believe that God is most definitely a women for two reasons. Firstly, the universe is so beautifully organized like our homes and secondly, there is two much too look after in the universe. Only a women has the multi-tasking organizational strength to manage such diverse things so beautifully and patiently. This energy is all the more evident during these auspicious days of Navaratras.

  9. I think it is not so easy to find a truly noble character these days but if we look closely we will see that they are out there much closer to us than we thought they are.

  10. Great point! It needs to have a communication and understanding in both parties to save a marriage and it all begins with the husband. I love the verses ;)

  11. This was a great read! I too believe that marriage is s partnership. Both parties have to be on one accord.

  12. This is a good example of differences in Western & Indian thinking (religious or otherwise).
    We modern 'Westerns' expect people to combine family, spirituality & working for the betterment of society to start somewhere around 25 (with graduation from university or establishment of some sort of marketable skills) and continue until we die.
    Rare is the individual who renounces 'worldly life' & submits themselves solely to spiritual pursuits in the modern Western world (maybe in the Catholic church but that's about it).
    I wonder if putting off 'working for the betterment of society' until one is 50 & moving away from the family is part of India's problem with not having much of a sense of the 'common good'?

  13. Great points thanks so much for such a great article!

  14. Thanks for the book recommendation. And what a fantastic post that is incredibly topical...

  15. In those days the I.e. vedic times, life expectancy was 100 years, so human life was divided into 25 years slots. So people had plenty of time to plan different stages of life. The first phase where the child goes to gurukul is equivalent to people going living on their own in a gurukul. The gurukul were located in forests far away from human habitation where children were supposed to manage the upkeep of the gurukul themselves somewhat like an open air boarding school.

    The third stage where people draw themselves out of this Web of family was very important which unfortunately does not take place often leading to undue interference in other's lives.

    The bottom line is our ansectors wanted us to do something for everyone be it family or society but not stick around forever creating more problems for ourselves and others which unfortunately happens often. These are of course basic guidelines.

  16. I agree, men and woman have both been unsavory at some points.

  17. Absolutely! We are designed differently. We just need to learn to respect each other equally and uplift each other for our unique qualities.

  18. I'm glad you were able to get out and find a happy life. :)

  19. What's interesting is that the Christian bible says God made man in His image. So if that's the case, why are the sexes so different? How would he know to make something so drastically different (a woman). What isn't taught in the Christian churches though is that many times the words used for God is plural (meaning more than one God) and sometimes it's feminine. It's not always a single male being described. There's a lot the modern day, American Christian church doesn't teach and unfortunately not many people study beyond what they hear on Sunday mornings. It's quite sad. The bible is such a fantastic historical document, it shouldn't be so disregarded. Nor should the scriptures/holy books of other older religions. I spend a considerable amount of time studying those books and it's amazing all that has been left out of popular history models.

  20. You're right. I have met a few men who would fit this passage very well but many men have a healthy amount of good qualities that get shadowed by the bad ones.

  21. Rare is the person who devotes even 10% of his time to spiritual pursuits sadly. I think we should teach our children to pursue this avenue of history from an early age. There is much wisdom that comes from studying the various documents, especially older versions of them. If for nothing else but to see how the wording changed over time or to learn about the fascinating things that occurred in our past.

  22. Very inspiring for all husbands. I want to add what is written in 'Sirach' , which is a book in Bible:

    26 The husband of a good wife is a fortunate man; he will live twice as long because of her. 2 A fine wife is a joy to her husband, and he can live out his years in peace. 3 A good wife is among the precious blessings given to those who fear the Lord. 4 Whether such men are rich or poor, they will be happy and always look cheerful.

    5 There are four things that scare me: vicious rumors spread around town, a gathering mob, false accusations—these are all worse than death. 6 But a woman jealous of another woman causes heartache and grief; her tongue lashes out at everyone.

    7 A bad wife is like a yoke that doesn't fit. Trying to control her is like holding a scorpion. 8 A drunken woman is an infuriating sight; she can't conceal her shameless behavior. 9 You can tell an unfaithful wife by the bold and flirting look in her eyes.

    10 If your daughter is determined to have her own way, keep a close watch on her. If you don't, she'll take advantage of any chance she gets. 11 If she is too self-willed, be on guard, and don't be surprised if she disappoints you. 12 She'll spread her legs anywhere for any man who wants her, just as a thirsty traveler will drink whatever water is available.

    13 A gracious wife is her husband's delight; her abilities make him a stronger man.[a] 14 A wife who doesn't talk too much is a gift from the Lord. Such restraint is admirable beyond words. 15 A modest wife has endless charm; it is a quality too precious to measure. 16 The beauty of a good wife in her well-kept home is like the noonday sun shining in the Lord's sky. 17 Her beautiful face and attractive figure are[b] as lovely as the light from the sacred lampstand in the Temple, 18 and like its gold shaft set on its silver base are her shapely legs and strong ankles.[c][d]

  23. Religion and culture are interlinked. You cannot understand one without the other. To say that you cannot be ritualistically religious but not spiritua,l is not correct. Prayers, idols, rituals were created to simplify the connection between man and god. In the rush of day to day life, man may forget the lord, so prayers and rituals were created to maintain that link. It also instills discipline in a person regarding cleanliness and good conduct.

    There are people who had a formal grounding in some religion and then moved on to explore their spiritual aspects. But what about children, for whom religion and spirituality are both abstract concepts. How do they understand spirituality without the concept of god/religion. Religion is the reference point of culture. Once the reference point is gone, you cannot understand culture associated with it. The best way to introduce children to culture is through festivals. Once children participate in a festival, there are exposed to culture as well. For eg. when I was young, I realized that the scale at which we organize Durga Pooja is something unique to our community. This is our culture and we must preserve it. We are different from north indians but also similar. I was also at ease with the wider north indian culture surrounding me in Delhi, and their festivals. It made be appreciate the significance of Diwali, Christmas, Id and many such festivals.

    My parents were not overtly religious but encouraged me to learn more about culture and religion through mythological comics, books etc. These days parents hardly bother to teach children anything religious, and so a big chunk of culture, just bypasses them. I appreciate the way muslims encourage their children to keep fasts during Ramzan from the age of seven. I think more communities should encourage their children. Some people may disagree with me but I guess religious existence is much better than religion less existence.

  24. Apple-
    Are you saying older people who 'stick around forever' create problems for themselves & others? Can't older people lead productive lives either wordily or spiritual?
    I think the Christian churches in the US have really alienated men - go to any church gathering & hardly any men will be in attendance. I think Christian men should be encouraged to take the role as spiritual leaders in home & society. That's what is recommended in the Bible & how it used to be.

  25. You're right, @Apple. The various ashrams of life are an ideal. The real problem is that people on the verge of retirement don't want to move on to other activities. And the constant interference in the lives of their grown children is what makes Indian family life a full scale 24 hours television soap opera. There are plenty of things for retired people to do for themselves and for society, they just need to take themselves out of the "grihastha ashram" stage of their children's lives.

  26. @AAPI

    I had to share this with you though it is slightly off topic. These are two links about Bengali Durga Pooja Celebrations in Nagpur. The idols and the decorations are out of this world. Today is Astami the day when little girls are worshiped as representation of of goddess durga. The ceremony is called Kanchak. I remember you missed that ceremony during your stay in India at your inlaws house.

  27. Thanks for sharing. Your passage is similar in concept. I think it could also be reworded to say the wife of a good husband, etc. A husband should be everything to his wife that he expects a wife to be to him.