Once when Lord Shiva had gone to meditate on Mount Kailash, Goddess Parvati gave birth to a child. This creation owes to her loneliness and despair. What she wanted was someone who could provide her with love and protection. When Shiva returned, this child stood guarding the cave and refused him to enter into the cave. Shiva angrily chopped off his head in anger. Parvati, overcome with grief told Shiva that if he doesn’t bring his son to life, she will bring the universe to destruction. Shiva thus ordered his servants, who brought an elephant’s head after long search.
This head was put on this child and he was named Ganesha by Shiva himself. We tend to take this story in its mythical essence and religious aura. What we don’t think about is the hints that it leaves on the basic nature of a mind. That thought process; the reason behind Parvati’s creation and Shiva’s anger on Ganesha might just be a basic desire of any human.
There are certain things in this world which we are not supposed to talk about. These things dwell deep inside us and they are often known as forbidden desires. While most of us tend to negate them, there are a few of us who feel this part of us hurting from inside. It’s unexplainable to the ones who don’t want to think about it, but for the ones who feel that they are attracted towards their own mothers – the answer is Oedipus complex.
The Oedipus complex can be quickly summarized as “the childhood phase during which the child wants the exclusive attention and affection of the parent of the opposite sex, and views the parent of the same sex as a rival or enemy to be replaced.” Oedipus was a Greek king in Sophocles’ play The Oedipus Rex who killed his father and married his mother unknowingly.
Tales in Hindu scriptures suggest a reverse-Oedipal, or Yayati, complex. In this case the father destroys the son in order to have his way. The story goes that when Devayani learned that her husband, Yayati, had secretly married her maid, Sarmishtha, and that the maid had borne him two sons, Devayani ran to her father the asura-priest, Shukra, who cursed Yayati to become old and impotent. When he realized the implications of the curse, Shukra modified it, stating that Yayati would regain his youth and potency if one of his sons willingly bore the burden of the curse.
The youngest son, Puru, agreed to become old and impotent so that his father could enjoy life. Puru regained his youth and earned the gratitude of his father years later when, after indulging his senses in every way, Yayati realized the ephemeral nature of material things and decided it was time to let go and grow old.
There are many critics who believe that there is no culture in this world, who do not have the Oedipus complex inherent in their texts. The Oedipus complex is often shown via the sending of Ram to an exile by Dhashrata. Critics claim this was to distance Lord Rama from the mothers. Bhisma who took onto celibacy for his father is also been given as an example by many critics.
In Jain traditions, Bhisma is said to have castrated himself so that no one doubts his integrity. Imagine, a father allowing his son to castrate himself so that he can get a wife. This is what critics say to justify the Oedipus complex and include it in the Indian culture. However, most of us do not believe in this and believe the father-mother-son relationship to be very pure- which is justified.
The difference in Greek Oedipus Complex and Indian Yayati Complex has been seen by many to explain the cultural and intellectual differences between India and the West. Indians shy away from rebellion. Rebellion means rejecting tradition, the past, the father.
Indians thus feel this incestuous marital relationship as a taboo and according to the Yayati complex Indians are not brave enough to come out. However, directors like Vishal Bhardawaj have been bold enough to bring out the theme of Oedipus complex in the movie like Haider. Haider’s first reaction as he returns home and watches his Uncle Kay Kay dancing and singing to please his Bhabhji says it all.
The son and mother relationships are always seen with the eyes of purity. The women in Indian society are already marginalized so much that if people come to witness this Oedipus phenomenon in news- the women will be further pushed to periphery and might be accused of seducing their own sons. We don’t really hear about a mother son affair on Indian news channels, but we do hear some people coming out on private blogs. It’s shocking, but it is true.
For those of you who believe in finding the holes go on to rape- both this text and your mind to know the truths. For those, who believe in the simplicity of a mother son love, take this just as a part of a story on pure love. For, the ball is in your court, it’s on you to decide which side you belong to. Oedipus or no Oedipus, one thing is universal- we all should love and respect our mothers. That’s what matters.