Women do not claim and demand importance. They do not strive to be among the very elite called classes. What they only demand is to be treated equally with the men. Not in terms of physical aspects but the need and struggle for cerebral equality.
Whitney Kelting, an assistant professor of religion at the Northeastern University, observes an exceptional contrast between two religions of the same country. The Hindu ethnic groups and the Jains, though predominantly belonging to the same country of India which is known for its diversity and secularism, marks a different tradition for women of both these religions. The Hindu wives, centuries ago, followed a ritual named ‘Sati’ which consisted of the wife sacrificing her life by jumping into the fire on the death of her husband. The fire was usually her husband’s funeral pyre. But, on the other hand, the Jains, also one of the ancient religious sects of India, did not follow the tradition of Sati. It is the principles of non-violence and peace that are of immense importance to them and hence the wives accept a subservient role in their marriage.
Kelting’s novels study the lives of these Jain women who devote their entire lives to their husbands. One of the narratives include a Jain woman who is abandoned by her soon-to-be husband who decides to become a monk. As a result, she is forced to become a nun in order to be a dutiful wife of her would-be husband. There remains no difference in the treatment of a Hindu and a Jain wife if the clause of non-violence is excluded. In both the cases we see that the independence of the wives are taken away and their lives are controlled. The Jain wives showcase their loyalty by abandoning their own wishes and locking themselves in the footsteps of their husbands.
According to me, even if this sect chose to opt the other way and get itself away from sacrificing lives, the ethical complication still remain. A woman would readily end her life instead of remaining in the clutches of her husband. It is not just the seizure of freedom but it is about putting a woman’s life on a clock and a hard schedule where she can behave nothing more but what her husband tells her. Liberation is called a better word than imprisonment. The Jain wives will endure imprisonment of life rather than liberation.