Doesn’t blaming the culture for the Delhi gang-rape mean that we shift the blame away from the criminals?

by January 20, 2013

Answer: No, not at all. It just means that we look at all the relevant causes. Let’s understand this with the analogy of arson.

Suppose our city is ravaged repeatedly by conflagrations set off by arson. To counter the menace, we would punish the arsonists strongly and improve the firefighting services. Additionally, we would investigate an underlying cause: are the city buildings made of inflammable stuff?

Similarly, to counter the fire of sexual violence, we absolutely need to punish the criminals swiftly and severely, and to provide better security for women. Additionally, we need to investigate an underlying cause. As all actions start with thoughts – the stuff of the mind, we need to check whether people’s thoughts are made of sexually inflammable stuff.

The answer is a resounding yes, as we discussed in last week’s article.

What is the result of such exposure? Arson in the mind and arson in the world. Gita wisdom offers pertinent insights. The Bhagavad-gita (03.39) compares lust, the dark force that drives most people towards sex and sexual violence, to a fire. The Gita’s next verse (03.40) pinpoints the location of lust to be the mind of the beholder – and not the beholden object – thereby exposing the perversity of blaming the victim for any sexual assault. And its next verse (03.41) recommends regulating one’s sensual input as a necessary first step for controlling lust.


The mind functions according to the well-known GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) principle. In fact, the mind can even aggravate and pervert the ingested garbage before excreting it. The Bhagavad-gita (02.62) explains that lust when frustrated transmogrifies into wrath. Metaphorically, Gita wisdom call wrath the younger brother of lust (kamanuja). External lust-provoking stimuli fill the mind with sexually inflammable stuff. When those whose minds are thus inflammable come across some opportunity for indulgence, that opportunity triggers the fire of desire inside them. This fire can burn down their intelligence and conscience, and make them into sexual perverts who can stoop to the level of using bloodcurdling violence to fulfill their evil desires. That’s how even the input of romantic and consensual sex, that our sensibilities consider harmless, can by the volatile combustion of lust and wrath, emerge as the output of forcible and brutal sexual violence that our sensibilities condemn as horrendous.

If we don’t address this underlying cause, the consequences will be ominous as Dr Kevin B Skinner points out in Treating Pornography Addiction, “We will have an epidemic of incredible proportions with no way of turning back. Our social system has allowed greed and money to destroy the lives of men, women, and their children. Families are being destroyed, while those who produce such media are reaping the financial benefits.”

To counter this looming disaster effectively, we need to decrease the public depiction of provocative material. By thus changing the stuff that fills our culture externally, we can help make the stuff that fills people’s minds less sexually inflammable.


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