Tuesday, December 07, 2021
image
Views & Reviews

Every Eunuch has his/her day of Fame

1
By EMN Updated: Sep 21, 2013 11:52 pm
A A A

Jack T. Chakhesang

YOURS truly is a Christian by choice having been baptized when I was in my mid-twenties. Reading remains one of my favourite pastimes, a compulsion in fact.. Apart from the Bible, I delved into the literature, histories and traditions of other communities and cultures as well in additional to bestsellers.

MYHTOLOGIES AND FOLK LORE
Today, I would like to delve into Hindu mythology a bit for as C. Rajagopalachari wrote in the preface to his abridged version of the 31-volume Mahabharata: “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the persons and incidents portrayed in the literature of a people influence its national characters no less potently than the actual persons and events enshrined ii its history.”
From this it follows that the average Britisher easily identifies with the likes of Mr Pickwick and Sam Weller just as the Americans do with Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Frank Merriwell.
The Hindus are greatly influenced by their mythologies and characters like Sita, Draupadi, Ram, Krishna and Arjun—to name a few—inspire them to great deeds of valour and fidelity.
The Nagas who mostly inhabit the hills and rough jungle terrain have developed themselves into hardy agriculturists and fierce warrior headhunters until they mostly embraced Christianity and the gun and which has put some cultural traditions into jeopardy. But their Animist-based folk lore lives on even if orally passed down the generations, and are only now being recorded albeit in fits and starts.

LOYALTY OF THE EUNUCHS
Be that as it may, in the other Hindu mythological epic, Ramayana, legend has it that the eunuchs which seem to be a miniscule but ubiquitous part of society, waited on the banks of the river Saryu for 14 years until Lord Ram and his wife Sita returned to Ayodhya after their exile.
When Ram asked them as to why they waited so long, they replied that at the outset of exile, Lord Ram had paused on the banks of the Saryu and asked all men, women and children who had followed him, to return to their homes. Since the eunuchs were not included, they decided to wait for his return.
So, Ram blessed the eunuchs and told them that they would rule during the Kaliyuga—the age of doom and destruction amidst aplenty but that is not counted in terms of earthly years—akin to the biblical age as described in the Book of Revelations but perhaps of a longer duration.
And the eunuchs are ruling.

RULE OF THE EUNUCHS
During the last fifteen years, eunuchs have come out of their traditional gatherings at marriages to sing and dance and earn and they have started contesting and winning municipal elections in some places in Madhya Pradesh and U.P. A few of them had even become Mayors despite much opposition and discrimination. Some day they might even become Ministers and MLAs.
Now, two days hence, will commemorate what began eleven years ago. On September 24, 2002 hundreds of eunuchs from across the country and Nepal converged on the small town of Patti (Amritsar), Punjab for a five-day All India Eunuchs Conference (AIEC). Such a conference was perhaps the first of its kind in the world and merits a world record of sorts.

MARRIAGE OF EUNUCHS
Another entry for the records could be the then marriage ceremony of two members of the eunuch community that was solemnized in a rare ceremony on September 24, 2002 itself. The Tarn Taran bride and Amritsar-based bridegroom tied the nuptials with great pomp as participants arrived at the venue, 45 kms from Amritsar, bejeweled with costly ornaments and driven in luxurious cars!
Baba Bhajan, overseeing the management of the AIEC, told a national news agency that the dowry fixed for the marriage was Rs 20 (twenty) lakhs. Needless to say, it is not known whether or not the authorities concerned did slap them with the provisions of the Anti-Dowry Act and also the Income Tax Act!
Though the marriage ceremony between two eunuchs would not produce any offspring, Bhajan said this rare ceremony is performed once in a century. “It is considered a good omen that showers prosperity on the nation,” he added.

ROLE OF THE EMASCULATED
For the uninitiated, a eunuch is a castrated human male. From remote antiquity, eunuchs were employed in the Middle-East and in China in two main functions—as guards and servants in harems or other women’s quarters, and as chamberlains to kings. Eunuchs were considered the most suitable guards for the many wives or concubines a ruler might have in his palace.
And the eunuchs’ confidential position in the harems of princes frequently enabled them to exercise an important influence over their rulers and even to raise themselves to stations of great trust and power. Some of them rose to become bodyguards, confidential advisors, and even Ministers, Generals and Admirals.
Most eunuchs underwent castration as a condition of their employment, though others were castrated as a punishment or after they had been sold by poor parents.
Eunuchs functioned as political advisors to the Emperors of China as early as the Chou period (1122-221 BC) and continued as such under the Han, Tang, Ming and Sung dynasties, persisting until almost the end of the imperial regime. At times, palace eunuchs became more powerful than the Emperor and effectively ruled China.
Eunuchs were used as court advisors in Persia under the Aehaemenids (559-330 BC). The Roman Emperors Claudius, Nero, Vitellius and Titus employed eunuchs as did most of the subsequent Emperors of the Byzantine Empire, In fact, many of the patriarchs of Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) during Byzantine times were eunuchs.
Political eunuchs also flourished in the centres of Muslim power after AD 750 and as a class eunuch advisors disappeared with the end of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century.
The Italian practice of castrating boys in order to train them as soprano singers (castrati) was ended by Pope Leo XIII in 1878.

VOLUNTARY EMASCULATIONS
The 3rd century Valesii, a Christian sect of eunuchs, castrated themselves and their guests in the belief that they were there by serving God.
Eunuchs who were emasculated voluntarily for the avoidance of sexual sin or temptations—the Christian theologian, Origen (AD 185-254) being the most celebrated example—have appeared in several Christian periods, basing their actions on the text of Matthew 19:12 and 5:28-30.

ORIGEN’S CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY
J. Lebreton says, “In the whole of Christian Antiquity, at least in the Eastern Church, there is no writer who is so attractive, whose glory is so disputed, or whose study is so difficult, as Origen… To-day we possess only some portions of his immense work, and the greater part of it has come down to us only by means of translations, the accuracy of which is by no means certain. In spite of all these difficulties, however, it is not impossible to determine in outline the life, character and thought of this famous doctor.”
The theology of Adamantus Origen, his cosmology, anthropology, ecclesiology, eschatology etc. have been affected by the following factors:
1. The heresies of his time: Origen’s main aim almost in all his writings and homilies is to refute, directly or indirectly, the major heresies of his time. In his youth, Origen compiled De Principiis (First Principles) “for those who, sharing our faith, are accustomed to look for reasons for their belief and for those who stir up conflicts against us in the name of the heresies.”
2. Origen had to deal with heretics as well as with the simple believers who were averse to any kind of speculation. His encounter was with these two theological movements.
3. His view on knowledge and philosophy: The Alexandrians of the time were concerned with philosophy for many reasons. To answer the burning philosophical questions of their time, to correct the philosophical views which were opposed to the Christian faith, to attract well-educated persons to Christianity and to defend Christianity from the accusation of ignorance and foolishness brought by some philosophers.
Many scholars believe that Origen founded Christian theology.
4. As a man of the Bible, Origen’s theological system is affected by it. He based his entire doctrine on his commentaries on the Sacred Scriptures. His theology was, above everything else, a system of exegesis. By his technique of spiritual interpretation, he succeeded in making the Bible accessible to every Christian who had any feeling for holy things.
5. His heart was inflamed for the conversion of the whole world, the edification of the true spiritual Church and the progress of every soul in divine and practical knowledge of the Holy Trinity, unity with her Heavenly Groom, and continuous glorification.
Therefore we cannot depend on his work “De Principiis” alone, which he had written while he was young, as if it contains his theological system. Undoubtedly his preaching and dialogues with simple people, bishops, philosophers and queens had their effect on his theological system. One of these affects his soteriological attitude almost in all his writings and homilies.

CHRISTIAN GNOSIS
Under the title “Origen’s Christian Gnosis” Basil Studer says:
This new, inquiring and systematic theology is rightly called Christian gnosis. It is gnosis not only because it follows up the problems of the Gnostics of the second century but also and primarily because it takes up again the true concerns of those first Christian theologians: above all the search for the knowledge that would provide a foundation for the salvation of mankind and the world.
According to Ecclesiastical historian, Eusebius of Caesarea, Origen castrated himself as a young man so as to work freely in instructing female Catechum. He lived a life of strict ascetism and extraordinary chastity. Account of Origen bears establishments of legends of saints and needs to be treated as such.
His other books are Miscellanies (Stromatis), and on Resurrection (Peri anastaseos.) His most famous work is Hexapla, which is a synopsis of six versions of the Old Testament, a transliteration of the Greek Septuagint into Hebrew. His tomb at Tyre (Lebanon) was held in honour and its long survival has been attested by historians of the Crusade.
EXPERIENCE WITH EUNUCHS
In India, nearly half a million people are eunuchs not man or woman, but considered entirely separate. (Add pix here)
Some years ago, while I was traveling to New Delhi in a 2-tier A/C coach from Guwahati, the journey was pleasant, my suitcase chained beneath my seat-cum-bed, a book in my hand. Then somewhere in a station in Bihar, several eunuchs got on board (without tickets, of course).
Perhaps it was my oriental features and since I looked somewhat different from my fellow travelers, one of the eunuchs dressed in sari gently brushed my left cheek with his/her right hand. Then another eunuch insisted that I buy some home-made lamp stand which I did. Imagine hearing a real male voice from someone dressed in female attire! And that too, in broad daylight! Other passengers gave away some notes of various denominations but they all gave me amused smiles as if to say “Ab dekha hai?” (Have you understood/seen now?)
In New Delhi, I was invited to a wedding ceremony by a friend and there amidst the pomp and pageantry, a flock of eunuchs also landed up as was their forte without invitation, of course. After their usual song and dance, the bride and bridegroom gave them some money and they went away happily.
It is generally believed that eunuchs should be left alone and that one should not take panga (umbrage, offence) with them lest they rain curses on you.
Eunuchs have also been known to visit Dimapur occasionally. They come in a small group and entertain manual labourers like pani wallahs and rickshaw wallahs etc. on \temporarily constructed stage,

EUNUCHS EVERYWHERE
With such history and precedents, the story has come full circle. At any level of ongoing events as published in daily newspapers and magazines, TV channels etc on international, national, or even our very own Naga society, just look around and you will see that it is indeed, from one end to the other, it is indeed, the day of the eunuchs.
Thus, one thing I came to understand what British poet William Cowper said: “Knowledge is proud it has learnt so much; Wisdom is humble, it knows no more.”
For, as Shakespeare made Hamlet say to his friend: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

1
By EMN Updated: Sep 21, 2013 11:52:17 pm