Pathology of Romeo bashing

Legendary lovers are having a bad time. Romeo, the passionate hero of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, has been transformed into a roadside molester by the UP police and the media. How the star-crossed Shakespearean hero became synonymous with petty ruffians in our country is indeed a matter of research.

Majnun of the Laila-Majnun fame has also met with a similar fate. Politicians and the media carelessly talk about ‘anti-Romeo squads’ and ‘anti-Majnun drive.’ It needs to be mentioned here that Majnun was not the name but the epithet of the legendary hero; his name was Qays. The word ‘Majnun’ is derived from the word ‘junoon’ or passion. ‘Majnun’ means ‘one who is passionate.’

A Majnun need not be ardently in love with his beloved only; it could be love and longing for God. As was the case with the Sufi saint to commemorate whom a place in Delhi is called Majnun ka Tilla (the Hillock of Majnun). “Guru Nanak, while visiting Delhi, met the resident Iranian Sufi bhakt, Abdulla, who lived atop this little mound, on the river’s bank,” says a report in The Times Of India (March 25, 2012). “The hermit was reed-thin, spending all his waking moments fasting and looking for the true meaning of God—in vain. He would ferry people across the river in his boat—for free—as service to God. People called him Majnu, so lost was he in love and devotion for God.”

Tradition has it that Abdulla found salvation in his rendezvous with Guru Nanak on July 20, 1505. At that place there is a big gurdwara.

Shakespeare’s Romeo was equally passionate; though carnal, his love for Juliet had an element of sublimity about it. For him, it was inconceivable to live without Juliet; believing that she has been killed, he committed suicide.

The long and the short of it is that there was not even an iota of wantonness in either Romeo or Majnun.

This is not to say that the UP police’s drive against ruffians, though terribly misnamed, is unwarranted. There is anecdotal evidence that it has made the life of girls better; they feel relatively safer now. But it is also undeniable that there is a streak of moral policing in the campaign. Targeting of young couples all over the state cannot be dismissed as normal excesses in the implementation of a good policy.

That the Sangh Parivar, including the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), is prudish is a well-known fact. And the prudery could be excessively sanctimonious. For instance, in 2012, the BJP government led by Chief Minister Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh officially declared Valentine’s Day as Matru-Pitru Divas (Parents’ Day). Saffron outfits’ attacks on Valentine’s Day have also been documented.

It would, however, be erroneous and misleading to conclude that it is only the Sangh fogies who are rail against Valentine’s Day and the intimacies of young couples. I’ll like to quote at length an old article on the jihadists’ and Left’s fulminations against Valentine’s Day. Jamie Glazov posted an article on February 12, 2011 (  He wrote:

“…every time Valentine’s Day comes around, the Muslim world reacts with ferocious rage, with its leaders doing everything in their power to quash the festivity that comes with the celebration of private romance. Imams around the world thunder against Valentine’s Day every year, and the celebration of the day itself is literally outlawed in Islamist states…

“In the West, meanwhile leftist feminists are not to be outdone by their jihadi allies in reviling—and trying to kill—Valentine’s Day. Throughout all Women’s Studies Programs on American campuses, for instance, one will find the demonization of Valentine’s Day, since, as the disciples of Andrea Dworkin angrily explain, ‘the day is a manifestation of how capitalist and homophobic patriarchs brainwash and oppress women and push them into spheres of powerlessness…’

“So what exactly is transpiring here? What explains this hatred of Valentine’s Day by leftist feminists and jihadis? And how and why does it serve as the sacred bond that brings the radical Left and Islam into its current curve of solidarity? The core issue at the foundation of this phenomenon is that Islam and the radical Left both revile the notion of private love, a non-tangible and divine entity that draws individuals to each other and, therefore, distracts them from submitting themselves to a secular deity.

“The highest objective of both Islam and the radical Left is clear: to shatter the sacred intimacy that a man and a woman can share with one another, for such a bond is inaccessible to the order. History, therefore, demonstrates how Islam, like Communism, wages a ferocious war on any kind of private and unregulated love. In the case of Islam, the reality is epitomized in its monstrous structures of gender apartheid and the terror that keeps it in place. Indeed, female sexuality and freedom are demonized and, therefore, forced veiling, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, honor killings and other misogynist monstrosities become mandatory parts of the sadistic paradigm…

“Valentine’s Day is a ‘shameful day’ for the Muslim world and for the radical Left. It is shameful because love is considered obscene, since it threatens the highest of values: the need for a totalitarian order to hold the complete and undivided attention, allegiance and veneration of every citizen. Love serves as the most lethal threat to the tyrants seeking to build Shariah and a classless Utopia on earth and so these tyrants yearn for the annihilation of every ingredient in man that smacks of anything human.”

It is indeed painful to realize that Hindu nationalists are following in the footsteps of jihadists and Leftists. This is perhaps the reason that saffron activists find nothing objectionable in bracketing Romeo and Majnun with molesters, for both the legendary lovers dared to indulge in “private and unregulated love.”