The customs, ideas, beliefs, art, literature, architecture, music, etc. of a particular society/nation, collectively define its culture. This definition as much holds for Kashmiri Pandit Community as for any other community in the world; except for those for whom their religion decides every dimension of their life.

While art, literature, music and architecture help in understanding how a society has evolved over a time span and more importantly how its collective Mind has evolved to create new forms, shapes and expressions from the real material world; the belief systems and religious practices define the relationship as it evolved between the mortals and the Absolute - the Ishwar; the Saguna Brahman. Such practices and beliefs are the ways to connect with the Creator.

While all kinds of creative works- be they related to Temporal or Spiritual world- by a section of the society do add immense value to the extant civilization, yet they need not necessarily be a yardstick to measure how civilized a society/nation is. For, the intellectuals in respective domains of human endeavour are far ahead of their times and therefore their articulations/expressions may not be immediately relevant to their society and hence out of step with the day to day societal dynamics and its governance.

What basically sustains a society/nation are the contributions of people with average intellect insofar as running its affairs is concerned- be those related to matters economic, social, religious and political. And, therefore it’s the conduct of these people and their collective sense of duty towards their co-habitants that defines how civilized or otherwise a society/nation is. For, no matter how robust and flourishing the economy is and how profound the scientific discoveries/inventions are; they are no real measure of how civilized the people are.

So then, what’s the yardstick for measuring how civilized a society/nation is? Answers to this Q are attempted at in the text to follow.

Transition from being an Individual to a Family Member

Family is the basic unit of a society and in a family the husband and wife are its basis.

So, the fundamental Q is: what are the defining parameters of this husband-wife relationship?

The starting point is that when one gets married one need to understand that his/her wife/husband is First a Human Being, then a Woman/Man and the tag wife(W)/husband(H) is like giving a name to the two individuals who have entered into a wedlock.

I was randomly shooting the sunset when a family decided to walk back from the sea to the beach, I was just perfectly aligned with them and the golden hour sun. Captured the cute moment where the mother and father were holding hands. They noticed me afterwards and they asked if I had an instagram so they could see my work. We had a little chat and I showed the fresh photo directly on my camera screen, they were really happy with it !
I love the tones and how the backlight enhances group.
Photo by Kevin Delvecchio / Unsplash

First a Human Being

This designation “Human Being” has many connotations. In addition to being understood as a two legged social animal it implies certain attributes personified like, strengths and weaknesses; an independent thought process; a bundle of desires, aspirations and emotions; bestowed with a specific nature; etcetera.

Therefore, the two tied in a wedlock are bound to differ in some measure from one another insofar as these attributes are concerned and this difference is Divine ordained. It implies that in the set {W, H}, each element should find a space for itself without being trampled upon by another. Thought process is the external manifestation of the dynamics within arising due to interplay of one’s emotions, desires, and aspirations based on specific strengths and weaknesses. To “find a space” means that each element of the set {W, H} is entitled to freely express herself/himself to the other one and that this Divinely ordained process not only helps develop a cohesive bond between the two, but also fills one’s ego with a sense of participation insofar as family matters are concerned and hence satisfaction. If not adhered to then the behaviour of one to another is not cultured and hence uncivilized.

Then a Woman/Man

Ordained to be physically different from each other in order to fulfil the duties specific to them insofar as evolution of human race is concerned. Since W and M form a complete set, to start with, therefore they complement each other and become the basis for the evolution of human race. For one to take birth as a boy or a girl is ordained and therefore there can’t be anything so special about a boy that should elude a girl and vice-versa. Man and Woman are two entities neither equal nor unequal to one another and it’s this axiom that both need to internalize; both are entitled to love, affection, respect and acknowledgement without any discrimination. If internalized then the mutual relationship transcends the Man-Woman divide to exist on a Human plane.

To inculcate within a sense of superiority over the other smacks of arrogance and is detrimental to the mutual relationship and hence this arrogation is not cultured and hence uncivilized.

The Only Constraint

While freedom to express, to take decisions and to act is indicative of a healthy environment, yet nothing can be allowed to be undertaken that harms welfare  and interests of the family. Therefore, a cultured way of living a family life is to arrive at a consensus between the wife and husband on what to do and what not do in matters of concern; different thought process and other attributes, notwithstanding.

The Parent and Child Relationship

It’s not just about affording a luxurious life or otherwise to one’s child; not just about affording the child best possible education or otherwise; it’s about interacting with the child to fathom as to what’s going on in the child’s mind. It’s about conversing with the child on one to one basis without bringing in the so called discipline that’s supposed to define the behaviour of one to another. Not to say that all etiquette and mannerisms should be thrown to winds, but to emphasize that the child should be brought up in a way that encourages him/her to express himself/herself freely in matters of concern.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

When a parent says that the child doesn’t listen to (or hear) him/her, the opposite may be equally true. Ordained to Listen is ordained to Follow and if enforced zealously not only snaps free exchange of thoughts, but also stampedes child’s thought process and that’s Genocide of Intellect and therefore barbaric.

If a child is unable to express himself/herself on matters of importance, as perceived, to him/her then- keeping aside the relationship by birth- the cultivated relationship may not be healthy as it wouldn’t be transparent. In addition, this whole process may impede evolution of thought process in a child and end up-on a thought plane- to be subservient/enslaved to others’ opinions without having any of his/her own.

One can’t be pushed beyond one’s ingrained limits- be they related to physical parameters and/or related to intellect. The same is true for a child. While physical strengths and weaknesses may be visible to the naked eye, the intellect-its quantum and depth- are not. The latter fact makes it necessary for the parents to interact with their child by way of helping the child with school homework and also by spending some playtime together; asking a few questions to him/her related to a certain topic in a subject of study instead of arranging a tuition. This process not only strengthens the emotional bond between the two, but also affords an opportunity for the parents to assess their child’s capabilities. The by-product of this exercise is that it affords the child a very  personal time with the parents and which the child may use to satisfy his/her inquisitiveness by asking such questions to parents that may not be related to studies. This process opens a dialogue between the two and cultivates a very healthy relationship between them. And, if a parent is unable to answer a Q asked by child then no shouting down the child, but an honest confession of inability and by doing so a parent also puts in a Value System in child’s mind. And, therefore it’s civilized way.

The Extended Family

Post marriage the boy and the girl come to experience an extended family what with brothers/sisters/cousins/uncles/aunts and indeed parents of both the sides in picture. In our culture, marriage is not a contract; it’s union of two families and that union is sanctified by invoking Gods and Goddesses in all forms and shapes. Lagan is a socio-religious function in which members of boy’s family get acquainted with those of girl’s family. Ostensibly the atmosphere is always festive while some tensions may be emerging behind the curtains howsoever short lived though.

Newly weds form a new core-family and which grows in numbers with arrival of new born(s).

The tag (label) like “in-laws”, historically and socially, puts one category of “in-laws” at a lower pedestal than the other. The bottom line is: If one places oneself on a highest pedestal vis-a-vis others then cracks develop in the relationships that may not be physically visible, but leave indelible scars on the soul and mind of the slighted ones. For reasons social, the affected ones may choose to keep silent yet the mutual relationship loses its meaning and is just carried over as a burden, for the fear of “what people will say!”. Not only is such a relationship an ostentatious, but it’s also based on rules that defy good culture and hence not civilized.

The only way to transcend such discriminations prompted by tags/labels is to communicate with every member of the extended family on one-to-one basis, like one human to another. That’s to say that both the husband and wife shouldn’t entertain any division like “your” and “mine”. If one removes the tag “in-law” then, for example, sister on both the sides is sister and sisters are always to be held in affection and revered. Same holds true for parents and other relatives on both the sides.  So, once this “in-law” tag is got rid of at the mental plane, then it’s truly an extended family because all sisters, brothers, cousins, parents, etcetera are worthy of respect and their place in the enlarged family unit.

In fact, in a true husband wife relationship there can be no demarcating/dividing line between them. The “your ”and “mine” classification ceases to be. My money Your money, My work Your work, My parents Your parents and all that doesn’t define a husband wife relationship because this pair {H, W} is the pivot around with everything related to family matters revolves. If parents have an exalted place in a family so they have in an extended family for, the seat of a parent can’t be dishonoured.

The annihilation of socially defined dividing lines is a sure shot prescription for ensuring cultured way of life that promotes mutual respect and affection and inculcates a sense of belonging towards the extended family. A joint family stands up like an Insurance for all its members, the larger its size, the greater the Insurance size. If man is a 2 legged social animal and so is a woman then each one longs for and deserves emotional support; what better way can it be ensured than having an extended large family. That’s true culture as it integrates instead of differentiating.


In the foregoing text, the basis for a cultured (hence civilized) society has been detailed out. While it may hold its ground vis-a-vis all communities, yet this piece was written with a singular aim that youngsters in my community read it. For, all the social history of a community, it’s the youngsters that are motive force of a change and this piece attempts to provide some food for thought for them.

Most of it is from author’s own observations, and experiences obtained in trying to change such social customs that were repugnant to his soul and mind. It’s not an attempt at sermonizing anyone, but experience based expression of thoughts.