In the last article, we delved into the ten common menstruation myths of the Indian culture that can be found in other societies across the globe as well. The mind, if we delve deep into its intricacies one is bound to realize the origin and science behind these myths backed by the rich literature of Hinduism.
Apart from those myths that are simply a result of ignorant superstitions, the first five menstrual facts we contemplated upon have something characteristic to tell with regard to the world around, as well as natural phenomena.
Nature has a tale to tell to all living beings, especially humans who have taken her earth, air, and sky for granted. Nature is synonymous to the mind- unpredictable and full of complications weaved of thoughts, passions, urges, and unseen virtues as if infinity within the boundaries of the flesh.
If equilibrium fails to maintain itself then in the case of both mind and nature chaos is what turns out to be the result for both. Say, destruction of buildings when earthquakes take place and murder when one has lost his mind. Menstruation too is a natural process of creation, the blood if fertilized forms the flesh of a living entity.
Nature and the mind exist because of endless processes; menstruation too is a process that is natural and facilitated by the mind for the sake of a healthy progeny to thrive. Thus, the many menstruation myths whose origin can be found in the wisdom of the great seers of India came into existence as an embodiment of this very nature and mind.
Menstruation Myth- Decoding the science behind the Taboos
But do you know why a menstruating woman should not work in the kitchen?
In old times, a woman was mostly involved in household chores. The household chores were mostly cooking and spending all of her time in the kitchen. During periods she was barred from entering the kitchen so that she could take rest, this practice soon became a taboo that ‘a woman shouldn’t enter the kitchen!’
As menstruation is a tremendous phenomenon beyond the perception of a man, the woman needs rest to cope up with the strain thus; this prescription was prescribed for the benefit of the woman. It is not some arbitrary delusion of considering the menstrual blood as impure but, out of deep concern for the woman.
Is period blood toxic? Why women are advised not to visit temples when they are bleeding???
On one side you worship a Devi, even a menstruating Goddess. BUT… you don’t want me to visit temples when I am bleeding?
Why this hypocrisy?
Everything is related to the energy of the body. The energy of the body flows in the direction in contrast to the energy flow in Temples while praying. This might increase the pain of the menstruating woman. But, alas uneducated minds made it a practice, nonsensically drawing from the Vedas declaring it to be a sin beyond redemption.
The divine energy in temples, drawn through chants and deep prayer rises towards the sky whereas the energy of creation is focused downwards. Thus, it was a prescription not a restriction for her own comfort and well-being. Therefore, it must be left on to the woman to decide and take her stand.
This phenomenon can be likened to a child defying gravity by jumping high in the hope of breaking away from its pull and fly across the azure sky. But, alas he is forced to stick to the ground no matter how high he achieves to leap.
During menstruation why sex should be avoided?
The Vedic seers of India, who gazed at the world below from the peak of spirituality, consider this deed results in the conflict of cosmic energies. This conflict is detrimental to the woman; quite evidently man remains indifferent to this fact.
During intercourse, a man spends his energy through ejaculation and the woman absorbs his energy for the sake of creation. But, during periods a woman is already releasing so much energy, on top of it she also has to absorb energy- this can undermine her health quite adversely. Yet again it is a prescription, those seeking pleasure above all indulge in this deed anyway, quite like smoking and drinking.
Life and lust from the eyes of abstract theories- one is dependent on the other. But, lust satisfies the senses and life satisfies one’s purpose to live for. An infant whether in a restless cry or peaceful slumber, lying in repose in the warmth of her mother’s arms becomes the world for the two individuals who till then wanted to change the world. Sex is the means to bring Life to prosper, rather than mere gratification with life turning out to be a consequence.
Avoid hair wash during periods along with swimming, why?
Do you know water has cosmic energy and memory like everything in the universe?
The scientific reason for not washing hair during periods is that water has its own cosmic energy and memory, from which it draws such insuperable power. The energy inherent in water can have a strong influence on the menstrual cycle of a woman, when in contact. So, rebelling against this prescription may seem like a lot of fun as who can resist water while bathing, or to escape the sun when it is in its prime.
But, causing deliberate conflict with the energy flow of menstruation is like going against any other law of nature.
Caressing across the surface of the water enjoying the ripples spread across the swimming pool. One may for a moment, sparkling in the slant rays of the sun, feel like living a dream she had last night. Increasing the pace of her flow in the still water with her feet occasionally touching the blue earth of the pool.
She may not realize the immense friction, obstruction, and strain she is being subjected to, till it turns into unbearable pain. Thus, with the gift of creation comes a responsibility that is to take care of one’s gift. Random thoughts flash like a flickering torchlight in the dark, of the waves decked in white foams and the rippling gurgle of one’s breathing underwater.
The seas, oceans, and rivers all in one dream fill the mind with a desire to make water one’s second home. But, the rivers, seas, and oceans aren’t getting evaporated so soon neither is one’s imagination dying out forever. So, during the time of periods, the articulated prescriptions of Hindu scriptures advise one to abstain from direct contact with water.
Eating Habits of menstruating women
Why Women should become particular about their eating habits?
Constipation and stomach upset become a common thing during menstruation if food habits are not regulated.
The structure of one’s body varies from person to person, so it is advised in general to take high-protein food so that the requirements of the physique during the menstrual cycle are met.
Women often as they approach the cycle, develop strong cravings for food in order to have a smooth process for creation. Her blood, cells, mental and physical energy is invested in great amounts to prepare herself for the dawn of a new life. This preparation requires food as fuel, otherwise, quite naturally the process is to face a hamper.
Women as entities of creation are also susceptible to the absorption of energies, especially during periods.
In order to balance all this consumption, absorption, preparations, and release of blood in case fertilization doesn’t take place- a healthy, wise, and controlled diet is required. Supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and most important of all Iron is a necessary prerequisite to cope up with the immense exertion caused during the cycle.
You might also be interested to know the science behind fasting- Fasting health benefits in Sanatan Dharma
Iron deficiency is simultaneously related to Anaemia, in which the measure of red cells reduces drastically in the blood. A common deficiency among women is the requirement of iron is much more compared to a man due to blood released during menstruation. Food that is rich in iron, say, leafy vegetables like spinach prevent setbacks like fatigue and breathlessness, enabling the woman to resume her work with undisturbed vigour.
Crops of myriad kinds grow under the vastness of the sky, nourished by the gentle rain along with the calm embrace of the wind. The sun, effulgent and effusive in its shine bestows its rays to enrich the crops that shall with time enrich the earth of a mother where sprouts the god-like smile of an infant.
The Truth behind the many period myth and facts is what we have explored and analyzed here, tearing away the dark veil of superstitions and blind dogmatism such as considering the menstrual blood as impure. These period myth and facts fuelled by ignorance are why in India, as per the menstrual hygiene statistics twenty-three million girls’ drop out of school every year.
Menstruation myth and facts in India- the Vedas
The Vedas, quite enchanted in its expression shares the blessings of the gods, goddesses and devotees for a safe pregnancy and birth-
Let Visnu prepare the womb; let Tvastr shape the forms. Let Prajapati shed the seed; let Dhatr place the embryo in you
-The Rig Veda
Vedas never stated that a menstruating woman is impure or should not visit a temple….
Does menstrual cycle remove toxins from the body of a woman?
According to Ayurveda, menstruation is regarded as a special opportunity enjoyed by women for monthly cleansing of excess toxins; it is this monthly cleansing that accounts for female longevity. There is a build-up of energy in the days leading to menstruation as the body prepares for pregnancy, and the flow of energy during this time is downwards.
So, if the woman comes into contact with the divine energy overflowing in sacred places like temples and gurudwaras, then she will not be able to bear and may suffer from severe cramps. This is the case because the flow of energy during incantations and chanting which permeates the atmosphere of the sacred place is upwards.
This contrast in the flow of energy leads to discomfort and disrupts her concentration.
A menstruating woman was once seen as so pure, that she was worshipped as a Goddess. So, if a woman enters the temple during her periods the energy of the God or Goddess in the murti transfers into her being; such was the belief when people lived true to the Dharma of Sanathan.
A menstruating woman indeed is a living goddess of creation.
You might also be interested to read more about the status of women in Sanatan Dharma
How biology defines menstruation myth?
Science says the reason behind menstruation is that the female body prepares itself for pregnancy every month. But, if no fertilization takes place then the body sheds layers of the uterus to free itself of any substance that can cause harm if fertilization takes place in the future. Thus, in this way, unnecessary tissues flow away through the vaginal passage with blood as the medium.
This cycle helps in invigorating her physique so that processes can begin anew as preparations for the next cycle to make life flourish on this earth.
Menstruation myth- Sati and Lord Shiva
“The daughter of Prajapati Daksha, Sati fell in love with Lord Shiva, and marries Shiva without the approval of her father, as her father hated Shiva. Once, Sati fought with Shiva to attend the grand Yagna, organized by Daksh to appease the gods. In the Yagna, Shiva and Sati were not invited on purpose.
Sati, undeterred by the warning and explanations are given by Shiva went to the Yagna. During the proceedings, Sati was immensely insulted by her father. Unable to bear the denunciation of her husband, she jumped into the sacred fire of the holy Yagna. After learning of this catastrophe, Shiva’s whole being quaked with anger and resentment. He ordered his ganas to get the head of Daksh and kill everyone present in the Yagna.
His anger burst forth from the long silent volcano, and he started performing Tandav at whose beat the world began to shatter. So, to stop the destruction of the world and calm Shiva, Lord Vishnu with his Sudarshan Chakra cut the body of Goddess Sati into 108 pieces. Wherever her flesh fell, there now stands a temple, said to be built by Shiva known as ‘Shakti Peeths’. “
One of the Shakti Peeths is the ‘Kamakhaya Devi Temple’ where the ‘Womb’ and ‘Vagina’ of goddess Sati is worshipped as sacrosanct; the main temple, which gave birth to the belief of “the Bleeding Goddess”. A myth or a belief: that the goddess of this temple menstruates during the month of Ashaad, which is June. The river Brahmaputra which flows beside the temple turns red; symbolizing the menstruating goddess and also the power of creating unique women.
The temple is closed for three consecutive days and reopens on the fourth day in the form of a grand festival ‘AmbubachiMela’, attended by countless devotees.
Did Impurity of Menstrual blood- the top-most menstrual myth, once, considered to be pure?
Aeons ago, probably an ideal dream in history a menstruating woman and girl were considered pure, sacred, powerful, and strong enough to heal the sick with her increased psychic ability. The menstrual blood, from a literary point of view, is considered a power to purify and even destroy evil.
The connection of the moon with menstruation
Menstruation in synchrony with the moon is widely assumed in myths and traditions as a ritual ideal. The moon being a direct entity of the universe is indubitably connected to our cosmic self or true self. The self of which the Buddha, Upanishads, and the great sages of India sing praises in their teachings. Thus, the very existence of a woman is divinity itself, unlike a man who has to conquer himself first in order to emanate divinity from his presence. The power of menstruation and its bond with the moon flows deep, in a systematic rhythm that is unique to both the cosmos and menstrual cycle.
You might also be interested to read how misinterpretations of Vedas let to the practice of Sati.
During the golden days of ancient India, when humans at every breath were aware of their identity with the great transcendental power. A menstruating woman then was looked upon as both the creator as well as the destroyer. Along with bringing life to flourish on this earth, their increased psychic abilities during periods enabled to heal the sick, at the same time bestow wrath on the wrong. Just like the moon which through its power can give rise to destructive waves that proliferate the surface of the oceans; at the same time light the darkness for poets and saints to resume with their songs on the limitless sky. Moonlight as per science, when there was no tube light acted as a natural facilitator of the menstrual process, for those whose cycle was irregular or had stopped altogether.