On March 30, 2015, Purvi Patel, a South Asian Hindu American woman who sought medical care after suffering a miscarriage, was sentenced to over 20 years in prison by a judge in the state of Indiana. Purvi is the first woman in the United States to be charged, convicted, and sentenced on a feticide charge. She was also contradictorily convicted of child neglect.
According to Purvi’s lawyers, she comes from a conservative Hindu family that looks down upon pre-marital sex. Purvi did not want her parents to know about her pregnancy. She therefore suffered in silence with the burden of shame.
As a progressive Hindu organization committed to social justice, Sadhana calls upon all families, particularly South Asian and Indo-Caribbean families, to foster open streams of communication and understanding with our children, rather than wrathful shaming and blaming which contributes to the internalization of struggles like Purvi’s. Sentencing women like Purvi to prison, instead of ensuring that they are equipped with the emotional and medical support needed to overcome such difficulties, only serves to punish rather than protect.
The Story of Lord Rama’s Forgiveness of Ahalya
Lord Indra, filled with desire, comes to beautiful Ahalya's bed in the form of her husband, Gautama Muni.
Enraged, Gautama Muni curses Ahalya to become a stone.
As a stone, Ahalya performs prayer and penance. Years pass.
Lord Rama wandering in the Dandaka forest in exile. Steps on a stone in his path.
Ahalya appears, and bows to Lord Rama.
In an act of deep humility, Lord Rama bows deeply to Ahalya.
Ahalya, considered a sinner by society,
is considered pure and holy by Lord Rama.
He knows she committed no sin.
But then why oh why?
When his own beloved Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, rescued and brought back home to Ayodhya, why oh why doesn't Rama bow before Sita, his own beloved?
Sita, innocent, devoted to Rama and Rama alone, is made to walk through fire to prove her purity after being kidnapped by another man.
Proven innocent by Agni, the fire, she still is banished from the kingdom.
We live between justice and injustice.
Justice and injustice live within each of us.
Humility. The only way.
Note: This story has been adapted and is solely Sadhana’s interpretation.
On March 26th, 2015, Sadhana joined many religious leaders, activists, and individuals in New York City’s Foley Square for a vigil organized by Women for Afghan Women to denounce the brutal death of Farkhunda.
The vigil begun with prayers from various faith groups. Sadhana’s Aminta Kilawan delivered a brief message and a Hindu prayer to the Goddess Lakshmi so that She may dispel darkness and bestow light, paving the way for justice and guiding leaders to uphold the rule of law.
Here is a video of Aminta’s prayer: