Sunday, November 26, 2017

Al-Biruni on the strange manners and customs of the Hindus

Al-Biruni (973-1048) or Alberuni was a contemporary of Mahmud of Ghazni and accompanied him in his invasions of India.  Al-Biruni is known for his Indological works, and this is an excerpt (Edward Sachau translation), where he writes about strange manners and customs of the Hindus that "differ from those of our country and our time to such a degree so as to appear to us simply monstrous."

I'm picking a few from his compilation (numbering and ordering is mine)
-- Warning -- not safe for work

1. They do not cut any hair of the body.
2. They divide the moustache into single plaits in order to preserve it.
3. They use turbans for trousers.
4. In washing they begin with the feet and then wash the face.
5. They wash themselves before cohabiting with their wives.
6. They cohabit like a stake entwined by a vine, or rather, while their wives move back and forth as if they were plowing, the husband remains completely motionless.
7. In all consultations and emergencies they take the advice of the women.
(truncated the long list here).

Contemporary cultures that found it monstrous that men take the advice in of women in all consultations and emergencies were supposedly more liberal than Hindus!  At least, that is what the Jawaharlal Nehru University school of historians wants us to believe.