As we are in the Navratri festival, I just thought of writing this article on feminine energy and the need for females themselves to realize this extreme Shakti they have within themselves. You can consider this article as one of the articles I write on social issues; hence I won’t be discussing much about astrological or spiritual facts. As always, consider this article more relevant towards the Indian society or any other male-dominated societies. I still have some scattered thoughts and I don’t know how I will put them together, but let’s begin and try -
Women in ancient India.
Losing the way in the middle.
Current social conditions.
Social expectations from woman.
Some views from my clients/friends.
The way forward.
Let’s cover all points one after the other
Women in ancient India – When we look at the social standing of women in India these days, some people say things like they are the weaker gender or things were always the same, and women are supposed to be subservient to men, these people actually have no idea of the position of strength which Indian women had gained in ancient times. Our ancient texts are full of stories of strong feminine characters. The Mahabharata is the best example in this regard, which had extraordinary female characters from Ganga to Draupadi and Uttara. Every character was fit to face its male counterpart with equal strength. We can see in the Mahabharata that many a times, the female characters put their own conditions before male characters like Ganga & Satyavati put to Shantanu to get married to him. The ritual of the Swayamvara itself was enough to show the kind of liberty and strength women possessed in those times. At least we can surely say that women were in no way subservient to men in ancient India.
Losing the way in middle –It seems that the righteous path was lost midway. I won’t be the one to blame foreign invaders for losing this path because if few thousand foreigners could come and rule over thirty crore Indians then somewhere we need to introspect that and ask ourselves - how could this happen? Rather than blaming anyone else, we need to see what mistakes we made in the midway? Most importantly, the mistake we made, was to reduce womankind to home affairs only. Somehow we forgot that Lord Krishna, whom we worship, used to take all political discussions after consultation with Rukmini whom he used to consider as most shrewd politician of their times. Converting Indian society into a male dominated one,and reducing females as household items proved to be the biggest mistake for India.
Current social conditions –Things continue to remain the same to date. Except about 5-10 metro cities of India, Women still have subservient existence in major portions of India. During my last visit to my home town Ujjain, a lady in her mid-20s said that what is the meaning of woman’s life if she can’t get married? And she is not the only one to have such a view. She is just representative of the whole conditioning which a girl gets in Indian society from childhood. I still don’t understand how India can even dream of becoming a developed country when we want to keep 50% of our population inside the kitchen.
For western readers, it may come as a surprise, but female foeticide, killing of the girl child after birth, dowry deaths and honour killing are very common to this day. I don’t understand why only girls are killed in the name of honour killing. If she was in love then in 99% of cases she must be in love with a guy and if falling in love is matter of dishonour for this Indian society then both the male and female should be killed, right? Likewise, I was working with the well-known firm Deloitte up until 2015, and we used to have Impact day every year where we were supposed to go to different places for social service. One of my friends chose to go to an orphanage. She broke down when she saw that 24 out of 25 new orphans who came to orphanage were female children. And this was 2015 in a huge city like Hyderabad;a so-called developed city of this country.
Social expectations from women – I can write a whole book on this topic but for convenience, let me limit myself to speak in line with the kind of requests I get from people.
- Character –People ask for character of girl they will marry or whomsoever chart they have got for any kundli matching. Well, if you think that I can see about the girl’s character through your chart or girl’s chart, then don’t you think that I can also see your own character? :)
- Wealth – It is disturbing when men and their families ask how much wealth their spouse will bring into their lives at the time of marriage Why? Can’t they earn by themselves? A woman is coming into your life after leaving her family and whole identity behind; and you are a total beneficiary; she will do your household work; if she is a working professional then she will also work and contribute in your family’s income.In due Course, she will also give birth to your children and expand your family or so-called ‘vansh’; and you still believe that you are the one who should be paid at the time of marriage? I don’t mind if we have a ritual where the girl’s family starts asking for dowry from guy’s family because that is more logical. Family of a girl has spent money on her till the age of 25-30 and now she is coming into your home. It is complete loss for them. They must be compensated.
- Behaviour – Then the ‘behaviour’ of girl with almost everyone in family and might be even with the pet of family. But no one asks the question: “how we are going to treat her”?
- Support –How supportive she will be on my life path? Well, support is always mutual. So, as supportive you are to her, the same support you will get from her.
And these are only few examples. Crazy questions and my blunt replies never end.
Consolations given – Here is where society had to give some consolations to women. Because if you are repressing an individual 24x7 and not giving her due honourable space, then there is a danger that someday a revolt may take place. Hence, there is a need of giving consolations during the year. And these consolations coincide with festivals like Navratri. I don’t think that 99% population is even aware of the origin and importance of these nine days of worship of Shakti, but at social level, it is created as a huge show-off, to show to women that see, how much we respect women in Indian society that we even worship them as a goddess! So that the Woman who is exploited all year round can get some consolation in these nine days. I don’t know where this respect goes during the remaining 356 days. The fact remains that there is one rape case “reported” in India every thirty minutes and we all know that the number of unreported cases are far more. If our society really treats a woman like goddess then how come the same society can allow the rape of same goddess every 30 minutes? It just shows that the main intent behind these festivals is something different.
Some views from my clients/friends – Only one generic opinion is correct that no generic opinion is correct. So, it’s not that the whole society or population is wrong. We will find good and bad both. I am fortunate to interact with few good people as my clients who had different views. One of those is from Mumbai and he said ‘I don’t understand why anyone wants to ask dowry at the time of marriage because the girl is coming to your family and expanding your family. You should be thankful to the girl in every possible way rather than expecting her to come with some dowry’.
One of my friends recently sent me a video where speaker has said that we are supposed to love people and use things but it seems we are using people and loving things. This is where people are making mistakes, that they are more interested in what the woman will bring rather than herself. Overall, it is the disrespect towards the feminine energy of nature.
The way forward – As I see it, the only way forward is the unleashing of a potent awareness of women, by women themselves. Unless they realise their own feminine power, no one can or will help them. But here is the biggest problem. One female is adamant to exploit another female. The lady, who was suppressed 20-30 years ago, should at least now help other woman to live her life on her terms but it doesn’t happen. Now, this elderly lady wants to exploit her daughter-in-law in same way. As if it is a matter of taking revenge of past generations from future ones. So, unless they themselves try to revolt against this social setup and demand their equal rights, no one can help them. So, women need to wake up to the fact that life is much more than just getting married to someone. If they continue to accept themselves as weaker gender then this cunning society will continue to console them for the nine days of navratri, and exploit them for the remaining 356 days.
Conclusion –As always, let me conclude with Osho – “If Indian women had made Draupadi as her ideal rather than Sita then her respect and dignity would have been totally different”.
Dedicated to all the females of the world.