A woman can be both, the white pristine light that enters the prism, or the vivid rainbow that breaks out of it. Both are beautiful, and both can make the world a better place to live. She has the ability and the strength to nurture, sustain or destroy…nature has given her the choice, she just has to be confident enough to see.A woman CEO in a multinational, once proclaimed in an interview, “As a woman, I have it all.”
When asked how she managed work and home, she replied, “When my daughters were small and wanted to talk to me, I would set up a list of questions to be answered by them when they called my secretary for an appointment, questions like “Have you done your homework? Have you eaten?” This way I would make sure they do well in my absence. And my husband should just be happy he is on my list, if not a priority!”
It’s a matter of perspective that this business tycoon felt that she had it all, but ideally, for many women, this would come under negligence of responsibilities. And she would thus be consumed by her own guilt, if not by others!
We live in a world where women are in many ways the more oppressed class, yet, one class of them tries to stick to patriarchy, and the rest find solace in the more extreme and rather wrong kind of feminism, which in trying to establish equality, confuses it with sameness and reaches nowhere. From an adhyatmik perspective, even this kind of feminism is not entirely wrong but their ways to achieve must be redefined.
According to Yogic Science of India, the word Stri stands for Prakriti – The Nature itself. And Purush – is the Pure Consciousness, all-pervading, inside and outside too.
These words do not mean men and women.
The form of a man or a woman takes shape out of karma and sanskaar, at a level where nothing is higher or lower, nothing is more or less but all are equal, under the merciless law of Karma, all are same only the qualities are different.
Stri, The Sanskrit word for the feminine, is made from three syllables, “Sa”, “Ta” and “Ra”, thus encompassing all three gunas or characteristics, that according to our Yogic sciences, make up the whole universe- Sat, Tam, and Raj.
“Hence, it would follow that Sritva or femininity is present in every being of the universe, as much in “men” as in “women”.
A famous story of Mirabai, a Krishna bhakt, goes as follows. After the death of her husband, she wanted to renounce the kingdom, and go in search of God, with a group of Sanyasis. But the Sanyasis refused, saying that they cannot take a woman in their group. To which she replied, “For me, all are Stri. Purush is only One.” The sanyasis understood that she “knows the Tatva” and let Mirabai join their company.
But who is the One man? This relates to the highest levels of Adhyatm, where Purush is the steady state, while Stri is the energy, or shakti that works upon Purush to “create”.
Purush, alone, does not refer to a man, but Brahmn itself, the steady state where there is no creation.
But coming back to creation, the world needs diversity to run, as creation itself means more than one. It is knowledge to see the above-explained unity and equality in diversity. But it is wisdom to understand, respect and work according to the characteristic differences that define us.
To remove a deep-seated misconception among many today, the profound concept of karma must be clarified. The causality runs the other way. It is not that being a woman, she should be nurturing, rather, that the Jeevatma’s nurturing quality among many others, leads it to acquire a female form.
Does this mean that a woman should be the one to look after the kids, and the man should be the “bread-earner”? NO ! Adhyatm has never been about moralistic dos and don’ts. In fact it fundamentally gives every individual freedom to choose his/her way of living. Every action depends on a complex maze of situations and intentions.
When we talk about karma and causality, we talk on the very subtle levels of existence, right from the root, whose interpretations should not be normative, but personally subjective. When yogic science says that a man is ‘tyag and buddhi pradhan’, while a woman is ‘tapsya and bhaav pradhan’, it does not refer to the superior brain of a man or superior will and emotions of a woman. But is requires each individual to “know itself”, to understand its own strength and weaknesses, of which his/her anatomy is just a projection, and to work accordingly.
Women empowerment would come naturally if each woman recognises what being a woman really means. It is not about following “gender roles”, which is again a very pedagogic term. It is about understanding the reason behind your gender itself, rather than ignoring it as something too insignificant.
In ancient India, a woman was always considered a powerhouse, a symbol of strength and she was expected to possess a balanced personality of emotions and intelligence. She was the core of every joint family, a decision maker in finance, she was the epitome of intelligence who could at her will, create or destroy the whole society. To name a few we can recall Maitraiyi, Savitri, Jabala, Draupadi, Iopamudra, Gargi, Indira Gandhi, Chand Bibi, Rani Abbakka Devi, Rani Lakshmibai and many others were truly compassionate and undoubtedly strong willed women who made the history.
But time is changing now. Like gender is just a manifestation of the core, the bigger society is just a manifestation of the mental strife that goes within each individual. Today the society is breaking under strains of the patriarchal norm that failed to respect diversity, keeping too much store by its “ideals”, and a wrong notion of freedom that demands right to choice, but goes a little overboard, in confusing equality with sameness. The directionless individual is projected in a directionless society, where men are as unhappy as women.
But as change is must the time calls for a boldness in women that teaches those men who see women as objects to please or preserve, that they must unlearn those lessons ingrained in them so deeply.
And for that, one must perceive and work according to ones’ “strength” that does not confine but directs, that does not contradict but co-operates.
A woman can be both, the white pristine light that enters the prism, or the vivid rainbow that breaks out of it. Both are beautiful, and both can make the world a better place to live. She has the ability and the strength to nurture, sustain or destroy…nature has given her the choice, she just has to be confident enough to see.