The Divine Nature of Women Naturally – A Challenge of 21st Century
Founder & Chairperson, Natural Health and Environmental Research, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
Abstract: Woman is the embodiment of God’s creative power, Shakti. Woman embodies the feminine aspect of God, through which he created the creation. God placed within women divine qualities of strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of his spirit children. Women by divine nature have the greater gift and responsibility for home and children and nurturing there and in other settings. Women have a divine role, but some may need help remembering their true identity. They deserve to be treated with the utmost care, respect, and dignity. Treating women as such, will empower not only the individual but society as a whole. Perhaps, as a result, men, women, and children will be able to recognize what is divine within them and act accordingly. It is important to note that celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women on International Women’s Day (8th March), a global day every year with all respect, appreciation, achievements and love towards women should be exercised every single day to safeguard and value the pomp and glory that comes around in day today life in all its natural way.
Keywords: Women, Men, Gender equality, Divine, Natural, Relationship, Health, Society, Culture.
“Woman is a miracle of divine contradictions” – Jules Michelet (French Historian: 1798-1874).
The Reflection of Divine Nature in Women
Once, women were honored as strong, beautiful, creative, sensual beings. In those ancient times, we humans were keenly attuned to the heartbeat of the planet. Life was lived on the edge. Women have done a remarkable service to literature and culture. Vedic scriptures asserted that women and men both are two sides of the same coin. No one is superior to the other in the materialistic world. Rigved & upnishads mention several names of women sages and seers notably Gargi & Maitrey. Woman is the manifested divine form of the same absolute energy, say, masculine energy as is stated by Samkhyas. Seeing divinity even in a small insect is the core teaching of Hindu scriptures. This idea is reflected in Bhagavadgita at 16.28. “Looking upon all things as uniformly pervaded by the lord, he does not try to injure self by self and this attains to the highest goal” (3).
Our survival as a species depended on our ability to live in harmony with the world. The feminine aspect of life was necessary for our very survival, and the sacred feminine was honored by ancient around the world as bringer of life, growth, decline, death and rebirth. Woman was life itself. The power of women in those ancient times was undeniable — without women, we humans would not be here now. The world changed. We grew apart from the primal rhythms native to us and we abandoned our old ways to explore human life through a masculine-centric lens of action and movement. Gifts inherent to women were lost or set aside. Gifts of the masculine — focus, action, physical strength — were revered and made central. The balance shifted.
The divine nature and value of a woman
What does it mean when you see a man get down on his knee, get out his ring, and propose to a woman? It means that in that act the man recognizes your supreme value. For a man to get down on his knee, with honor and respect, indicates that you are so valuable. He wants you to come to him; he wants you to give yourself to him, so he will act in a way to make you give yourself. But a man should never “have you” just to have you! He’s got to be worthy of you, or he’s not worth having you! And there is hardly a man out here today that’s worthy of you giving away yourself to him. Culture is the back bone of any civilized country. Customs, behaviour etc., ordain the very culture. Indian culture is one of the most ancient that has been accepted by all historians and scholars of all streams. Even centuries ago, mother India had witnessed all material and philosophical prosperity in a continuous flux. The status of womanhood reached its pinnacle in vedic times for which extant sanskrit literature is the evidence (11).
Swami Vivekananda said, “In India the mother is the centre of the family and our highest ideal. She is to us the representative of God, as God is the mother of the Universe. It was a female sage who first found the unity of God, and laid down this doctrine in one of the first hymns of the vedas. Our God is both personal and absolute; the absolute is male, the personal, female. And thus it comes that we now say: The first manifestation of God is the hand that rocks the cradle”. In Sanskrit treatises, two prominent aspects of respect to women as mother and wife are glorified. This entire world is the union of prakrti and purusha according to Samkhya school that stood on the edifice of vedic scriptures (11) (12). Prakrti is the feminine energy and the Purusha is the masculine form of a single absolute entity. ‘The salvation and progress of any country depends on its women‘.
The Role of Women in Family
yatra nāryastu pūjyante ramante tatra devatāḥ|
yatraitāstu na pūjyante sarvāstatrāphalāḥ kriyāḥ ||
“The divine are extremely happy where women are respected ;
where they are not, all actions (projects) are fruitless”
Manusmṛiti is one of the most influential social text that has moulded much of practical social behavior, practices of Hindu society in India (7). In the last century, it has been grossly criticized for political, sectarian and divisive reasons by people who don’t understand sanskrit, metaphors and have no compassion. This great text has to say on woman, wife in its practical, spiritual and open-hearted way! This is only a very small extract from this large book. This should at the same time pay respect to women everywhere and also give back some good name to this awesome work of social importance.
The wise father (of the girl) shall not take anything by way of ‘fee’ from her groom. By taking a dowry out of greed (bride price), he becomes the seller of his offspring [3.51].
The relatives who, out of folly, live off of the woman’s property like vehicle, clothes; those sinners go to worst hells [3.52] (forget about dowry given by the bride’s father, it was more prevalent for the groom to give bride price, as is in many other cultures as well).
Many Ṛiṣhi-s have prescribed a token fee of a pair of cow and bull in ‘ārṣha’ (आर्ष) marriage, but even that is akin to selling your daughter [3.53].
Where such fee is not taken (but may be given out of affection by the groom’s side), that is not selling, but worshiping/respecting and showing affection to the woman [3.54].
If desiring more prosperity in life, father, brother, husband, husband’s younger brother (older is considered as father only) they all should respect the bride and adorn her (with ornaments) [3.55].
The divine are extremely happy where women are respected (worshiped, figuratively), where they are not, all actions (projects) are fruitless [3.56].
The family in which the daughters or newlywed brides mourn, that family suffers a quick destruction; and where they don’t it surely prospers [3.57].
Those homes that these disrespected women (daughters, daughters-in-laws) cast curse upon, they are eradicated as if destroyed by (the tantric deity of black magic) Kṛityā (कृत्या) [3.58].
Hence, men who seek prosperity should always respect women, (and) on solemn occasions and festivals, adorn with ornaments, clothes and food [3.59].
The family in which the husband is content with the wife and the wife is content with the husband, is certain to have divine blessings. [this doesn’t mean only sexual contentment but how the two perform their duties to the home, family, their conduct, etc. like how a wife manages the whole house, relations, children, finances etc. or how the husband protects, earns, has social reputation, standing and circle etc.] [3.60].
If the wife is not attractive (and/or doesn’t attempt to attract with makeup etc.) and/or the husband is not attracted; the husband’s progeny is not possible on that account of lack of attraction [3.61].
When the women look beautiful (adorn jewelry, do makeup, dress up) the whole family looks good, and when they don’t everything looks insipid. [3.62]”
As against the propaganda over Manu’s statement on the liberation of women, it is crystal clear that women were given a highest position not only in Manusmriti but also in sanskrit literature (11). Moreover, ‘It is unfair to judge the status of women in the east by the standard of the west’. In this article, an effort is done to show that women were attributed highest position in Hindu scriptures and their role as a mother and wife is very crucial in nurturing the inherited values passed on to us since time immemorial. And to women all over – mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, friends, in whatever form they meet us, they bring the divine energy with them. Now this doesn’t at all mean to throw the relation off-balance by thinking it is only the woman who is divine. But it is to emphasize that they too are divine, and not property, slave or object. This also doesn’t mean that all women are always right and good, just like not all men are right or good (6) (8).
A marriage is always of respect, and is not just for lust, it is family building, providing a happy, safe trusting environment, where both husband and wife have to be happy to complete the picture. If the husband is called pati-parameshavara i.e. “husband is ultimate god”, then the wife is also called gṛiha-lakṣhmī i.e. “prosperity of the home”. Only a balanced, respectful relationship will give any meaning to it. All individuals inherently possesses male and female attributes, otherwise there is no balance in the society. A married woman is as revered as one’s own mother, since mother is the incarnated form of the supreme self. There might be a belief that ‘male dominated society did not encourage the woman writers in Indian context.’ In the medieval period, Buddhism duly encouraged women to write the Vinaya Pithakasand Sutta Pithakas in Pali language. But this itself is not the cause of emergence of women writers in India. Sri Sankaracharya (8th AD) when visited the city of Mahishmati to debate with a great scholar Mandana Mishra, he enquires about his house address with some women carrying water. They guide him by replying in a poetic way in Sanskrit. Also, Ubhaya Bharati, the wife of Mandana Mishra is a great scholar in Sanskrit and philosophy, who could not be defeated in debate by Sankaracharya (11).
Henry Steele Commager, an American historian wrote of the late nineteenth century American woman. “In all matters of church and school, women took the lead. Women not only controlled education and religion but largely dictated the standards of literature and art and clothed culture so ostentatiously in feminine garb that the term itself came to have connotations”. The present status of women is no different than that of the vedic ideals transferred over times. There are warriors, politicians, writers, scientists, astronauts, administrators, teachers who perfectly render their job while outdoing a male compatriot. At the same time masculinity devoid of union with feminity is incomplete in society. It is not out of context to consider Ms. Suzanne Brogger’s opinion. It is in her words – “If a woman can only succeeded by emulating men, I think it is a great loss and not a success. The aim is not only for a woman to succeed, but to keep her womanhood and let her womanhood influence society”.
The Role of Women in Society
Our women are not incredible because they have managed to avoid the difficulties of life—quite the opposite. They are incredible because of the way they face the trials of life. Despite the challenges and tests life has to offer—from marriage or lack of marriage, children’s choices, poor health, lack of opportunities, and many other problems—they remain remarkably strong and immovable and true to the faith. Since the creation of the world, women have played a very important role in shaping the civilization and culture of people. The role of women in society may change from time to time, but the influence of women has always been significant. It’s a chance for so many people to move beyond “celebrating” and take action to create meaningful and sustainable change for women and girls. International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men. The United States even designates the whole month of March as ‘Women’s History Month’.
The Role of Men in Women Empowerment
There are many good reasons to engage men in building gender equality, especially given that some men’s practices, identities, and relations can sustain inequalities. Across the globe, there is growing interest in the question of men’s roles in fostering gender equality (1). The impetus for male inclusion in gender-related work is associated with an important shift in how gender issues are conceived and addressed. Men have always been part of the policies and practices of development work, for example, but they have traditionally been treated as generic and ungendered representatives of all humanity. Men are unavoidably involved in gender issues. Most immediately, men (or more accurately, specific groups of men) control the resources required to implement women’s claims for justice. But, more broadly, gender inequalities are based in gender relations, in the complex webs of relationships that exist at every level of human experience. Men are as implicated in gender is sues as women, and addressing men’s attitudes and roles is a crucial element in reconstructing gender relations and equality.
Men often play a crucial role as “gatekeepers” of the current gender order through their responsibilities as decision-makers and leaders within their families and communities. They may participate in sexist practices and maintain unjust gender relations by perpetrating violence against women, controlling women’s reproductive and familial decision making, limiting women’s access to community resources and political power, or espousing patriarchal beliefs and norms that allow other men to engage in such actions. Gender work with men has also been fueled by the more hopeful insight that men have a positive role to play in fostering gender equality (1). There is growing recognition that gender inequality is an issue of concern to women and men alike and that men have a stake in fostering gender equality. Some men are already living in gender-just ways: they respect and care for the women and girls in their lives, and they reject traditional, sexist norms of manhood. And some men are already playing a role in fostering gender equality. Experiences in conflict and post-conflict societies also provide powerful examples of how gender disparities harm men and progress toward gender equality benefits them. Finally, excluding men from work on gender relations can provoke male hostility and retaliation. It can intensify gender inequalities and thus leave women with yet more work to do among unsympathetic men and patriarchal power relations. Given that women already interact with men on a daily basis in their households and public lives, involving men in the re negotiation of gender relations can make interventions more relevant and workable and create lasting change. Male inclusion increases men’s responsibility for change and their belief that they too will gain from gender equality, and can address many men’s sense of anxiety and fear as traditional masculinities are undermined (10). Many men receive formal and informal benefits from gender inequalities, including material rewards and interpersonal power. At the same time, men also pay significant costs, particularly to their emotional and physical health. More widely, men can be and are motivated by interests other than those associated with maintaining gender privilege.
Men live in social relationships with women and girls—their wives and girl friends, sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and so on—and “the quality of every man’s life depends to a large extent on the quality of those relationships.” Many men hold high hopes for their daughters’ futures, care for their sisters, value their mothers, and disapprove—at least privately—of male peers’ abusive treatment of their wives and girlfriends. Men may support gender equality because of their ethical, political, or spiritual commitments. Male human rights activists have advocated for gender equality because of their commitment to ideals of liberation and social justice, while male religious leaders have promoted faith-based beliefs in ideals of compassion and justice for women (9) (10). Thus, some men have embraced a moral imperative that men share their rights and responsibilities with women.
What principles then should inform efforts to engage men in gender-related policies and practices?
Three interrelated principles guide the positive involvement of men in gender issues: men’s involvement must have a pro-feminist purpose, interventions must be sensitive to diversities among men, and we must acknowledge and support men’s positive contributions. In addition, to be effective, the interventions chosen must be culturally appropriate and theoretically informe While it is important to understand these three principles for male involvement in gender-related work, it is equally important to be able to translate them into effective interventions. It is clear, for example, that effective interventions must be culturally appropriate—they must be grounded in the realities of men’s lives and relations and local gender cultures (5). There is no doubt that involving men in efforts toward gender equality has the potential to greatly enhance the impact and reach of this work, but whether it does so or not will depend on the play of political and cultural forces. Still, building a gender-just world will bring benefits to both women and men, and the reconstruction of gender relations will require their shared commitment and involvement.
The Role of Women in Women Empowerment
A woman’s level of empowerment will vary, sometimes enormously, according to other criteria such as her class or caste, ethnicity, relative wealth, age, family position etc. and any analysis of women’s power or lack of it must appreciate these other contributory dimensions. We have to relate empowerment at three levels: empowerment on the individual, group, and societal/community level and the interaction between these. The individual level deals with individual women’s abilities to take control over their lives, their perceptions about their own value and abilities, their abilities to identify a goal and work towards this goal. The group level deals with the collective action and sense of agency that woman experience together, in a group. The societal level deals with the permissiveness of the political and social climate, the societal norms and the public discourse on what is possible and impossible for women to do, how women should behave etc (8) (9). The different levels are seen as interconnected and mutually reinforcing, e.g. when empowerment on individual level occurs, this will have effect on the group and societal level. Women who are empowered on an individual level will most likely go on and affect the other levels. Empowerment on a group level e.g. women organizing around a particular need is likely to have effect on the individual empowerment of the women in the form of increased self esteem and sense of agency (2).
Globalization has presented new challenges for the realization of the goal of women’s equality, the gender impact of which has not been systematically evaluated fully. However, from the micro-level studies that were commissioned by the Department of Women & Child Development, it is evident that there is a need for re-framing policies for access to employment and quality of employment. Benefits of the growing global economy have been unevenly distributed leading to wider economic disparities, the feminization of poverty, increased gender inequality through often deteriorating working conditions and unsafe working environment especially in the informal economy and rural areas. Education is a powerful tool of social transformation. Hence, education for women has to be paid special attention. Greater access for women to education must be ensured in the educational system. Gender sensitivity must be developed (4) (8).
Governmental Organizations are formal agencies working for the empowerment of women. But this work requires multidimensional approach and hence a large number of voluntary organizations / NGO’s have gained increased attention in the field from grass – root level to national & international level. Their role is so impressive because they work with missionary zeal and commitment. Promotion of equality between women & men and the empowerment of women is central to the work of United Nations. The UN actively promotes women’s human rights and works to eradicate, discourage of violence against women, including in armed conflict and through trafficking (13). The popular UNESCO slogan should come in handy: “Educate a man and you educate an individual; educate a woman and you educate a family”.
Feel and Experience the Challenge to Survive the Practical Real Life
No woman is ordinary. We are each a unique expression of the feminine. Each one of us, male and female, carries within our psyche both Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine archetype energies. From these archetypal energies come all our conscious thoughts, plans, desires, goals and agendas. These energies intertwine and cooperate to produce a uniquely personal expression and experience of life. The new divine feminine is modern woman’s way of connecting to ancient ways of being a woman. Personally as a woman I feel, both women and men needs to get empowered in their own way as they are equally to be respected and to be valued as a human. The status of women would improve only if they educate themselves and grab every opportunity to become stronger and more powerful than before. It’s the totality speaks not either women alone or men alone as critical half. In this context, the significant details to be practiced which is a real challenge in this fast paced life of 21st century by the human with all his/her divinity should be as follows:
1. Update your consciousness, clarity, freedom, courage and discipline.
2. Free yourself from false beliefs and assumptions.
3. Uproot dysfunctional patterns of thinking, feeling & behaving.
4. Relinquish guilt, shame, blame, victim consciousness & co-dependence.
5. Communicate & navigate through your experience in a meaningful way.
6. Learn from your life and step forward.
7. Increase your state of awareness.
8. Become more fulfilled & on-purpose in your daily life.
Much of humanity has lost connection with our feminine qualities. There is a deep disconnection with the Earth, with our bodies, and with the very essence of life. And as a result, for many people, life has lost its deeper sense of soul purpose or meaning. When we are starved of this connection, we quite literally wither and dry up inside. We can feel isolated and alone. As a result, there is a deep healing needed for our collective planetary soul. And we are called to now offer a place where we can come together in sacred space and undertake a soul retrieval of the feminine, both for ourselves and our larger community. In doing so, we have an opportunity to reconnect with the ancient feminine wisdom that lives both inside our bodies and in the layers of the collective unconscious.
In developing increased awareness, you get more in touch with your relationships, your finances, and your creative expression. As you become more aware, more at peace, you develop more confidence, which automatically brings out your skills. The time is changing, not to create a world of inequality, but to express balance, hope, wisdom, and the unique gifts that both men and women share with one another and with the world. Women today tap into ancient feminine energy — making it their own. To safeguard your own freedom, divinity and strength, you need to have a strong sense of yourself, one has to be confident, have a clear vision, take efforts, do workouts, because if you don’t; you will get distracted by other people’s perceptions.
As a woman I feel proud and grateful to be the part of this world with humble lessons and experiences learned from my personal life as well as from knowledgeable personalities directly and indirectly which reflects to practice and preach for a constructive healthier natural life style within the family as well as for the society, to be followed by the human of all genders to maintain and balance the integrity, peace and purpose of the divine life and natural way of living with all its simplicity, values and strength.
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