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June 30, 2005

Women, Unlimited

This week�s session was quite unexpected (not that we know what to expect every week :)

One of the regular attendee, Srikanth came back from a vacation-turned-engagement � he got engaged to a girl in the typical �arranged marriage� style. I was teasing him and making fun of how the �girl seeing� ritual would have been. Something got triggered in Manju and she made some serious points about how we look at traditions and especially women�s role in it.

I have been a fierce enabler (in action) of women�s rights and sentiments for a long time. But I had chosen not to speak about them because there is something contradictory about a man telling that a woman must be �allowed� to do this or that, be this way or that way. On the other hand, I had taken the role of a jester when it comes to drawing people�s attention to the out-moded, oppressive side of many social practices (following a long tradition of other jesters, including Shakespeare!). But jokes are only doors that allow us to enter a subject without creating two sides in the very beginning. So, Manju�s questions were right on time.

She said that while it is offensive for a modern mind that a woman is packaged and paraded in front of strangers in a �girl seeing� ritual, we also need to look at two things: 1) Any endeavor that has a human focus and done through a human process must be looked at delicately without biases and the dignity of each person must be acknowledged regardless of her role. 2) Women often willingly allow themselves to be treated unequally in exchange for opportunities to be true to their nature � a nature that has a need to care for other lives, and create new lives. This sacrifice is often mistaken for submissiveness.

Vijay then pointed out that men too do their own sacrifices, but they happen to be outside home and in not-so-human focused endeavors. He said that men package themselves all the time in order to get the right job, to survive and thrive in an organization because it is men�s nature to take the role of a provider and a protector.

In the ensuing dialogue, Manju and Seema did make a convincing case that since the primary nature of a woman is strongly connected to her biology, her options to live out her nature is more limited than that of men whose nature is more intellectual than biological.

The question then is, �Is there a way to look at a woman�s limited choices to be true to her nature that is empowering?�

I shared the view of people like Vinobha Bhave, Dwarkoji and Eckhartt Tolle who said that because of their nature, women have a natural advantage over men to grow spiritually. The various pains of women are more intense and more frequent � which offer them more chances in their lives to understand the nature of human suffering without having to intellectualize it.

In other words, men have to experiment with the external world in order to understand the truths of nature. Whereas, for a woman, nature has custom designed experiments for her. She just has to let them happen to her to observe and understand the truths of nature.

So what practice could we take from these thoughts?

Perhaps men can seek more opportunities to be caring and nurturing and women can be more adventurous and exploring, not as a special project but in their daily life. If nothing else, this will given men and women more experiential understanding of the nature of the other.

Posted by Ragu at June 30, 2005 11:33 AM

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I noticed that all the people who said "because of their nature, women have a natural advantage over men to grow spiritually." are men. We don't know of any woman who said the same thing.

As an excercise, I would like to know more about the lives of wives of spiritually grown men. Having spiritually grown, what did men do to help women realize the relation between her biology and spritual growth or to observe and understand the truths of nature. How did they augument women's spiritual growth?

However, In modern world, there is a constant struggle in women to balance her presence in mens world and her nature which is to be Nature's instrument to create and care for new and other lives. When there is struggle between two things, one can tend either way. Some might keep presence in mens world in front seat and some might keep their true nature in front seat. Obviously, In west, higher number of women kept their career .. etc in front seat and east is getting there.

In scriptures, women came forward took the role of men only when necessary. One famous example I can think of is, Satyabhama fighting in place of krishna when he fainted in some war. I would like to take a more deeper look at scriptures on what they demonstrate in this aspect.

At this point, the presence of this struggle and it's growing prominence(My awareness of the prominence as I am entering womenhood) are disturbing. I would like to take a deeper look at the causes of this struggle. The causes that are making women evolve and create the other nature(More appropriate word is qualities) in themselves that contradict the Nature's intentions for her.

Posted by: Soujanya at August 4, 2005 01:51 PM