It is very sad that in India, which is inhabited by very spiritual people, whether they are Sanatanis, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Moslems, Jews, Chrsitians or Parsis. The majority are Sanantanis, commonly known as Hindus, who have elevated the Goddess or Shakti to an equal status to Man. In fact, we always precede the Shakti’s name before the Shiv’s – Radhe-Krishna, Sita-Ram and so on; and pilgrimage destinations to Goddess’s temples abound, with Vaishno Devi being the foremost. Over the centuries, as and when, the country was invaded by ‘foreigners’, many of the ‘traditions’ like purdah, sati, etc. started to protect ‘our’ women from the foreigners. Over time, these traditions did not evolve as we became independent. In fact, many traditions with good intentions have become bad traditions with bad outcomes! We need to re-visit our traditions, and it will take decades to move in the right direction.
This is not an overnight journey. But, we have to make a start now.
The first step is looking at ourselves. What can we do to make a difference in our own thoughts and actions? Then, we can lead and influence by example everyone around us...and so on and on. Let us start today. Please do not distinguish between boys and girls amongst your children so that the boys, when they grow up, also do the same with their friends and colleagues; please treat your wife, mother, sister, sister-in-laws with respect so that your children learn the right values; please treat all your staff, especially women, at home or work with respect and dignity; please change your wills and ensure that all your children, boys and girls, get equal share.
The activists amongst our readers should also take a strong stand against abortion of girls, dowry and other evils. And, all of us can contribute some of our income to charitable organizations, which focus on the upliftment of girls or women! On the cover page of this journal, we have a few selected pictures of Indian women who have been high achievers in their respective fields in the same India where women have to fight for their rights throughout their lives. Let these women be great role-models for all of us. The example of our own GuruMaa is a great one. Though She came from a traditional Jain family, She followed her ‘calling’ and took Sanyas in the Sanathana Dharma. Later on, despite opposition from the male-dominated Akhadas, including death-threats, She became the first Parvatyacharya in the history of our Dharma! The threats and boycotts continued for years, and She still has opposition from many quarters. But, She stands tall, and has left all the critics behind, and is quietly focussing on Her spiritual growth, writings and Sri Hanumat Dham! She is at peace with Herself, and She is very proud of Her accomplishments. We should all learn from this great example, and learn to respect women!