by Swanica Shah
India, a country steeped in traditions, cultures and religion! Living in Mumbai, I have observed modern and traditional values, but have noticed a striking contrast in religion and what society has shaped it to become. Religion promotes the divinity of women but society percieves women as inferior.
“Religion’s ubiquitous influence is noticeable in almost aspects of Indian culture but a prominent grey area is in gender roles, although there are many respected goddesses, society has deceived women to be least respected.”
Hinduism, the predominating religion in India, believes that all living beings are part of the same great consciousness that is God. God is not male nor female. Within manifest creation, a balance of male and female energy is vital. (Choate, 2014). Yet, women are treated inferior which is camouflaged or blamed on religious beliefs.
An example of the powerful goddess, Lakshmi. She is the bringer of success and the epitome of compassion, the wife of Lord Vishnu, and a label of immense potency. Parvati, the goddess of fertility, love, beauty, marriage, children, and devotion, is the wife of Lord Shiva and mother of Ganesha! Both these women are commonly associated with their relationships to men such as the mother of their son or wife of the lord which leads to the conventional belief that a woman’s existence is to support the ‘superior’ gender, men.
Women were usually responsible for managing the family and household while men would be responsible for physical matters such as war or protecting the family. Today, in traditional homes, women are responsible for the same while men work and earn for their family’s wellbeing. Both men and women are dependant on each other so why are women labelled as the dependant gender?
Not all goddesses were dependant though, Kali a fierce almost unstoppable, the mother of the entire universe and the goddess of protection, not your stereotypical gender role as men were usually the protectors. Why hasn’t this fierce virtue been passed on to posterity? Why do individuals state that women should only be responsible for family and households and support it with Hinduism? That is not what Hinduism supports!
- Choate, Ambaa. “The Truth About Women and Hinduism.” The White Hindu, Patheos Explore the World’s Faith through Different Perspectives on Religion and Spirituality! Patheos Has the Views of the Prevalent Religions and Spiritualities of the World., 14 Mar. 2015, www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu/2014/06/the-truth-about-women-and-hinduism/.
- “Gender and Sexuality.” Patheos, Patheos Explore the World’s Faith through Different Perspectives on Religion and Spirituality! Patheos Has the Views of the Prevalent Religions and Spiritualities of the World., www.patheos.com/library/hinduism/ethics-morality-community/gender-and-sexuality.