Hindu Mythology: A Quest for Female Dominance

Posted by Subhankar Ghosh
October 31, 2017

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“She is the field for my seed” – this is what was said in the Mahabharata, for none other than Draupadi, thereby implying a patriarchal sentiment.

The quintessential feminists of modern India, who claim to be radical, have been attacking patriarchal scriptures and beliefs.

On the other hand, Bengali ghoroa (homely) women are idealised to be ishwarikamala and sthirlokkhirbhobeshtoshyo (gracious and docile).

So, Indian family-oriented women are now expected to possess a single fold of character – lakkhimonto (like Lakshmi). I have encountered some feminists (both progressive and Hindutvavadi) who have been voicing their opinion that liberty was prevalent in early Hinduism.

They vigorously give the example of the monuments and carvings in Khajuraho temples. I do not quite understand the point of using Khajuraho to portray women’s empowerment.

As far as images are concerned, one image that I find quite striking is that of Kali trampling upon Shiva. I agree that it was lord Shiva who deliberately chose to come underneath Kaali’s feet to restrict her revolutionary and radical approach of abolishing all evil. In my opinion, Kali was enjoying assassinating her opposition, and she became more and more vehement in her task. So, the writer of had to debar her by inviting Shiva, the man.

Kali’s aggression or barbarism is not celebrated. She is worshipped out of awe and fright. Durga is revered for her docile nature (after all, women should possess ‘self-dignity’). The latter was a fruitful creation of the devtas (gods), indeed.

Kaali, meanwhile, is expected to realise her fault of stepping upon her husband, her ‘creator’.

So, if you hear people say that narishakti (women’s power) equals devishakti (power of goddesses), please be aware of the fact that this only permits women to use their power within the expected frame, which, of course, is decided by men. Women cannot go beyond this frame. If you show your courage go beyond this frame, you have people like Abu Azmi to remind you of your father and husband.

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