Shakti is the Agent of All Change

Shakti Mother Goddess

 

Shakti , meaning “Power” or “empowerment,” is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as ‘The Great Divine Mother‘ in Hinduism. On the earthly plane, Shakti most actively manifests through female embodiment and creativity/fertility, though it is also present in males in its potential, unmanifest form.

Not only is Shakti responsible for creation, it is also the agent of all change. Shakti is cosmic existence as well as liberation, its most significant form being the Kundalini Shakti, a mysterious psycho-spiritual force.Shakti exists in a state of svātantrya, dependence on no one, being interdependent with the entire universe.

– Wikipedia
I really don’t like writing up these posts about violence against women, but this latest drama involving the airing of the documentary “India’s Daughter” on BBC and many other countries around the world this Sunday as a part of International Women’s Day and how this documentary has now been banned in India, I feel I have to write something.
1788930
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, the documentary is a look at the circumstances and the characters involved in the brutal rape and disembowelment of 23 year old medical student Jyoti Singh on a Delhi bus by 6 men on December 16, 2012. The day after, women, men, students and all sorts of other Indian citizens hit the streets in the hundreds of thousands for weeks to protest against the violence towards women in Indian society, how the police are in on it, the judges, the lawyers, in fact the entire establishment.
I don’t want to outline the case too much since it’s been written to death in millions of articles right now along with the dumbfuck comments of one of the rapists, Mukesh Singh. The documentary keeps being uploaded and taken down off of Youtube constantly even after over 1 million views in a single day.
Typical Indian film posters - many of them are painted.

Typical Indian film posters – many of them are painted.

What I do want to discuss is the mentality behind why this violence occurs in Indian culture and society. For many outsiders, India is the ultimate paradox. A successful democracy, which is coming into its own in a global village and economy. High tech industry in Bangalore, booming tourism, yoga ashrams, a country which graduates more engineers per year than the entire population of the middle-class of France, a fast-growing middle class which now wants a piece of the good life, more often than not copying their counterparts in suburban America, malls, designer clothes, expensive vacations, high-tech gizmos and gated-communities.
A Typical gated community outside of Bangalore which looks a lot like San Jose, California. Check out the servants weeding the lawn.

A Typical gated community outside of Bangalore which looks a lot like San Jose, California. Check out the servants weeding the lawn.

What many people fail to see or really understand is the sheer size, diversity and complexity of this country of 1.2 BILLION persons. 50% of this 1.2 billion live in poverty, that comes out to about 600 million people living on less than $2 a day in a slum and doing whatever they can to make it through the day. I’ve had friends of mine who told me that visiting India for them was like visiting another planet completely. There were things about Europe, Japan and the Middle East they could relate to but once they got to India, it was like absolutely EVERYTHING was completely different, from the colors, to the traffic, to the Bollywood painted film posters. It was like an assault on all their senses all the time. Some of them loved it and some of them positively hated it and couldn’t wait to leave. 
 
Last night, the CBC radio ran an interview with lawyer and president of India’s Supreme Court Bar Association, Dushyant Dave  about why the film has been banned in India. Remember this dude is supposed to be educated, well-read and one would hope, open-minded to the status of women in India. I just kept shaking my head the whole time because every single one of his responses to the journalist’s intelligent questions, were so, SO typical of the old guard of Indian men, men who run the law, the police, business, and society that if the establishment thinks this way, it’s the thinking which has to be challenged radically and changed in time.
 
Oh, it goes something like this….
 
1. India has no problem at all. What problem?
2. If it has a problem . It is no body else’s business
3. Everybody else has this problem. Everybody else also has other problems. Why don’t you talk about talk about those instead?
4. Why are you saying this is a problem? This is part of our 5000 year old culture. Our culture is unique and we don’t share the same values and culture as you in the West.
5. We knew the answer to all our problems in the Vedic age.
6. Even if we have this problem , it is not our fault.
7. We cannot accept any of the solution that have been shown to work elsewhere in other parts of the world. India is a 5000 year old civilization. We know better than you.
8. Even if we have this problem it is much better than what it was before.
9. Perhaps we have this problem but it is none of your business.
10. It will affect our tourism, our reputation , don’t talk about this. We are now an “investment destination” for global interests. If people think India is unsafe, we will lose tourist dollars and investment dollars! So please shut up!
11. This is a conspiracy by the West to demean India , to target India.
12. Some men who are poor and uneducated in India are dumb they will consider the rapist as a hero so you must ban this documentary or else there will be many copycats.
13. People of India will be traumatized by the truth that is revealed. Better to keep their minds protected in their cocoons.
14. You are a racist!
15. You anti-national!
16. You are anti-Indian!
17. India hater!
18: Sex is taboo and a shameful topic. We never discuss these issues openly. Never.
I’ve always believed that the problem is that there are many, many men in India and in this world who don’t want to look at women as equally valuable members of the same human family. They just don’t and they will use whatever they can to justify keeping a woman in her place. It could be religion, “culture”, rape, physical violence, emotional, psychological or sexual abuse. Anything just to scare the girl, intimidate her and make sure she does what she is programmed to do.
People may say that this is just a problem in the developing world or among crazy Muslim jihadists. Bullshit. I remember watching the 1970s film “The Stepford Wives” and thinking to myself that really besides cosmetic and superficial differences, the same old story of a “woman’s place” seems to be the same the world over.
As for me, I too was expected to follow the same path of all dutiful Indian-Bengali daughters. Have an arranged marriage to a good Muslim boy from a good, educated family, ideally a doctor or an engineer while I became a chartered accountant. Go back to Bangladesh and India every year to see our families there. Maybe pop out 2 kids and take them to Disneyland and road trips to the Grand Canyon and weekend trips to the outlet centers. In fact all my female cousins who are older than I am, took that route. One of them lives very comfortably in a gated community in Florida with a traditional PhD biochemist husband who I can only say physically reminds me of Animal from The Muppet Show.
Animal

Animal

I was the first one to rebel and said “No” and boy did I ever get it. My dad was at a loss and had no idea what to do. My mother had passed on when I was 7 and any other female ally I could possibly have within the family were nonexistent because they took the route I didn’t want. I even heard one asshole uncle tell my dad “Why don’t you beat her?” which my dad then used as an opportunity to tell him to screw off. Dad finally let it go and now he’s sees and understands what a real bunch of cretins certain men in the world are and doesn’t blame me for resisting.
The Age of Aquarius is not going to happen fully unless one half of humanity looks upon the other half of humanity as an equal and valued partner.

The Age of Aquarius is not going to happen fully unless one half of humanity looks upon the other half of humanity as an equal and valued partner.

People go on about the oncoming Age of Aquarius and how the Golden Age is coming but what drives me nuts about many of the conspiracy theory sites, new age sites and so forth is how many of them don’t even see that jack-all is going to happen as long as women are  not valued as equal members of the same human family. Some of them, like Henry Makow even think that feminism and giving “women too many rights” is a conspiracy theory used to destabilize the family, for women to stop having babies and make sure that the New World Order has its way. Here, they lose me completely. That’s not the point either.
"Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I don’t see anything conspiratorial about women being valued as an equal human being and being conferred the same rights, freedoms, privileges and same amount of respect. But I’m reminded of a line I once read, that women define and ultimately guide the society they live in, not men. The way women go will be the way that society will eventually go.
[Note: I initially had a quote here from Yogi Bhajan but given the allegations of rape and abuse now surrounding this “guru”, I have removed it.]
Advertisements
Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, Politico, Raise your EQ, This is why the planet is screwed up | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Post navigation

14 thoughts on “Shakti is the Agent of All Change

  1. I semi-agree with one point the official makes because the Western media does like to pick on other countries to take the moral high ground when as nations we don’t have moral high ground to take. Recently an article appeared in the Washington Post about how Valentine’s Day is the most dangerous day of the year for women in Cambodia. While there is no excuse for rape, the article completely overstated the case and failed to mention that Cambodians celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day of love of all kinds, not just romantic love. Family restaurants are packed and we bought gifts and flowers for family and close friends. I even had to buy a bouquet for a friend who had given birth to a daughter the previous day. It felt a little awkward, but even her husband appreciated the gesture. Isn’t that a better way to celebrate the day than to make people who don’t have a romantic partner feel miserable and alone?

    In short, these are global issues and ideally should be treated as such instead of targeting individual nations. I haven’t been to India since 1972, but during the year I was there, I experienced both the worst and best of humanity, same as in America, Australia and Cambodia, the 3 countries I’ve lived in long enough to comment on. Here in Sihanoukville, we have expats from all over the world. There was recently some trouble with some Russians and the Brits and Americans were quick to say, “Russians should be banned from Cambodia!” Some of the nicest people I’ve met here are from Russia and the Ukraine, but these bizarre cultural prejudices make people demonize entire cultures rather than the behavior of individuals or groups.

    • I do agree the Western media takes the moral high-ground on a host of issues all to often without first taking a look in the mirror and usually cherry-picks the facts to further their agenda or interests like in that Washington Post article you cited.

      However, while gender inequality and violence against women is indeed a global issue, I think the way that inequality is played out differs from place to place in large part due to culture. I mean the Scandinavian countries routinely come out ahead of most other countries in terms of gender equality but they also don’t have a caste system in place, which is still very powerful in India. I can’t generalize and say “All Indian men are pigs” because those riots and demonstrations in the aftermath of the rape showed just as many men, side by side with women fighting for women’s rights. The same thing happened in Turkey, when men demonstrated gender solidarity wearing dresses and miniskirts.

  2. I agree women ought to be respected and given equal access and privileges as men. I doubt that “religious” symbols like Shakti will promote fair treatment of women. Male Hindu culture runs deep with fears of the feminine/women.

    “In a general sense, all women are, according to popular [Hindu India] wisdom, so many vampiresses whose mere presence, even as an image in the male imagination, is sufficient to drain a man of his seed”, says yoga scholar David Gordon White in The Alchemical Body p341.

    In the Hindu cultural and religious milieu women are portrayed as temptresses who are guilty of draining men of “rasa”, vital fluid that causes premature death. The female as vampiress draining the life-fluid out of “innocent” men is a recurring theme in Hindu holy texts.

    Also, America culture, holds plenty of misogynist traditions from the Bible.

    Thanks for writing about this important and challenging issue.

    • Hi Scott,
      The tradition of women as temptresses is not only prevalent in Hinduism and in the Bible going back to Eve, but it is also there in Islam and Judaism as well. Even a tradition which look as magnanimous as Taoism from the outside even has strains of this if you delve deeply enough.

      The point being misogyny is everywhere, really, but the forms and expressions of it are different. The misogyny and violence are just different ways of trying to exert control and power over women, whether it’s
      1) her body and the insane standards of beauty the West holds,
      2) her fertility and her sexuality which might manifest as female genital mutilation in Somalia or the prevalence of date rape on American college campuses
      3) her movement and that might manifest as the binding of feet in Confucian China or the crazy stiletto heels women are supposed to wear in order to look sexy in the West.
      Really, the problem is any culture or religion which allows these sorts of things to continue unquestioned. At which point the question to be asked is, who really benefits from this misogyny and why?

  3. I’m not sure the forms and expressions of misogyny (or its extreme expression such as rape) are all that different between cultures or religion. The differences might be in degree and not in kind.

    Frankly, I don’t know. Your questions only beg more questions that I don’t feel qualified to answer at this time. I did a little research to try to learn more and find the definitions and statistics of “rape”, for example, are different per culture–probably per person. Check out this article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics

    I thought Sweden would have lower rape rates, being the society is supposedly irreligious, more open, progressive about sexuality, etc. However, the statistics (in the attached chart) point to the exact opposite. But the definitions of rape used from culture to culture are different in degree AND possibly by kind. I’m out of my league here. But thanks for your post making us aware of an important subject.

    • For the Intolerants

      Great piece EER that brings up so many questions. The discussion is equally compelling. Just to jump in about the culture/religion point, I think misogyny really boils down to deeply ingrained (and passed on) views about women and their place in society regardless of whether they are backed by religious norms or not. Having spent a lot of time in Scandinavia it became clear that while women are less marginalized than in many other countries (the Americas included) they are not at any less risk of falling victim to sexual assault or rape. That must mean that there is something else (not linked to religion) going on…

  4. @For the intolerants: Your experience in Scandinavia is useful reference. Jealous, as I’ve never been there and would love to someday.

    But, I don’t think its a smart move for you jump to your conclusion:
    “That must mean there’s something else (not linked to religion) going on…”

    Yellow flags: “must” and your assumption “not linked to religion”.

    Could it be that religion is linked along with other causes? Or, it is religion but we just don’t see a direct cause in the data we have at this moment? I’m not saying rape is caused by religion. What I’m saying be careful to discard religion as a factor or cultural influence, history/earlier generations and their religions shape our current gender and sexuality expression.

    • I think FTI is correct is saying that there is something else going on given how women are abused or marginalized even in liberal societies like Scandinavia. Personally I think it’s the vestiges of patriarchy which can take hundreds of smaller, more nuanced forms than over rape or violence or religious and cultural dogma.
      Does that mean ALL men automatically are douche bags by virtue of being men and at times benefiting from patriarchy? Absolutely not, but I think it’s very important we keep asking some of these difficult questions and question assumptions regardless of the source they come from.

      • Agree. Continuing to ask questions and unpack our assumptions is a smart approach.

      • For the Intolerants

        “Personally I think it’s the vestiges of patriarchy which can take hundreds of smaller, more nuanced forms than over rape or violence or religious and cultural dogma.” This. It’s not to say that patriarchy in secular countries was not, at one time, religiously built or backed. In most cases it might have been and/or probably was. However, in Denmark, Norway and Sweden where secularism is taken to a whole other level, I have difficulty retaining the link between outdated religious doctrines few adhere to (and haven’t for one, two, maybe even three, generations) to current cultural norms and influences. In such cases I think media and social institutions have a far bigger role to play.

        Regardless, the religious – misogyny dichotomy is interesting to uncover especially when trying to determine what came first. Was there always misogyny and religion became (the ideal) vehicle to drive it forward, did misogyny come along after religious worship (even paganism) took flight OR is it a bit of both? It’s interesting because the presumption is that cavemen did not worship the God(s) people do nowadays, however based on simply physiology and biology women had a specific place in caveman-ic society that was, most probably, enforced and reinforced by men.

        As an aside: I’d be curious to learn about the incidence of violence and hatred/fear of women in tribes/societies/people that focuses goddess worship.

  5. @FTI: Women have probably throughout history have looked to men to also be their protectors, for obvious reasons (physical strength of men, women holding the babies while men fought off the danger).

    I found a Rutger University article yesterday while I was researching another project. You might find interesting as it relates to the origins of concepts in anciets tribes: A Partial History of Afterlife Beliefs, http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~ogilvie/HistoryAfterlife.htm

    Thanks for discussing.

  6. K. A.

    I totally agree with this post, but I feel l have to remark that, sadly enough, even this quote by Yogi Bhajan is tainted by hypocrisy, as this, so-called, “Yogi-Tea-guy” has allegedly been harrassing female members of his own cult! Please check out the following video-link:

  7. @K.A. Yes. Your comment and video link is yet another reminder we humans ought to exercise more critical thinking, especially towards “gurus” and their devotees extraordinary claims.

    We humans are too easily fooled by our brains and intuitions. We want to believe in magical things and it gets us in trouble. I write lots about these topics in my blog, I was fooled big time by promises of gurus/yoga meditation–I was a yoga monk in a swami order for 14 years.

    Understanding how our brains trick us and knowing our self-delusions helps us evolve and mature.

    Cult Education: Yogi Bhajan and 3HO– criminal indictments
    http://culteducation.com/group/795-3ho.html#Criminal%20Indictment%20of%203HO%20Leader

    Why Smart People Believe Weird Things
    http://www.michaelshermer.com/2002/09/smart-people-believe-weird-things/

  8. K. A.

    Thank you for your input in the matter, SkepticMeditations. It’s good to be aware and not in the line for “conning” yourself by faulty impressions and the like. Sorry about my belated reaction/comment to your comment, though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: