Ahalyā draupadī sītā tārā mandodarī tathā ।
pancakanyah smaren nityaṃ mahāpātakanāśakam ॥
Early in my life, I heard this shloka of the 'Pratah Smarneeya Panch Kanya' which says that Draupadi, Ahilya, Tara, Seeta and Kunti/Mandodari are the five holy virgins and by chanting their names first thing in the morning our sins are abated.
It made me realize the futility of adornments. The hollowness of words.
Those who were mauled and molested to be called eternal virgins!
Somewhat like the Nirbhaya Act of our times.Where we fail on all grounds of humanity and morality, when we found ourselves worse than barbaric animals, we try to heal (?) and replenish by making the victims sit on a pedestal, converting them into saints, angels, Devis and martyrs.
There are innumerable examples of female stereotyping, but for me, it goes deeper than that. The basic reason for it seems to be the ability to give life which a woman possesses and a man does not. Perhaps this deep rooted insecurity of this power of her goaded him to create rules and traditions.This deep-set insecurity is in the psyche, as well as in the genes.
So, she is either a Goddess, the pious and the giving one, benign, smiling benevolently, patient and forgiving OR a witch, the bloodthirsty one, selfish, conniving, sly and scheming. A Total terror.
Nowhere is she accepted as Manvi .. the Human. A person.
A person having small dreams and moderate aspirations. Lakhs of men can survive a dull life of daily drudgery with aplomb, but for a woman to be happy being just a teller is looked down upon! She needs to prove herself by being nothing less than a Kiran Mazumdar Shaw or an Indira Nooyi. Otherwise, her education is a waste!
She is not accepted as a person with human weaknesses and human follies. Not allowed to falter in speech, dressing and behaviour!
It made me wary of being good or bad actually, of being labelled.
I was determined to be happy.
To take responsibility for my mistakes and credits of my heroic deeds which I seem to perform left, right and centre! (Yeah yeah, I am still pretty good there.)
I also felt most males as a bundle of clueless energy, not knowing in which direction they ought to run but I never felt them being better or lesser than females. They were just different..well, slightly.
Hence, I faced the discrimination , the mindset, the stereotyping simply as a human and not as a female. I have actually taught myself that. Not to mind such comments/questions like, You are a late riser? Don't you like cooking? You like wandering aimlessly? yak-yak ..
Yes. I am an owl who likes to burn the midnight oil and why don't you take charge of the morning chores if YOU are an early riser? I enjoy cooking but I don't feel an adrenalin rush to realize that I have to be in the kitchen five times a day daily, like Forever!
Munshi Premchand once said,
"If some traits of a male come in a female she becomes demonic and if the female traits enter in a male, he attains godliness."
Do not misinterpret it as he simply meant that The Perfect Raymond's Man, The Ideal Suitable Boy, when imbibes only a few of the feminine traits like of compassion, unending affection and patience, he becomes God!
Urvashi, our very own celestial nymph has said that to Pururva, her heroic and valiant lover, who was so smitten with her that in order to invoke her soft feelings he went on for days singing about his own heroic deeds! To which she simply replied -
*देवालय में देव नहीं केवल मैं हूँ
मेरी प्रतिमा को घेर उठ रही अगरु गंध
बज रहा अर्चना में मेरी, मेरा नूपुर
Meaning it's the masculine energy adorned with the feminine nature which makes him complete - a God from a warrior. Without her, he is just a doer, an achiever ..with 'her' he becomes a creator.
The feminine energy is that elixir which is said to be dripping from the hood of the deadliest venomous pythons and snakes, protecting them from their own poison.
So I give two pence to dress up according to the in-thing and not even one paisa to be considered as an 'in-sync' person. I simply can not afford to care!
I am the only sari-clad bahu in my entire family including the extended khandan.. simply because as a child I used to see my mother get ready for college in smooth shiny silks, pastel chiffons and crisp cottons with peacocks sauntering on her hems and creepers dangling coyly on the pallav! No one, including my strict and ultra-modern mum-in-law, could put me off from getting decked up in sarees! I would drape the whole six yard (anyhow) and emerge confidently to face the world rather dazedly pass through the world, as I used to be too engrossed in adoring the softness of the saree, the colours which make me feel as if I had draped myself in a piece of sky or am in Eden with flowers blooming shyly all over me!
And for a full one year, I have teamed-up my sarees with a pair of powder blue running shoes! Don't ask why as that was the need of the hour..err.. year. They were cute as a blue bunny but for some reasons unknown, the neighbourhood aunties at my in-law's home felt otherwise and found them to be hideous! *rolling eyes*
Obviously, I did not pay heed.
I was and still am too busy living this one life to the fullest.
It does not matter to me if the world knows about Tandava only, as I know the Lasya.
The extremely soft dance of Parvati, the dance of grace and beauty, which she performs in response to Shiva's roudra Tandava - the dance of destruction. It's through Lasya that she harbours the seeds of life, protects the fauna, nourishes it with her tears of love and caress the scorched black earth back to life. I firmly believe in that part of the balance and no one can stereotype me for it. Unless of course, I am willing to be.
* In the temple it's not the Lord, but I
The incense fragrance encircles my idol,
The bell of my anklet tinkles in the worship of I
The Post is written as my views on Being Woman for my dear friend and fellow blogger Dr. Kiran Acharya. To read her wonderful post talking about gender stereotyping vist HERE.
Her post is studded with nuggets of wisdom from some of us women bloggers, which we have experienced, gathered or wilfully lost !.
I am indebted to Kiran for this beautiful initiative :)
Image Courtesy: Here