The apparent contradiction found in the position of women in Indian culture is quite puzzling indeed.
Of all the living religious traditions in the world today, it is only in Hinduism that we find extensive worship of Divinity in the feminine form-” Devi. Hinduism believes in the universal creative forces to be feminine gender. God is looked upon as Shakti – the Divine Mother, the feminine par excellence. She is worshipped as the Goddess of strength, valor and power. All male power is said to be derived from this universal power and strength of the feminine principle, Shakti, which literally means “power”. Each male deity of the Divine Trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, has his female counterpart- Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. We invoke Durga’s help to surmount all obstacles, pray to Lakshmi for peace and prosperity then upon Saraswati to gain knowledge. Worship of Shakti in innumerable names and forms, like the Kali, Parvati, Bhavani, Kamakshi etc often reflect local customs and legends.
Yaa Devi sarvabhuteshu buddhi rupena samsthitaa
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namaha
To that goddess, who dwells within all beings in the form of intellect, I bow again and again and again
All women and men are considered to be the manifestations of God. We are all created in the image of the Supreme Being and the supreme being reside in each and every one of us.
A woman was supposed to be the manifestation of Goddess. Women have been offered worship at every stage of life — as virgins, as married women and as mothers. Wife or mother commanded more honour and reverence than husband or father. According to Manu ‘the daughter is the highest object of tenderness’ and the mother is revered’ a thousand times more than the father’
How can the extraordinary crime of eliminating daughters through sex determination be perpetrated in a society where little girls are revered as Devi’s kanya roop? Dishonour to women was tantamount to dishonour of the Almighty. And yet, today we find that the graph of violent crime against women is rising. Have we, as a society, forgotten what our scriptures enjoined? The blessings of the Almighty can be sought only by those who respect and revere women in their lives.
Yatra naariyastu poojyate, ramante tatra devata
As Swami Vivekananda says, “It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing.
For the real invocation and adoration of the Divine Mother, we should try and realize the presence of the Goddess within our own minds and bodies,. We can learn to respect and revere the feminine as well as masculine qualities, and to see Devi in all women. Such an attitude will heal and uplift our world. We pray to Devi that the social status of Hindu women will continue to improve in future through internal reforms in the society
May the Divine Mother guide us in the right direction!