पुरन्धिर् – a lady who administers a town
Will be dwelling upon a topic which is a hot topic of discussion always, equality of gender. Equality of Man and Woman. Cause the word above describes the Vedic concept of a lady.
Indian culture has always looked upon a woman to be the half part, equal and important, for the society, not lesser then man, nor better than him. The same applies vice-versa. WE ALL ARE EQUAL. The pitcure created in our society today is that we Indians have been very conservative and do not let our women leave the house. But the truth, is what we all need to dwell upon and find.
The best answer or example about the Vedic thought, we all know is of the “Ardhnarinateshwar” (the form of the Lord who is half Shiv, half Parvati). Vaidiks thought never thinks of the man alone. It has been ever inclusive.
Also let us see all our Goddess from Amba, Bhavani to Kali, except for Saraswati and Laxmi, all have weapons in their hands. And knowledge as well as wealth can be weapons too in a different way. The Goddesses have fought shoulder to shoulder with the Gods against the bad thought (western world will call it evil or the satanic thought) prevailing in our society then. The story of the fight of the Goddess with Mahisasur is still remembered and celebrated as Navratri. Haven’t we all read/heard these stories in our childhood days. Thanks to the Amar Chitra Katha books!!!
Even the Rishi Patnis were equally good administrators. They would manage the whole Ashram when the Rishi was busy with his teaching and research work. Taking personal care of every student and knowing his needs and catering to them was the Rishi Patni’s responsibility. Sometimes it makes me wonder if Rishi’s would have been able manage their Ashram’s on their own? Katyayani, Arundhati, Anusuya are such big names in this lineage. And there have been scholarly women like Maitreyi and Gargi too. Were they the teachers at the Universities of learning for women, is also a big topic for research!
Here the Rishi has asked for a woman who can administer a town. Women in those days were a part of the decision making process. So it is nothing new today for a city to have a lady mayor, or a country to have a lady being it’s defence minister or an external affairs minister and boast about it! But at the same time people need to be proud about it as well. Rather this should have been the way our ancestors would like us to live. The women were also a part of the bureaucracy then. And had an equal say in day to day working of a town or kingdom. Queen always by the side of the King when in audience, is its best example.
Also the women were equally able to fight. We all need to read about the people on the outskirts of North Western India who gave a tough fight to Alexander. After the men, it was the women who took up their arms and gave up their life. Alexander and his soldiers never expected this to happen and were taken aback.
Sometimes when I hear stories of Padmavati and like minded women, am forced to think why did the Rajput’s, the fighting clan perform Jouhar? Couldn’t they have taken up arms and fought? Does it have to do something with taking up services at the darbar of the invaders and becoming slavish? Had Rajputana been independent, and not taken up jobs at Delhi Darbar, wouldn’t they be better with their women? Maybe the atmosphere at that time was such, some people would argue. But from when have we become परिस्थिती वश (dependent on the circumstances)? We have always believed in being परिस्थिती निर्माता (circumstance builders). Yet I leave this to the discretion of my readers to think over.
At the same time, am reminded of Rajmata Jijabai or Rani Chenamma. These women have been the ablest of the administrators of their lands. Even Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar in this case. All of them have fought against all odds and carved a name in the history of this nation.
Jijabai single handedly brought up Shivaji and turned him into the people’s king. The way she brought up Shivaji and at the same time, sat at her darbar delivering justice is something women of today need to look upto. This administrative aspect of the life of Jijabai when she came to Pune from Karnataka where her husband, Shahaji sent her, has always been overlooked upon. When Shivaji goes to meet Afzal Khan, his ministers ask him about what is to be done in case of something happening to him? Shivaji without hesitating tells them to install Sambhaji in his place and to look after Swaraj under the able guidance of Rajmata Jijabai. This is Jijabai’s work. Even during the siege of Panhalgad, she was very active not only in day to day working of the kingdom but also involved in planning for an escape route for Shivaji. It was She who asks for the Kondana fort to be brought back into Swarajya. She has also brought up Sambhaji the way She did with Shivaji. There are many such things which can be researched on and many work must have been done too.
The cultural work of Rajamata Ahilyabhai, the tough fight given to the British by Rani Laxmibai and the women revolutionaries like Bina Das, Kalpana Dutta and even Captain Laxmi Sehgal need a special mention too.
Even in world of politics, Indira Gandhi sets an example of a tough administrator and not a “gungi gudiya”. She is the only Prime Minister as of date to impose Emergency in India. A very astute politician who faced the bullets face up. We may agree or not agree with her ideology and her way of working but She has set up an example.
I just want to say that instead of discussing and debating upon whether men and women are equal,
-Let us come together and work towards the betterment of society and mankind as a whole.
-Let us shed our inhibitions and looking upon our golden past, taking a clue from it, work together.
-Let us all be equal.
In my next blog wish to talk about the youth, then and now.