Thursday, April 19, 2012


AND WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW THEM - (by Saumya Arya Haas) When I tell people I’m Hindu, one of the first reactions is sympathy. Because I’m not just Hindu, I’m a Hindu woman. It’s assumed that this is a difficult thing to be. Yes, a lot of Hindu women are discriminated against and oppressed. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that that means we are subservient. Gargi (dates unknown): Philosopher, Public Speaker, Royal Advisor - While most priest-philosophers of ancient India were men, there were a number of extraordinary women among them. Gargi was one of the composers of the Upanishads.  Akka (12th century): Poet, Social Reformer, Feminist - Akka Mahadevi devotional songs express her rejection of societal expectations; she considered Lord Shiva her spiritual husband and resisted pressure to marry. Rani of Jhansi (19th century): Warrior Queen, Freedom Fighter, Folk Hero - She an equestrienne, queen and battle commander who fought the British during the 1857 War of Independence. 

Phoolan Devi (1963-2001): Bandit Queen, Minister of Indian Parliament, Folk Hero - She was revered by many as a champion for the rights of oppressed people and women.  Kiran Bedi: Cop, Reformer, UN Advisor - She was the first woman officer in the Indian Police Service.  She became the Inspector General of Prisons, and introduced yoga and meditation as part of an innovative rehabilitation program. Vandana Shiva: Scientist, Activist, Educator, Environmental Steward - In the dark ages of the 1990s, Dr. Shiva made connections between environmental issues, gender imbalance and social inequity.  Anuradha Koirala: Anti sex-trafficking Activist, Educator. - She has helped over 12,000 women escape slavery.  Anju Bhargava: Hindu-American leader - She is a social activist and innovator. Her organization is called Hindu American Seva Charities.  Lalita Arya: Activist, Educator, Mother - My mom taught me to respect her work as a homemaker. Pilgrim Women: Women bathing in the Ganges who advocate for Women’s Rights and Dignity.

The article's author, Saumya Arya Haas, said she first thought of her cultural ancestors: women whose lives shine through the avalanche of male-oriented history, those who overcame the challenge of being remembered centuries later. But she included Hindu women that she encounters through the news, her community and daily life, too. “My contemporaries: women who live and strive in the world in which I live and strive, but do it with assertiveness, verve and grace to which I can only aspire,” she said.

All ancient and even not so ancient societies, both religious and secular, have looked similarly upon women in ways that today’s society does not. The reason is largely because of the obvious fact that women are no less intelligent, no more lusty, etc., than men. Other religious traditions, such as Christianity, have for the most part moved on from the Bible’s traditional description of the role of women to embrace the times that are with us, in which women are involved in every aspect of society. ... Now they can vote, have a say as to what the world needs, and thus share the loving nature you attribute to them by investing it in determining world leaders. Nor is there any evidence that women are now less caring at home. The equality that women have gained has also caused many men to become more caring.

Śrīla Bhakti Vedanta Tripurari Mahārāja :
“Women And The Reality Of Our Times”
Sri Caitanya Sanga - January 31, 2001, Vol. III, No. 4

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