By Dada Vasvani April 2011 Women with their capacity for integration and synthesis can do a lot of good for the earth, which is grossly mismanaged by men Women fashion the soul of a nation. They hold fast to tradition and sustain the continuity of a people. – Sadhu Vaswani Time and again, I have had occasion to recall the stirring words of my beloved Gurudev, Sadhu Vaswani, “The woman-soul shall lead us upward on!” Sadhu Vaswani had his reasons for making such a bold assertion. He pointed out that the “man-made” world was already crumbling beneath the burden of its own weight. Man had believed in physical force – in the atom bomb, nuclear weapons and guided missiles. Man had bungled and greatly blundered… Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani was, in many ways, the initiator of a great liberating movement which aimed to give women their rightful place in society, in the hidebound and conservative world of undivided India, as early as the 1930s. The women of Sindh, were the first beneficiaries of this quiet, non-violent revolution that he spearheaded. In the days before the word feminism was even coined, Sadhu Vaswani did everything he could to break the shackles of superstition and hidebound ‘customs’ that had kept Sindhi women restricted and confined for centuries. He offered the purdah-clad, kitchen-bound women of Sindh, spiritual liberation in the true sense of the term. Indeed, I would say that he was the initiator of a unique women’s movement, which focussed on the spiritual strength of women. How many of you who read this article in the second decade of the twenty-first century will believe me if I tell you that this great liberation movement began in a satsang? Sakhi SatsangHis Sakhi Satsang, a spiritual association of women formed for the purpose of helping them to realize their true potential, enabled many women to become decision-makers for the first time in their personal lives – by the very act of voluntarily joining his satsang. He inducted Sindhi women into what had until then been the domain of men – the practice of religion in the true sense. The Sakhi Satsang was quite revolutionary in its spiritual, social, cultural and economic impact on Sindhi women, if one were to consider the movement in all its aspects. For the first time, women learnt about economic independence, accountability and trust, when they were given the management of Sakhi stores. They took their first steps on the path of self-reliance, outside the secure confines of their own homes. At the Sakhi Conference organised by him for their benefit, they had the chance to make themselves heard on matters concerning themselves; on social evils like dowry, child marriage and exploitation. Sadhu Vaswani’s Seva Ashram opened a new world to women who wished to tread the spiritual path. Above all, He is only a part of she; man is only a part of woman; and male is only a part of female! – Dada Vaswani he emphasised the spiritual shakti of women, exclaiming aloud to the male-dominated society: “The man-made world has proved to be a broken, bleeding world. Man has blundered badly, for man has believed in force. Even marriage at one time, was marriage by capture. Man has had his chance. Masculine mentality has blundered. Now woman gets her chance. She is called upon to build a New World. She is a symbol of shakti in the Hindu scriptures. And shakti is not force. Shakti is integration. ”Today, disintegration is setting in. Woman is the centre of social integration…Our homes must move in a new atmosphere of the simple life: else they will break up: they cannot stand the strain of this heavy drain… The woman-soul has the shakti to rebuild the shattered world on the strength of her intuitions, her purity, her simplicity, her spiritual aspirations, her sympathy and silent sacrifice. The Woman-soul will lead us upward, on!” I would like to draw your attention to the significant words of Theodore Roosevelt: “The mother is the one supreme asset of national life. She is more important, by far, than a successful statesman, businessman, artist or scientist.” The Sanskrit word for compassion, daya, has no masculine equivalent. So it is that compassion is a special manifestation of the woman-soul. I hold no truck with the term ‘weaker sex’. I believe women are blessed with great spiritual strength. Spiritual StrengthConsider Sita; the delicate princess who followed her beloved Rama into vanavas with a smile on her lips; Sita who defied the mighty Ravana even in captivity. Consider Maitreyi, who rejected her husband’s offer of material wealth and comfort and insisted instead, that he should share his wealth of wisdom and spiritual knowledge with her. Consider Mira, who defied social conventions and gave up the life of a queen to seek Krishna. Indian scriptures, epics and history stand testimony to the greatness of the woman soul. Here is one more reason why the female is superior to the male – for he is only a part of she; man is only a part of woman; and male is only a part of female! I read an ancient Greek story about a city that was threatened by an awesome mythical monster, called the Unicorn. The warriors and other brave men of the city could not stand up to the monster and fled in disarray. But a pure, simple, virtuous young maiden confronted the monster – and it was the monster that had to flee from the shakti that she represented. I find this story deeply symbolic. For our world today is threatened by the nameless, faceless monster that is compounded of hatred, violence ,intolerance, insensitivity, ruthlessness and avarice. It is only the woman – pure, gentle, virtuous, strong in the spirit of simplicity, service and sacrifice, who can take on the monster and conquer him with her spiritual shakti.
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