On an explorative journey with Satish Purohit, one can understand the concept of divine masculinity as a counter to toxic variety of masculinity found in various spiritual traditions and its role in co-creating a New Age of elevated gender synergy
First of all, to begin with gender cannot be a basis for deciding people’s archetypal roles in the functioning of the world. Gender biases, especially the ever so existent male superiority is very deep-rooted in the society. Although, the arrogance and privilege attached to be born as a male has been shaken by women today rising in almost all fields of work and power, hence moving the women from a marginalized section to an empowered one. Even the old notions of masculinity are softening, from being rugged, aggressive and macho to being more gentle, sensitive, empathetic, and in touch with their intuitive, emotional side. The future man is not self-serving and toxic but an agent of happiness, progress and growth.
A woman’s highest calling is to lead a man to his soul, so as to unite him with the Source. Her lowest calling is to seduce, separating man from his soul and leave him aimlessly wandering. A man’s highest calling is to protect the woman, so she is free to walk the earth unharmed. A man’s lowest calling is to ambush and force his way into the life of a woman.
- Cherokee Proverb
Divine masculinity as a concept is quite mystical and is a part of divine Leela or spiritual play of the universe unfolds. It is like the giver of the seed, the original impetus who awakens the inherent potential of the feminine and together they set universe into motion.
According to Sankhya philosophy of Yoga, Purusha, the word commonly used to denote male or masculine in several Indian languages, is the transcendent still principle that is beyond causation. This Purusha, by its mere presence, excites Prakriti or nature, which is described as feminine. It becomes kinetic due to the proximity of Purusha. And then there is the Purusha-Prakriti samyoga, the mysterious union of the still principle (the masculine or Shiva in Tantra) and the dancing one (Prakriti which is described as feminine in Tantra). It is represented by the Shiva Lingam, which is believed to be the first and the last form to emerge when the world was created and when its dissolved. This summarises the whole idea of honouring the divine feminine and the divine masculine in ourselves, families and society in word, action and deed.
The masculine ideal
Referring to the example of the quintessential male of the Yoruba religious tribe of Nigeria, Orunmila, the priestess Iyanifa describes how no man is perfect but can become noble through the principles of iwa-pele (gentlesness and good character). He, who is gentle in all ways is pleasing to everyone. She also says Orunmila asks men to treat their wives like precious diamonds. He advises patience to be the supreme value and warns men against the dangerous anger.
Similarly, in all religions there exists the ideal of a perfect man who manifests all that is noble, refined, elevated, and spiritual in a man.
Parag Desai, a devotee of Lord Vitthal (an aspect of Lord Krishna) quotes the example of Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself on the cross to give mankind a way out of sin. She also speaks about the spiritual heroes of Jainism and Buddhism who withdrew from the mundane world of passions, found the light within through their own efforts, and shared it with the world.
Interestingly, while Jesus, Buddha, Mahavir, and masters like Adi Shankara distanced themselves from feminine influence, considering it a distraction and obstruction on their path, others like Krishna, Rama and Mohammed were householders.
Desai also states that the realisation of the true self is the only thing that remains in the end after one renounces one’s attachment for another or uses the world fully to transcend it by performing karma yoga. He explains the path to renunciation includes giving up the body-mind emotions as well as transcending the lower realms of masculinity or gender.
Patriarchy, even of the enlightened variety, eventually gobbles up space for women in all spheres, including spirituality. This is the reason that there are way fewer women spiritual leaders. We have the rishikas or female seers Ghosha, Gargi, and Maitreyi in the Vedas; we have Sufi figures like Rabia of Basra, Hazrat Babajan, Sister Champa (Jainism), Akka Mahadevi, Sant Andal, Sant Avvaiyar, Sant Bahinabai, and Sant Janabai. However, the spiritual galaxy is crowded with male stars. This near absence of women in the public sphere beyond the home and hearth has had an impact on how men articulate their masculinity.
The story about how Vishnu evokes his feminine side by becoming the stunningly beautiful Mohini to entrap demon Bhasmasura in the illusionary web, called Maya, which brought about his end, expresses the power of female principle of divinity. Similarly, Shiva himself manifests with his Shakti, Parvati, in a half-man-half-woman form.
A compassionate heart
A Shia Muslim based in Mumbai, Feroz Shakir, who is a fashion designer and photographer-chronicler of the Sufi, Tantric, Hijra, and Aghori traditions of India says Compassion and Empathy are the two qualities that mark out a spiritual person, man or woman. He believes that just as toxic masculinity seeks to control, dominate and limit femininity, enlightened or divine masculinity gives space to others to flower.
Speaking fondly of his late Tantric guru who manifested divine femininity in his body when he invoked the Goddess, Shakir shares about how the guru became visibly female. Despite these adventures, he remains a committed Shia Muslim. A doting grandfather to three granddaughters, He wears heavy jewellery, colourful turbans, and Sufi robes that flare as he dances in them and attracts attention when he walks in Mumbai. “People will often say rude things, tell me what religion permits and what it does not and even abuse me. I fail to understand why I should be disturbed when I am just being myself. I do not harm anyone. I earn an honest living from my clothing business and spread the message of love, empathy, and compassion. This business of telling men to behave like men and women to keep their place comes from a space where there is zero compassion. Let people be! How difficult is that?”
Neeta Borkar, a graphic designer and illustrator from Gurgaon, says much of what is taken to be the norm in defining what is male and what is female comes from outdated realities. She adds that nature ensures that men and women need each other. Earlier, the rigid gender segregation was not fed by patriarchy but by the survival instinct. This regimentation of genders permeated life, culture, and discourse for centuries. Neeta concludes that new paradigms of what it means to be a woman aligned with divine masculinity and a man aligned with divine femininity are truths that are slowly emerging out of the ferment of the New Age.
Yin Yang balance
Latika Rathod, a soft skills and communication coach and mother of two, says both genders need room to flower. “We have to understand that male aggression, muscle mass, and desire to undertake adventures are natural traits that need not be denied. They are necessary in an imperfect world where the weak have to be protected and the powerful have to be checked so they do not become destructive under the influence of their own power. Man provides the seed, but it is not enough. It is the woman who-with her physicality, time, and energy-nurtures, supports, and completes the circle of effort.” Rathod adds, “Man and woman, or the masculine and feminine binary is a creative expression of the essential duality of nature. To be spiritual is to grasp this duality, align oneself with the truth of this duality, and act in ways that honour this duality. What it means is that the two are different, but neither is inferior or superior. They are co-equals who further the never-ending business of existence.”
Rathod also adds, “Ravana refuses to heed his wife Mandodari’s advice and is, therefore acting without the feminine support. Ravana is, therefore, a man who trespasses on the female sphere by kidnapping Sita and also does not give space to feminine energy in his own life by refusing to heed the wisdom in Mandodari’s words to return Sita to her husband. The fate of Ravana tells us that divine masculinity is one that honours the divine feminine within and without in thought, word, deed and relationships.”
Sex, gender and Bollywood
Sex is a thing of biology. It is a binary spectrum with male and female as its two ends. There are also those in between who possess characteristics of both sexes in varying degrees. Gender, on the other hand, is the sum total of behaviors that one is expected to display when one belongs to a particular sex, either male or female. The pressure to adhere to a particular look and behave or talk in a certain way is very real. Mythology hints at the presence of feminine in man and of the masculine in women.
“Stereotyping is gender violence. Imagine a man modeling himself after the Bollywood male film hero of the 80’s or 90’s. He is rough, quick to fight, and short-tempered; he is too busy beating the bad boys up to have any time for feminine values like intuition, feeling, and nurturing. Even as this hyper-male goes about doing what matters to the masculine ego like worldly adventures, achieving, and success, he feels unfulfilled because the perfect man in his head is a myth. Such ideas of being a ‘man’ are not aligned with the truth that within, we are masculine as well as feminine. My physicality as a woman should not involve denial of my masculine side. I think acceptance of the binary of masculine-feminine within us is the key. Once I can give permission to myself to be who I am, it is easy for me to embrace the uniqueness of others as well,” says Neha Gupta, corporate coach and founder of Alchemy of Organization Development.
As Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev puts it, “The society we have created is so super-masculine; it is not even good for a man, let alone a woman. Right now, it is badly tilted against her, and she is desperately trying to fit into the man’s world, which is unfortunately taking a toll on her. The outcome of this is a general disruption of life. We need to restructure many things in this society so that there is an equal role for the masculine and feminine aspects of nature. As a masculine, though an aggressive way of doing things is needed on one level, aesthetics, music, and being sensitive to things must become equally important.”
Masculinity is not only about being aggressive. It is also about being noble and honourable. Superior masculine qualities such as being truthful, morally courageous, responsible, committed, passionate, and protective of the weak can be adopted by both genders if they wish to evolve.
“In conclusion,” says Neeta Borkar, “while engaging in war-like discussions on ‘men are from Mars and women are from Venus’, we forget that we are really from Earth and we need to live here peacefully. It is time to halt the battle of the sexes and call a truce. Let us be men, women, or both and let others be what they wish to be,” she smiles.
Nine metaphors for awakening the Divine Masculine
Life skills optimiser and author of, The Elephant On The Road, Mina Tilakraj shares nine metaphors that may be visualised to help us honour, uphold, and integrate the divine masculine within us:
The Sky: Infinite, ever-expanding, outpouring, and upholding numerous galaxies within the realm of its eternal cosmic dance. It’s a natural male instinct to pour in his infinite effort to provide a platform for life, protect it, and provide for it too. The ever-expanding aspect of the sky is also about his never-ending quest for varied experiences along with the understanding and knowledge to be acquired thereby.
The Sea: Calm expanse and depth. The confident calm about his own power with the depth of internalised emotions inspires trust.
The Volcano: Contains its heat within until it erupts with unbridled force. The most attractive and sensuous aspect of male consciousness is the effortlessly contained power with the capacity to instinctively erupt with full force when the situation demands.
The Mountain: Loftiness and stability. Speaking of real men of substance, the loftiness of their commitment to provide stability in all circumstances is their true nature which commands so much respect.
The giant and the little child: Have you ever seen a big burly man speaking to a little child? He actually bends down to reach their level. That’s true power, which respectfully and indulgently surrenders before the purity of innocence.
Father to his parents: When an adult son takes responsibility of his ageing parents or even offers support to other ageing persons, cares for them, and indulges and pampers them in little ways, it is the switch of roles that makes him stand out as a person.
The Gardener: Gently tends to the delicate plants. True strength is not only about being strong and powerful but also having the gentle tenderness of a gardener to handle delicate plants and flowers, and to interact with Mother Earth.
The Devotee: Humble surrender to a deity. Humble strength and power are most endearing and heart-warming. This is visible in a man standing with folded hands, bowing with earnest devotion and humility before a deity.
The devoted and passionate lover: Gives space, respect, and attention to those he loves. Lastly, it is the Divine Consciousness in a real man that makes him treat with utmost respect and care, the Divine Consciousness in the feminine.
An ordinary man treats every woman like an object of possession or pleasure. A real man with Divine Consciousness treats every woman like a Goddess.
He is passionate about his own consort and, at the same time, gives her love, space, respect, and care. The woman with Divine Consciousness responds towards her consort with the same passion and with utmost affection, respect, trust, and care.
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