With the Pen of Swami Satya Vedant  

Do women become empowered mean they are happy?

“Daily torture of women continues across the globe” screams a newspaper headline. Amnesty International shows in its report a “global culture” which gives an alarming picture of how women are still being subjected to inhuman treatment and injustice. A lot is being written in the print and electronic media on women’s issues which obviously reflect the stark reality as regards women’s conditions despite provisions of legal remedies and public outcry. Indeed, statistically, one may show how women are getting into important positions in the financially growing corporate world and elsewhere, nevertheless, one still finds something very crucially missing in the various reflections on this issue. And that is, going deeper into the vary phenomenon of women abuse as it has persisted for centuries worldwide.

It is still relevant to draw one’s attention to the fact that tracked by numerous surveys it has been pointed out, “as women have gained more freedom, more education and more economic power, they have become less happy.” The paradox is further revealed through the following statement in a survey, “More than two-thirds of women still think men resent powerful women, yet women are more likely than men to say female bosses are harder to work for than male ones. Men are much more likely to say there are no longer any barriers to female advancement, while majority of women say men still have it better in life.” (TIME October,2009).

The contemporary visionary, Osho, has gone into the root of this issue and has made us aware of how it is needed urgently that in the twenty first century we open doors for the fifty percent of humanity to contribute in making this world a better place to live.  

Women are born into a state of utter degradation, which is equally widespread and unyielding as conditions faced in the name of race and caste. Despite the much talked about “women’s liberation,” the fact of the matter is that women are seriously and systematically discriminated against almost universally. The examples of such discrimination abound in terms of education, employment, salary, opportunity for higher positions but especially in terms of extending  simple courtesy and respect.

It is ironic, though, that since infancy along with female the male also depends for protection and nourishment upon one woman or another.  Ordinary common sense would, therefore, dictate that such an important person be given the due respect, attention and a special place in the overall scheme of life. But that does not seem to be the case. What does emerge, however, is ambivalence on the part of man in his attitude and demeanor toward woman. For no lesser a person than Freud, a woman has been nothing short of mystery. He says: “Despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, I have not been able to answer…the great question that has never been answered: what does a woman want?”

For centuries, how ambivalent and contradictory perceptions regarding woman have prevailed in the East and the West can be seen through a few examples. In the Western culture, for instance, one comes across common gestures of giving up one’s seat in a bus or train, or allowing a woman to enter first, or opening the door etc. On the other hand, a person like Picasso is reported to have said, “There are only two kinds of women – goddesses and doormats.” Napoleon is very direct when he says: “Nature intended women to be our slaves. They are our property; we are not theirs. They belong to us, just as a tree that bears fruits belongs to a gardener. What a mad idea to demand equality for women! Women are machines for producing children.”

In reference to belief in reincarnation and the idea that rebirth can also mean a gender change, Dr. Leonard George points out in his book, Alternative Realities, “It is noteworthy that anxiety about inter-life sex change partially motivated orthodox Christianity to suppress the reincarnation doctrine. St. Jerome wrote that the worst part was that ‘we may have to fear that we who are now men may afterwards be born women.’”

In the Indian context, the ambivalence toward women is sharply divided. On the one hand a woman is put on a pedestal by calling her grihalaxmi. Her status in the family is exalted by saying: yatra naryantu pujyate, ramante tatra devataha (gods dwell in a place where a woman is revered).  On the other hand, Tulsidas makes it perfectly clear: dhol ganwar shudra pashu nari, ye sab taadan ke adhikari (the drum, the ill-bred, the untouchable, the animal, the woman they all deserve to be beaten).

Clearly, a woman in man’s view is never seen as a human being, as an individual, as one who has her own individuality. She is never accepted on her own right. She is worshipped but not given due rights. She is used as a slave, but not given any benefits.

The strategy of man has been to keep her stuck in the image created by him for his own vested interest – whether as a grihalaxmi or as his property. First, man convinced her into seeing herself within this framework, and subsequently, the woman got so conditioned to seeing herself accordingly that she couldn’t perceive herself differently. She complained, she cried, she begged for relief but never dared to get out of the imprisonment of her image. So, first the man was conditioned to perceive women in a certain way, and then the woman too got conditioned to perceive her on the same lines and accepted it without any hope for a better life.

Osho is the first visionary of the contemporary world to recognize woman on her own right—not just as someone’s daughter, wife, or mother, but simply as a woman independent of all identifying labels. He has restored her lost dignity and has given her individuality.

In a forthright manner he declares,

A woman can never be free unless she drops artificial conditioning. It is difficult to drop them because society respects you for those qualities. It is very ego-fulfilling, so to drop them seems to be very difficult.

Indeed, Osho is a post-feminist. When the women’s liberation movement of the seventies was brought to his attention, he immediately points out where it was going wrong. In their efforts to liberate themselves from the bondage that came with womanhood, he asserts, the champions of women’s liberation were in danger of “liberating” themselves from womanhood itself. In sociological terms, Osho finds it utterly counter-productive for women to ask for “equality”. His view is that men and women are essentially different; in fact, each is endowed with unique qualities. 

And hence he says:

Woman’s uniqueness must be recognized, respected, supported. Women must have an equal opportunity, but not the opportunity to imitate man’s quality, rather, the opportunity to develop her own qualities.

Although women are attaining education, a little economic and political freedom, a position of high responsibility here and there, and yet, her original predicament still remains – she is still not free from within. But her inner freedom largely depends on man becoming free from within – free from the centuries old inner conditionings created by the family, the society and the religion.

Essentially, however, both men and women are prisoners — prisoners of their mind. Both have lived in slavery. Mind, when it is allowed to function as a master turns out to be a ruthless dictator. Meditation can de-throne this dictator and put it in its right place — as a partner in evolution. All
along, men and women have suffered under the control of mind. It is time for both to be free from it and walk together, work together, celebrate life together in turning this earth into what Osho calls:”a lotus paradise”.

— Swami Satya Vedant

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