Sadhana switched off the TV in disgust. It was a much-watched scene from the Mahabharatha, where Kunti tells her five sons to share Draupadi as a wife! Dutiful sons that they were, they did! No one asked what Draupadi had to say! Or, that part of the epic was not paid attention to. Certainly not the way she had heard her own mother tell it. It was a mere footnote in a story about great Dharma warriors, Maharathis who fought the good fight.
A new consciousness was awakening in Sadhana, these days. She found herself questioning things she had previously accepted as 'normal.' Suddenly, there were unacceptable things everywhere she looked!
"Great Mother, Kunti had been a wife too. And, an unwed mother. Surely, she understood a woman's feelings and the sanctity of her body. She may have willingly borne great sons from different gods, for the sake of their dynasty. But why did she assume Draupadi would or worse, SHOULD make that same choice? Did women not have the power to choose?
Why berate our myths, which perhaps need to be reinterpreted for modern times? Look closer home. Saroja, my bai, who cleans our home and four others, is the primary bread-winner of her family. Her husband is a drunkard. She drops and picks up her children from school, cooks, cleans and manages all her household chores. She wakes up at 5 am, and is the last to hit the bed. Her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, who live with her, do not care to help out, as she is expected to do her duty as the 'good wife and daughter-in-law'. Worse, they disapprove of her wearing jewellery or looking beautiful, as it may attract the attention of other men. All the sarees I give her are promptly grabbed by her MIL, to be given in dowry for her unmarried daughter. Saroja is not expected to have any desires.
Everywhere I look, I see this scenario replayed, like a theatre of the distorted. Are women not the empathic sex? Don't we feel love and kindness more than men? How can we shower it on our fathers, husbands and sons, but deny the voices and needs of our own mothers, sisters, daughters and colleagues?"
Shakti speaks: "In your journey to reclaiming your power and becoming master of your own destiny, no one is your enemy, no one is your friend. All alike are your teachers. Whether challenging or supporting you, the women in your life create the perfect kshetra (field), for the distillation of your spirit! They present an opportunity for the real you to shine through, resilient and inviolable. They help you find and forge your dharma, your unique journey to becoming all that you can be! See the truth of their being and give thanks, for they serve you.
Shakti Speaks is a monthly column by Nilima Bhat, a facilitator of personal transformation, based on dialogues within The Women's Circle, a DNA initiative that seeks to restore gender relations and empower women to raise their consciousness. Join our online circles @ShaktiSpeaks, www.facebook.com/shaktispeaks, firstname.lastname@example.org
In May, Shakti speaks about the 'Invisibility of Women'.