HomeOpinionDharmic Feminism: The Kind Of Female Empowerment The World Needs

Dharmic Feminism: The Kind Of Female Empowerment The World Needs


Dharmic Feminism: The Kind Of Female Empowerment The World Needs

By Preity Upala

One of the most pertinent issues of our time is equality, specifically, gender parity and women’s rights. Despite enjoying more freedom and rights than ever before in the history of human existence, women today are struggling to fully embody and express their true feminine nature.  Suffice it to say, feminism today has a ‘Branding problem’! It doesn’t consider that men and women are different, that they are not supposed to be the same; that each has their own spiritual purpose and that one

marries perfectly into the other. In this pursuit of “Equality of Outcome”, we are finding a reversal of the gender balance where the women are becoming harder, the men softer and almost ashamed of their masculine power. This leaves women yearning for the Divine Masculine, which they feel they now have to generate within themselves. This is due to the absence of real masculinity in men around them and when a woman is forced to be the “Man”, she is unable to be her true feminine self. I observe this phenomena and am forced to look within, look at my own lineage, my culture, my Dharma and I have a completely different perspective on the topic of feminism and female empowerment. Are men and women equal? Do we honor the feminine? Do we value our women? Are our women empowered? You see, in Sanathan Dharma, this is not even a question that will arise. These seem to be questions that haunt the west and in contrast are not prevalent within Hinduism.

That’s because Shakti- the divine feminine is central to our faith. Hinduism is the only religion that upholds the goddess energy even higher than God himself. In fact, there is a joke that goes “in Hinduism, we have more female goddesses than male gods”. This is true. Devi- (goddess worship) is the very essence of this ancient tradition and we have been practicing it for thousands of years. Hindus believe that Shakti is both responsible for creation and the agent of all change. Shakti is cosmic existence as well as liberation. Shakti is the personification of the Divine Feminine, it is the primordial cosmic energy that represents the dynamic forces which move through the entire cosmos. When you look east, Indian women are an embodiment of this Shakti energy at its highest elevation. I find women in the west struggling to find their divine feminine essence and I see this very essence effortlessly manifested within Indian women. Observe any India woman, she proudly wears her femininity. Her real power is in her vulnerability, beauty, softness and sensuality. She knows that she does not need to give up who she is to be the person she wants to be. She is secure in her power and does not feel the need to prove it or to bring someone else down to validate her own self-worth. True Yoga (union)

is embracing the Shiva and Shakti within oneself. When looking at the Goddess energy, we see that there are so many faces to it. The benevolent Lakshmi, the fierce Kali, the powerful Durga, the compassionate Parvati, the sensual Quan Yin, the playful Radha, the wise Saraswati among others. We have all these different elements of the Goddess within us. Hinduism teaches us to embrace it all and not give up our essence to be something in the world. Santana Dharma is as timeless as it is contemporary. The answers that the world is searching for lies in wisdom tradition. The Hindu scriptures say: “In woman, is the form of all things, of all that lives and moves in the world. There is no jewel rarer than woman, no condition superior to that of a woman.” For me personally, Shakti has played a great role in shaping me into the kind of woman I am in the world today. It has taught me the balance of Yin and Yang, to receive and exert. It has taught me to find my power in charm, softness, vulnerability and love rather than force. When I was an investment banker, I harnessed my Shakti energy to communicate and negotiate while keeping my center and now in entertainment and as a public intellectual, I have to express myself with grace, charm and light. There is a large void I see in society these

days that this notion of Shakti could fill. The very idea of what it means to be a woman is now being challenged and contemplated on. In the pursuit of socially generated equality it is important that we don’t loose the very notion of the male female dynamic as it has been for millennia. Today, the dance of Shiva Shakti becomes incredibly healing and necessary. Hinduism can play a role in the growing consciousness or gender activism and awakened living. Most problems arise because of the imbalance in the Shiva and Shakti. The fact that women and men are seen as equals in the eyes of Sanatana Dharma reflects the egalitarian attitude of the Vedas, and how the tradition emphasizes that a spirit of cooperation and appreciation between men and women is what leads to societal progression. The west can take a leaf from these teachings and bring balance into their society. In Hinduism, we don’t encroach on each other’s space or impose our gender values onto them. It is ultimately a delicate dance in this divine Leela (Divine play) of life. That is why it has worked for over 5000 years and continues to do so today.

(Multifaceted Upala, was a banker in Australia before starring in Bollywood hits like “Bahubali” and Hollywood’s “Sex and the City 2.” Now in Los Angeles, she is a film producer and podcast host. Find her at: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3746935/)

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