“She walks the planet to let many more lives walk on it. She lets herself be put through a test of time and remains serene and strong yet so. She resides in all of us as a giver of life and in universe as Shakti.”
Shakti- the power of The Almighty in Hindu religion is often personified as a female entity, i.e., a goddess. Many scriptures cite women as the source of life and of energy. Hence, it is but obvious that we worship women in as many forms as their male counterparts.
Be it the higher goddesses such as Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati or their incarnations such as Durga, Sita, Mahakali; each of them has played a vital role in shaping the history and mythology of India.
It is for this reason that women and men are compared on equal grounds and as two halves of one whole. The most common pictorial representation of this ideology can be seen in a portrait of Ardhanaarishwara. Such a painting depicts one half as Lord Shiva and the second half as Devi Parvati, both combined to look like one human being. This reinforces the thought that it is the combined effort of both the feminine and masculine genders that the world works on.
Through ages, many women have taken birth that set ideal examples in the form of queens, consorts and even chambermaids. The message, however, is clear- it is a woman’s world.
Sita- Embodiment of purity:
For some, Sita is the ideal wife, daughter, and daughter-in-law and to others a fearless warrior who would stand on no other grounds but of truth, purity and self-respect. She is the woman who obediently followed her husband into exile. She also put herself through Agni-pariksha or trial by fire to prove her innocence. But when she was questioned by the society and her husband did not take a stand for her, she refused to accept the mark on her character.
Hence, she dutifully united her sons with their father and disappeared from earth forever on her own terms. It is important to also note the context in which Sita’s story is set- the Treta Yuga is marked as the last period of Dharma on Earth and a king’s wife could do nothing else but to resort to public opinion.
Draupadi- A divine woman for whom life was unjust and disrespectful:
Centuries ago in the prosperous kingdom of Panchal emerged a beautiful, dark-skinned lady from the sacrificial fire. Unasked for but inevitable, she was destined to change the destiny of the world itself. She was sent by the gods to perform a task that only a woman of strong character and unwavering mental strength could do- act as a catalyst for the Kurukshetra war.
She was constantly subjected to humiliation, dishonor and injustice. Yet she refused to let herself break and give up. In fact, it is because of her humiliation that the epic war of Mahabharata between Pandavas and Kauravas took place- a war that is said to have begun the destruction of an era and beginning of another.
In contrast to Sita’s story, Draupadi never gets a chance to live up to her princely duties- by the time she is ready to be queen, her memory has been tarnished by the war she set afoot. It just goes to show the inevitable nature of fate and that those remembered as heroes later often live in very turbulent times.
Goddesses who took birth to destroy evil:
If one is aware of mythological stories, they would be able to tell that the instances of when a woman saved the day were more than one.
It is for all this reasons that Hinduism celebrates femininity and women. Navaratri and Dusshera- festivals dedicated to the goddess are just round the corner.
Take a look at our collection of the month “The Invincible Shakti” and bring home some exquisite pieces of art that remind one of the importance of womanhood.