The role of women in my life has been invaluable and transformative, shaping my perspective on various things, including resilience and determination. My mother, though not formally educated, showed an unwavering commitment to our education, ensuring that all her children had access to learning opportunities. Her dedication taught me that knowledge knows no bounds and that a mother’s love can bridge any gap.
In my current work with Jan Swasthya Sahyog in rural Chhattisgarh, I am constantly inspired by the remarkable women I come across. They work tirelessly to support their families, often in the face of immense challenges. They not only play the role of a provider but also an educator, instilling in their children the values of hard work and perseverance. It reminds me of the immeasurable strength and influence they carry within them, shaping not only their families and future generations but also the people living around them.
While capturing the essence of these women in just a few words is a huge task, I try my best with heartfelt admiration to describe them knowing that it will not be sufficient.
नारी भूत्वा न जायते पुरुषोत्तम।
सा सर्वसिद्धिं प्राप्नोति सर्वांस्त्री नान्या न जायते।।
This means that the best among men is not born from another man; he is born from a woman. All accomplishments are attained by women; there is no other way.
Since ancient civilizations, we have worshipped women as a divine power, whether it is Durga or Maa Kali. No doubt when Shri Tulsidas described Maa Seeta, the words were not enough. He wrote, “She is the most beautiful woman on earth“. And then we have Rani Laxmibai who, during the war, said “I would rather die a meaningful death than live a meaningless life“.
The act of making sacrifices for loved ones is a noble expression of love and responsibility. It reflects a deep sense of care and dedication towards other people and, at times, extends to animals. At the same time, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance. Continuously expecting someone to make sacrifices without regard for their own well-being can be unfair and unsustainable. In any relationship or family dynamics, reciprocity, mutual support, and open communication are key to ensuring that caregiving roles are shared and everyone’s well-being is considered.
I remember the story of how Lord Krishna sent his friend Uddhava to pass a message to Radha about the spiritual path. This is how Uddhava described the love of a woman:
उद्धव व्यापी गोपियों के भाव, ज्ञान में हुई उनकी आलाप।
वृन्दावन की प्रेम कथा अनूप, उनके मन में छोड़ी बहुत अच्छी छाप।।
Uddhava, through the Gopis’ devotion, found wisdom’s call. The tale of love in Vrindavan, made a lasting impact on him. He returned mesmerised to Lord Krishna in Dwarka.
During my fellowship and even prior to this in other workplaces, I have met a lot of women who seem to be flawless. It’s challenging to meet their standards at work. What makes them remarkable is not an absence of imperfections but an unwavering commitment to a cause, the ability to inspire positive change and the pursuit of excellence. They support others to grow. There have been women leaders like Razia Sultan, Savitribai Phule, and Malala Yousafzai among many others.
From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academes,
That show, contain and nourish all the world.
in his book, Love’s Labour’s Lost
The nature gave her pain and yet, she nurtures souls. The uterus prepares itself every month for the egg to be fertilised and when it doesn’t, the thickened lining of the uterus sheds through vagina releasing a combination of blood, mucus and tissue. Even during menstruation, we see women working.
While many women face discomfort, pain, and/or mood swings during menstruation, many have pain-free periods. The presence or absence of pain or the ability to endure it does not determine one’s greatness. It’s a rather complex and subjective concept that encompasses a wide range of qualities, actions, values, and achievements. It’s also important to acknowledge that the social expectation for women to smile even through discomfort or pain, is inappropriate. However, this is not always expected of men.
Our society has long imposed certain gender roles and expectations on both men and women. These are part of a broader conversation about gender roles and stereotypes that are evolving as a society become more aware of, and sensitive to these issues. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness about the importance of authentic emotional expression regardless of one’s gender. Then, it’s one’s choice whether they want to smile or not.
In every loud or silent struggle, women continue to inspire and empower. Their love and unwavering determination have shattered stereotypes and transformed communities. In addition to that, they make me believe in infinite possibilities and are always there to share my dreams. To end this, here are a couple of lines…
जिस ने जीवन की धारा में, खुद को बहाया हो,
जिस ने अस्मिता के समंदर में, अपना अहम गवाया हो।
वो मां, बहन, पत्नी, दोस्त – हर भूमिका में श्रेष्ठ,
वो जीवन की गाथा की महक और संगीत का सर्वोत्तम स्रोत।
औरत – वो आकर्षण, वो शक्ति, वो सौंदर्य का प्रतीक,
उसकी ममता, उसकी साहस, उसकी सजीवता
हर किसी दिल का अद्वितीय रहस्य।
- Ramcharitmanas by Goswami Tulasidas
- Indian Women’s Battle For Freedom by Kamaladevi Chattopadhya
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee, Aditya Mukherjee, Sucheta Mahajan, and K. N. Panikkar
- The Book of Women by Osho
- Thomas Hobbes, a thinker and philosopher