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How Can Spiritual Gurus Preach Disrespect Towards Women?

Sitting on a pedestal, dressed in saffron, with garlands around his neck, he says, once a woman gets married, she should stop talking to her own family altogether.

Somebody on my social media page recently shared a video by a renowned guru from North India. I usually ignore such videos because, honestly, I am not religious at all, and two, there are a lot of forwards on Facebook, WhatsApp, etc., these days, and it’s not easy to keep up with all of them. But because of the person who had shared the video, I decided to have a look at it anyway.

The video is a clip from a famous Guru’s sermon, a guru much revered by folks from rural/small-town northern India. I can’t recall his name right now, but you can see him addressing a reasonably large gathering with much gusto and fervour.

I was left shaken!

Furthermore, I did watch the video until the end, but by the time it ended, I was so shaken and upset that I decided to go to the original link to see how many people had watched it and liked or shared it.

Not only that, but I don’t recall the number of likes, only that it was a huge number. But somehow, I clearly remember that there were staggering 40,000+ shares of that video. And that’s just on Facebook.

Now, what’s my problem with this? Why should it bother me if a guru, supposedly a God-man, or a religious person says something to a gathering and countless people on social media agree with him?

Before I tell you, let me clarify here that even though I am not religious (I do have my reasons for it), I firmly believe in everybody’s personal freedom, including their religious beliefs, as long as they don’t affect me in any way. And I am not writing this article to hurt or challenge your or anybody else’s religious beliefs or feelings.

The man talks about women, of course, Hamare desh mai hamare alawa sabko hamare baare mai gyan dene ka adhikaar hai! Everyone will lecture about us women, except us!

Sitting on a pedestal, dressed in saffron top to bottom, with 10s of garlands around his neck, a few on the mike to that he is speaking into, and 100s of devotees sitting down listening to him in rapt attention, in a commanding, almost mesmerizing voice, he says that once a woman gets married, she should stop talking to her own family altogether.

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Yeah, a woman’s place at the foot of the husband that kicks!

Especially her mother! Because if a woman continues to speak with her mother even after her marriage, she will surely destroy her marriage and the family she is married into.

Once she is married, her marriage, her husband is everything to her, and a woman’s rightful place is only at her husband’s feet: “Ek aurat ki sahi jagah uske pati ke pairo mai hai.”

You know the drill. We all have heard things like these before, too. Ever since our births. But that’s what the supposedly enlightened minds of our country think, too! And in 2023!

After watching that video and how convinced he sounded about what he was saying, I got a vibe that I hadn’t just heard a Guru and somebody straight from the Taliban or something.

Worse, you could see devotees agreeing with him too. With their hands folded like they were sitting in prayer, mesmerized by his sing-song yet commanding voice and their reverence for him, they would believe anything he said. Do anything he would say at that moment.

And women devotees were gobbling this nonsense!

But I couldn’t help but flinch in disgust after watching that video. For the love of God, what is this obsession of our culture, even our religious men/women, to keep us — women — at our husbands’ feet?

And mind you, his devotees were not just men, but a good no of women too. Many of them must be mothers-in-law to many young daughters-in-law currently, and many in the making for the next generations.

When we, women, are trying our best to fight this fight of achieving gender equality and respect in various ways, the Gurus like these (and many religious leaders from other religions, too) push us right back by many years. Just like that!

Misogyny under the guise of divinity

I don’t know if you guys recall, but there was another renowned guru from Northern India who, when the Nirbhaya case happened, commented that she wouldn’t have got raped had she called those men bhaiya!

These are the men who are supposed to guide us to our spiritual enlightenment!

I have nothing against any Guru or Gurus whatsoever. I do listen to some of them myself now and then. And there is no denying that there have been many great gurus from our country who have guided the entire human race when it came to enlightenment.

The 1960s to 1980s in many western countries is better known as ‘The New Age Movement Period,’ when the common man, tired of wars, colonization, religious restrictions, etc., was looking for something new. So many western countries underwent a major religious/spiritual revolution then.

Spirituality should be free of gender biases!

A time which, though not entirely but to a good extent, was influenced by many Indian Gurus and their philosophies. From  Swami Vivekananda, who we have all heard of, to others lesser known back home:  Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh to Osho, many others, and my favourite, Jiddu Krishnamurti.

These men, or most of these, never talked about genders, much less how a woman should conduct herself or who she should/shouldn’t talk to.

Many of them spoke about simply understanding the human mind, its limitations, and so its freedom: A man’s, woman’s, American’s, Indian’s, or French. Regardless of gender or nationality. Because of their dazzling understanding of the human mind, especially Jiddu Krishnamurthi’s, he and his teachings influenced some of the best minds in western countries then.

From George Bernard Shaw to David Bohm, Aldous Huxley to Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle to one we all have heard of: Bruce Lee. And many others. These gurus were the true torch-bearers of Truth and enlightenment.

My point here, it’s our responsibility, this generation’s, to decide who we put on that pedestal because what we do today will affect our daughters’ and sons’ future tomorrow.

And it will pave a path for a better (or worse) world for them. And pardon me for saying this, but in my humble opinion, any man who says that women belong in their men’s feet is not a Guru!

Image source: swamiananda from pixabay, free and edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Ankita Soni

A mother, a wife, a daughter. More than that, a human being like everybody else, full of faults yet her own beauty. read more...

4 Posts | 1,590 Views

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