Contrary to the popular belief, Hinduism is one religion which is very inclusive and gender neutral. Lord Krishna in the Bhagwat Gita says
पिताहमस्य जगतो माता धाता पितामहः ।
वेद्यं पवित्रमोङ्कार ऋक्साम यजुरेव च ॥9.17॥
“I am the father and the mother of the universe”
On the other hand, if we look at Christianity, Islam and try to decipher them, they differ with Hinduism in this aspect. Christianity conceptualises God as a male figure. There is a Christian prayer “Our father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus often invoked God as father and proclaimed himself as the representative of the father figure on the earth. There are images of Christian God Jehova, thus largely conceptualising God as a male figure. In Islam, Koran is silent with respect to God’s gender but Muslims typically conceptualize God as a male figure. The 4 rightly guided Khalifas, after Muhammad, were all men :
Hence, in Islam, God is largely taken to be a male figure.
In our ancient scriptures one finds strong female characters like Devi Sita, Draupadi. They are highly revered and respected and looked upon as Goddess.
Things took a bad turn for women during the Muslim Period, after 1200 AD. There status began deteriorating with the presence of large Mughal harems. Unfortunately our Indian rajas and maharajas also duplicated this, for example, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala is said to have a large harem.
In the Middle ages pardha system became quite common, something we don’t find during the Ramayana or Mahabharata period.
During the independence movement, women played a very important role, example, Rani Jhansi, Madam Cama, Kasturba Gandhi, Aruna Asaf Ali.
In India, we conceptualise our country as a motherland, Bharat Mata. In Germany, there country is called the fatherland. Vande Mataramis the well known national song addressed to the Mother India.
Today, the story is quite sad both among men and women.Voting rates are strange in India. With the level of education going up, the voting tends to decrease. Hindus vote lower than Sikhs and Muslims. Despite being in majority, they tend to be heard less because they vote in less numbers. The voting rate among illiterates is 57%, primary or middle class is 83%, college is 57% and post graduate is 41%. This is contrary to what happens in other countries and USA where with the increase in education, voting increases.
Less than high school 38%
High School 43
Post Graduate 84
The implication of not voting in great number is that the minorities could form a block and hence significantly influence the end result. It is Hindus who should be somewhere blamed for their own fate. Although we had incidents like Ramayana, Mahabharata where people stood for justice, Hindus today had given up on the political arena. Canada is one such example where Sikhs are more active in politics compared to Hindus despite their strengths being the same.
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