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Article CII: The Scriptures and Gender

"Where the female relations live in grief, the family soon wholly perishes; but that family where they are not unhappy ever prospers. The houses on which female relations, not being duly honored, pronounce a curse, perish completely, as if destroyed by magic." Manu Smriti (3:57-3:58)

The role of gender in modern society faces criticism across the world. Indian society is no exception, and some even exploit the scriptures to justify certain gender roles. However, in any faith, it is not entirely uncommon to exploit scriptures, out of context, in order to gain societal power. To clarify these issues, Swami Vivekananda refers to a number of examples throughout the scriptures, all of which illustrate scriptural evidence for equality of people regardless of gender. Even one hundred years ago, Swami Vivekananda spoke about equality of women and men. His talk on "Women of India," is available at the following website:

The principles of Vedanta transcend gender, culture, race, religion, faith, wealth, ethnicity, spirituality, and nationality. Vedanta offers an approach to life that can be appropriate for anyone. Practicing nonattachment and selflessness allows for any person to find greater peace and joy in life. The Divine within is no different for a woman or a man. Realizing the Divine within can allow both women and men to reach enlightenment. One's path to enlightenment may differ based on one's attributes, but gender is a single consideration among many, all of which may be appreciated and integrated in determining one's ideal path.

The concept of karma implies that one's current state is dependent on one's past action. One's current state consists of a combination of various qualities (guna), tendencies (vasana), and impressions from past action (samskara). All of these attributes determine one's current state of existence, and perfect utilization of those attributes, to orient with the Divine within, allows for one's ascent toward enlightenment. Gender is an attribute like any other, which can be embraced to discover one's path to realize the Divine within. The ultimate result for women or men will be peacefulness and blissfulness -- infinite beyond space, eternal beyond time, and immutable beyond causation.

East-West Counseling & Meditation -- Modern Psychiatry Integration -- Himalayan Philosophy -- Penn & Stanford Medicine
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