Women: The Epitome of Shakti

Arindam salutes the never-say-die spirit of women on International Women’s Day. Here’s a celebration of being a woman. True beauty lies in their empowerment.

The campaign theme for the International Women’s Day, this year, is #PledgeForParity. We hope that randomness, arbitrariness and various social, economic, political and cultural disparities would end soon.

True beauty lies in the empowerment of women.

Women need to be saluted for their tenacity. They have risen against all odds. The National Crime Records Bureau, in its report released in 2015, noted that the total numbers of reported crimes against women, in a decade, from 2005 to 2014, were 2.24 million.

Growing awareness and activism gives us the little light at the end of the dark tunnel. The slice of hope, no matter how slender, needs to be celebrated on the International Women’s Day #IWD2016. Tabassum Bano, is the first auto-rickshaw driver of Allahabad. She plies her pink auto in the city.

Tabassum BanoTabassum was inspired by Sister Sheeba, a social activist. The brave lady rickshaw driver was beaten, bruised and thrown out of her Pratapgarh home by her in-laws. Sr. Sheeba taught her driving. Now, Tabassum looks after a family of six. This wonderful story was posted by the Facebook group, Hum Illahabadi Hai. They shared Priya Pandey’s facebook post, on March 5.

In a telephonic interview, Sneha, an engineering student, in Varanasi, said, “Give us a break. Keep the dark despondency away for a day – not that I am in denial – and talk of the many women who have won.”

She added, “Women are breaking the glass ceiling. They are storming the male bastions everywhere. Look at the board results of various states. Women perform better than men. They don’t want to miss the opportunity to rise.”

Namrata, a student, of Allahabad University said, “Air India is celebrating the Women’s Day with an all-women crew. Women have literally soared high.”

Hindu scriptures celebrate women in the mother form, as Prakriti (nature). She also becomes a daughter as Sanskriti (culture and tradition).

When Lord Brahma, the Creator in the Hindu pantheon, was meditating to create the Universe, he had to face two demons, Madhu and Kaitava. He prayed to Adya Shakti to demolish them.


There is a story that when Lord Shiva had volunteered to drink the Halahal (poison) during Samudra Manthan (churning of sea), he prayed to Shakti, his consort, as ‘mother’, to give him the strength to drink the posion and trap it in his throat. It is said that his throat turned blue, giving him the name, Neelkantha.

We see role reversals of women in our mythology – wife as mother.

Another story tells us that Shiva is shava (corpse) without Shakti. The ekaar (e sound in Shiva) comes from Shakti, transforming a corpse-like god into an all-powerful one. This is a lesser known interpretation of the image of Kali stepping on Shiva.

For knowledge and learning, we pray to Saraswati and for wealth and prosperity, we worship Lakshmi. The feminine principle has been given credence in our scriptures.

In ancient India, during the time of Mahabharata, women had rights over her body and mind. If her husband was not impotent, like Pandu, she could have three more liaisons outside her wedlock. She was considered a person of easy morals if she slept with more than three others. An interesting analogy then was that woman was similar to land, while man was likened to seeds – it’s not strange that semen is also called seeds. No matter whose seeds, the crop (child) belonged to the family.

We are told that all these changed after Islamic invasion. Nadir Shah was known to have said that if a man was insulted, it was the insult of an individual. But, if a woman was insulted, a family was disgraced. Such a woman was thrown out of her home and hearth. If she did not kill herself, she changed her faith, of course pragmatically.

It is believed that subservience to Muslim rulers and then the British, enforced monogamy, deeply in our social system. Women were treated like belongings. Virginity became most important. Women became personal properties. Like land and homes, they got the titles of the men.

Their freedom over their body and mind, no matter how limited, came to an end.

Things are changing now. With economic empowerment, the 21st century woman is changing the rules of  the game, no matter, how gradually. She knows her mind. She asserts her sexuality. She is storming the male bastions.

In metropolises, we hear of house husbands. Role swap is happening for more than a decade in the urban space.


We have had single and unwed mothers. Two female actors, Neena Gupta, had a child of the West Indian cricketer, Vivian Richards, while Sushmita Sen adopted daughters as single mother. This was unthinkable 50 years back. The wheel has moved full circle.

It’s a day when we salute the grit, determination and spunk of the now generation women. The winds of change are blowing!

Pix from Net

Arindam Roy

Arindam Roy

Arindam Roy has 35 years experience in various newsrooms. He was the Managing Editor of a reputed Gurgoan-based Citizen Journalist portal and has held senior positions in several publications. As Correspondent and Bureau Chief, he has written extensively for Associated Press, Times of India, Hindustan Times and multiple news outlets. He has contributed 13 chapters to various publications. Of these, seven chapters were published in two Coffee Table Books, published by the Times Group. He is a co-author of a novel, Rivers Run Back that he penned with Joyce Yarrow. The novel was launched at the American Centre, New Delhi, on January 2015. He lives in Allahabad.
Arindam Roy