Gender Equality Starts With Self Realization
Today, I have a letter to share with you. A letter of a life that would have been with us but could not make it. A letter from an unborn girl child. She says:
“I was killed for a crime that I did not commit. Rather, for a crime that wasn’t a crime at all. I quietly lay in the dingy room hoping to see the beautiful world outside. I lay there dreaming of the evenings when I would play with grandpa in the park. I dreamt of nights when Grandma would tell me the tales of beautiful fairies and princesses in castles. I dreamt of daddy scolding me for hiding his car keys. I also dreamt of my brother teasing and irritating me. I dreamt of the love that would be showered upon me once I became a part of the world of these wonderful people. But all my dreams were shattered. My story came to an end even before it could start. My story ended the day it was said to my mom and pa that I would be born as a girl. The practitioners said, “Spend two hundred dollars now and save one hundred thousand dollars later. It will all be done in fifteen minutes”.
I thought that it was time for me to see the faces of the two people who created me, but little did I know that my creators would become my destroyers. I shouted, albeit in silence. It took a little knife and two hundred dollars to mute my voice. It was all done in fifteen minutes. I was denied a life.
Roy, whom I thought I would call my brother, face no such situation. He was given the right to witness the color of life because he would be an earner and would carry on the family name. He would also support the parents in their old age. But daddy, what if he too turns out to be like you? What if he too finds his monthly income too meager to support ma and you? What if he too, leaves you one evening in a nice old age home, then, would his right of existence be justified?
Ma, I remember the scriptures you read when you did not know the gender I was to have – “In this land, a woman is worshipped”. This is what you had read, and it is in this very land that I was not allowed to see how women are worshipped”.
Female foeticide is an extreme manifestation of violence against women. A crime not against the ones that are with us, but the ones that would have been with us. A crime against the unborn. The social and medical aspects have been put forth by many experts, but there is one more aspect that is connected with this prevalent ill-practice. That is religious misconceptions and misinterpretations through the so-call “son preference syndrome”.
Let us take a verse from one of our scriptures, “Listen O immortal sons, listen”. If we were to take this specific word “son” from this verse and interpret it literally, then we would think that it is referring only to the male society. But is this verse talking only about the male gender and neglecting the female gender? Can the realized beings (who wrote these verses) be so partial when mentioning this verse? No! They were not partial. What they meant to say in this very verse is that “Listen, O children of immortality”. The very word “son” in this verse represents humanity, children. In the same context, if we take another verse, “We are sons of this land and this earth is our mother”. The word “sons” in reality represents humanity in total.
Many misinterpretations have been taken by different individuals. In this vein, there is one misconception that is also prevalent in our society. It is said that having a son gives one a direct entry to salvation. However, our scriptures say, “Without the knowledge of the self, without the knowledge of the ultimate, you cannot attain liberation”. You cannot attain salvation by just begetting a son.
Even though so many laws have been made to prevent this heinous crime, why is it that such practices are still prevalent in our society? Why are we not able to eliminate such practices? Where does the solution lie to eliminating such evil practices that are prevalent in our society today? All these so-called solutions that we have tried to implement do not have a hundred percent outcome because the focus is given on the external aspect and the root cause is neglected.
Once, His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj Ji explained the solutions of all social woes. He said that in order to get rid of all the social and economic problems that are prevalent in society today, the common action is to cut the branches and leave the root intact. However, unless and until we tackle the root cause, we will not have a hundred percent outcome. All the methods and solutions that we implement today are similar to cutting the branches of a tree. They are ineffective because the problem is not dealt with at the root cause.
Who is responsible for the curbing of female foeticides, for bringing about gender equality? Every individual, every citizen of the nation owes an honest responsibility, a contribution to curbing this societal woe. Every individual counts. In the words of Benjamin Disraeli, “When men are pure, laws are useless. But when men are corrupt, laws are broken”. So, it is at this individual level that we need to bring a transformation, a change. His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj Ji said, “Man today needs inner specifications. Society needs real renovation, and this is possible only through Self Realization”.
Everyone owes an individual responsibility and need to contribute their effort, but this can only happen when we can first bring that change within ourselves. Internal equality is the base for gender equality. Once equality is established within, equality will be established outside. Only then will we be able to get rid of gender disparities.