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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gods and Goddesses- examples of perfect relationships?

I met some new people last week and we went out to dinner for a birthday. They were all Hindu Indians by birth, but felt that they didn't know as much about it as they would like.

One thing that I found interesting was that one girl said that she was frustrated with the way men treated her and she thought they should take some lessons from the Gods and Goddesses. She thought men should learn from the Gods how to treat a lady.

I'm not so sure.

The Goddesses in Hindu mythology are strong women, very admirable. The Gods are also full of wonderful qualities. But when I look at some of the relationships between them, it doesn't look like what I'd want!

Take Radha and Krishna, the number one example of perfect love (and often used as a metaphor for the soul and God being united). Radha is frequently alone, waiting for Krishna to return. There's no cell phones, so she just pines after him and is constantly waiting for him to deign to show up. She also shares him with many other adoring women! (Technically Radha is not a Goddess, but she does fit into this example well).

In a lot of the stories about Goddesses, like with Shiva and Parvati, I see the females being supportive, kind, loving, generous, and going above and beyond to help the Gods. In return they often seem to be ignored, their desires shrugged off, and they have to take matters into their own hands to get what they want. The Gods fear the wrath of the Goddesses, but I don't know if I think of that as a loving thing.

I don't know, what do you think? Do the relationships between divinities mirror what we should desire for our human relationships?


  1. i am not sure if you know MR devdutta pattanaik. For your kind information he is a mythologist. here is the web Link. if you have time please have a look on this. ThanKs..

  2. Avatara's of vishnu like krishna and rama came in human bodily form. They are human gods and show "human" characteristics.

    Just like humans, rama is shown to be always suspicious of his wife sita after her rescue.

    Of them all, no one is tested with duty more severely than rama. He has to choose between two dilemmas: duties to his wife and duties as a king towards his kingdom. He prioritizes the later. He has to abandon his pregnant wife for his kingdom. In the end, he has to watch his wife withdraw herself from her life and rama is told to be the sole reason behind it.

    Arguably, both rama and sita live miserable lives by choosing to follow duty by sacrificing free will. All of the characters in the dharmic epics make extreme sacrifices to honour their duties and the tragedy is that they actually do it and they quietly suffer under their decisions.

    I think in the real world, a women should reciprocate her man's behaviour towards her. After all, we live in the age of kali:

    Japan anyone?

  3. Hahaha, I'm not sure that living in the Kali Yuga means we should just give in and let ourselves be swept away by the negative qualities of the time!

  4. This is the principle of Shaktiism in the Hindu religion

  5. Well apart from relationships the god one prays to affects his life in other domains as well. An Example... most people in North India prey to Hanuman & Shiva.So there is a kind of trend to qualify for the indian civil services that is hold positions of power & administration. On the other hand people down south mostly prey to Ganesha and prefer engineering , IT and other professions of the intellect.
    On a funny note... some notorious youths have a slogan to justify their promiscuous nature. that slogan is "Krishna kare to raas leeela , Hum kare to charakter dheela" ( When krishna flirts he's admired, when we flirt we are accused of a loose character). Hahahahaha...but no one dare say it out loud.

  6. I'm struggling with the same thing - it's easy to see how one should behave if you look at the gods, but as a Western woman, sometimes it's very difficult to reconcile Radha, Sita, etc with how we're raised. I've been trying to figure out what each of those female figures represents, philosophically and I've made some progress, but I'm still struggling.

  7. Not just how we are raised, given that I was not raised with standard American ideas on this one!

    I was brought up to believe that a woman should be selfless, sacrificing and martyr herself to her family.

    It's only now that I'm starting to wonder about that and see some value in the American viewpoint.

    I might be going totally the wrong direction, towards selfishness and ego, but I feel happier and I don't think "following your bliss" (Joseph Campbell) can be wrong.

  8. Dear Ambaa-ji,

    You have chosen EXACTLY the TWO examples that constitute spiritual "mysteries/mysterium" in the deep sense. By delving into the NATURE of the relationship of SriSriRadhikaji, enormous expansion of the spirit is to achieved, and has been by countless people. Some notable ones are SriChaitanya, Sri Rupa Goswami etc. From the Gaudiyas derive this esoteric aphorism:

    ananta Sri Radha-ro maya
    kohone na jaye
    koto Krishna koto Rama
    hoy jaye roye

    Your Bengali tutor can fully explain the meaning of this, which was constantly on SriRamakrishna's lips.

    As to Sri Hara-Parvati, there is a grammatical construction, a samasa, where pitarau, a dual ending is used always as a singular. You should ask this of Shrimad Bharati Tirtha Maharaj.

    "VAgArthiva samprktau vAgartha pratipattaye

    vande jagatah pitarau pArvatimahesharau"

    You should not read the Puranas with a conventional mind but the mind that has true or real apprehension [prajnanam], and then profound comprehension [samjnanam].

    The issue of Parvati Maheshvara is the holy Kamakala. This is not just nonsense words that I am parroting but something that I live and experience every moment of my existence. So, you are observing something. But that not need be the final word. There could be much more to be experienced, much more to be sought. Perhaps many lifetimes may be required.

    I had deep connections with the previous Shankaracharya of Sringeri, Shrimat Chandrashekhara Swami. He glowed from within like a beacon to the blind and the ones bereft of hope. I prostrate to the holiness, gurushakti and love pouring out of him.

    It would take me uncountable lifetimes to become like him. I cannot ever say that my understanding remotely approaches his!! Likewise, we all need to grow our understanding.

    Talking about such things has limited value, sorry to say. It always is an individual quest, a harsh terrible struggle. Why so, I cannot say.