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Join Us in Disrupting the Narrative

This article attempts to explore how Sree Narayana Guru’s philosophy took me on a Gender-Bending Journey. Join the Revolution of Storytelling at DarlyVision Productions. Below is a very important article that was printed in the April 2023 Values magazine. This digital edition of the Values magazine has been published on behalf of the Narayana Gurukula Foundation in Varkala, India , edited by Bijoyees. Celebrating the Community: Grateful for Guru Muni's Support.
This digital edition of the Values magazine has been published on behalf of the Narayana Gurukula Foundation in Varkala, India and edited by Bijoyees.

One of the recognizable symbols of balance in the world is the ‘yin-yang’ symbol, visually representing duality, a concept of how opposing forces, for example the feminine and the masculine energies, can work together as two parts of a whole. If the scales tip one way or the other, the balance is disrupted and aspects of the Absolute as the most central of values in life are compromised, leading to disharmony in life.

In 1912 Sree Narayana Guru installed goddess Sarada in Sivagiri , Varkala , where he also composed the poem "Janani Navaratna Manjari", in praise of mother. Saraswati stems from the Sanskrit root "saras," which means "that which is fluid," the representation of pure wisdom.

Wisdom which I think could also help the world to recover from the earth’s natural imbalance.

The Guru recognised the value of all human beings as being equal. From a female perspective, growing up I felt unequal in the socially constructed society in terms of gender. I felt I lacked certain sense of creative freedom. Freedom from the different social forces that control freedom and restricts individuality in the physical world that I inhabited.

Individuality, for me, means having an environment for growth, where for example, a bird can live in an environment where it can fly, and a fish can live in an environment where it can swim. Seems obvious, likewise, an environment where women can flourish just as equally as men, a society constructed to meet both needs of gender for growth and happiness.

If humanity is non-dual and transcends all differences, then we must first understand men and women have differences before we can transcend them in the physical world, like the birds and the fish have different environments for each to excel in, men and women have sameness but also differences which need to be understood first, from which to establish a basis for neutrality.

Hence, two genders are similar and different, differences in their biological physical needs and in emotional and mental needs. We need to acknowledge first the differences, and then only can we create an environment where both are equally able to flourish.

The woman and man can become one functional unit, and if we extend this to look at a family situation, the family too also can become one unit where all should get the opportunity to flourish themselves, mutually supporting, mutually appreciating and mutually complementary in all aspects, just as the yin yang symbol, together to make one reality in the total nature.

In the physical world I inhabit, the man woman relationship is unbalanced, and a bias on the side of one or the other reveals itself. For example, you look at the needs of a young girl who at teens has a menstrual cycle, that goes through a physical bodily change. How does society acknowledge her needs for the preparation of creation. Where is the compassion and love for the child? How does the mother and father accommodate the household for the change.

What does a woman or a mother need after pregnancy or before pregnancy? How would these needs be reflected economically and politically? How is sexual abuse and rape dealt with by mothers, fathers, and society?

It then struck me that women are being judged by norms that apply to men. How do these norms make for a healthy balanced perspective if the basis is from a male perspective? What are the emotional impacts to society through neglect of these natural physical bodily functions and the psychological impact on mental health?

Are the needs of men and women to procreate, and sexual desires addressed to create healthy relationships? Is sex a sacred act, between two consenting adults in love, or a shameful act? Today there are many sexual orientations, for example: lesbian, gay, a heterosexual, asexual, bisexual, queer, polysexual, and pansexual. All have conflicting and complementary counterparts when they enter relationships in life.

If we look at gender in terms of economic gender or equal rights, one can argue that equal rights justify all human needs or as a basis of equality. How about where the differences are not catered into. Then equality doesn't always mean 50/50, because you must look at the needs.

Hence you need to see fairness in terms of what the two parties need to arrive at a notion of fairness. When I worked as a family mediator and a couple are divorcing, one of the parts of separation can be deciding how their marital assets should be divided. It is a common misconception that the assets should be divided equally between the parties. However, this just a mere starting point fairly dividing assets requires a thorough understanding of each party's contributions to the marriage and financial situation, as well as the unique circumstances of the divorce.

As a mediator, I had to always ensure both parties understood the options and to develop creative solutions that address the needs of both sides. Qualitative assessment by the mediator of the relative positions of the parties is fundamental in reaching an agreement. By merely adding the assets together and dividing by two is certain to fail because it forces both parties to assume both have equal starting positions, which may not be the case.

When the mediator understands both parties’ concerns, strengths, and weaknesses, and is neutral, the mediator can help them identify common grounds of mutual gains, then the chance of reaching a settlement that both sides can live with is increased radically.

So, looking at a fair system or a fair structure, in where men and women can flourish and have a sense of freedom, we need to look at what the needs of both those parties are. Their concerns, their weaknesses, their strengths, and the differences and come up with solutions that meets their needs for a healthy society that is harmonious for both men and women, where gender meet in the world of vertical values.

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