Women and the Ideal of Purity
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WOMEN AND THE IDEAL OF PURITY
Table of Contents
1. Publishers’ Note
2. A Message
1. The Worship of Devi Bhagavati
68. Enthrone Love in Your Heart
89. Philosophy of the word “Radha”
98. Holy Virgin Mother Mary
Swami Hridayananda Mataji
Dr. Devaki Kutty Mataji
Dr. Sushila Vighney
Om Malati Mataji
J. P. Vaswani
You are my first Guru.
Everything man learns from you.
You are the Guru of Gurus.
You are the embodiment of
Patience, sacrifice and service.
Divine qualities are your innate nature.
You will attain God-realisation quickly,
Faith and devotion are your very nature.
The destiny of the whole world
Lies in your hands.
The future destiny of the world
Depends to a large extent
On the training you impart
To your children.
WOMAN is the mighty work of God, the wonder of nature, the marvel of marvels, the abridgement and epitome of the world, the queen of the home, the real governess, the sweet companion and helpmate of man.
Woman is the energy-aspect of the Lord. She is the child of primeval power and holds the key of this world. She controls the destiny of children. She is the mother of Sankaras and Buddhas.
Woman is a mysterious mixture of softness, gentleness and grace. She is a compound of service, patience and love. She is Maya’s tempting charm and magic. She comforts and cheers up her husband, children and guests. Even Brahma the Creator failed to describe her fully. She is a kind of mysterious something that gives charm to this world. Without her the home is a void. Without her man is helpless. Without her this world loses all charm. Without her there is no creation.
This powerful book, Women and the Ideal of Purity, has been brought out under the inspiration and guidance of the President of The Divine Life Society, His Holiness Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj. In 1997 the Sivananda Matri Satsanga had brought out a similar book in Hindi called Naari Aur Pavitrata Ka Aadarsh. This book, the, first one of its kind, was so well received that the Sivananda Matri Satsanga has now compiled this larger book in English for the benefit of women of all stages and in all walks of life.
The present book contains 108 articles including the lives and teachings of more than 30 women saints. Relevant portions have been selected, edited and compiled from the profound teachings of Sri Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj, Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj, Sri Swami Venkatesanandaji Maharaj and other senior Swamijis of our Ashram as well as other great saints and sages:
The Divine Life Society respectfully offers this publication to women of both today as well as of tomorrow. We hope it will be found useful and beneficial.
–THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
(SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA)
Salutations to Divine Mother, the Sakti of Brahman!
The society in which only one half (man) has been spiritually inspired and guided is like a bird flying on one wing! It can hardly move an inch forward. It is only when both man and woman lead the Divine Life, both of them will be able to march forward with bold and gigantic strides to the great goal–God-realisation.
In India, woman has the custody of dharma. I would say that is the reason why, in spite of the many inroads into Indian culture of alien materialistic ideologies, India has been able to maintain the essential structure of her ancient civilisation. This is because, the Indian cradle song has been one of spirituality; and as the old proverb goes, the cradle impressions accompany man to the very end of his life in spite of the efforts of later life to erase them! It is the mother who is responsible for indelibly printing in the baby’s mind the spiritual impressions and later for sowing in the fertile virgin soil of the child’s mind healthy seeds, of true spiritual culture. Glory to the Indian mother, the maker of saints and sages!
I, therefore, consider it most essential that the Indian mother should be awakened to the true purpose of life and that she should be educated in the principles of Divine Life; so that she may lead the Divine Life herself, lead her children into Divine Life and exercise her influence over her husband, too, and enable him to lead the Divine Life. The family whose members all lead the Divine Life is really a blessed family of devas.
Whether she adopts the grihasthasrama or whether she chooses to remain a brahmacharini throughout her life–woman has a great part to play in building up the nation. The nation needs the services of brahmacharini nurses, doctors, teachers and social workers. To these especially, a thorough knowledge of yoga sadhana, of Divine Life, is most essential. They should be as rigid in regard to adherence to principles of Divine Life as their male counter-parts, the brahmacharis and sannyasins. The brahmacharinis should keep Maitreyi, Gargi and others as their ideal. They should always aspire to realise God through selfless service, devotion, the practice of yama and niyama.
The inherent divine qualities in the woman enable her to lead the Divine Life with much less struggle than man! Ahimsa: This is woman’s very nature! Satyam: though woman shares man’s evil tendencies in this respect, she is capable of more easily following the path of truth! Brahmacharya: Indian woman’s purity is unrivalled. When one ponders over the survival of these divine virtues in the Indian woman in spite of the powerful alien base influence, one is wonder-struck; what powerful personalities, what great upholders of dharma, what embodiments of righteousness and of daivi sampatti, the women of ancient India must have been! My humble obeisance to them! The very utterance of names like Sita, Savitri, Damayanti, Anasuya is purifying.
May God bless you all and enable you to shine as jivanmuktas and bhakta-siromanis in this very birth! May you all lead the Divine Life of Truth, Love and Purity!
Talk given at the opening ceremony of the Ladies’ Section of the D.L.S. Tuticorin in 1951.
This book meets a long-felt need. It is an answer to a long existing but seldom expressed query. Many books are available on the subject of brahmacharya, but up till now almost all of them tend to be addressed to the youth, teenage students, young men and bachelors. We have not come across similar books specifically addressed to and meant for the guidance of maidens, teenage girl students, unmarried women or newly-wed brides in the beginning few years of their married household life. This is not fair to the growing younger generation of women folk at any given period of social history. Because the subject of the ideal of chastity, the discipline of self-control, the principle of abstinence from pre-marital or extra-marital sex-experience is of equal vital importance to our young women as it is to the young men.
THE MAIDEN OF TODAY IS THE MOTHER OF THE NEXT UNBORN GENERATION. The health of any new generation is founded upon strong and healthy mothers. The basis of health is the wise and rational voluntary control, conservation, and preservation of the all important sex-energy. Once this is recognised, self-restraint becomes an invaluable and covetable asset to one’s character and personality. It becomes a positive step and acquisition. This present book has as its aim and objective to inspire young women of India in particular and global human society in general towards a state of wise self-mastery as opposed to slavery to unbridled sensuality. Such self-mastery is a psychological and psycho-physical science which can ensure the welfare of our human race. It is respectfully offered by the Divine Life Society to the womankind of today as well as tomorrow. We hope it will be found useful and beneficial to one and all.
The Divine Life Society
(DR. SITA NAMBIAR MATAJI),
It was Revered President Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj’s wish to bring out a book on the ideals of purity of womanhood. As a result a book in Hindi Naari Aur Pavitrata Ka Aadarsh was brought out by the Sivananda Matri Satsanga in 1997. It was well received, as it was the first one of its kind. With the present publication “Women and the Ideal of Purity” a similar book in English is to reach the larger public.
In our Bharatavarsha, woman is given a very high position and is worshipped as a Goddess. “Yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra devatah”–“where women are respected and worshipped, there the gods dwell”. She is the progenitor of the Universe. She is the Sakti or Energy without which even Siva cannot create anything. In Swami Sivananda’s words: “Woman is an embodiment of patience, gentleness, softness, sweetness, service and ahimsa. The woman of India has preserved the spiritual character of our society. She is not‘abala’ (weak). She is dynamic.”
To bring out some of these above mentioned characteristics, this book is divided into four chapters: (1) Maidenhood, (2) Wifehood, (3) Motherhood and (4) Selfhood. Love is the innate nature of a woman. And love is developed through all these stages.
As a maiden, she is tender, timid, but also courageous and spreads happiness in the family. In many parts of our country the maiden is addressed as Ma or Amma. She is seen as “Mother Goddess”.
As a wife, through her love, she is expected not only to win over her husband but also his entire family. She is the “ardhangini” (wife, half of the body) of her husband. In all the religious functions she is supposed to be by the side of her husband.
As a mother she becomes a “complete woman”. At this stage her love becomes selfless. She matures in so many ways, and she is prepared to do any amount of sacrifice for the sake of her children.
The fourth one, the spiritual stage of “Selfhood”, having been nurturedand matured through the previous three stages of the woman’s life, reaches its pinnacle. The love which was developed in the earlier stages becomes Universal Love, which in turn helps her to find her “own self” and to become one with the Universal Self.
The articles by different mahatmas in each chapter give inspiration to women in all the stages. There are same articles by lay women, expressing the problems a woman has to face in the modern world and how to deal with them. These are followed by the lives and teachings of women saints, not only ancient but also of today.
The members of Sivananda Matri Satsanga, under the guidance of Swami Chidananda, have worked hard to bring out this book. It is hoped that it will be accepted with appreciation, not only by women but also by men.
(SIVANANDA MATRI SATSANGA)
Gurur Brahma gurur vishnur gurur devo maheshwarah
Gurur sakshat param Brahma tasmai sree guruve namah
Taking the holy dust from the Lotus Feet of beloved and worshipful Gurudev, Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj and our beloved and worshipful Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj, seeking their blessings and trying to abide by their guidance, we the members of the Sivananda Matri Satsang have ventured to bring out this publication on the ideals of the purity of womanhood.
The Sivananda Matri Satsanga had been initiated by our Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj on the 8th May 1989. Its main aim consists in introspection, self-analysis and self-improvement, by a getting together of all lady ashramites and visitors in a harmonious way.
Vishnu patni namastubhyam pada sparsha kshamasva me
O Mother Earth, consort of Vishnu, please forgive that we place our feet on you!
Matri devo bhava, pitra devo bhava, aacharya devo bhava
Humble obeisance to the Worshipful Almighty Lord who came in the form of our mother, father, all our elders and our spiritual preceptors who kept the spirit of Indian culture and lovingly taught and guided us right from our very birth. They protected us from various pitfalls of the world, like a potter heating and moulding the mud-pots from outside with one hand and at the same time giving support from inside with the other.
From time immemorial saints, seers and sages have been hammering upon the human mind that the goal of life is God-realisation and that we are not this perishable body, this cage of flesh and bones, this restless mind filled with ego, ignorance and selfishness, this little finite intellect subject to confusion and imperfections. Our Holy Masters have been echoing this great teaching, that we are beyond these finite instruments. We have to find out the truth, our real identity which is the immortal soul. We have been sent to this earth plane for evolving, for the ascent unto Divinity, for steadily progressing towards the fulfillment of God’s plan.
These messengers of God have come to help each one of us in this inner journey of the spirit for fulfilling our destiny. They have been proclaiming that our life will move in the direction of God-realisation through the very living of our life in a righteous manner. There is no power in the universe that can deprive us of the goal when we make our life an embodiment of dharma.
A little child is like a flower covered with morning dew. A girl is close to being a “Goddess”–as she is considered in Hindu homes. It is easy for her to cultivate divine qualities at this stage. Endowed with the attributes of Godhood, a girl may choose to remain a celibate and attain God-realisation through devotion and selfless service of saints and holy people. Or she may dedicate her life to the cause of humanity in the fields of education, nursing, medicine or service towards parents and elders or any needy person.
In God’s lila (play) it has been ordained that the pure kanyakumaris (maidens, virgins) should be transformed into chaste grihalakshmis (married women) for the good of society. This gives a woman the opportunity to progress from Sri Gurudev’s BE GOOD stage to the DO GOOD stage. As she takes her place in society as an adult, she has to interact in a harmonious way with others, be helpful and unselfish. Her role, as a wife is to forget her limitations as an individual and contribute to the good of family and society.
Motherhood is not just the physical act of giving birth. It is a transformation. If her feelings for her child could at this stage be sublimated and expanded to include all creation, a mother could get self-realisation in a trice. She can truly practise the ideals of Gurudev Swami Sivananda during this period–SERVE, LOVE, GIVE.
After having played the roles of daughter, sister, wife and mother, a woman reaches the stage where she has to confront herself. Having done our duties, it is time for introspection and to ask the ultimate question “Who am I?” This is the stage of PURIFY, MEDITATE, REALISE. Some women reach this stage earlier, some later, but it comes to us all. This book is intended for the benefit of our sisters who wish to walk the path of righteousness and purity, while leading their life as students, working women, housewives, mothers as also for those who wish to remain unmarried.
The relevant portions of articles have been selected and edited from the profound teachings of Sri Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj, Sri Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj, Sri Swami Venkatesanandaji Maharaj and other senior Swamijis of our Ashrams as well as other great saints and sages who have left their footprints for us to follow.
Sanskrit language words have been put in italics with the exception of a few words like Brahman, Atman, Yoga, Vedanta, Ashram which are commonly found in an English dictionary. Normally their meaning can be understood by the context or their English equivalent which follows within commas or parenthesis. Otherwise, the meaning can be found in the glossary.
We express our deep gratitude to all the writers who have given their articles and especially to Dr. Sita Nambiar Mataji (retired Principal of Daulatram College in Delhi who has been coming regularly to our Ashram for giving lectures to the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy students) for the Introduction given for this publication. We are also grateful to all those who have assisted us in various ways in bringing out this publication, especially our spiritual brothers in the Y.V.F.A. Printing Press.
This presentation has been brought out in a spirit of teamwork by our Matri Satsanga members utilising their talents and capacities in every respect. We lovingly offer this garland of 108 lotus flowers at the Holy Feet of the Almighty Lord and Sri Gurudev as our humble contribution in His divine mission.
O Woman, Thou art
The mother of humanity,
Strength, love, purity and magnanimity
Are thy limbs.
Spiritual India evolves
In thy lap, O Mother!
To thee, O adorable women
This flower of noble ideals.
—Sivananda Matri Satsanga
O Loving Lord!
O Loving Lord of compassion!
The Soul of my soul, the Life of my life,
The Mind of my mind, the Ear of my ears,
Light of lights, Sun of suns!
Give us light and purity.
Let us get established
In physical and mental brahmacharya.
Let us be pure in thought, word and deed.
Give us strength to control the indriyas and
Observe the brahmacharya vrata.
Protect us from all sorts temptations of this world.
Let all indriyas be ever engaged
In Thy sweet service.
Forgive, forgive all aparadhas.
I am Thine, I am Thine, I am Thine.
Trahi, trahi. Protect, protect.
Om! Om! Om!