Brahmavadini was the title attributed to women scholars, who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and the study of the Vedas. Some were unmarried, living as ascetics and independent of their fathers, brothers or male counterparts. They were paragons of intellectual proficiency, natural philosophy and spiritual enlightenment. They were Rishikis–female sages–in their own right and were revered as teachers, doctors and theorists.
The Hindu Goddess Kali Ma, is religiously worshipped all over India. In a country where goddesses are portrayed as benevolent and loving, Kali Ma is definitely an exception. Since my childhood, I always wondered about Kali Ma’s appearance. Eventually, my curious mind sought out many fascinating stories related to the Goddess Kali. I have selected a few stories from the Pandora’s box of fables to reflect upon the personality of a violent goddess with a tender heart.
I was born in 1985, possibly the most open and optimistic time in China’s modern history; the country was going through reform and opening-up. Diplomatic relationships with America, Japan and the rest of the word had never been better. Echoing the late Chairman Mao’s famous slogan, “Women hold up half the sky”, women were encouraged to participate in the labour force fully. I do not recall any of my friends’ mums not working.
“The worship of Durga and Kali are a big part of Bengali Hindu traditions. Durga Puja at the end of Navaratri is one of Bengal’s biggest festivals. Kali Puja is done during Diwali. More than any specific story that stayed in my mind, it was the description of Kali that has stuck with me. She is fierce, aggressive and a destroyer of evil.”
In Ancient India, the practice of Swayamvara or self-chosen groom was a significant ritual. A young woman of marriageable age, belonging to a noble family, had the right to choose her own spouse in the presence of her parents and family members. The intention of the ritual clearly signifies the ideals of women empowerment in a forgotten age and time.
She is a Beast is a collection of fairytales, but not the ones that we heard in our childhood. It is not a book of damsels in distress waiting for their knight in shining armour to rescue them. It is a book where women take the reins into their own hands. They are brave, witty and glorious. It’s a book where men are foolish to fall for the traps laid out by a woman and completely powerless at her hand.
Running taught me who I am, made me a better person and gave me an exceptional spiritual experience. I don’t run to lose weight or win a race. I run to reveal the best version of myself. I run to express my gratitude to Mother Nature. I run to celebrate life. I was born to run.
“If you trace fairy tales throughout history, you can see how they directly reflect the society in which they were created. For instance, the Brothers Grimm would write multiple versions of the same tales, shifting them for various audiences. Writing these as lessons to children yielded one version for instance, and creating versions for a monarch yielded another.”
In the beginning, there was only nature. We lived alongside her laws and her ways. With the annals of time, humans created civilisation. Without the written word, civilisation wouldn’t exist. And it all began with the scribes – the very first wordsmiths who etched their words so they would never be forgotten or lost.
In the midst of a modern world that places men at the epicentre, histories tell stories of a time when we once followed the footsteps of women. Prior to the 20th century, matrilineality had a strong foothold in Kerala: a state on the southwestern coast of India.