Swami Sarvalokananda addressing Women’s Leadership Seminar on 22nd August 2015
Now-a-days women’s leadership and empowerment are very hot topics.
Swamiji emphasized that women’s status should be elevated
The great spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda traveled the length and breadth of India as a wandering monk to know about India, its culture, tradition, religion, material, spiritual growth and prosperity.
Swamiji visualized three India – i.e., past India, present India, and future India. Swamiji was very much proud that the past India was very great in all fields – in the field of science, technology, medicine, engineering, architecture, dance, drama, music, astrology & astronomy, so on and so forth!
But Swamiji was very pained to see the degradation of present India in those days. He discovered the cause of the downfall of India. Why had India degraded so much when it was so great in the past? The main cause is neglect of women. In those days women were oppressed, tortured, suppressed and they used to remain confined to the four walls of the house. No opportunity was given to them to manifest their potential. Women were just there for housekeeping work!
Swamiji further said that if any country or race or society has to rise materially and spiritually, then men and women have to be elevated. In this context he gave a wonderful example – that a bird cannot fly on one wing. A bird needs two wings to fly smoothly and effectively. Similarly, a nation, race or society must have two wings. These are men and women.
That is why Swamiji put emphasis that first, women are to be elevated. They must be given the opportunity. They must come forward in all fields.
Today, the ball is rolling in the right direction..
All of you know that, particularly India has been a patriarchal or male dominated society. That is why women could not come up to that level to do something for the society/ nation. But the awareness has now come.
If you see history you will see that, particularly in the West, the women’s liberation movement started long back. A kind of awareness has come now that equal rights to be given to women. This ball has started rolling and has gained momentum in the right direction. Women are now coming forward in all fields – in the field of administration, governance, religion, and all other fields. In fact, now a days girls are doing better in schools, colleges and university – even the IITs than the boys!
Both – external and internal empowerment are necessary
Empowerment that we talk about has two aspects: one, external empowerment and other is internal empowerment.
What is external empowerment? This is about money, name, fame, power, position etc. Beyond this, internal empowerment is also very necessary. Internal empowerment means transparency, accountability, magnanimity, and so forth.
These two aspects of empowerment are both essential. If a person is internally empowered, then he or she can face any problem or challenge. We have seen that a person may be externally empowered – having lots of degrees, holding good position of power, etc. but unable to face problems or challenges since (s)he is not internally empowered. So this is also very essential.
So we have to put an emphasis on both aspects.
According to Swamiji, a leader is the servant of servants..
We talk about effective leadership. You will be heartened to know that women are coming forward in leading the country, society, institutions, corporates, and so forth. But we have to see if there is an effective leadership.
Here comes the great spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda he said:
“Can a leader be made brothers? A leader is born. Do you understand? And it is very difficult to take on the role of a leader. One must be DasasyaDasa – the servant of servants, and must accommodate a thousand minds. There must not be a shade of jealousy or selfishness. Then you are a true leader.”
If a nation or a person wants to be great, then there are three things which are very essential. Swamiji said that “Conviction in the power of goodness, the absence of jealousy and suspicion, and helping all who are trying to do good and be good.” This is effective leadership or servant leadership.
Not only that, Swamiji once said How can one be a true leader? Quoting Guru Nanakji he said “Sirdar toh Sardar” – i.e., one who sacrifices one’s head is the leader. It doesn’t mean giving up your head. It means you have to give up the ego – particularly selfishness. Then you can be a true leader.
So Swamiji said along with these qualities one has to become humble, egoless, and unselfish.
Swamiji gave a lot of emphasis on unselfishness. He once said that unselfishness is God, and it is the test of spirituality and religion. It is therefore very important in everything – whether you are a doctor, a chartered accountant, an MBA or an administrator. Be unselfish. This is the great message of Swami Vivekananda, particularly to the modern youth.
The social ill of harassment can be eliminated only through a change in mindset
Now-a-days another worrying issue has come up – sexual harassment. Unfortunately, every day we find this in the news! That is why legislations have been passed, laws are framed. In spite of all this, brutality on women is increasing day by day.
Only by enacting laws or passing legislations, this problem will not be solved. How can it be reduced and eliminated? One has to change the tendency, attitude, and mindset towards women. On the other hand, women have to change the tendency, attitude and mindset towards men. How you look at the things is very important. That is why women should not be looked upon as an object of enjoyment. They should be looked upon with all respect and dignity – as a mother or sister. This is the age-old traditional culture of India.
Dear friends, people need to change their mindset, attitude, and tendency towards women. Only then this burning problem will be solved, not otherwise!
I would like to conclude by quoting the Vedic prayer –सर्वेभवन्तुसुखिनःसर्वेसन्तुनिरामया– Let all be happy, let all be healthy.