Spiritual revolution of Hindu women

Asha Pandey discusses the status of women in the Hindu faith. She tells the story of modern female

In Hinduism, women are considered a form of energy and are given due importance at every stage of life - as a daughter, as a daughter-in-law and as a mother. Out of these roles some come out as women gurus.

During the Vedic times we had seers and philosophers like Ghosha, Apala, Lopamudra, Vishwvara, Surya, Indrani, Yami and Romasha (all women). In a theosophical debate between Shankaracharya and Mandana Mishra (Sanskrit scholars of ancient times), the latter's wife was appointed to be the judge – obviously because of her superior knowledge and spiritual attainments.

In modern times we also have a number of female gurus with large followings. Some of the TV channels like ‘Aastha and Samskaara’ in India continue showing the gatherings and preaching of women gurus. Ma Anandmayee, Amma, and Mata Nirmala Devi are famous female gurus. I have attended one of Mata Nirmala Devi’s big congregations in New Delhi. Let me tell you about her and her work and how she is helping to change the face of women in the spiritual evolution.

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi was born on March 21, 1923 in Chindawara, India. Her parents called her Nirmala, which means 'Immaculate’. She is married with children and is currently living in Italy. She travels extensively in India and abroad.

Shri Mataji began experimenting with awakening the spiritual power of every human being (which the Hindus call the Kundalini) and was surprised at the results. She experimented first on people near her and noticed they were transformed physically, mentally and spiritually. Slowly she found out that this process had the potential solution for all human problems and decided to make her work more widespread.

Since 1970, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi has been traveling around the world teaching the techniques she developed of Sahaja Yoga meditation (Sahaja is Spontaneous and Yoga is Union with the Self). Large numbers of people acknowledge the value of her teachings and Sahaja Yoga centers are now in more than 75 nations. The yoga and meditation allows people to tap into their inner spiritual power and achieve balance in their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual lives.

Some members of the Hindu faith have accepted Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi's guru status today. Nirmala Devi has dedicated her life to helping with the spiritual ascent of mankind and in doing so has "reclaimed the role of women in the spiritual evolution."

Dr. Asha Lata Pandey is the chairperson of the Sanskrit Department at Delhi Public School in New Delhi. She has written numerous articles on the subject of the role and view of Hindu women. She has also presented papers in the World Sanskrit Conferences in India and the United States.
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By refusing to stand down, Jeremy Corbyn has betrayed the British working classes

The most successful Labour politicians of the last decades brought to politics not only a burning desire to improve the lot of the working classes but also an understanding of how free market economies work.

Jeremy Corbyn has defended his refusal to resign the leadership of the Labour Party on the grounds that to do so would be betraying all his supporters in the country at large. But by staying on as leader of the party and hence dooming it to heavy defeat in the next general election he would be betraying the interests of the working classes this country. More years of Tory rule means more years of austerity, further cuts in public services, and perpetuation of the gross inequality of incomes. The former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Seema Malhotra, made the same point when she told Newsnight that “We have an unelectable leader, and if we lose elections then the price of our failure is paid by the working people of this country and their families who do not have a government to stand up for them.”

Of course, in different ways, many leading figures in the Labour movement, particularly in the trade unions, have betrayed the interests of the working classes for several decades. For example, in contrast with their union counterparts in the Scandinavian countries who pressurised governments to help move workers out of declining industries into expanding sectors of the economy, many British trade union leaders adopted the opposite policy. More generally, the trade unions have played a big part in the election of Labour party leaders, like Corbyn, who were unlikely to win a parliamentary election, thereby perpetuating the rule of Tory governments dedicated to promoting the interests of the richer sections of society.

And worse still, even in opposition Corbyn failed to protect the interests of the working classes. He did this by his abysmal failure to understand the significance of Tory economic policies. For example, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had finished presenting the last budget, in which taxes were reduced for the rich at the expense of public services that benefit everybody, especially the poor, the best John McConnell could do – presumably in agreement with Corbyn – was to stand up and mock the Chancellor for having failed to fulfill his party’s old promise to balance the budget by this year! Obviously neither he nor Corbyn understood that had the government done so the effects on working class standards of living would have been even worse. Neither of them seems to have learnt that the object of fiscal policy is to balance the economy, not the budget.

Instead, they have gone along with Tory myth about the importance of not leaving future generations with the burden of debt. They have never asked “To whom would future generations owe this debt?” To their dead ancestors? To Martians? When Cameron and his accomplices banged on about how important it was to cut public expenditures because the average household in Britain owed about £3,000, they never pointed out that this meant that the average household in Britain was a creditor to the tune of about the same amount (after allowing for net overseas lending). Instead they went along with all this balanced budget nonsense. They did not understand that balancing the budget was just the excuse needed to justify the prime objective of the Tory Party, namely to reduce public expenditures in order to be able to reduce taxes on the rich. For Corbyn and his allies to go along with an overriding objective of balancing the budget is breathtaking economic illiteracy. And the working classes have paid the price.

One left-wing member of the panel on Question Time last week complained that the interests of the working classes were ignored by “the elite”. But it is members of the elite who have been most successful in promoting the interests of the working classes. The most successful pro-working class governments since the war have all been led mainly by politicians who would be castigated for being part of the elite, such as Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson, Tony Crosland, Barbara Castle, Richard Crossman, Roy Jenkins, Denis Healey, Tony Blair, and many others too numerous to list. They brought to politics not only a burning desire to improve the lot of the working classes (from which some of them, like me, had emerged) and reduce inequality in society but also an understanding of how free market economies work and how to deal with its deficiencies. This happens to be more effective than ignorant rhetoric that can only stroke the egos and satisfy the vanity of demagogues

People of stature like those I have singled out above seem to be much more rare in politics these days. But there is surely no need to go to other extreme and persist with leaders like Jeremy Corbyn, a certain election loser, however pure his motives and principled his ambitions.

Wilfred Beckerman is an Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and was, for several years in the 1970s, the economics correspondent for the New Statesman