Presented at the Global Peace Initiative for Women
Varanasi, India, March 7-9, 2019
At the center of all existence, is a love affair between the divine masculine and the divine feminine, according the the wisdom books of Bhakti. And in order to approach this divine mystery, we must first seek the grace of the divine feminine.
Without understanding the feminine aspect of God, one can’t know God in entirety. In the tradition of Bhakti Yoga, the feminine is always addressed first — as Sita Ram, Radha Krsna, or Laksmi Narayan— we can only approach Ram through the agency of his beloved Sita.
Everywhere in nature there is a balance of feminine and masculine energies, prakriti and purusha, shakti and shaktiman, the internal inspirational power and the source or holder of power.
Sita’s divine reflection is mirrored in all things feminine. Her nobility, her elegance, her power, her purity. Just being aware of her qualities, we experience the spiritual dimension flowing in the material world.
We see that those who are spiritually advanced, both men and women, often defy stereotypes of masculine and feminine. In harmony, they have the wisdom to balance both masculine and feminine energies within themselves. When there’s harmony within, peace and joy prevail.
In Ramayana, we see the courage, strength and fearlessness of Sita. We hear her speaking truth to power, as she rebukes and challenges Ravana, even within his own kingdom.
When Hanuman offers to kill Ravana’s guards who’ve been taunting Sita in the Asoka garden, she fearlessly rebukes him, with moral instructions of how to behave as a guest in someone’s home. Such extraordinary character! She was captive, yet she considered herself a guest in Ravana’s home; and that those who were verbally harassing her were only trying to serve their king.
And, at times, we see an almost feminine softness in the love of Sri Ram. When Sita is lost to Him, He wanders in the forest, repeatedly crying her name, seeing her face in the trees, in the clouds and everywhere!
And in His forgiveness… Before killing Ravana, Ram gives the kingdom of Lanka to Ravana’s saintly brother, Vibhisana to rule. Someone asks Him: But what if Ravana surrenders to you, then what? Ram says, then I will give him my own kingdom of Ayodhya. Then he’s asked, but what about your brother, Bharat, who is now ruling your kingdom of Ayodhya? Ram says, then I will make him the king of Vaikuntha (that is, the spiritual world)!
Toward the end of the Ramayana, after being tested by fire, and being exiled to the forest ashram of Valmiki, Sita is the one who decides how the great epic will conclude. Ram asks Laksman to bring his beloved Sita back, but instead of Ram’s embrace, Sita chooses to return to the embrace of the Earth, the Mother Goddess who first gave her birth.
In nature, in humans, in animals, even in the trees and the flowers, we see feminine and masculine energies everywhere: the yin and yang, the power to yield, and the power to hold control are present everywhere.
Bhagavad Gita describes two facets of intelligence: Buddhi: or analytical intelligence, and Medha: emotional intelligence. Exemplified always, in Sita.
Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness and patience (Bhagavad Gita 10.34).
In the West, there has been undue emphasis on the masculine side of God. So much so that religious leaders can often become egoistical and attached to power and control. They can lose their compassionate essence.
Embedded in world religions is an intuitive understanding and call to the sacred feminine. In both Islam and Christianity, the image of Mary is held sacred. In mystic Judaism, the Shekhinah, the feminine aspect of God is described; in the Gnostic Gospels, Sophia is called upon as the Goddess of Wisdom; in Buddhism, Kwan Yin, is adored as the Goddess of Compassion and Mercy.
Just as in nature, the sun and the sunshine are inseparable, so the shakti, or energy, the shaktiman,the holder of energy; and the purusha and prakriti, are one.
Sita is a transformation of Ram’s love and His internal pleasure giving potency, they are one in identity, yet manifested as separate individuals in order to churn their pastimes of love, both in union and in separation.
God is one. Sita is God, just as Ram is God. God is both male and female equally. Sita and Ram are one. But, like a candle with two wicks, or a flower stem with two buds, they have taken different forms to reveal to the world eternal principles of divine loving exchange.
Vedic mantras state that where women are worshipped, there the gods dwell. Today, in an international climate of the Me#Too movement, perhaps this is the reason for such mass dissatisfaction and disharmony in the world. The powers that be may just not be sanctioning our longterm success and happiness.
But just as Bhakta Hanuman acts to bring Sita back to her beloved Ram, our success will be to act in the world to return Sita to Ram, to return Laksmi to Narayan, to return the beauty and treasures of the world to be offered back to their Source, for the joy, harmony and universal balance of us all.
In conclusion, there is a verse from a Bhakti poet of the name, Nanda Das. He gives us a glimpse into understanding the esoteric nature of the pastimes of Sita and Ram, in Ramayana, as understood by great bhaktas and yogis since immemorial time.
He says: There is more love in separation than in union, for in union, the beloved is found in one place only, while in separation the beloved is found to be everywhere.
Jai Sita Ram!
Thank you very much!