Love and Friendship

Indian gods teach us about mutual respect in relationships

shiv and parvati

When a sitting judge of Rajasthan High Court proclaimed a peacock is celibate and peahens get pregnant through his tears, I wasn’t taken aback, unlike many of my friends. Only a few days back I learnt another outstanding tale that was more outrageous than a peacock’s celibacy. The tale of how Saraswati, Goddess of Learning, was born out of Brahma’s sperm and not from the womb of a woman!

I was so excited at this extraordinary story of a male being the ultimate of procreation that I proudly repeated the story to my biologist wife. She rubbished me, citing her theories of fertilisation. All the pride I derived in thinking for once a man was the procreator and the woman wasn’t needed in the process was extinguished in a minute. My wife was smart enough to narrate the whole story of how Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, was involved with Heaven’s famous nymph Urvashi, who didn’t give a damn about his existence. Hence Brahma used to masturbate watching Urvashi from a distance and collect his sperm in a container just like the IVF clinics do these days. The twist was however, the sperm of Brahma spontaneously gave rise to Saraswati and no expensive IVF procedure was needed to put them into a woman’s womb after fertilisation. To end, my wife accused me of being a part of the male clan that according to her, have innumerable members who look at women only with eyes of lust and not love!

Quite unnerved by her reaction, I decided to probe a little into Lord Brahma. Not just a quirky God with four heads, Lord Brahma had quirky ideas too, and forced Saraswati to marry himm resulting in incest. Oh God! This was a revelation.

All along I had thought it was Lord Krishna who was the biggest Casanova and I literally hated him for having so many girlfriends whereas I just had one, and that too one who was married to me!

Every time my wife donned her favourite enamelled Krishna pendant, I would mock her for carrying the universal lover with her and told her she must have learnt lessons in flirting from her favourite God.

Undoubtedly Lord Krishna was the greatest flirt of all times, the typical ‘Bad Boy’. But the way he cared for his women including Draupadi and jumped to their rescue is a sign of male ‘chivalry’. That old-world macho word I feel stems from the respect a man has for a woman. He loved to be surrounded by women. Lord Krishna was the ultimate feminist, if I may say so. He didn’t fight wars or prove his prowess on the battleground. He won over women simply through love.

The best part about Krishna’s innumerable scandalous relationships, including eloping with Rukmini, was that he never dominated women. He didn’t mind Rukmini literally kidnapping him or Radha being harsh with him. He loved to be led by women and thus his relationships are in sharp contrast to the patriarchal Indian society where man is considered a provider and superior to a woman. Even if I hate Krishna for being a successful womaniser, I do follow his footsteps while respecting all women.

Our Indian gods have complex relationships, too, and there is much to discover from our mythological couples like Krishna with his women and Shiva and Parvati

But the immense space that I give to my wife in our marital life probably was influenced by the offbeat relationship of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The freedom and space this couple shares is unimaginable. Something I have always practiced in my own marital life. It is said Lord Shiva often meditated in deep forests or snowy peaks and didn’t return home. But he never questioned what Parvati did in his absence, whom she met, with whom she went around, even how she had her son Lord Ganesha who was conceived and born in his absence!

Despite this freedom, the Shiva-Parvati jodi is considered as the best example of a couple relationship. The balance of Shiva (the destroyer) and Shakti (Parvati) is the ultimate bond that Indian Gods and Goddesses could ever display. An epitome of a happily married couple, Parvati’s strength matched and balanced Shiva’s power in the form of ecstasy and sexual happiness.

What we can learn from Parvati about making a special effort for our partner even in routine life.

Lord Shiva doesn’t mind being tamed by Parvati and gaining knowledge of the cosmos from her. He neither has a superiority or inferiority complex. They are equal.

Where else can one learn this mutual respect among couples than from the lives of our own Gods and Goddesses? Om Namah Shivay!

Published in Love and Friendship

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