How Sanatan Dharm Is The Most Feminist Religion on Earth


The word “feminism” evokes varied reactions depending on who you ask. For some, it’s a banner to rally under for equal rights; for others, it might bring up uncomfortable feelings of confrontation and challenge to established norms. Regardless, feminism at its core seeks gender equality and the upliftment of women to levels comparable to men in all spheres of life.

In the same vein, religion has often been criticized for its lack of gender equality, from limited roles for women in religious institutions to doctrines that perpetuate gender inequality. Yet, if we delve deep into the ancient teachings of Sanatan Dharma, we find an unexpectedly progressive attitude towards women and gender roles, one that perhaps makes it the most feminist religion on Earth.

The Concept of Shakti

Central to Sanatan Dharma is the concept of “Shakti,” or divine feminine energy. Shakti is not just a side note; it is core to the understanding of the Divine in this spiritual tradition. Goddesses like Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Kali are not mere consorts to male gods but are worshipped in their own right. These Goddesses are not simply idols but archetypes that represent various facets of life and existence—wisdom, wealth, power, and beyond. The very act of placing female gods alongside male gods for worship signifies the importance of the feminine aspect of life.

Scriptural Acknowledgment

The Rigveda, one of the oldest scriptures of Sanatan Dharma, declares that the divine traits of both men and women are to be equally celebrated. Texts like the Devi Bhagavata Purana elevate the feminine divine as the source of all creation. Verses in these ancient texts speak of women as embodiments of knowledge, wisdom, and home, thus placing significant importance on the roles women play in society.

Social Structures and Philosophical Foundations

Unlike many religious traditions that place men as the heads of the household, Hindu philosophy has a more nuanced view. The idea is of a partnership, akin to the Ardhanarishvara concept where Bhagwan Shiva and Mata Parvati are seen as two halves of a whole. In this model, women are not subservient but equal partners in the spiritual and worldly journey.

Women in Religious Practices

In Sanatan Dharma, women have been priests, scholars, and philosophers. The Rigveda contains hymns composed by women rishis (sages). Women have a significant role in religious rites and are often seen leading prayers, something not universally observed in other major religions.

Cultural Practices

Festivals like Navratri celebrate the feminine divine, and the role of women is central in these religious events. Similarly, during Karva Chauth, both men and women fast for each other’s well-being, highlighting mutual respect and care.

Sanatan Dharma’s inherent philosophy uplifts the feminine, not just as a counterpart to the masculine but as an integral and equal part of the divine and social fabric. Its scriptures and traditions place women on a pedestal not below but equal to men, acknowledging their divine role in the creation and maintenance of the universe.

While no religion or social system is without flaws, the core principles of Sanatan Dharma present a compelling argument for its status as perhaps the most feminist religion on Earth. By understanding and following these principles in their true essence, we have a blueprint for a society where gender equality is not just a theoretical concept but a lived reality.

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