Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water
Whenever I wanted to refer to a Scripture or the Teachings of a Great Sage of India, for spiritual or practical guidance, I always found that women were given the least importance or priority. Whenever disagreeable things were advised to be shunned by devotees, it usually came as “women, wealth, fame” etc. To add to these disturbing things, I found that many deities were accompanied by more than one goddess, even though many of the things mentioned in Religion are symbolic and so they cannot be taken literally.
However, I also found that the same Scripture or Sage venerated women as Supreme Shakti (Power), Valor, Wealth, Knowledge, Peacefulness and Bliss. For example, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa frequently mentioned that “The mind is wasted on ‘woman and gold’”, “The renunciation of ‘woman and gold’ is the true renunciation.” etc. But He also said “The Primordial Power is ever at play. She is creating, preserving, and destroying in play, as it were. This Power is called Kaali. Kaali is verily Brahman, and Brahman is verily Kaali. It is one and the same Reality.” In fact, He considered His Consort Sri Sharada Devi as a Goddess and worshipped Her.
Sri Aadhi Sankaracharya too offered great poetic works such as Soundarya Lahari. whose hundred and three slokas (verses) eulogize the beauty, grace and munificence of Goddess Parvati.
The usual tendency is to immediately give up the teachings of these Profound Scriptures and Enlightened Sages as “male chauvenists”. But I could not easily make this rash judgement, because I felt it was stupid to make decisions based on just on feelings without researching further. It raised some questions for me. Why would they insult women when at the same time they worship the Higher Power as a Goddess or Mother? It did not seem rational. So after some pondering over these discrepancies and ambiguities, I came to the conclusion that I have to take every Spiritual teaching in the “right context”. I guess the times and the nature of the society and people in those times have to be taken into consideration.
Whatever the case might have been, I have come to the conclusion that it would be unintelligent to give up the Good parts of a Scripture or Teachings of a Sage that are agreeable to me, just because there are some Unpleasant mentions that are disagreeable to me. Besides, I have the unshakeable confidence that I do deserve to be benefited by these Scriptures and Gurus as much as men, if not more. So I have decided to take what is useful and helpful to me, and leave the rest. And that’s exactly what the following simple, common quote means :
“Don’t throw the Baby out with the bath water”! It means to me – “Keep the good things, those that you like. Ignore the disagreeable things, what you don’t like”. Otherwise I will be the loser.