Shiva’s Spectacular Gender Divide – Part 1/6

ardha-nareeshwaraThe Manhattan winter of 1992 caught me dreaming about writing an epic saga infused with the beauty of tantra. It would be set in an ancient Indian mythical civilization ruled by Rudra-Siva, the great god of paradox; somehow I intuited that this divine entity, the Wild God himself, would spark my dream into roaring life. (If you’ve looked at the post previous to this one, you’d know that Whip of the Wild God took me twenty years to complete!)

Buried in the vastness of the Tantras, I came upon an ancient saying that immediately struck me as true. It translates something like this: When Shiva set his seal upon this world, he cleaved it into male and female; when male and female come together in sacred union, Shiva blesses them with the bliss of Oneness.

Whether depicted as Ardhaniswara (half-man, half-woman), or in his contrasting roles of supreme ascetic and supreme hedonist, I knew Shiva was not speaking merely of the union of man and woman, oh no—he was equally addressing the wise celibate, who, aware that all humans contain the essence of both male and female within themselves, seeks to unite these twin polarities in his or her own being. Shiva’s point was stunningly clear: in order to be whole—which I took to mean radiating an unshakable inner joy and peace—male and female must unite; and this fusion could occur in either the practicing celibate, or through the medium of a spiritual couple.

As an Indian woman born into a multi-tiered society governed overtly and subtly by men who—by osmosis and conditioning—demean women in a million ways, it was not long before I began to mull over why all male-dominated cultures had turned into such raging battlefields for the sexes. And since each one of us who cares to investigate this subject is bound to have a unique take on the seething, often subterranean, gender wars that have ruined the fabric of our existence, on this critical subject I must speak solely for myself….

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6 thoughts on “Shiva’s Spectacular Gender Divide – Part 1/6

  1. I reject that Shiva caused the world to divide into the two. I experience that they caused all to be and that no one caused THEM to be….more in line with some discovered Gnostic texts that place the divine as part of a paradox of creation….no one created them….no male deity….no female deity….they were always together. This way, they are more equal with less of this funny business having to do with Shakti having to refine herself to meet him in the crown, etc. When we do this, we come closer to beginning to mirror it in our world too. Every woman can then be Shakti and is. What do you think?

  2. Personally, any human opinion/projection on the matter of the deities is just that — a projection. The myths constantly change, adapt and vary — depending on the age and the need of the times. When I use myth to make a point — and it is a valid point since male and female are definitely two halves in a dualistic world and not just my imagination — it is only to make a point, not to state that as “the Truth” which, as a mere mortal, I can discern only in flashes (though the Self is omniscient in us all). Your words — “funny business having to do with Shakti having to refine herself to meet him in the crown, etc.” again has nothing to do (in my op) with woman having to rise to meet man — far from it — here we are talking about primal consciousness (Shiva) and primal energy (Shakti) — no funny business here, just how it could happen in the higher world, where there are no judgments of lower and higher. Thanks for your message! I like that you are thinking about this.,..

  3. Apart from the weight of the tradition, beyond what is taught, what is it that you experience directly? I mean to say that the idea that we actually unite the two suggests they are not in union already. My experience was that they never were not in union and that perception, my own, as well as others (because they said the same thing) was that this was itself a seeming…..and so we thus move into realization of what we are. I may not have made the question or point as direct as it could or should have been. I am interested in how belief and bias veils perception….

  4. I am no guru — i just share the experience of a long quest for peace and wisdom on this blog, through my own imperfect lens. (Please read my Disclaimer). That said, I would suggest you study what is known as the TWO TRUTHS in eastern philosophy — Absolute and Relative. My next post (due on August 20 or so) deals with them in more detail. In response to your statement: My experience was that they never were not in union — yes, certainly, that is true of the Absolute realm, which is realm of the non-dual. However each of us enters the Relative realm in a unique fashion — based on our particular karma etc etc. And while the union of male and female may have always been your experience, it is not generally the case. Let’s say you got lucky….

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