Excuse me, I do not want to worship a phallus anymore

Why is it not okay for women to enter the temple on their periods, but it's essential to worship an erect phallus?

Vichitra Amarnathan Vichitra Amarnathan
फरवरी 01, 2017
How many people really grasp that the lingam is also seen with the womb, and that only together can there be creation? Photo: Shutterstock/IndiaPicture

This morning I saw the image of a shivling on my Facebook newsfeed, and I thought to myself I do not want to worship a phallus anymore--no matter what it stands for (no pun intended). To be clear, I won't worship a vagina either.

I am a Hindu, and a proud one at that because I believe Hinduism has a deep philosophy. There is a lot to discover in this religion and its mythology, and I love that it doesn't stop me from appreciating other faiths and cultures. I also see that there is a lot of symbolism involved in Hinduism and not everything can be boxed into absolute concepts.

However, whether the lingam stands for worshipping what is formless and timeless or whether it is about something more concrete like creation--I reject the idea of ascribing so much importance and power to the male organ.

Is it any wonder that somehow men feel very proud of their genitalia and associate it with strength and virility, while women are apologetic about their periods and are shamed for having breasts--both completely natural things they have no control over?

How many people really grasp that the lingam is also seen with the womb, and that only together can there be creation? Reproduction is not the ultimate goal to be worshipped, but even procreation would not be possible if women did not menstruate. Why, then, are women considered impure while menstruating, to the extent that they cannot enter a temple? And we worship an erect phallus!

There is much else in Hinduism that has been dumbed down and hence misconstrued, and it's all screaming for change.   

The Trinity and the Godesses

Is it a coincidence that anything owned, amassed, and used happens to be female? Photo courtesy: Twitter/NamrataLuvs_SRJ Is it a coincidence that anything owned, amassed, and used happens to be female? Photo courtesy: Twitter/NamrataLuvs_SRJ

The popular understanding of Hinduism sees the three male Gods--the creator, Brahma; the destroyer, Shiva; and the protector, Vishnu as supreme. Their respective wives or concubines are Saraswati, Parvati and Lakshmi symbolizing knowledge, power, and wealth. All three--knowledge, power and wealth--are something one owns and uses at one level or another. Is it a coincidence that anything owned, amassed, and used happens to be female? I've heard of Indra, Vayu, Kuber and many other demi gods but hardly any goddesses. I've heard of the great ascetic, Shiva being with Sati, Ganga and Parvati. I've never heard of Saraswati, who is not even ascetic, being associated with multiple males.

How many people understand that this male and female bifurcation is symbolic for the traits and elements that are present in all of us? As a populace, we are still fighting for the belief that the cow is our mother! I see all of these beliefs playing out around me as discrimination, lack of representation and lack of rights for women.

The Concept of Purush and Prakriti
In Hinduism, the Purush concept embodies anything that is within and which can be controlled and draws similarities with males being able to control the shedding of their seed (semen). Prakriti, on the other hand, is all that is untamed and natural. It is the Maya around us and is likened to the female period that cannot be controlled. This is quickly misconstrued into man that has all the control and can exercise his will over himself and woman who needs to be controlled. Ironically enough, it is Prakriti or women that are restrained and apologetic today, while the Purush is on a rampage.  

I disagree that man was made in the image of God. I think God was made in the image of man. We certainly have misinterpreted religion. But if a thought is being misunderstood and is affecting life and humanity, it's time to accept that it's not working. And just like a beautiful vase with an intricate design that has no room for flowers must be set aside, we need to appreciate the mythology but stop practicing rituals. Ritualsthat are not only archaic, but have a harmful impact on society.

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The views expressed here are that of the author.

 

 

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