A few months back a very knotty question was placed before me. The question was knotty, no doubt, but the reply was not at all knotty. The reply was very simple. The question concerned the fact that almost all the scriptures of the past said that women are not eligible for salvation. Almost all the scriptures of almost all the so-called faiths said that before the attainment of salvation, women will have to come back in male framework. And those other faiths where there is no scope for rebirth, said that women will have to wait for the final day of judgment, that is, doomsday, before they can get or expect any salvation.
Certainly it was a knotty problem, rather, a knotty question. But according to Ananda Marga, women have equal rights in each and every sphere, so why shouldn’t they also have the right to attain salvation? You see, boys and girls are just like the two hands of the father. The father loves the little girl as much as he loves the little boy. And would the father want his boy to attain supreme bliss and his girl to burn in the fire of hell? Certainly not. If one says this, one is not doing justice to the Supreme Father. To say this is bad, extremely bad.
Párvatii asked Lord Shiva, “O Lord, what is the minimum qualification for becoming a spiritual aspirant?” You know, for each and every job in the newspaper advertisement column, it will say, “The minimum qualification is this or that.” So Párvatii’s question was, “What is the minimum qualification for becoming a spiritual aspirant?” Párvatii’s question was a healthy one, no doubt, a very healthy question. And the following reply was given by Shiva, I think about seven thousand years ago when He was here in India (but the question was not placed before Shiva in English):
Átmajiṋánam idaḿ devi paraḿ mokśaeka sádhanaḿ;
Sukrtaermánavo bhútvá jiṋániicenmokśamápnuyát.
[Self-knowledge is the greatest means to attain salvation. People are born as human beings due to their past good saḿskáras, but to attain non-qualified liberation they will have to attain self-knowledge.]
To attain salvation one is to know oneself; that is, knowledge, the projection of the knowing faculty, should not be outside, it should be inside. Inwardly-projected actional expression is átmajiṋánam, and outwardly-projected actional expression is aparajiṋánam. One should acquire átmajiṋánam, that is, one should have inwardly-projected actional manifestations. And this is the route, this is the way, this is the path of salvation.
And who is to acquire this átmajiṋánam and finally attain salvation? Sukrtaermánavo bhútvá jiṋánii cenmokśamápnuyát. By passing through so many frameworks of so many animals and so many other beings, one acquires the human framework, one gets the human structure. And when one gets the human structure, one becomes eligible for self-knowledge, átmajiṋánam. And by dint of acquiring that átmajiṋánam, one attains salvation. So Shiva’s reply is that the minimum qualification for getting salvation, for doing sádhaná, is just a human structure. He never said that it should be a male structure, that it should be the body of a male. He said it should be the body of a human being. The question was raised by an honourable woman, Párvatii, and Shiva’s reply satisfied her very much. About seven thousand years ago this was said by Shiva. So as per Tantra, women have an equal right to attain salvation, and there has been no differentiation made by Shiva in this respect.
And you see, Krśńa also said,
Paritráńáya sádhúnám vinásháya ca duśkrtám;
Dharmasaḿsthápanártháya sambhavámi yuge yuge.
[I incarnate Myself in this world from age to age for the protection of the virtuous, the destruction of the wicked, and the restoration of dharma.]
“Just to save the right-thinking people” – Paritráńáya sádhunám – “just to save the, for the paritráńa of the, sádhus”.
What is the meaning of paritráńa and what is the meaning of sádhu? Sádhu means:
Pránáh yathátmano’bhiiśt́ah bhútánám api te tathá;
Átmaopamyena bhutánáḿ dayáḿ kurvanti sádhavah.
[Just as one’s own life is precious to oneself, the lives of other created beings are precious to those beings; so those who are really virtuous treat other beings as they would themselves.]
For each and every living being, one’s personal life is very dear, very costly. Each living being has love for their own life. A man who, knowing this fact, realizing this fact, loves others as he loves himself, is called a sádhu. A man should not be carnivorous, like cats, dogs and tigers. A man must not eat meat but must love each and every living being as he loves himself. Such a man is called sádhu. Such a man – here “man” is in the common gender, not the male gender – may be a male, or may be a female. You know, “man” is not only masculine gender, “man” is common gender also. “Man is mortal” – here “man” means both male and female.
Now, Paritráńáya sádhúnám. Krśńa said, “Just to save these sádhus” (sádhu means one who loves others as he/she loves himself/herself(1)) – “for their paritráńa – ”
(Tráńa means “to save”. Tráńa means “relief work”, which as you know is called tráńa kárya in Sanskrit. What’s the difference between tráńa and paritráńa? Here Krśńa says, Paritráńáya sádhúńám. Paritráńa means “saving permanently”. Suppose you have saved a person from some danger: if that saving is of a temporary nature, it is tráńa. During flood and famines you do tráńa work. You do not help people permanently, but give them temporary relief, so it is tráńa. But when permanent relief is given, when people are saved from the attacks of demons permanently, then it is called paritráńa. When one is freed from all the worldly fetters, it is permanent relief. And this permanent relief is for sádhus. Sádhu includes both males and females. Thus Krśńa supports Shiva.)
Paritráńáya sádhúńám vinásháya ca duśkrtám. “For the annihilation of, for the destruction of, duśkrtám” (duśkrtám means “antisocial elements”)… dharmasaḿsthápanártháya. Krśńa does as He does for what, what is the purpose? For the saḿsthápana of dharma. Sthápana means placing an entity in its right position. Suppose dharma is in its right position. Due to many factors, it may become degraded. This degradation is called gláni. If it is placed back in its right position, where it was and where it should be, this is called sthápana. But here Krśńa says, saḿsthápana, that is, “placing it in its proper position and making proper arrangement to keep it in its proper position”. Dharma saḿsthápanártháya sambhavámi yuge yuge – “I come here again and again.”
Here Lord Krśńa never says that women have no right to attain salvation. So on behalf of the philosophy of Ananda Marga, and also on behalf of the cult of Tantra, I hereby announce that males and females, who are the boys and girls of Parama Puruśa, the sons and daughters of Parama Puruśa, have an equal birthright to attain salvation. Those who say that women are not entitled to the same are antisocial elements. They represent vested interests.
5 December 1978, Madras