Namaste Everyone !
And welcome to the session on ‘Women’s rights & freedom’.
Today, I , Kashish Gambhir , am extremely grateful to this opportunity that the World Parliament of Religions has bestowed me with.
Today I speak not just as a Spiritual Guide but as a woman – a sister, a friend, a daughter, a mother – today,I stand as a representative of Indian women and Mother India herself.
India is not only the most populous nation in the world but it is a nation that is as diverse in its culture & its faith as this world itself is,
its a nation where women from countless faiths coexist together on one single land.
With its 1.426 billion inhabitants (as per worlddata.info), today the policies and changes implemented in India have the power to create a ripple effect on all the neighboring nations of the world.
Therefore, It becomes imperative to understand the policies and treatment towards women in this country.
Today I speak to you on behalf of all the women of India belonging to diverse cultures and faiths such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Judaism, Buddhism and more.
I present the perspectives of those who often remain unheard and seek to envision a world where every woman’s voice resonates.
Women’s Rights & Freedom | Atheism to Hinduism to Humanity
But before I share with you my perspective, it’s important that I give you the context by sharing my faith and my background with you .
As a teenager, I was an atheist. Being born into a Hindu family and having found a great great spiritual teacher, Sh.Gurinder Singh Dhillon Ji, the head of RSSB in Punjab, India, I was enriched by the study of spiritual wisdom from different faiths mainly Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and more. My spiritual teacher also helped me learn from the spiritual journeys and lives of the greatest saints that have come into different religions such as Jesus Christ, Saint Kabir, Bulleh Shah, Jalal-ud-din Rumi, Sri Krishna, Sri Ram & Sita, Meera Bai, Guru Nanak Ji, Guru Arjan Dev Ji and many more.
Today, having understood the foundation of all the religions, and with the innumerable spiritual experiences along with an infinite expansion in my consciousness I embrace – the religion of —— humanity.
The spiritual wisdom of different religions throws light with its perspective on the lives of women of different faiths in India.
India — has been known for spirituality for centuries. Spirituality encompasses all the religions and helps us transcend and understand the foundation of all religions – i.e. love & humanity. Spirituality is in the heart of Mother India.
Hinduism is still the predominant religion In India with approx. 79% of people being Hindus as per Pew Research Religious Data of 2020.
Hindu Men and women worship God in the feminine form, Goddesses like the Goddess Laxmi (i.e. the attributive quality of One God in the form of goddess of wealth), Goddess Sarasvati (the quality of One God in the form of goddess of art, music, knowledge & speech) and many more.
Hindus also honor the water & the rivers and thus call it – Mother Ganga or
India also continues to build sculptures and places of spiritual interests. We recently got our first VEDIC THEMED PARK in Noida. The park incorporates excerpts from the four Vedic literary texts — Sama Veda, Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda.
We also got our new beautiful Jatayu Earth Center in Kerala, India.
This structure Jatayu got its name from the Hindu epic Ramayana, where Jatayu was a giant vulture-like bird who attempted to rescue Goddess Sita, who was then abducted by Ravana.
Hinduism taught us that the soul (atma) — is the part of Supreme Soul (the param atma)– is in every living being — irrespective of their backgrounds. It further also taught that everything — the religion- the nationality,the color , gender, caste & class and this body is just a covering on the soul.
Just as if a tube light is covered with several black clothes- its light remains hidden even if it’s switched on.
Similarly, all these coverings on the soul forbids it from realizing its true light — the realization that it is a part of the supreme soul and that it is in everyone.
Hinduism, India’s predominant faith, lays a foundation of inclusivity.
Swami Vivekananda’s words in 1893 extolled Hinduism’s acceptance of all people from different faiths & backgrounds. the love & the acceptance that Hinduism has given to people from all other nations who came here as refugees and eventually gave their hearts to India – and this trait of Hinduism is exactly what makes Hinduism great, Vivekanda Ji said and I believe it too.
In 2023, however, interpretations have evolved—-the interpretation of the Hindu teachings have changed for many.
Sadly, the most important teaching of Hinduism that comes with self-realization & God-realization, that states that ‘ ye are the SOUL that has no religion or gender’ — this teaching is LOST to the speeches given by the politicians in the wake of next elections.
Politicians manipulate religious ideals, overshadowing the principle that the soul is beyond all these coverings.
While I really appreciate and enjoy that India is moving towards its spiritual glory by setting up these parks and centers, but – is it the parks that make a nation great ?
Let me state some numbers here-
The Ministry of Parliamentary affairs in India, the present Lok Sabha, i.e. the Lower House of the Parliament has a total of 542 Members out of which 78 are Female Members i.e. just 14.39% . Present Rajya Sabha, i.e. the Upper House of the Parliament of India has a total of 224 Members out of which 24 are Female Members i.e. just 10.71%
NOW, from many interviews that I have listened to, Many women in India believe that women in America have more freedom and a comparatively better life than theirs.
But do you even know that these American women did not get their freedom & rights served on a plate.
There was a time when these american women fought for their rights — they campaigned – As per nps.gov, The 1848 Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention marked the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States.
They raised their voices and only after putting up that fight, were they eventually able to get what they wanted.
They got the consequences of their actions – their karma.
It is the KARMA of the people of a nation – that carves the direction of their destiny.
And if you want freedom too, then you will have to put up that fight.
People tend to get influenced by what they read in the news…specially.. in india — no — let me correct — not the news — ‘the paid media channels’ — they get instigated .
the men – sexually assault and rape the women in the name of religion.
While women accept superstitions taught by the imposter Gurus on these paid media channels — ‘if a women does not press his legs, she doesn’t respect him’ or ‘ if women calls her husband by his name then somebody will die in the family’ — they spread fear, illogic, and hate.
Well, that;s what oppressors do! They spread fear and oppress the women first.
We all know that for the first time in the history of this world, there are multiple dictators rising together in the same period of time.
Now this rise of multiple dictators calls for more aggressive actions on the part of those oppressed – the WOMEN specifically.
I hope you are aware of the heinous crime that recently we have witnessed in the state of Manipur, India.
While many women were gangraped, a woman was paraded naked publicly and gangraped publicly in this state. This incident has laid bare the grim reality of violence, insecurity, and governance failures especially when the government presiding in this state belongs to the PM’s party.
Now had our Prime Minister been a woman , I highly doubt that she would have taken 77 days to respond when event like this
no she would Run to the women who had suffered such atrocities but our prime minister responded to this issue after 77 days and only when the supreme court are already stressed on the seriousness of the issue.
The oppressors are of course more interested to tie the loose ends to bring autocracy – they don’t care about the women suffering – and they not only don’t care – instead they are the ones that create civil wars in the name of caste, tribe & religion or religious values and let the people fight amongst themselves.
People in the oppressed states also start saying that the assaulters belong to a particular religion.
Women’s Rights & Freedom | Women Assaulters & Trafficking
So, is there any particular religion that the assaulters belong to?
Well, if you ask this question from a political party member, they will always have the answer.
But the real answer lies deep within our conscience.
As per Writings on Human Rights, Law and Society in India: A Combat Law Anthology.
During the Partition of India, violence against women was an extensive situation. It is estimated that during the partition between 75,000 and 100,000 women were kidnapped and raped.
Muslim , Hindu & Sikh women were abducted, converted & raped by men of Hindu, Sikh & Muslim religions.
And of course, the assaults never stopped after the partition. There have been nationwide cases of sexual assaults against women by men from religions of Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism and this list is not exhaustive.
The recent Manipur incident that involved the Kuki-Meiti tribe war, again wreaked havoc on the women.
The irony is that these men that fight for the superiority and the greatness of their religion – all say believe that their Bhagwan, Allah, and Waheguru and Lord are Omnipresent – now the logic says that because their Lord is present everywhere in the world – they also pray from anywhere –
Can it be a physical being ? No – because the body is limited to one area.
if the Lord is present everywhere – and can be prayed to from anywhere in the world and has no physical form – shouldn’t he be ONE?
And if indeed, the Lord is omnipresent, then how dare they hurt the women – are they not afraid of their Lord?
Men think they are fighting for their religion – for their tribe? for their caste ?
Well— men, how great is ur religion is showed by your actions and if you persecute the women in any way, then that is the proof of what your religion has taught you – that is the proof .
That is the mark of your greatness and the greatness of your religion. And I am not sorry to say this – but men – you have failed your religions. You have failed.
So what is the Root cause of the problem then?
Why is it that amidst all the religious, ethnic & caste wars, it is the woman that suffers the most. Why are women assaulted in the name of faith?
Well the answer is very simple actually.
- When you consider something your property and not a living being really then you try to take it over, either to humiliate your enemy or to win the war or to satisfy your ego.
Let me remind you people – that we women are not property to be owned or controlled.
We are not just a physical body, we are emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual living – human beings.
We are your mothers, daughters, sisters — bearers of life and strength.
500 years ago, Guru Nanak Ji, the founder of Sikhism, said –
‘So kyu manda aakhiye, jit jamme Rajan?’
‘Why call the woman bad, that gives birth to the kings?’
What right does a man have to decide whether women is a goddess or witch and to prosecute her according to his own fancies?
- Women’s Rights & Freedom | Women, Religion & the War
Root cause of the problem- and the prime one actually –
While Rapists have no religion. Persecution of women stems from a weak man’s ego that fears being dominated by the fairer sex.
But moreover, it is his desire to fulfill his lust & to feel more powerful which he covers up with his reasons for religious & caste wars.
There is a reason that The Bible, The Guru Granth Sahib Ji, The Bhagavad Geeta and many holy books teach us about the 5 vices of lust, anger, greed, attachment & ego.
And every human being, irrespective of his religion, caste & class, nationality, carries inside of him these 5 vices.
So next time a man tells you that he assaulted a woman because she was he was wearing a mini skirt, ask him,
why do women wearing burqas – covered from head to toe – suffer rape? If the mini skirt provoked them to assault a woman, then does covering herself completely also excite him?
Ask him – why does a 7 year old girl child has to suffer an assault?
We all human beings – both men & women – have these 5 vices inside of us. The difference is that SOME MEN (not all) – IN THE WAKE OF THEIR POWER, EGO & LUST,they let out the animal inside of them and they let their conscience die and then they blame the women – for their own actions.
Well, do you really think that blaming the women would actually shift the consequences of your actions upon her?
–pause–disgust show—with expression
Women — god chose you to become the givers of life — and if those whom you have given life to, start taking your life back— then O’ women –it is ur duty to protect your sisters, ur friends, ur mothers and ur daughters–to stand with and for each other.
Our diverse faiths should unite us, and bring us closer. ‘Coz within us, we are just women.
I am not a Hindu women – u r not a Muslim women – we are just women!
It’s time that we rewrite the narratives that have suppressed us for generations.
It’s time that we do all that we can to create a beautiful future for ourselves.
Hansa Mehta : a feminist leader, activist and diplomat from India.
“𝐀𝐥𝐥 𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 are born free and equal.”
Women, you must rise above the shackles of patriarchy, raise your voices against injustice, and collaborate across faiths to foster a world wherey our daughters and granddaughters breathe the air of freedom.
The battle ahead is not just for yourselves; it’s for the generations that follow, for their dreams and aspirations.
The power to change lies within you because
Women – you have the creative force of the Lord within you – That creative force which gives birth to a child – use that force that u r gifted with – use it to create ur place in this world –
Muster your courage and
Shatter the chains of prejudice and inequality.
We women, indeed hold the key to a world where every woman can thrive, where every voice is heard, and where the essence of humanity prevails.
We women – hold –that– key.
Proposal for Change
I first of all applaud the creation of Women task Force in the World PoR.
In the spirit of empowerment, the establishment of a body that transcends national boundaries and advocates for women’s rights universally, is what this world really needs.
I propose that the Women Task Force may, if it finds appropriate, create an international Women Police Force that be created in collaboration with the UN –
an international women police force that may include women from different faiths – may have the power to supercede any country’s police force
And also that could move to any nation in order to expose the oppressors that are involved in the act of persecution of women at a mass scale in order to protect human rights.
Do we think its impossible – well, my life experience has taught me that NOTHING in this world is impossible. Specially when we comes together, we can move mountains.
I want to state some other points for countries where persecution of women is on rise…
The men -the gentlemen – U should also stand up for their women —
the women police officers should also understand the pain of their fellow women and not bow down to the oppressors , instead play smart by going easy on women while also protecting their jobs at the same time —ofc this can be strategised.
I also want to convey to my fellow sisters that If you remain in the game for long enough – if you never give up women – women YOU WILL RISE.
women, YOU WILL BE FREE.
I would like to quote something from a character named TERESA MENDOZA from the series called ‘QUEEN OF THE SOUTH’ on Netflix.
It’s a very powerful character of a woman who has gone through extreme pains in her life and how she rises from it everytime –
Once her boss asks her, ‘what can you do for me? Will you die for me?’
She replies,’No. I won’t die for you. I can do better. i will live for you’
Women – YOU DON’T NEED TO DIE WHILE FIGHTING – you just need to play smart- you need to live and stay in this game for just long enough and make the oppressors give up!
I propose that everywhere in the world a standard be set , our women task force strives to stress upon the need that women be given 50% of the seats in the parliament. You start at 50 – so they will settle at 30 at least 😉
I am sure out of millions of people in a country, some talented women can always make their way into the parliament.
The journey we embark on today is not just about women’s rights; it is about humanity’s progress. Our shared experiences, irrespective of faith, reveal a universal truth — that women’s liberation is integral to human evolution.
Once again – Thank you, esteemed members of the World Parliament of Religions, for providing me this platform to shed light on a cause that transcends faith, nationality, and creed.
I am Kashish Gambhir from India and you can connect with me at kashishgambhir.com