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Amma’s insight into man-woman relationship

On a Tuesday Satsang at Ashram – some time in August/ September 2012

On this Tuesdays’ satsang, a western woman asked question on the issue of men molesting girl children and also about wife-beating done by men. She wanted to know how such men should be treated by society.
Amma was at her elaborate best in answering the question. She touched multiple aspects of man-woman relationship, the cultural differences in India and in western countries on this issue, the status of women in the past and present and her own childhood experiences and observations. In a rare moment of slackening of guards, she hinted on her “all knowing status” by virtue of her divinity too!
Amma was unequivocally clear that those who abuse children and wife are handled as per law. But she felt that while the act should be condemned, the actor should not be. There may be deep-rooted psychological complications in men who sexually misbehave with little children and such men should be subjected to mental treatment with care and concern.
While analyzing why men always feel superior to women and by that count, resort to beating wife as a matter of right, Amma said that it all got nurtured from the traditional role of men being the bread winner and a protector of woman who are by nature physically weak and vulnerable. Women too are to be blamed for this state of affairs, since, women, in their role as mothers, somehow treated men as superior creatures over their female siblings.
Amma said lots of changes for better has happened in societies across the globe over a period of time and women too have now got ample opportunities and avenues in education and employment. Thus men are not sole bread-winners any longer. Amma felt that this reality has been understood by at least 60-70% of men.
But the feeling of one-up-manship has been nurtured in men across so many generations that it is quite deep rooted in men’s genes. So it is only a question of time that the others too will accept equality and behave better. It is a slow process and it will happen. Amma was rather against women “fighting” for their rights. The changes should come through the path of love and understanding and not by confrontational ways.

Amma was equally frank in saying that empowerment of women too has its ill effects in society; women are losing their innate qualities of loving kindness, patience and motherhood . Their financial independence coupled with lack of patience and forbearance now tend to make them too arrogant with men and in this process, disintegration marriage and family life are caused by women too in the present society.

Amma felt that while this trend is quite palpable in west, it is slowly catching up in India too.

Amma said that in case of Indian woman, she could advice them to be more forgiving, patient and forbearing, because, culturally, in India, woman have the tendency to sacrifice their personal whims to quite some extent for the sake of the family and the future of the children.

But when it comes to advising her western children, Amma felt that she needs to be more careful and guarded. In west, the idea of personal freedom and sense of rights of the women are strongly rooted. Western women may not be able to digest Amma’s guidelines in line with what she gives for Indian women.

While talking about how men were treated as though superior to women and how their egos were pampered, Amma shared many of her early days’ scenario in her household and around.
In those days, women were prohibited from showing broom stick to men. If a woman was sweeping the floors and a man entered the scene, the woman was supposed to hide the broomstick else it would be deemed insulting men.If a brother, be even a younger one, grew taller than a girl, the girl was expected to stand when the brother enters the room where the girl was seated.
If any male guests were coming to a house, the girls were expected to remain unseen to them. It was infra-dig for men to wash their plates or clothes. It was the duty of female members in the family to wash the food plates and dresses of men. The sense of superiority that males enjoyed was more or less fostered and nurtured mostly by the elderly womenfolk in the families.Perhaps since males were the sole breadwinners and protectors of the families, women extended so much extra respect for males that naturally ended up bloating up their egos.

In those days, males could not tolerate or digest verbal onslaught of women. Amma had heard some males saying, “Oh! That loud-mouthed woman scolded me so much! Should I ever live in this world after hearing those words from these lowly women? Oh what a shame; better to commit suicide!”

(Late Sri Sugunanandan – Amma’s father)

Amma’s mother Dhamayanthiamma was always protective about her husband Sugunananthan. She always displayed a sense of respect towards him and she would never accept any complaint about him if made by her children. While she herself might have some personal grouse against him, but would never allow children talking ill of their father; she would almost blindly side with her husband in such situations.
There was always a thread of love with a strong sense of duty and responsibility to the husband that women displayed those days.
To explain the type of attachment her mother had with her father, Amma narrated this amusing incident:
Hardly a few years back there was a knock at Amma’s room at one night around 9 PM. When the door was opened, Dhamayanthi Amma was standing there with a cloth bag tucked under her arm. She came into Amma’s room saying, “I am fed up with your father; I can’t live with him any more; I have packed my essential dress and I have come here to stay with you; I will not go back to him”.
Amma listened to it with a sense of amusement and made arrangements for Dhamayanthi Amma to stay in her room along with Swamini Amma (Soumya).At around 3:00 AM early next morning, Amma heard noise in the bathroom as someone was taking bath. It was Dhamayanthi Amma. After her bath, Dhamayanthi Amma said “OK. I am going back”.
Amma asked her “Why? You said you have left your husband and are going to stay with me?””Who will make tea for the old man in the morning? He is so much used to taking that tea early” so saying, Dhamayanthiamma left while Amma watched with utter amusement. That was the type of love that existed in the older generation.”

The Importance of adequate age difference between Husband and wife

Amma continued on the subject with a keen sense of ‘worldly wisdom’ that has practical relevance, not understood by the present day generation.”In olden days, it was the prevailing practice that the husband was about 8 to 10 years older than the wife. It had some real logic. When the husband is much elder, the woman naturally tends to show respect for his age and maturity. Unlike a person of the same age, husbands too were able to deal with their wives in a more matured mindset when women show their idiosyncrasies.  Biologically too, the sexual needs of a woman are keener and much more sensitive, which could be satisfied better by a more matured man. That way, the age difference is advantageous.”

When Amma spoke thus on a very subtle and delicate subject, it is quite natural that many in the gathering had their dose of wonder! Perhaps grasping this, Amma said:”When I was talking like this on this very sensitive subject in another gathering in the past, someone asked me, “Amma! You were a Brahmacharini and how on earth do you know all these subtle nuances of man-woman relationship? Even many householders like us do not know of the importance of what you said now!”
“Do you know how I escaped from this question? I said to her:  “You see, a car driver may not know what is wrong in the car when a car suddenly breaks down on the way. But the engineer who designed the car would surely know the correct cause of a breakdown!”

This reply of Amma brought a spontaneous round of applause in the gathering. Only very rarely Amma speaks openly of her all-knowing-power (Sarvagnyathvam) born out of her divinity. Those who were present in this day’s satsang caught that rare moment and it naturally triggered the instant applause!Related reading: What is the ideal age gap between a husband and wife?