Feb 06, 2023
Feb 06, 2023
by Julia Dutta
Smriti lay tossing and turning in her bed. She was not awake but she was not in deep sleep either. In fact she was dreaming. She was having a dream within a dream. In her dream she had woken up with a shock, finding herself in a public area, right in the middle of a market place, completely naked. She was aghast. People were jeering at her. She looked here and there, but nowhere could she see any of her clothing. She tried to hide her body placing her hands over sensitive parts but to no avail. If she hid this part, she was exposed there. And in this struggle, she woke up with very anxious over her state.
|The Spirit is Sexless.
It is neither man
It has no biological features
that can distinguish it
as man or woman.
Gender is a social construct. It is a set of norms,
do's and don't
that society has created both for men and women.
Awake, she searched her body and was relieved to find herself fully clad.
On her journey to Badrinath, by a path less traveled on foot from Rishikesh, Mokshaprana Mataji decided to do it alone as others she had invited to join her on this pilgrimage dropped out at the last moment. It was in fact a difficult trip and the ladies had all decided to dress as men.
Mokshaprana Mataji was biologically a woman, but could cover up as male as she had a shaven head and smaller breasts. The decision to travel in the garb of a man was to keep away from danger of other male pilgrims or bandits if any on the way.
She decided to keep a Vow of Silence all the way to Badrinath in order to conceal her true identity further. She began one early morning on her month long journey. On the route she shared the resting space with many pilgrims, men at large, in the night. No one knew or ever suspected her real sexual identity. After travelling many days, ultimately, she came upon one single small room which could be locked from inside. She decided that she was going to spend the night alone. But at about 8 p.m., there were a few knocks on the door. She did not respond. Then there were more. Ultimately there was banging - Open the door! We need to also come in and rest; screamed the men outside.
Mataji was scared. What was she going to do now? If she opened the door they would certainly inspect her body with their roving eyes, all the more, and perhaps her sexual identity would be revealed. She resorted to the only protection she knew; she began to pray for the mercy of her Guru. After sometime, she heard a voice of a man - Why are all of you shouting. Maybe the sadhu inside is in meditation. There is a big hall in at the top of the hill just a few metres away. Come there. The noise subsided. The men had gone.
That night, Mataji struggled with her feminine identity even though she had planned to cover it with a male one.
In both the cases above, there is a fear of the body being structured in a certain way, female, and therefore pre-empted as being either shameful of something that must be protected from being abused by men. In the dream, Smriti is full of shame as she sees herself completely naked in front of people in the middle of the market place. And in the case of Mokshaprana Mataji, it is pre-empted that should her female identity be revealed to the male pilgrims, she might have to face harm, abuse from the fellow travelers.
In both cases here is an attachment to the female body as it appears biologically and a need to hide it or protect it from harm.
Freudian Interpretation of Dream
Smriti's 'clothings' are symbolic. They are clothing she has put on as a member of society. These are norms and rules that have been put on her by society - How she must dress, what she must wear, how she must present herself in public and so on and so forth. These rules have been constructed by society in order to keep her under their control (See the endless list here). In order to be acceptable in society, she must conform. In fact, she has begun to believe all these things about herself. She may not even feel complete unless she has all these clothing on. If she fails, she will be an outcast and she will have to shrink from public eyes, because she would be ashamed to face it without these clothing. She will be the point of ridicule. People will laugh at her. She shares in common with society at large, her attachment to these norms. They have become her identity, her social self. Her individuality is lost. In the dream, the shame and the fear caused in her is reflective of a breakdown of what is expected of her by society at large.
The Spirit is Sexless. It is neither man nor woman. It has no biological features that can distinguish it as man or woman. Gender is a social construct. It is a set of norms, do's and don't that society has created both for men and women. Only when we conform, we are acceptable to society. The first fear that society instills upon women, is fear and shame over their bodies. Therefore even a Brahmachari like Mokshaprana Mataji, who has in fact cast away all her belongings and left behind the materialist world to join the order of women pravrajikas is still carrying within her the fear and the shame of her body. First by dressing as a man to avoid harassment from men and second actually experiencing the fears around her safety (read body) at that room along the journey to Badrinath. It has been cemented into the minds in such a way, right from birth, that it has become the first nature.
The real nature, the real truth, the real existence of that, which lives beyond our lives and our deaths, is truly never born, never dies. It has no gender, no sexuality. It was always there and no matter whether we are here to agree or disagree, accept or reject, it goes on forever. It is a given. Always there. It is never born and therefore cannot die. It cannot be constructed nor deconstructed. It is beyond all these petty considerations.
The Spirit, the Self, the Essence of our existence is sexless, neither man nor woman. Nor any other emerging sexual identity.
Image (c) Gettyimages.com
More by : Julia Dutta