Question: We come from a society which is patriarchal in nature, everything around revolves around a man and there is a general subjugation of a woman in the sense that the laws, the rules and regulations around whatever woman can do, not do; things like that. My question is that, is there a general fear of a woman in the man’s mind and society at large? Because we control things, we subjugate a thing to rule or regulation only when we feel a threat, may be inferiority, if I may say. So, that is my question – “Is there a fear of a woman?”
Acharya Prashant: So, you see you are already in hold of something important. At one end you see that it’s a patriarchal society that we are coming from. On the other end your question is – “Is the man afraid of woman?”
Firstly, we are saying that the man is the controller and then we are asking that is the man afraid of woman.
Questioner: Not just the man, but may be society at large – man and woman – because even the women are equal participant in the patriarchal system, right? It is also the woman who hold the patriarchy; so, society also.
AP: Yes, then the society, by itself, hardly means anything. When we say society, we mean the members of the society. When we say a system dominated by men, we mean “men”.
First of all, a few things about the dualistic nature of mind of existence, probably needs to be seen. First, there is no control ever – in the sense, that there can’t be a controller and a controlled. There would always be a controlled one and another controlled one, out of which one would appear to be the controller. But no one is really the controller.
Similarly, there can never be an exploiter and an exploited. There would always be the exploited and the exploited. And out of the two exploited, obviously, one would appear to be the exploiter. And the one who appears like the exploiter, need not be a definite one. Among these two, the role of the exploiter would keep changing hands. So, sometimes the man would appear like the exploiter and other times a woman would appear like the exploiter.
Whenever, the natural harmony of things, of movement, of existence is upset then there is disease; disease on both sides – the man and the woman. When things are healthy, then, nobody controls anybody. When things are healthy, then, nobody controls anybody. Neither the man controls anybody nor does the woman control anybody. When things are diseased, then both parties control each other.
It is not as if, because we have named it a patriarchal society, which it does appear on the surface, right? That it is dominated by man; the man is the head of the family; the man controls 97% of the wealth; the man is at the top in most organizations, so the man does appear to be the controller. Which, I would like to submit, is just an illusion.
Man controls in his own way. But because, there can be no controller and no controlled, so the woman controls in her own way. Both are at war with each other. Both are trying to enslave each other. Both are trying to get on top. It’s the exploited and the exploited, just that their ways are different because their respective constitutions are differently from a woman. A man is constructed differently from a woman. So, the way the man tries to control has got to be different from the way a woman tries to control.
Man’s aggression is gross, because what does man has on his side? Physicality, brute power. So, his aggression will be gross. You would probably see him dominating a woman purely by the strength of muscle power – which is not so much these days – but still it does happen, we do see that happening, or through money power.
But in such a case, where the woman is made the target of control or ownership, she would have her own devious ways.
Q: Countering that…
AP: Not only countering that. You see, when you say ‘countering that’, you probably mean that the man’s aggression is the cause of the woman’s counter attack. No, not really. The man is not causing the woman to counter him. Both are parallelly and simultaneously sick. That is the thing about duality. The man is not causing the woman to retaliate. Because the whole environment, the whole structure is arising out of ignorance, so the man and the woman are parallelly and equally sick.
Q: Where do you think the sickness is coming from? Why do you think is the sickness there?
AP: You see we are talking of psychological sickness. And psychological sickness is always the absence of knowledge of reality. What is this whole game, the whole drama about? What is this world about? What is knowledge? What is perception? And ultimately you come to the question – Who is the one asking the question? Who am I? So, whether it is a man who is not exposed to this enquiry or whether it is a woman, both are going to be equally ignorant. And violence is inseparable from ignorance.
You see, man’s violence as we just said, is tremendously ugly, gross, brute and muscular. Woman’s violence is a little hidden, is a little subtle. She has her own ways. She has her own ways. Woman’s liberation cannot be distinct from man’s liberation. And woman’s subjugation cannot be differentiated from man’s subjugation. So, talking of acting only at one pole just betrays the lack of understanding of the game of duality.
It is quite in the scheme of things, very, very obvious, that when you have an order dominated by men, men are going to be afraid of women. Had they not been afraid of women, why would they raise such an order in the first place? And at the same time, women are going to be afraid of men. Man’s aggression is gross – it is very obvious. And women’s fear is gross – it is very obvious. What is hidden and not so obvious is the woman’s aggression and man’s fear. Both are hidden.
A man would usually not like to admit that he is afraid of a woman. So, that fear is hidden. And equally difficult it is to see that a woman is aggressive, even though she might appear helpless or even benign. But she is aggressive in the way she talks, moves, relates, dresses up, plays her own games. Is that not aggression, all of that?
AP: So, something is apparent. Something is a little sub lineal. I think we have to look at the totality of it.
Q: Regarding the fear in a man, I wanted to discuss, what is this fear that he relates to? Is it her sexuality? Because what the most control is about the way she dresses, people she talks to, where she goes and things like that. And all that relates of sexuality of a woman or sexuality in large. So, is there a fear of sexuality of a woman or is there a fear of sexuality?
AP: So, we are talking of the aggression of man and fear of man, that man is aggressive towards a woman and that man is afraid of woman. We are talking of that. I would like you to expand and complete the scope of the question. So, we are talking of the man’s aggression and the man’s fear and let us also talk of the woman’s aggression and woman’s fear. Because only when we take these two together, can we understand the whole game, because if you look at only the man then, in some way, it is the ignorance of what is happening at the woman’s end and that she is an equal participant in the whole game of illusion.
Q: So, what is coming to my mind right now. I read a book by a psychoanalyst. Therein, he is giving an example of a movie, there is this woman, her relationship with her husband is that her husband gets drunk and beats her up. Asks her to submit to him, she defies him and he beats her up. She enjoys the beating up, because she knows that it’s her resistance. I guess, that is how she is showing her aggression. So, I think the fear could also be losing that control, that if I am letting you control me, obviously, I also have control.
AP: Very well said. You see, now we are moving into troubled waters. Now what we would be saying would be a little amoral. The conventional way of looking at the man-woman relationship won’t hold good here. A few of the feminists won’t like what we are saying. And even man may be displaced, but let’s.
The mind’s desire for control is such that it can bear any pain for it. The mind lives in continuous insecurity. There is nothing more dominant on the mind than it’s great fear of elimination; insecurity. Control is the apparent antidote to insecurity. “I am insecure, so I want to control a lot of things.” To gain that control, I am even prepared to be beaten up. You see, you beat me up, but after beating me up, you will feel the moral pangs to come back to me.
I was in Rajasthan, and there it was a village and there was this an elderly woman advising a younger one, that if your husband beats you up it is a sign of his love. And you should be more alarmed, if he doesn’t beat you up. You see, this is the way the female mind is looking at the whole thing. We are not saying, that all women are thinking in this way. So, please listen to me with a bit of empathy, because it’s easy to misunderstand this things.
Q: Because the beating in other cases might not be the physical beating. It could be other sort of things.
AP: Yes, yes, yes. And it’s a thing very prevalent across cultures. Even kids learn this very quickly that if they demonstrate that they have been harmed, then they will be compensated. So, compensation goes along with harm. And sometimes the lure of compensation can cause you to deliberately invite harm upon yourself – if the compensation means control. If, the compensation means, control.
That applies not only to man-woman relationship. That applies even to parents and kids.
“We sacrificed so much for you, so we will now control your lives.”
So, when man will be non-violent, only then we can expect a non-violent woman. When women will be fearless, only then we can expect a fearless man. And both will move together. One end cannot move on its own because it is inseparably joined to the other end. You know, here, in Advait, couples often arrive and I have seen, and I advise them that if man is coming then he must try to bring the woman here as well. And if the woman is coming, she must try to bring the man here as well.
The man will not be able to take a dimensional leap if the woman in his life is not prepared to leap along with him, because he has defined himself with respect to the woman. His very self-definition is now so deeply linked with the woman.
“Who am I?”
“The husband of this lady.”
“Who am I?”
“The father of these kids.”
He simply cannot fly if those in his life decide to act as dead weights, same with the case of woman. So that’s the best thing to happen. Both have to go together. See, I told you now we would be moving into troubled waters. And if it sometimes happens — it does happen sometimes — that the man is prepared to fly, but the woman is stubborn, she is not prepared to fly, then the man will actually have to give her up and vice-versa.
If you think that you can remain in the same environment – and your partner, your spouse determines to a great extent, the environment in which you live, especially in India – if you decide to live in the same environment then even inner change will be obstructed, you will be suffocated. You are expanding; you cannot be wearing the same chains that you have been wearing since so long. So, these two must go together – man and woman.
Those who are talking of removing aggression from men, for example, those who talk of reduction of nuclear forces of the world, or those who talk of eliminating rape, or those who talk of controlling the gun culture like in U.S will have to look at how this whole thing is related even to women. Though, it may be a problem that looks specific to men, but it has deep linkages with the women, around the men. And unless, these linkages are understood and acted upon, the problem will remain. Similarly, the problems that are usually taken as specific to women cannot be treated unless the men folks in the life of women change. So, the other end of the duality has to be addressed.
For example, we talk of women often as underachievers. Even women come and complain that we know that there is more jealousy and pettiness over small matters in us compared to out male counterparts, and such things. Though these are considered as less serious problems compared to the buildup of a nuclear arsenal, right? If a woman comes and says that, “I feel petty and possessive.”, that is usually not taken as a problem as compared to the production of uranium and plutonium, but I think it is. It surely is. The pettiness in women and ten thousand nuclear weapon that the world has stored today and is building more, they are inseparably linked. And they have to addressed together.
Q: When you were talking of that the man wants to fly but the woman doesn’t want to or the woman doesn’t want to. What don’t they? Have they come to enjoy this subjugation in a different way. Is there a perversion of the way that has come about?
AP: You see we all want the same thing. Why does one move to drugs?
Q: Seeking excitement…
AP: And it is so very close to spiritual bliss. So much so that you find that many of the spiritual seekers are using these methods. Opium, ganja is so very popular with the Babas. Chilam! You know of these things, right?
Because, these two are very, very close, very intimate and if you are not looking at it with attention, you will not be able to tell one from the other. And because, you get used to one which is more easily attainable – the Chilam – you then say, that why to leave this which I already have in my hands and try for something which is indescribable, unattainable? This I have with me and this gives me such a high. I am pretty sure, no spiritual joy can be more peaceful, more liberating than this.
“You talk of thoughtlessness, I become totally thoughtless.”
“You talk of sorrow-less-ness, I forget all my sorrows.”
So, when I am already getting the highest spiritual pleasure, from something as available and as cheap as a weed, then why are you trying more difficult, more tortuous, more bloody ways? You know, the elimination of ego is like giving up one part of the body after the other. Frankly, it is a bloody battle and if one has cheap substitutes available, why fight this battle? Why fight this battle? So, that’s why, often it happens that while the man or the woman would be eager to come here, the partner would become a road block.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Is the man-dominated society fearful of women?
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