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Radhastami and Today's Political Climate

By: on Sept. 6, 2008

America is considered a progressive country, but unlike a number of other nations, thus far it has never elected a woman as head of state. Of course, there are many contributing social factors, but one of them should be considered: more than 90% of Americans profess to believe in God. Is it possible that the numerical disparity between males and females in positions of political leadership in the U.S. has been influenced by the major religious traditions, which portray the Supreme Being in predominantly masculine terms? Because Judeo-Christian scriptures depict a Divine Father holding the highest spiritual office, are we biased in our subconscious to assume that political governance in this world is likewise an inherently masculine phenomenon that is best kept in the hands of men?

While we entertain that question, it should be pointed out that it is not true that all religious traditions exclusively view God as masculine. Just as many find it refreshing that this year in America two prominent women candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton, who narrowly missed securing her party’s nomination for the presidency, and Republican Sarah Palin, who is running for the vice-presidency, have entered the political arena, many are energized by statements such as the following, which appear in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, a scripture followed by millions of Gaudiya Vaishnavas, a monotheistic branch of Hinduism:

“Radha, the Divine Female, is the full power, while Krishna, the Divine Male, is the full possessor of the power. They are not different.”

In other words, God has both a masculine and feminine aspect, and this makes sense if we consider the Western religious concept that we are "made in the image of God." Since both males and females exist everywhere in this world, it is logical to assume that our Divine source or creator has both masculine and feminine aspects or qualities. And at the same time, it would be illogical to speculate that God is only masculine or is limited in that way.

Anyway, while patriarchal or chauvinistic influences make themselves known to some degree in every world religion, including Hinduism, it is at least philosophically and theologically significant that in the Gaudiya or Chaitanya Vaishnava tradition, an aspect of God that is Feminine is recognized and honored.

This weekend in India as well as in Hare Krishna temples and many Hindu temples around the world, the divine birthday or appearance day of Sri Radha, the feminine divinity who appears as the consort of Sri Krishna, will be celebrated known as Radhastami.

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