Thinking of issues around Gender Inclusion, reminded me of the symbolic figure of Ardhnarishvara- a symbol of Lord Shiva and Shakti representing coming together of male and female energies as one. I thought of sharing my tryst with Shiva – the Lord of all times and how I relate it to the world around me.
As a child, I was fascinated by the manifestation of Lord Shiva. The aloof, meditative, unconcerned, half naked Lord with snake, moon, skulls and lion cloth. While Krishna and Ram have so many stories and conversations to their account, that you think, you know them in person, while Lord Shiva is non-communicative and yet easily pleased (Ashutosh: one who gets pleased easily) as believed. I found him full of contradictions and yet he charmed me with his mysticism and maginificense.
And then came the abstract Ardhnarishvara. This was beyond me and as a child I did not make an attempt to dive deep in order to make sense of it.
However, a moment of flash this morning inspired me to write this piece. I have been working on some projects that focus on the various themes of International Women’s Day 2017 – Challenge Gender Bias, Forge Advancement, Celebrate Success, Stop Gender Violence, Drive Professional Development. So, Gender Parity – (equal representation and contribution of men and women to every dimension of life whether public or private) has been top of mind theme for me lately and in that came Shivratri.
Once again I stumbled upon the image of Ardhnarishvar. Shiva – Shakti, Half Man, Half Woman! And I thought isn’t this what we are trying to achieve? – an equal representation of men and women, 50:50 gender ratio in organizations!!
And despite the best efforts world over we are nowhere close. In fact, we may see light at the end of the tunnel in 2186. Longest tunnel in history. The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. It will take us 170 years to reach 50:50 representation. Half Men and Half Women in organizations!
So, I looked at the parallels from Ardhnarishvar to Corporate World and strangely in my mind’s eye I found some. Hopefully, they will resonate with you too.
- Ardhanarishvararepresents the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe (Purusha and Prakriti) and illustrates how Shakti, the female principle of God, is inseparable from or the same as, Shiva, the male principle of God.
- Corporate connect: In a professional work environment, this manifests as the representation of men and women in the organization. It also depicts how men and women work together balancing energies that they bring forward to collaborate and take business forward.
- Ardhnarishvara infers: The universe had risen from the union of sexes.
- Corporate connect: The rise of an organization is driven by bringing in male and female perspectives, approaches and styles to drive innovation in business, build high performing teams and inspire a culture to make an inclusive organization that taps the potential of diverse talents.
- Ardhnarishvara conveys: The interdependence of Shiva on his power (Shakti) as embodied in Parvati. The separation of two results in Shiva’s Tandav leading to an out of balance catastrophic nature.
- Corporate connect: This depicts that men and women are naturally interdependent. An imbalance in gender representation will lead to imbalance of energies. The imbalance leads to aggression, conflicts, myopic decision making, big losses, psychologically unsafe workplaces and the list continues.
- Ardhnarishvara: Across cultures, hermaphrodite figures like Ardhanarishvara have traditionally been associated with fertility and abundant growth.
- Corporate connect: The gender inclusion and gender parity in business leads to an environment which is highly productive and growth oriented. Diverse perspectives are valued not envied or feared creating employer of choice organisations.
- Ardhnareeshwara: Often, the right half of Ardhanarishvara is male and the left is female. The left side is the location of the heart and is associated with feminine characteristics like intuition and creativity, while the right isassociated with the brain and masculine traits – logic, valor and systematic thought
- Corporate Connect: In a corporate environment, its symbolic and manifests as the energies we need at workplace to sustain profitable business. It’s important to state that women are capable of showing valor and men emotional intelligence. I see the traits as gender agnostic. It’s about balancing the energies at workplace. If we just demonstrated logic, analytical thinking and bravado, we cannot create an inclusive work environment that fosters creativity, innovation and emotional intelligence. These energies when represented equally and synergistically create world class businesses that lead to unprecedented growth and raise the bar to next level evolution for mankind.
My bows to Ardhnarishvar that inspires Gender Parity! And a better world for you and me!