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In search of my feminine… By Manosh Sputnique Sengupta

Embodiment of Shiva Parvati as a single entity

Embodiment of Shiva Parvati as a single entity

In search of my feminine…   a key strategic management process

-: Manosh  ‘Sputnique’ Sengupta 

“A woman is not to be judged merely by her usefulness, but by her delightfulness.

Therefore, she takes infinite care in expressing, not her profession, but her personality.”

-: Rabindranath Tagore

What better way to start a discussion on ‘women’ than with these words of Tagore… perhaps the most androgynous man of all time. Having grown up on a dose of Tagore – a de-rigueur for any Bong – I discovered that if any wo/man has understood the essence of the feminine, it is he. Tagore’s literature helped me discover this ‘delightfulness’.

Not being a ‘pundit’ on the subjects of either empowerment or women, I am unable to build this discussion on data or socio-political correctness. Instead, I confess to be an unabashed admirer, a connoisseur of this ‘woman’ species, hence my submissions are driven by my personal beliefs on how critical this species is in my life. My strong fascination for the woman-kind has drawn snickers and ridicule, throughout my life. I accept it, as the joy of submitting to this delightfullness far outweighs the ‘correctness’ factor.

 Let’s start with some spiritual mythology – Shiva & Shakti, two of the most revered ‘Gods’ of the Hindu pantheon, is really (once you cut-off the religious mumbo jumbo) a symbolic representation of the completeness of our universe. It basically underlines the symbiotic nature of two, otherwise seemingly, opposites to complete the whole. 

Shiva-Parvati are 2 forms of energy, consciousness & strength/shakti. We need to understand the value of one in conjunction with the other. Strength without Consciousness is a wasted effort; a blind rage that makes us rebel without any cause. Consciousness without Strength is pure intellectual masturbation. 

The Hindu philosophy abounds with such metaphors: Vishnu (Preservation) & Lakshmi (Prosperity); Brahma (Creator) & Saraswati (Knowledge). Can you see the link? Creation without knowledge? Preservation / life without prosperity? Savvy??

Similar concepts are found across the world: 

  • the more familiar ones being “Yin and Yang”; the Star of David (similar to the Shiva-Shakti hexagram)
  • Infinity (also eternity), in ancient India and Tibet, represents perfection, dualism, and unity between male and female, suggesting equilibrium or the balance of various forces.
  • Sun (male) and Moon (female), joined as one, is a universal pagan expression of the merging of opposites, symbolising unity in diversity, compromise instead of conflict, and conformity to a new consciousness where all is one. 

Such symbolisms underscore the importance of the male-female union (not just sexual) to create harmony. Polar opposites, or seemingly contrary forces, are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, giving rise to each other in turn. 

Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other… we ‘men’ better take note. If, for no other reason but the survival of the ‘stronger’ sex !!

The quest of a human life is to attain self-actualization (Maslow). This journey is achieved through the eco-system of our life… the way we live, work, play. However, it would be foolhardy to believe that we can trudge this path alone, without the need for partners. Irrespective of spheres – work or personal – we need soul-mates to give our vision a fulfillment. It is this fulfillment that completes our sense of self-identity… who we are… what we represent… why we exist.

What we need to realize, at this juncture, is that this partner / soul-mate is our opposite. Not only in demographic sense but also in the, skills; capabilities; competencies and other qualities s/he brings in. Speaking from a male perspective, my search for this mate means coming to terms with my feminine side… fulfilled, in many ways, through the Partners of my life’s journey. This may happen through a male-male or male-female union, depending upon individual choices.

In a way, what I’ve touched upon is a key strategic management process – team building. The essence of a crack team is built on symbiotic forces, where each member brings a different skill-set to compliment others. Whether corporate, sports or show-biz, this remains the same. A cricket team with only bowlers (that too spinners) serves no purpose. It creates conflict. 

My workshop-lectures on brand management, titled ‘Labor Pains… the art of brand parenting’, espouses the concept of ‘parenting’ as opposed to’ management’, where the brand-father plays the role of making the strategic decisions like goal-setting, budget availability and milestones. The brand-mother, on the other hand, is the nurturer, who, on a day-to-day basis rears the brand, nourishing it with the values and care that will make it a star one day. 

Let me caution against taking this in a literal manner, thereby giving it a sexist twist. In today’s world, where role reversals are a way of life, it could be the male who plays the role of the mother. The purpose of this metaphor is to highlight the importance of the feminine in an endeavor that is as critical as rearing our own child.

Interestingly, Indian women during the Vedic era enjoyed position of equality with men. The Atharva Veda, in fact, highlights the importance of woman education. This changed during the Middle era, when the Abrahamic system of morals started influencing our way of thinking. Bringing with it, drastic social changes, leading to curtailment of woman’s freedom

Having shown my cards on what I believe about the role of feminine in my life, I draw this to a conclusion by making 3 points:

  • Celebrate differences not discriminate: imagine a world where everything was a mirror of you… how boring! Differences create variety and we need to understand their value. It’s not about accepting what one does not agree with but allowing it to have its own space. To those with prejudiced minds, hope you realize that to recognize white, you need the black – not in a prejudicial way but as a contrast. 
  • Empowered partners create strong unions: we all wish to be on the winning side. How can this be achieved without a winning team? If I realize the need of the ‘woman’ as a strategic partner in my life’s team, why on earth would I want a partner who is weak and not empowered? An empowered team is the foundation for a successful leader. So, even if one were to see this issue from a chauvinistic male perspective, it serves us well to root for woman empowerment. 
  • Belief and self-confidence: it takes a man, a real man, to accept the above. If I am ‘khokla’ from within and unsure about my own value, then crab mentality is my only recourse. When we doubt our self value, doubts about others creep in. It takes a man who is assured about his masculinity to accept the feminine without any threat. 

As I conclude, the lyrics of this wonderful piece from a classic “Emerson Lake and Palmer” ELP number: To be Closer to Believing, rings in my mind…

“… but of course you know I love you, or what else am I here for.
Only you not face-to-face but side-by-side for evermore.
And I need to be here with you, for without you what am I
Just another fool out searching…
…I need me. You need you
We want us”

-: To be Closer to Believing: ELP

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