Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Anima- Animus Indian view- Ardhanarishvara

What am I? Male or Female? Masculine or Feminine? Either of the two? or two in one? Gender stereotypes has been subjected to hair splitting speculation for quite a while, till Carl Jung threw light on this concept from the unconscious perspective and christened it Anima- Animus. thanks to him, he made it human understandable. A quick preview is available on wikipedia for those who find this new, click here.

Moving to the eastern view of the unconscious, a lot of importance on the same has been emphasized. To the question "What am I? The scripture replies "Tat tvamasi" it means " You are that". Throwing another question "You are that? ....what does the THAT signify?", the scriptures replies "Aham Brahmasmi" it means "You are part of the Universe". Throwing in the last question "Which part of the Universe", the scriptures replies " Antaryami" it means " the super soul within you aka the God which resides within you". The quintessential seeker bluntly wonders " The God within me? Is God a thing or a concept? Is God a "He" or a "She"? If God is within me, am I God? How can I be God? Is God working through me?"

God can create, preserve and destroy, history has stood the test of time to prove to us that we too can do the same, or rather we are doing the same. Diving into the deep waters of ones mighty unconscious, scriptures quote that the self is a beautiful subtle union of masculine and feminine qualities. This has been explained in detail through the Hindu concept of Anima- Animus which is called Ardhanarishvara in sanskrit. Ardhanarishvara is the cosmic representation of the divine parents, where in Lord Shiva is the father and Goddess Parvati is the mother. Lord Shiva occupying the right signifies the male principle, the passive force (Purusha) and Goddess Parvati on the left signifies the female principle, the active force (Prakruthi), both are inseparable, interdependent and attracted to each other. The left side is associated with feminine characteristics like intuition, and creativity where as the right side is associated with masculine characteristics like logic, valor and systematic thought. If God is residing in us, then one has to adhere to both the gender roles in one's lifetime. Natures way of reminding us is the presence of both the male and female hormones (testosterone and estrogen) in all of us.

Humans would have had to adhere to societal norms on the segregation of duties to both the sexes in the past. Shifting focus to current times, one can easily view people breaking rigid tradition where in both men and women have openly sharing or swapping gender roles. Modern fathers take interest and play an active role in raising children which was predominantly a mother's role. Women too have broken the shackles of being associated to only the kitchen to climbing corporate ladders and playing an equal and important role of the family's bread winner. To the conventional thinkers who ridicule the gender role shift, too bad this is here to stay!!

Has mankind spiritually evolved to accepting universal oneness and abandoning segregation just like Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati?Is this shift a divine evolution of mankind or a forced societal norm is yet to be ascertained?


  1. Beautifully explained Saumya. Hope the so called guardians of culture go back to roots of Hinduism, & mend their ways. Best wishes,
    Dr. Chaitanya Sridhar

  2. i hope views like yours and mine reach those fools policing the country for 'protecting the sanctity' of our land and demonising alternate sexuality.

    read my blog too if you get the time :)

  3. The Ardhanarishwara is to symbolise that the Lord is both the maker and the material. The material is no different from the maker and cannot be ever separated from him. It is the material, in the form of parvati, which adds beauty, gives form and purpose to simple existence. The maker cannot experience himself through himself and hence requires the material to take form and Shakti or Parvati is just that. She allows the maker to experience himself through her. How beautiful is that!

  4. Doode freakin awesome stuff.... i mostly dun understand all this smart shit....but this was was like that time i went to see inception....actually made me think.... excellent article.... hats off to u!!!! n btw tat guy on the right side is really distractin me!!! :P

  5. Interesting read, Saumya. I've always enjoyed Jung's concepts of Anima and Animus. It was also useful to see how his concepts parallel those of Hindu culture. It actually adds more credibility to his theories. In fact, I would say that a lot of modern-day psychological concepts can be traced back to ancient cultural teachings and beliefs. Thanks for this perspective.

    1. Thank you Richard. I am glad you found it informative :)


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