We have travelled to the moon and back. We have probed various planets. And yet, the creation of the universe and the origin of life on earth remain a mystery to us. Naturally, several philosophers have put forth theories about this. Socrates, the 4th century BC Greek philosopher, believed that during primordial times, there was only pure universal energy. It was only much later that the physical universe came into being.
In fact, many Greek alchemists believed the universe is a living entity with an intelligent soul. They called it Anima Mundi. They further theorised that over several incarnations, this soul divided, physically manifesting as polar opposites–masculine and feminine–only to reunite again.
Vedic scholars call this universal soul Purusha, which is represented by Lord Shiva who symbolises masculinity. Physical manifestation of this universal soul is Prakriti (nature), which is represented by Goddess Shakti, Shiva’s consort. She symbolises feminine energy. The scholars believe the fusion of masculine and feminine energies is necessary for creation, and so, the two forces always co-exist. This fusion is depicted by the union of Shiva and Shakti, as the androgynous deity Ardhanareshwara.
Even the Chinese concept of Yin-Yang elucidates the duality of the masculine and feminine in the universe. According to Taoism, the light half–Yang–represents light, sun, and day. It is masculine–active, analytical, dominant and aggressive. The dark half is Yin, which represents darkness, moon, and night. It is feminine–passive, intuitive and submissive. While the two may not always be in harmony, they nevertheless co-exist.
Interestingly, this duality is not limited to the cosmos. Within each of its creation too is an inherent energy duality. After all, every individual on this earth harbours a masculine and a feminine side. According to Swami Vivekananda’s Patanjali Yoga Sutra, within every human body is the ida and the pingala. These are energy channels or nadi which represent the basic duality of existence. Ida and pingala stand for masculine and feminine, logic and intuition, respectively.
The central nadi along the spine, sushumna, is the pathway that helps unify and transcend the duality of masculine and feminine energies.
Ida (the left channel) is white, feminine and cold. It represents the moon. On the other hand, pingala (the right channel) is red, masculine and hot. It represents the sun. While we are often identified by gender, ida and pingala have got nothing to do with it. A man may have a pronounced ida (feminine energy) and a woman, an evident pingala (masculine energy).
Balancing the two energies can help us understand deeper dimensions of life, Vivekananda’s Patanjali Yoga Sutra observes. We might be surprised to know that within each of us is an energy route to harmonise this duality. The central nadi along the spine, sushumna, is the pathway that helps unify and transcend the duality of masculine and feminine energies. In fact, mystic Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, in his blog The Three Fundamental Nadis, muses, “When our experience of life transcends beyond the physical nature, how does it matter whether we are man or woman.”
According to Sadhguru, in most people, ida and pingala are activated, while the sushumna remains dormant. This dormancy creates the imbalance between the two opposing energies. And so, inadvertently, individuals end up creating masculine or feminine societies. In the Shiva Trilogy novels by writer Amish Tripathi, Suryavanshi is an efficient, competitive and organised kingdom. This society is masculine. On the other hand, Chandravanshi is an open-minded, creative, and fluid kingdom. This society is feminine. The two, being different, are often at war.
It holds true of the real world too, Amish Tripathi tells Soulveda in a conversation about energy duality. He says, “India and the US largely symbolise the Chandravanshi or the feminine way of life. On the other hand, Japan would, in substantial measure, be a Suryavanshi or the masculine way of life that has stringent laws to abide by.” Tripathi further explains that whenever any society becomes too masculine or feminine, unrest is bound to rise. While excessive femininity in society could lead to disorderliness and decadence, a dominant masculinity could cause rigidity and fanaticism.
Clearly, an equilibrium of these opposing energies is much needed not only within individuals, but also in society. After all, there is uniqueness in both the masculine and feminine energies, waiting to be embraced. Perhaps, we need to channelise the feminine creativity with masculine discipline. That way, we may learn to look beyond gender and find a solution to end the battle of the sexes.