Talk: Social Justice and Gender Equality in Ancient India

Sumedha Verma Ojha
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Social Justice: The Rig Veda, the millennia old sacred book of India written in Sanskrit starts with a call to worship old and new gods, venerating all. The lynchpin of Indic civilisation is openness and inclusivity. From time immemorial India has stood at the centre of the trade routes of the world. The monsoon winds or Mausam made trade between the Indian sub-continent, the Gulf, Africa, and Europe. India was multilingual, multiethnic and multi religious, a vibrant and complex society which assimilated ideas and sent them out. It has evolved a unique brand of assimilation and harmony.

Gender Equality: The Indian idea of the place of men and women in the cosmos comes from the imagery of the Ardhnarishwara, Shiva and Shakti imagined as half man and half woman in the same body. Women are shakti, power, creation. The Vak Suktam from the Rig Veda imagines the cosmos as feminine; the Sri Suktam from its Khilani is the source of the conceptualisation of the Divine Feminine.

Sumedha Verma Ojha is an Indian Revenue Service Officer of 1992 batch with degrees in Economics and Sociology from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, and the Delhi School of Economics. She lives in Geneva and consults with the UN and its specialized agencies such as the International Labour Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Global Fund for TB, AIDS, and Malaria etc. She is a Sanskrit researcher who translates Sanskrit and Prakrit works into English (Valmiki Ramayana Tr. In 2016), writes popular history books and historical fiction ( Urnabhih series) and speaks in international fora across the world on Ancient India and its contemporary relevance.