Even today in India there are people who believe that there is no need for a woman to engage in meditation because it is impossible for a woman to attain liberation.
My friend, Saguna Hejmadi (a cousin of Papa Ramdas of Anandashram), was once at the Anandamayi Ashram in New Delhi (Kalkaji). Somehow an ignoramus standing nearby learned that she was a disciple of Ma Anandamayi and did a great deal of meditation. “Why are you wasting your time with all that?” he asked, “Women cannot attain liberation–only men can attain liberation.”
Foolishly she began arguing with the the man, who bolstered his assertions with many scriptural quotes. In the midst of this altercation, Anandamayi Ma came walking through the room.
“MA!” called out Saguna, “Is it true that women cannot attain liberation?” Still walking on, Ma nodded and answered: “That is true. Women cannot attain liberation.”
Saguna stood there completely thunderstruck as the man chuckled and chortled at his “triumph.” After standing and stewing for nearly half an hour, Saguna saw Ma returning. Ma came right up to her, said: “And men do not attain liberation either!” and walked on and out of the room.
Then Saguna understood: only those who transcend body identity and live identified with the spirit-Self can attain liberation.
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