WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
AND
HINDU SOCIO-SPIRITUAL TRADITIONS

Concept

Historically, women’s extensive contribution to humankind has remained substantial. The world’s histories reveal that women’s achievements in social, political, economic, cultural, and religious spheres necessitate a comprehensive study. An endeavor to limelight the under-studied facets of the society has led to an emergence of exciting themes in the field of women’s studies. One of such themes is tracing and exploring the lives, biographies, and contributions of women in the socio-spiritual tradition of India. Recent scholarship on women’s studies have demonstrated that their contributions have been significant in shaping the social and spiritual traditions of India. In this thread, the conference aims to unearth the hidden facts and unexplored narratives of women’s contribution to society and spirituality from different archival and ethnographic sources as well as enhance the existing scholarship on women empowerment.

For Indian history, one of the fundamental contributions of women’s studies has been highlighting the unexplored histories of women from the ancient times to the post-Independence period. Intellectual and religious figures of the Upanishadic period like Gargi and Maitreyi reveal that the representation and contribution of women is intertwined with India’s spiritual and cultural traditions. Similarly, women like Jabala and Amrapali highlight the inextricable link Indian women have shared with India’s culture, traditions, and beliefs. The present conference aims to reinvoke such narratives of the past and thus, yield opportunities to rethink and re-examine the relationship between the socio-spiritual traditions of India and the history of Indian women. 

At the same time, Indian political history conclusively shows the empowerment of women attained in the political arena. The 4-5th century Gupta princess and Vakataka Queen Prabhavatigupta’s political sway forms a hallmark in the Indian political history of women. The power and prowess of Kakatiya female ruler, Rudramadevi, and Didda, the ruler of Kashmir, effectively portray the strength women exerted in the political field. Similarly, the women of Mughal India played a crucial role in exerting their agency and influence in the fields of diplomacy, warfare, politics, architecture and literature. Even in the modern period, women like Ahalya Bai Holkar and Rani Lakshmibai have voiced their will and power to bring a change in not only the political history of India but also its social and cultural history. The present conference intends to touch upon these themes and introduce them in the new light of India’s socio-spiritual resilience.

The emergence of the Swaminarayan tradition in the early-19th century Gujarat is a critical phenomenon in the history of India. Through its spiritual principles, practices and approach, the Swaminarayan tradition introduced the outlook of achieving and realizing one’s inner potential irrespective of one’s caste, gender, and religion. However, the process of transformation the Swaminarayan tradition has materialized is much more layered and contextual than it is generally understood to be. In the early 19th century, the women’s situation generally throughout the world and particularly in the western India was largely unfavorable. Inhumane practices like Sati (widow self-immolation) which had become prevalent in Indian society since the medieval times became more entrenched now than ever. In such dire and critical circumstances, Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830), the founder of the Swaminarayan tradition, ensured honorable living and religious participation for women. Bhagwan Swaminarayan initially endeavored arduously to awaken people about the immorality and impracticality of inhumane practices like Sati, Dudhpiti (female infanticide), and female feticide. After enabling the contemporary society to stand against and stop these practices, Bhagwan Swaminarayan encouraged women to pursue education and widows to accept remarriage. The fundamental contribution of Bhagwan Swaminarayan was to help women like Jivuba, Laduba, Kushalkuvarba, Jhamkuba and several others across caste and class distinctions achieve self-transformation and self-realization through spirituality. By bringing a holistic change across the spheres of culture, society, religion, and spirituality, Bhagwan Swaminarayan strove to transcend the parochial boundaries of identity. 

Furthering women empowerment through their socio-spiritual welfare, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj (1921-2016) – the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan – accelerated women’s activities in the late-20th and early-21st century. By creating a women’s wing in BAPS, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj provided an independent platform for women to perform and execute women’s conventions, assemblies, conferences, cultural programs, and other social welfare activities. As a result, thousands of women have attained a prominent place in socio-economic, environmental, and cultural spheres across the world. His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s efforts towards women empowerment were not only path-breaking, but they were comprehensive as well. Hence, his efforts touched and transformed women from all walks of life and hailing from diverse social backgrounds. Be it educational activities through girls’ schools and hostels or healthcare facilities, be it dowry prohibition campaign or de-addiction drive, be it personality development programs for young women or relief measures for tribal, rural, and urban women, millions of women have realized and redefined women empowerment by participating in these initiatives of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. 

In commemoration of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, a grand centennial celebration has been organized. The present conference on ‘Women Empowerment and Hindu Socio-spiritual Traditions’ has been organized on the occasion of his centennial celebration to further the vision of women empowerment. By providing a platform to fulfill the cause of women empowerment through socio-spiritual practices, the conference aims to further enrich the scholarship on women’s studies.

About SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai
NAAC Reaccredited with A grade

SNDT Women’s University is the first Women’s university in India as well as in South-East Asia. The University was founded by Maharshi Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve in 1916 for the noble cause of Women’s Education. SNDT Women’s University is committed to the cause of women’s empowerment by providing access to education, particularly higher education, through relevant courses in the formal and non-formal streams. The university is committed to meeting changing socio-economic needs, promoting human values and purposeful social responsibility, and facilitating excellence with “Quality in every Activity” through vocational and professional courses for women. The motto of the university is “An enlightened woman is a source of infinite strength.” SNDT Women’s University stands 32nd amongst multi-disciplinary universities in India.

About BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute, New Delhi

The BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute at Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi, was inaugurated by Pramukh Swami Maharaj on Sunday, 4 July 2010 in the presence of leading scholars of India.

Since its inauguration, the Institute has become a home of innovative research and collaborative study. Its considerable growth in membership, the expansion of its research facilities, and increased affiliation with other internationally acclaimed institutes pay testament to the commitment of its members and research faculty. The Institute’s outlook toward developing a multi-disciplinary approach to academic study and toward recognizing cultural beliefs and practices on their own terms has built an interface between modern academia and traditional modes of scholarship. In doing so, the Institute allows for the possibility to amalgamate contemporary, valuable systems of transmission along with an intellectually rigorous traditional scholarship.

BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute strives to encourage interdisciplinary study of various cultures, religions, philosophies, languages, and texts to promote a better understanding through comprehensive educational, research-oriented, and publication programs.

Patrons

Ela Bhatt, Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad
Professor Ujwala Chakradeo, Vice Chancellor, Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University, Mumbai
Professor Neerja A. Gupta, Vice Chancellor, Sanchi University of Buddhist – Indic Studies, Sanchi
Professor Hemixa Rao, Former Vice Chancellor, Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University, Patan

Organizing Secretary

Professor Ruby Ojha, Pro Vice Chancellor, Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University, Mumbai
Dr. Jyotindra Dave, Director, BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute, New Delhi

Coordinators

Dr. Anand Acharya, Associate Professor, Gujarat Arts and Commerce College, Ahmedabad
Dr. Jayesh Mandanka, Assistant Professor, Smt. L and C Mehta Arts College, Ahmedabad
Professor Daksha Dave Smt. M M P Shah Women’s College of Arts and Commerce, Matunga, Mumbai

Call for Papers and Guidelines for Paper Submission

The abstract of the conference paper should be less than 300 words. The full paper should not be more than 5000 words. The submission should be in Microsoft Word only. It should be written in A4 single format with 1.5 line spacing. It should be written in Unicode font, in font size 12. Kindly keep the layout of the text as simple as possible.

Please follow the below guidelines:

  1. The paper may be presented either in English, Hindi, or Gujarati.
  2. The paper should be original, unpublished, and plagiarism-free.
  3. The abstract should possess the author’s name, designation, affiliation, email-id, mobile number, and address.
  4. Reference style of the paper should be Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.
  5. The abstract and the full paper should be submitted to [email protected]
  6. For queries, please contact at +91 9998999545, +91 9998999331

Paper Submission email: [email protected]

Last date for Acceptance Form & Abstract Submission: 25 October 2022

Last date for Research Paper Submission: 10 December 2022

Paper Publication Details

A select number of papers presented at the conference will be published in the form of an edited volume. Selection of the papers will solely depend upon the critical evaluation by the peer editing, reviewing, and publishing committee.

सामाजिक संचार-माध्यमों में संस्कृत

सत्संगदीक्षा शास्त्र केवल स्वामिनारायण संप्रदाय में ही नही, किन्तु शैक्षणिक विश्वमें भी बहूत आदर एवं सम्मान के साथ प्रसिद्ध हो रहा है । सामाजिक संचार-माध्यमों में संस्कृत

સત્સંગદીક્ષા આંતરરાષ્ટ્રીય સંગોષ્ઠી

સમગ્ર વિશ્વને અને પ્રત્યેક વ્યક્તિને પરમ શાંતિ અને પરમસુખ પ્રાપ્ત કરવાની સંજીવની મહંતસ્વામી મહારાજે સત્સંગદીક્ષા ગ્રંથરૂપે આપી. ૩૧૫ શ્લોકમાં નિબદ્ધ આ સત્સંગદીક્ષા ગ્રંથ એ ૧૧૦૦ થી વધારે વિષયોને સમાવે છે.

सत्संगदीक्षा जो किताब है उसके बारे में जब मैं पढ रहा था तो मैंने दो पेरामिटर से उसको जाँच किया है। एक तो श्रुति प्रामाणिकता, वैदिकता। और दूसरा है इस समय में इसका कितना प्रासंगिकता है। ये दोनों पेरामिटर्स के साथ जब हम सत्संगदीक्षा को जोडेंगे तो हमें लगता है सत्संगदीक्षा अत्यंत प्रासंगिक है, श्रुतिगर्भित है, अत्यंत वैदिक है और शास्त्र संमत है।

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Swamishri engrossed in puja

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