Testicular Fortitude

I had spoken of two remarkable women in India – Begum Hazrat Mahal, and the Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Going back into history, there are two others who come to mind – Nur Jahan and Razia Sultana. “Sultana”, because she was a woman. However, she refused to answer to the title “Sultana”, and answered to the title of “Sultan”

So, lets go to 1236 AD, when Razia became ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. She was the third ruler of the Delhi Sultanate’s Slave Dynasty. The first two, Qutb ud-din-Aibak and Iltutmish were very good kings. Iltutmish, her father, thought she had better qualities instead of his sons, and she was his preferred choice to take over the kingdom.

Razia ruled from 1236 AD to 1240 AD, and died in after being defeated in battle. I won’t go into the history. She did face opposition from her nobles and ministers, for the fact of being a woman, and for entering into a relationship that they did not approve of.

A writer of the times, Minhaj Siraj had this to say of her:

Sultan Razia was a great monarch. She was wise, just and generous, a benefactor to her kingdom, a dispenser of justice, the protector of her subjects, and the leader of armies. She was endowed with all the qualities befitting a king. But, she was not of the right sex, and so in the estimation of men, all her virtues were worthless.”

Does this sound familiar? Razia Sultan lived from 1205 AD to 1240 AD. She was 35 years old when she died.

We do like to believe that we have progressed since then.

I intend to visit her grave, which is in Delhi. It is quite forgotten, but I discovered the location quite by accident. When I was talking to a chap on the street, I exclaimed, “Wow! Razia Sultan is buried here! Wow!”

His reply, “Razia Begum, you mean. Not Razia Sultan..” 

I am attaching a picture of her tomb, that I downloaded from Wikipedia

Tomb Of Raiz
Tomb Of Razia Sultan

What was Razia Sultan’s problem? It appears that her only problem is that she possessed breasts and vulva, and not testicles and a penis. This, in the eyes of the men of the time, did not qualify her to be a ruler. It was not her qualities that mattered, but the nature of her genitalia.

In today’s world, the mantra of the times is ‘diversity’, and this is measured by the number of women in management positions etc. By the way, the word ‘mantra’ as used by the Western world has no relationship to the meaning of the original word. We mean something completely different when we use the word ‘mantra’.

Anyway, back to the point – when you create quotas for women on the board – this may be a good thing, in that the intentions may be good. However, there is a reverse discrimination at work here. Women who go to such positions, while they may be good, may very well be appointed because they are women. It is, however, a numbers game. Real diversity happens when you respect those who are different. Men and women, while they complement each other, are different. This is a fact. Maybe, I shall return to this from a different perspective one day.

In my opinion, you need to create level playing fields, and let the best person win.

In India, attitudes have become fairly primitive. Women who dress well were referred to as “dented, painted women” by the son of our President, Pranab Mukherji. He also had the gall to stand for elections thereafter, and thankfully lost.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, when the tale of the gang-rape in Badaun was mentioned to him, laughed and said, “Boys will be boys.”

We often say that we have come a long way from the days of 1235 AD.

Have we?


  1. Antonin artaud write a good book Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumara. In the beginning there was no dualism (male vs female) and in the shaman way there was still not. Dualism is wrong and the first dualism is male female eliminate this and we will live in perfection …. long life to Razia the sultan

    1. Well, you got me there, in a sense.. I am going to write a post on Shiva in his ArdhaNari aspect – half male, half female

  2. You probably know it – The book of woman (Osho). (My favorite). Males and females are different. Thanks God on that!
    To me, there is very difficukt to understand : But, she was not of the right sex, and so in the estimation of men, all her virtues were worthless.”….
    But…AT NOW, I think the feminine energy will save the world…not masculine. If will…

  3. Well, clearly there seems to be some kind of idea behind the fact that two sexes exist. And yes, sometimes there exists even the exception to the rule that the one or other woman may be born into circumstances to permit even chiefdom or kingship. IMHO such occurrences always have certain lessons to teach, though fore sure not a one of perceived and/or imagined “feminism”.

      1. Yes, of course. Its just that contemporary folk tends to know hardly anything about respect and is of the opinion anything female has to be seen through the lens of that post WW2 ideology of feminism alone. 🙂

  4. To be honest, I don’t think humans have ‘evolved’ as much as we’d like to believe. Yes, there are many positive steps forward, but it doesn’t take much for all of us to revert to ‘primitive’ thinking & behaviours. It just seems like a never-ending cycle…

  5. I think respecting differences is huge. Problem is people have to see the differences and believe those differences are a good thing. Most of the time men like to make jokes about women’s emotions or our hormones. One only has to look at magazines on a store rack to realize that not much has changed about men’s objectification of women. Some of that is ok…I mean some women want that…to be noticed and appreciated just for their looks and that’s fine by me. But when we use that to evaluate the population of women as a whole or even to interject it into whether a woman can be president, then I have a problem. Thanks for this post. I enjoy the history and your writing.

    1. Thanks….
      By the way, we seem to move in step. I noticed you are on Fine Art America. So am I.. But, I must be more active on it

      1. You’re welcome! I just started getting involved with FAA a week ago. I still have a bit of photos to link there and then I’ll be caught up. See you around the net! Seems I see the same people over and over and over again LOL.

  6. A terrific post, Rajiv. I am all for changing the field of thinking to “best person for the job” rather than filling quotas in order to be politically correct. I fear we’re a ways off.
    And now you’ve got my curiosity piqued. Shed some light on the word mantra? I’d love to know.

    1. Well, a mantra is a bit difficult to define. However, let me give an example. It is a short phrase or prayer that is supposed to have powerful vibrations, and which help you along the meditational path. Some, like the phrase “Om Namah Shivay” are ideally repeated (generally in the mind) with the hands in the chin mudra. Others, like the Gayatri Mantra, don’t require any mudra. However, saying a mantra with hands in a mudra is always more powerful. There are many kinds of mudra, incidentally. The breath should be calm, regulated, deep.

      A mantra can be spoken alone, quietly, or in a group. It can be likened to a short prayer at times, at others, a guide in meditation.

      We also use the words avtaar (Avataar in the Western spelling) and guru differently.

      1. Okay, so I’m somewhat relieved that I’ve not been led astray in my use of the word, as your eloquent description above is accurate to how I understand and use it. So how do you see it misused and misinterpreted?

      2. Well, it is most often used in a temporal sense, like the “mantra” for success, or the latest “mantra” in business….

        We never use it like that. However, we will use it, occasionally, somewhat sardonically. When someone keeps repeating themselves, we will tell them not to assume that their repetition is a mantra that will bring them enlightenment. All this, of course, when we speak in our native language.

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