I recently enjoyed reading The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.The book not only tells the Ramayana from Sita’s perspective, it also brings into the light certain neglected characters from the epic. The woman characters are well fleshed out and we can connect to the emotions and motivations of Kaushalya, Mandodari and Urmila who existed only as footnotes in the story of the Great Hero.
As someone who works in the domain of leadership and is trying to enable women to become successful leaders in their work and life, I realised that the women of the epic portray unique characteristics seen in different female leaders. There is little difference in the effectiveness of great leaders whether female or male but women do possess different energies, mindsets and motivations as compared to men. Jung explored the different male and female archetypes in his work on psychoanalysis. Most of the examples we have of these archetypes come from Western myths and philosophies.
Our literature and mythology also offers us such varied richness. As I explored the female archetypes of the Ramayana, I saw them not through the strict lens of psychoanalysis but more as a curious traveller drawing connections and lessons from what I have seen and read.
So here are the four female archetypes from one of the greatest stories ever told in India, an epic which exerts its influence and directs our actions even today.
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