But those three women: Mary Magdalene, and she was a prostitute, but listening to Jesus she went through a transformation; she dropped her profession, and she was one of the most beautiful women in Judea – Jesus’ mother, Mary, and another woman follower, Martha: they remained near the cross. They showed more courage. And those three women were the ones who brought the body down from the cross – all those twelve apostles were hiding, they were not coming out.
But still Christianity has not given any recognition, any respect, even to Jesus’ mother. But Christianity is not at fault – even Jesus himself was not respectful.
One day he was speaking in a marketplace, a small crowd surrounding him, and his mother, who had not seen him for years, came to see him. And somebody shouted to Jesus, “Your mother is standing outside the crowd. She wants to see you.”
And Jesus misbehaved. He said, “Tell that woman….” Now, it is ugly. He could not even call her “mother.” “Tell that woman that I don’t have any mother, I don’t have any father here on the earth. My father is in heaven.”
The same is true about other religions. Man has been preventing women from any spiritual growth.
It is a miracle that even in spite of all this suppression and slavery a few women became enlightened. They are proof that Mahavira is wrong, that Buddha is wrong, that Jesus is wrong. For you, I have been looking for the names of all the enlightened women. There are not many, only five in the whole history of man.
One is Gargi. Five thousand years ago, when the Upanishads were being written, it was the childhood of mankind, and man had not yet become so brutal against women. The emperor of the nation used to call, every year, all the wise people for a contest. He was himself very philosophically-minded. In fact, no enlightened person would have gone to those contests; they were childish, although there was great reward. And it happened one year that the emperor declared that he would give one thousand cows, with their horns covered with pure gold and studded with diamonds to the person who won the contest.
Yagnavalkya was one of the most famous and learned men of those days. And he was so confident of his victory that when he came to the campus where the debate was being arranged, he looked at the cows. Those one thousand cows with gold-covered horns, studded with diamonds, were looking really beautiful in the sunlight. He told his disciples, “You take these cows to our place. It is unnecessary for the poor cows to stand in the hot sun.”
The disciples said, “But first you have to win.”
He said, “That I will take care of.”
Even the emperor could not prevent him. And all those thousands of wise men who had gathered – they could not prevent him. They all knew that it was impossible to beat him in argument. His disciples took away the cows.