What Gender is God? Is God he or she?
The Abrahamic (Semitic) God is referred to as father and the personal pronoun for father is He.
Hebrew Bible portrays through grammar and imagery God as male.
Christian traditions, God is referred to as “the Father”, “the Son” and “the Holy Spirit” – all three of them implicitly invoke masculine sex, hence male. Jesus tells us that God is like a father and he spoke of God in the masculine gender.
In the Quran, God is most often referred to with the pronouns that are commonly translated as “Him”. Allah who calls Himself He: “He is Allah, other than whom there is no deity, Knower of the unseen and the witnessed. He is the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.”
The reason is simple – the society was highly patriarchal when the Semitic beliefs of gods were established.
However, in today’s context, to surpass gender based discrimination and uphold equality, few interpreters claim that Abrahamic Gods don’t have a gender. They substantiate the claim pointing out the differences in languages, dialects, grammar and translation. But on ground reality believers follow a male God. Probably true. But I do not know if followers of Yahweh, Jehovah and Allah would accept it. Even if they can give credence to the God as gender-less “IT”, the “She” God won’t be acceptable for most of the people who follow Semitic religions.
Church of Sweden is encouraging its clergy to use the gender-neutral term “God” instead of referring to the deity as “he” or “the Lord”. In many places, instead of the traditional “Father, son and Holy Ghost” Priests open their services by referring to the gender-neutral phrase “in the name of God and the Holy Trinity”.
Few thousand years ago before creating beliefs of Semitic God, ancient Vedas introduced an abstract concept of God.
In Vedic Sanskrit (Veda bhasha which is not the classic Sanskrit), the pronouns used to address God are “YASYA” and “TASYA” which are third person neutral pronouns – genderless! Thus, the Vedas refrain themselves from characterizing God as a Masculine or Feminine entity.
The Sanatan Dharma which is founded upon the Vedic wisdom and Upanishads don’t promote a personal God concept. The Upanishad Gods are different from later appearance of Puranic Gods.
The Upanishad concept of God is revolving around the sum-total of the universe and its energy which is called “Brahmam” (all-pervading energy). The quantum physicists call as the one energy-sea that underlies everything in the universe. The followers refer to as the impersonal oneness of all things and beings.
The concept of Brahmam is based upon facts and science. Many people mistake it as God. Brahmam sustains by natural energy or force. So, the Upanishad concept of God is very abstract. It is best explained by quantum mechanics or theories in physics rather than beliefs.
However, Hinduism (a semiticalised version of Sanatan Dharma) has nearly 33 crore (330 million) Gods (I have explained this number of Gods in many articles. So I am not buying any arguments from apologetic Hindus claiming ‘kodi’ (crore) means ‘type’ – it is NOT). There are males, females, third gender and almost all sorts of animals among Hindu Gods. You can choose whichever you want.
A Hindu believes that all deities are manifestation of the Brahmam. Since Brahmam cannot be explained, we try to see it through these deities. Brahmam doesn’t need your worship, prayer or anything. But for the sake of our mental satisfaction and to overcome fear and insecurities in life, we worship those deities.
In Bhagavatham (Sapthama Skandham), Prahlaada explains about Hari or Chakri (the forms of God referred to by Prahlaada):-
“Chakri is there in: sea, air, sky, earth, in broad day light, in darkness of nights, in all directions, in stars, planets and moons, in Omkaaram (the sound om), in all the three moorthis (Brahma, Vishnu & Maheswara) and in all the three persons belonging to all the three genders, namely- males, females, eunuchs too -then, why search for an exclusive place to find the presence of God?”
Clearly, it doesn’t indicate anything about gender of God. So, there is no gender ascribed to God. All genders belong to Hari.
When it comes to hardcore believers in Hinduism, each masculine deva of the Hindu pantheon is partnered with a feminine Devi.
There are few sects in Hinduism like Vaishnavism and Shaivism God is personified as male which says God is masculine. There are sects like Shakti tradition which conceive God as a female.
Interestingly, there has been few studies and research in the West to bring out the concept of God in common man. Most of the participants do describe god to be male, not only denoted by “He” but also represented as an old man with a full flowing white beard.
The participants said that god is wise and hence, the age reflects in white hair, due to the unconscious assumption that age signifies wisdom. And coming to the full flowing beard, god is to be feared, and that full beard adds toughness to the image. Those surveys are mostly done among followers of Abrahamic religions.
Personally, I follow and worship tri-system (village, clan and favorite) of God that has roots in Hindu Dharma – we have a village deity who is neither a man, woman or third gender. It is half human and half animal – Narasimha.
We also have a clan deity (Gotra Devatha or Kula Devatha) which is Mahalasa Narayani. It’s a female name.
I have a list of favorite deities that I worship – Krishna (male), Durga (female), Hanuman (monkey), Shivaling (rock), Ganga (river) etc. In short, since I am a Hindu I have the freedom to select any God or Goddess to worship. Even if I don’t worship any God, no issues at all. This is the privilege that I have being a Hindu.
When we understand we are part of the cosmos and we are all connected, the gender issue will disappear like all other discrimination and we will move towards a higher dimension. So let’s don’t mix up the beliefs with the ultimate reality.
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