For women to become truly powerful, they need to start sourcing the archetype power inherent within them. Find out about the different archetype powers and how these powers can bring about a potent personal transformation.

Nirupama Subramanian, a leadership-development facilitator with over 25 years of experience, begins her book ‘Powerful’ by narrating her story of a woman growing up in India who often felt vulnerable on account of her womanhood. Through a series of personal and historical events, she tells the tale of how the Indian woman has turned into a willing accomplice in a system designed to repress other women, all in the name of culture and tradition. She relies heavily on tales from Indian mythology to argue that Indian women were not historically powerless, but, over time, by using a set of strategies they have been made helpless and dependent.

Efforts matter, not just results: Snehal Pradhan

What are the strategies that have made women helpless and dependent?

  • Diminish: By portraying them as ‘abla’ or weak, women have been driven to believe that they are actually vulnerable, dependent and unable to take care of themselves. It has eroded their self-worth and led to a situation where they have bought into the concept of male superiority.
  • Decorate: Women have been made to accept that their value lies in being dutiful daughters, mothers, and wives. If they can fulfil these roles satisfactorily, then they are revered as ideal women, gifted with jewels and even deified. Women are defined solely by these roles, however men are not.
  • Deter: Women are constantly deterred from indulging in any behaviour which might lead to them claiming their own identity or power. Boundaries of behaviour have been set for them and any attempt to cross them is regularly met with retribution.
  • Divide: Women are invariably set up against other women to keep them subjugated. This is the most insidious strategy because it perpetuates patriarchy and causes women themselves to keep other women repressed in the name of tradition and culture.

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What are female archetypes and how can you harness their potential?

Subramanian asserts that the only way for Indian women to exert power in the outer world or To Be Powerful is if they identified and accessed their inner power. She relies on Carl Jung’s work on archetypes and human psychology and tries to identify types of female power, especially in the context of the Indian woman. She states that archetypes are fundamental structures of the psyche, which are encoded in the human brain and can be used to deepen awareness.

With the help of examples from real-life and movies, Subramanian sets out six feminine archetypes, namely:

  • Kanya—The Good Girl
  • Apsara—The Seductive Beauty
  • Veera—The Rebel Warrior
  • Rani—The Noble Queen
  • Ma—The Nurturing Caregiver
  • Rishika—The Wise Woman

Over six chapters, she elaborates on these archetypes, setting out their qualities, relationships, limiting beliefs, power blocks, career choices, and the practices they can employ to gain power. The book invites the reader to determine their own archetype to help them resolve their power blocks.

In the final two chapters, Subramanian reveals how a person can use the awareness of their archetype to invoke their power. She believes being aware of one’s archetype, and of the energies and power blocks associated with it, can help a person navigate their life better. She asserts that becoming powerful is about a personal transformation that makes the most of your unlimited personal resources, for which awareness of your archetypes is essential.

Why should you read this book?

In this book, Nirupama Subramanian has undertaken the arduous task of tracing the journey of power of the Indian woman over the years, from the mythical era to the present day. In doing so, she has come up with a singular analysis of female archetypes, one that applies exclusively to Indian women.

The best way for the reader to put the ideas mentioned in this book to use is to identify their dominant archetype power. Once they have done so, they’ll be able to identify the other powers which are lying dormant within them. These dormant powers may cause unhappiness, personal discontent, or a professional lack of success. By using the strategies and practices, Subramanian suggests one can reconnect with their dormant powers. For example, a woman with a dominant Kanya or Apsara archetype may find that her colleagues don’t value her work or opinions. By reconnecting with her Veera power, she can learn to become assertive at the workplace. Subramanian provides several case studies of women in the book who have used archetype powers to overcome professional obstacles, which is why this book is a must-read for working women.

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