Women Can Learn The Vedas Affirm Vedas


The topic, “Can  women learn The Vedas”, the Scriptures of  the Hindus is very sensitive authentic material on this subject is scarce.

One group maintains that women are barred from Learning the Vedas.

Their arguments and references.

They quote the Smritis which do not carry the weight and authority of The Vedas.

There are clear injunctions in various smR^itis and purANas that prohibit women from learning the veda.

The most famous of these that is quoted by most AchAryas comes from bhagavAn bAdarAyaNa:(Bhadarayana)

 

strIshUdradvijabandhUnAM tray Ina shrutigocharA |
karmashreyasi mUDhAnAM shreya evaM bhavediha |
iti bhAratamAkhyAnaM kR^ipayA muninA kR^itam ||

“stri-sudra-dvijabandhunam trayi na sruti-gocara. Because woman class and
less intelligent class, and these unworthy sons of the brahmanas and
ksatriyas, they will not be able to understand the original Vedic
literature,

Kanchi Peryavar says thus,

ஸ்த்ரீகள் படிக்க வேண்டியதைச் சொன்னமாதிரியே படிக்க வேண்டாததையும் சொல்லவேண்டும். இப்படி நான் சொன்னால் கன்னா பின்னா புஸ்தகங்கள் படிக்கக்கூடாது என்பதைத்தான் நான் சொல்கிறேன் என்று எதிர்பார்பீர்கள். அதுவும் வாஸ்தவந்தான். ஆனால் கன்னா பின்னாவே இல்லாத இன்னொன்று, எல்லாக் கன்னா பின்னாக்களையும் போக்குகின்ற இன்னொன்றும் ஸ்த்ரீகளுக்கு வேண்டாம் என்று சாஸ்த்ரம் சொல்லியிருப்பதால் அதையும் நான் தெரிவிக்க வேண்டியிருக்கிறது.

வேதத்தைத்தான் சொல்கிறேன்.

வேதத்தின் தாத்பர்யத்தைச் சொல்லும் பல புஸ்தகங்கள் இருக்கின்றன. அவற்றை ஸ்த்ரீகள் படித்துச் தெரிந்து கொள்ளட்டும். நேரே வேதத்தைப் படிப்பதும் அதிலுள்ள ஸூக்தங்களைப் பாடம் பண்ணுவதும், புருஷர்கள் மாதிரியே அத்யயனம் பண்ணுவதும் வேண்டாம்.”

 

I am providing the Link at the end of the Post for those who know Tamil.

 

The essence of what He says is that there might have been exceptions in the earlier Yugas and in KaliYug, Women are weak.

 

They need not learn the Vedas.

 

The Essene of the Vedas is present in the Dharma Sastras Ramayana and Mahabharata.

 

If  women are sincere in learning the Vedas, they an follow the Dharma Sastras and the Ithihasas like Ramayana and Mahabharata.

 

However the Sruthi is clear on Women learning the Vedas.

 

Women a learn The Vedas,Veda References.

1.      The “Brahma” in a yajna is the best trained
purohit who can correct the others involved in the yajna. BRAHMAA VAA
RITVIJAABHMISHAKTAMAHA – Shatapatha brahmana 1.7.4.19.


“Thasyaadyo
brahmanishtaha syaath tham brahmaanam kurveeth”.“Atha kena brahmtvam
kreeyathe iti trayyaa vidyayethi, trayya vidyayeti ha brooyaath”
(Aithareya 5.33).
2.       A woman can be a brahma as mentioned in Rigveda (8.33.-19).
“…sthree hi brahmaa vibhoovidhaha” .
3.      “AachaaryadaNatvam”…Ashtaadhyaayi 4.3.2.49.“ACHHARYASYA STREE AACHAARYAANEE PUM YOGA ITHYEVA AACHAARYA SVAYAM VYAAKHYAATREE”-Siddhaanta koumudi.

( the woman who conducts the veda pravachana is called an Achaarya) .
4.      Aachaarya lakshana :- “UPANEEYA TUM YAHA SHISHYA
VEDAMADHYAAPAYED DWIJAHA, SAKALPA SARAHASYAM CHA THAMAACHAARYA
PRACHAKSHATHE”.( The one who can conduct the upanayana samskaara and teaches the Vedas is called the Aachaarya).

Siddhaanta Koumudi edited by Mahamahopaadhyaaya pandit Shivadatta sarma says,

5.      “ITI VACHANENAAPI STREENAM VEDAADHYANAADIKAARO    DHVANITHAHA”.(THIS MAKES IT CLEAR THAT WOMEN HAS VEDAADHIKAARA) .
6.      Rigveda 10.159-2.3″THADVIDAHA�….UTAAHAMASMI SAM JAYAA…UTTAMAM”.(May I get a good husband…..Because of Vedas, I will become tejasvi and a
powerful spokes person…
May my daughter shine well because of her good
character) .
7.      Taandya brahmana (5-6-8) advises that women have to chant
saamaved along with veena when a yajna is being conducted.
8.      The Mantra 5.5.29 ordains that the women have to circumambulate the yajna kunda
chanting the veda mantras.
.
9.      .The kumari Gandharva grahathaa story in
Eithareya proves that the women had all rights for Vedas.
.
10.  Laatyayana
shrouthasootra, Shaankaayana shroutha sootra etc., also confirms the
rights of women for Vedas.
There are several other authorities advising women to chant veda mantras. .
11.  Yajurveda23-23, 25-27, 29;
12.  Shatapatha brahmana 1-9-2-2-1, 1.9.2.22.23;
13.  Taittareeya samhitha 1.1.10,
14.  Aaswalaayana grihya sootra 1.1.9,
15.  Kaataka grihyasootra 3.1.30, 27-3,
16.  Paaraskara grihyasootra 1.5.1,2. ,
17.  Yajurveda 36-24
“tacchakshurdeva sahitam…” is to chanted only by a woman.
18.  Rigveda  10-85.48 has to be chanted by husband and wife together.
19.  Some Names of women who chanted Vedas:-  Ghoshaa, godaa, vishvavaraa, apaalaa, adithi, jahu, indraani, vedavathi, Oorvashi, shachee, shrithaavathi, Siddhaa,
Shreemathi, Shivaa, Sulabhaa, Svadhaa, Vapunaa, Dhaarini, Romashaa,
Lopaamudraa, Yamee, Shaashvathee, Idaa, Gaargi, Maithreyi…….
20.  Some more Authorities for women chanting veda mantras:- Examples of women
mantradrashtaaras: Ghoshaa, godhaa, vishvavaraa, Apaalaa, Upanishad,
Jahu, Indraani, saramaa, Romashaa, Oorvashi, Lopaamudraa, Yamee,
Shaashvathee, Sooryaasavithree,….etc.,
21.  Rigveda 10-134, 10-39,
10-40, 8-91, 10-95, 10-109, 10-154, 10-159, 10-189, 5-28, 8-91 ..etc.,
are from women.
22.  Taittareeya brahmana 2-3-10..”..
23.  Tam trayee vedaa anya
srijantha….vedan pradadow”(Three vedas were given to the woman
Seetaa-savitri through Soma).
24.  Manu’s daughter Idaa is described in
Taittareeya Brahmana( 1-1-4) as Yajnaprakaashinee meaning Yajna tatva
prakaashana samarthaa.
(This can be continued…)
25.  To cite examples of mention in Mahaakavyas:-
Mahabharata:-
Udyogaparva 190-18: “Atra siddhaa shivaa naama braahmNee veda paaragaahaa..”
(A brahmin lady by name Shivaa was a scholar of vedas and she got
Moksha).
26.  A non brahmin lady Droupadi was a scholar of vedas.
Achaarya
27.  Madhva in his Mahabharata tatparya nirnaya says, “Vedaaschapyuttama
streebhihi krishnaattaabhirihaakhilaaha.
( Good women should learn Vedas like Droupadi).
28.  Valmiki Ramayana:-
Sundarakaanda53-26:
Vaidehi shokasantaptaa hutaashanmupaagatam.
( The sad Seeta did homa to Agni)
29.  VR 5-15-48:- “Sandhyaakaale …..Sandhyaartham varavarninee”.
(Seetha would certainly come to the river to perform sandhya with pure water).
30.  Valmikiramayana 4-16-12, 2-20-15 indicate that Kousalya and Kaikeyi also
were doing agnihotra etc.,
31.  Vaali’s wife Tara chanted
swastimantras.

32.  Puranas :-
Vishnupurana (1-10) and (18-19);
Markandeyapurana (52); Brahma vaivarta purana (14-65) etc., may be seen.’

Shri.Ramanujacharya, Founder of Visishtadvaita, affirms that women an lear the Vedas.

But Ramanuja thinks that any person wishing to pursue
the knowledge of Brahman must first learn to chant the
Vedas (swadhyayam).
He thinks that learning Vedas is a
Samskaara (refinement or exaltation of excellence) and
Swadhyaaya forms the object of Samskaara. Taittriya
upanishad
is quoted to substantiate this"

Professor Bhatnagar.

Prof . Bhargava tell us that in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 6.4.17, there is a ritual “for parents desirous of a daughter who would shine with learning.

” The Upanayana ceremony was common to boys as well as to girls.

The Atharvaveda 9.15.18  says that a girl gets a young and eligible husband only when she has passed a period of brahmacarya.

The rg Veda mentions women performing yajnas alone and the satapaha brahmana tells us that the Patnikarma of women chanting SamaVeda was later taken over by udgatrs.”

Harita smR^iti discusses two categories of women:

1. brahmavAdinI: She is the true brahmachAriNI who can undergo upanayana and agni homa, study the scriptures and live on bhikShA.
2. sadyo vadhu: Undergo upanayana but enter matrimony early on without the study of scriptures.

 

 

While venerable commentators point out various technicalities in accepting this pramANa, there is no room for doubt regarding the need for upanayana samskAra if a woman needs to study shruti, if at all such an adhikAra is accepted.

 

One can find a clear reference to a brahmachAriNI in the gR^ihya sUtra when AshvalAyana talks about the samAvartana samskAra:

 

ashmanastejo.asi shrotraM me pAhIti maNikuNDale AbadhnIta anulepena pANI pralipya mukhamagre brAhmaNo.anulimpet | bAhU rAjanyaH | agre.anulimpet | udaraM vaishyaH | pUrvavat | upasthaM strI | tadvat ||”

 

Kalidasa, the Divine Poet affirms this hen he speaks of Goddess Parvati.

Kalidasa’s description of bhagavatI parvatI performing agnihotra can be somewhat accepted as reflecting the society in those days:

 

kR^itAbhiShekAM hutajAtavedasaM tvaguttarAsa~NgavatIM adhItinIm || [kumArasambhava]

sItA is described as performed sandhyA in rAmAyaNa:

sandhyAkAlamanAH shyAmA dhruvameShyati jAnakI |
nadIM chemAM shubhajalAM sandhyArthaM varavarNinI ||’

To sum up.

There are some injunctions on women prohibiting them from learning the Vedas.

 

Kanhi Periyavar says that women in Kali Yuga are weak and hence need not learn the Vedas.

 

His advice is to learn the Dharma sastra and he does not say learning  the Vedas is prohibited .

 

His Concern seems more on the the rigorous  practice and Discipline needed to learn the Vedas and that being weak, women need not learn the Vedas.

 

He does no say the Vedas proscribe women learning the Vedas.

 

Sruthi is the Highest authority, Smrtis take a backseat, so also  the Purana and The Ithihasas, when compared with the Vedas.

 

I feel on the strength of the Sruthi, Vedas can be learned by women by following the procedure laid by The Vedas to learn them.

 

Citations.

http://jayasreesaranathan.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/should-women-not-chant-vedas-part-1/

http://jayasreesaranathan.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/should-women-not-chant-vedas-part-3/

http://www.kamakotimandali.com/misc/womenveda.html

https://ancientindians.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/can-women-learn-the-veda/

http://mahaperiyavaa.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/%E0%AE%B5%E0%AF%87%E0%AE%A4-%E0%AE%85%E0%AE%A4%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%AF%E0%AE%AF%E0%AE%A9%E0%AE%AE%E0%AF%8D-%E0%AE%B5%E0%AF%87%E0%AE%A3%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%9F%E0%AE%BE%E0%AE%AE%E0%AF%8D/

* This post is intended to Highlight this issue and My views are not the final authority.

I have references from the Vedas,and to me Vedas are the Authority.

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