Should women not chant Vedas? (part-1)


 

There is a consensus that women should not recite the vedas. This disturbed me a lot until I got a convincing reply some years ago through my search. I wrote that finding in a Yahoo group in a short series. I am reproducing them here. There are quite a few issues like this that I have already analyzed and written in Groups. But what induced me to take out this series from my folder is a compilation that I read in a Group. It was a compilation of slokas from Pramana texts that say that women did chant / recite Vedas in olden days. It gave me a peculiar sense of relief as I once struggled to prove that Women are not barred from chanting Vedas. I started that argument with a poser as follows:-
“There is a consensus that women should not recite the
vedas.

Fine!

Why should they
– when it was a woman who gifted the world with
‘vedamanaitthukkum vitthu’ (Meaning “the seed of all Vedas” – a description given for Thirppaavai sung by a woman, Andal)

– when it was the same woman who merged with Lord
Ranganatha for all others to see (Andal)

 

 

– when it was a woman (a muslim one at that) who
merged with Lord Thirunarayanan at Melkote right in front of
Ramanujacharya.
Thulukka Naachiyar engraved at the feet of the Lord.
– and it is as woman in Nayaki bhava that seekers of
Lord’s feet get closer to Him.
– Hence the question is not whether women could recite
the Vedas or not.
– It is – ‘Should they need to learn Vedas at all, as
men do?’”
Many responses followed explaining why women need not chant the Vedas and why such an injunction came into force. However I got a reply for it in my own way and wrote my experience on how I got the reply. I will write them in the subsequent posts here.
In this post let me place on record the many references from Sruti texts that do say that women chanted Vedas. The compilation was done by Mr Shivashankara Rao and with his permission I am reproducing them here. My sincere thanks to him for granting the permission.
A FEW AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF WOMEN CHANTING VEDAS:-
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.

(To be continued)

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2 thoughts on “Should women not chant Vedas? (part-1)

  1. no women should not chant vedas because beeja mantras affect women’s uterus & ovaries.there is astory in puranas to tell briefly about why shouldn’t wonmen chant vedas

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