Women and vedaas

Gregory Goode goode at DPW.COM
Tue Jan 20 09:04:58 CST 1998

At 01:18 AM 1/20/98 -0500, Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:
>>  I request the knowledgeable list members to give references for the
>> verses in Vedas which prohibit women from learning them.
>I belong to Madhyandina shakha of Shukla Yajurveda and one of the parts of
>our Veda is the Shatapatha Brahmana.  Maharshi Yagnavalkya saw this work
>and taught it to a 100 rshis.  In there, the rules of Vedic study are
>given.  It is noted that one who has not had Upanayan sanskara is
>ineligible to study the Vedas.  In another section the rules for Upanayan
>are given.  First the rules for Brahmans are given.  Second for
>Kshatriyas, and third for Vaishyas.  Shudras are not mentioned.  Therefore
>the inference is they are not eligible.  Furthermore, all the references
>to the person undergoing the ceremony are in the masculine tense.
>Therefore we infer that women are not eligble.

But nowhere does the text of the Veda say that women and shudras are
*prohibited*.  Is there a line of text that says

By your comments, you are sort of implying the Vedas are like (1) below and
not (2).

1.  All actions that are not required are prohibited.
2.  All actions that are not prohibited are permitted.

Under (1), any possible action is either required or prohibited.  No
latitude in life.  This is usually the interpretation given to scripture by
fundamentalists in all religions, and gives rise to superstition and
legalism.  In one Christian denomination for example, Church of Christ, it
is prohibited to play musical instruments in worshipping God simply because
no musical instrument is mentioned in the New Testament (they are mentioned
in the Old Testament).

Under (2), much more reasonable, there is much latitude in life.

Is there a statement in the Vedas that establishes (1) and not (2)?  Not in
the culture, but in the text.  If not, then why not accept (2) as just as
reasonable?  Then women CAN study the Vedas.


>From  Tue Jan 20 10:23:04 1998
Message-Id: <TUE.20.JAN.1998.102304.0500.>
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 10:23:04 -0500
Reply-To: chandran at email.econ.ag
To: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Ram Chandran <chandran at TIDALWAVE.NET>
Organization: Personal
Subject: Re: Rig Veda
Comments: To: Advaita List <advaita-l at tamu.edu>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit

The sages of Upanishads have believed in a universal society with
established values based on substance and not on Origin.  Let me quote
from a famous Sanskrit proverb,  "Do not judge the Rishis and Rivers by
their Origin."  Rivers and Rishis can be corrupted or purified during
their life journey. What really matter is purity of the river and the
purity of the mind of the Sage at the point of evaluation. In Vedic
times, the determination of a Brahmin or Sudra was not by birth but by
the exhibited virtues.  Pure water is available in India and in other
continents of the world.
    An excellent book with the title ^ÑVyasa' by Dr. K. M. Munshi,
published by the Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan discusses the social life
during the Vedic period.   Vedavyasa's mother Satyavati was a tribal
fisherwoman.  Vyasa's father, a great Rishi married Satyavati.  It was a
common practice those times for Rishis to marry tribal women.  What
criteria do we use to decide the caste of "Vedavyasa?"  Was he a Brahmin
or a Sudra? He is a scheduled tribe by birth and became a Brahmin after
gaining scholarship.  Should we discard all the scriptures compiled by
Vyasa using Jaldhar's criteria?  Do Vedas prohibit a catholic priest to
translate Vedas into English?
   My common sense tells me to ignore the physical characteristics of a
person to judge his (her) knowledge and I am planning to stick with it.
The conclusion of Dr. Panikkar's book with  the last mantra of Rig Veda
is provided below.  Please read and make your own judgment about the
credibility of Dr. Panikkar.  Incidently, the ancestors of Dr. Panikkar
also belonged to the Vedic family of the sages and saints.  He has as
much rights as anyone to read, recite and translate the Vedas.

OM Shanthi!   OM Shanthi!!   OM Shanthi!!!

Ram Chandran
Burke, VA.

Conclusion and the Last Mantra of Rig Veda:  (RV X, 191, 4) by Raimon

The Rig Veda is not the whole shruti, but it enunciates the most central
part of it  and lays the foundations for all the rest. It is befitting,
then, to conclude this anthology with the final mantra of the Rig Veda,
just as we opened it with the invocation of the first. Having traversed
the long road of praise, exaltation, meditation, and sacrifice, having
traveled through the upper realms of the Gods and the underworld of the
demons, having reached the loftiest peaks of mystical speculation and
touched the lowest depths of the human soul, having gazed, as far as we
could, upon the cosmos and upon the divine, we arrive at this last
stanza, which is dedicated to the human world and is a prayer for
harmony and peace among Men by means of the protection of Agni and all
the Gods, but ultimately through the acceptance by Men of their human
calling. The last mantra knows only Man's ordinary language and Man's
own cherished ideas; it comes back to the simplicity of the fact of
being human: a union of hearts and a oneness of spirit, the overcoming
of isolating individualisms by harmonious living together, because Man
as person is always society and yet not plural. He is a unity with so
many strings that they incur the risk of wars and strife, but also offer
the possibility of a marvelous harmony and concord.

 samani va akutih           -  United your resolve, united your hearts,
 samanda hrdayani vah   - may your spirits be at one,
 samanam astu vo mano -  that you may long together dwell
 yatha vah susahasati      - in unity and concord!

Translation by :Professor Raimon Panikkar. This is one of the finest
translations to the English currently available.  All the seven parts of
Vedic Experience are currently on line at the website:

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