[Advaita-l] Women and Vedas

Ram Garib garib_ram at yahoo.co.in
Sun Apr 2 08:33:54 CDT 2006

--- Krunal Makwana <krunalmakwana at hotmail.com> wrote:

> I was having conversation a couple of days ago about
> vedas and who can and 
> who can't recite, read, learn etc.
> What is AcAryaji's opinion on this matter?
> I found a quote by SankarAcaryaji stating
> "vaidya'andhikaaraat" (women do 
> not have 'adhikaara' on veda) , please note that i
> do not know the 
> authenticity of this quote but have read it from
> 'gAyAtri mahAvijnAna by 
> shrI rAm Sarma Acarya founder of Gayatri Pariwar
> (published in gujrati).
> If women are not allowed to study veda does that not
> go against the whole 
> teaching of advaita...that everyone and everything
> is brahman in reality 
> 'sarva khalu idam brahma'. and if we distinguish
> between genders are we not 
> deepening our hole of ignorance?

All the three vedantic schools are unanimous on this
issue: women and shudra-s do not have a right to study

Traditionally, study of veda-s can only be started
after upanayanam. Upananyam rituals are governed by
shatpatha brahman, which does not prescribe rituals of
upanayanam for women and shudra-s. As for as
eligibility for study of veda-s is concerned, that is
the end of the story.

Later commentators have tried to make ammends in this
situation, by distinguising between study of veda-s
and vedic knowledge per se. According to this view,
vedic knowledge should be gained by women and shudra-s
from  other sources (most notably: gita), but not
directly from veda-s.

Yet others have made distinction between vedic study
and vedic chanting. According to them, upanayanam is a
requisite for vedic chanting only. Study through
translations does not require upanayanam.

Some other commentators have tried to bypass this
criteria by postulating a guna based varna division,
however, this solution does not help women.

Traditionally, Sri Ramanjuacharya-s tradition was most
liberal in such interpretations. Today, it is as rigid
as others. Due to the explosion of information in
today's time, the texts and their commentaries are not
an issue now. However, getting acceptance into a
traditional ashram for vedic study, is still tough for
women and shudra-s.

With regards,
Ram Garib

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