[Advaita-l] Women and Vedas

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 5 00:33:53 CDT 2006

Here is an extract from Vishnu Purana on this topic:


Vishnu Purana, Book 6, Chapter 2

(Translation by H. H. Wilson)

Paraashara narrates:

It was once a matter of dispute amongst the sages, at what season the
least moral merit obtained the greatest reward, and by whom it was
most easily displayed. In order to terminate the discussion, they
went to Veda Vyása to remove their doubts. They found the illustrious
Muni, my son, half immersed in the water of the Ganges; and awaiting
the close of his ablutions, the sages remained on the banks of the
sacred stream, under shelter of a grove of trees. As my son plunged
down into the water, and again rose up from it, the Munis heard him
exclaim, "Excellent, excellent, is the Kali age!" Again he dived, and
again rising, said in their hearing, "Well done, well done
Śúdra; thou art happy!" Again he sank down, and as he once more
emerged they heard him say, "Well done, well done, women; they are
happy! who are more fortunate than they?" After this, my son finished
his bathing, and the sages met him as he approached to welcome them.
After he had given them seats, and they had proffered their respects,
the son of Satyavatí said to them, "On what account have you come to
me?" They replied, "We came to you to consult you on a subject on
which we entertain some doubt; but that may be at present suspended:
explain to us something else. We heard you say, 'Excellent is the
Kali age! Well done, Śúdra! Well done, women!' Now we are
desirous to know why this was said, why you called them repeatedly,
happy. Tell us the meaning of it, if it be not a mystery. We will
then propose to you the question that occupies our thoughts."

Being thus addressed by the Munis, Vyása smiled, and said to them,
"Hear, excellent sages, why I uttered the words 'Well done, well
done.' The fruit of penance, of continence, of silent prayer, and the
like, practised in the Krita age for ten years, in the Treta for one
year, in the Dwápara for a month, is obtained in the Kali age in a
day and night: therefore did I exclaim, 'Excellent, excellent, is the
Kali age!' That reward which a man obtains in the Krita by abstract
meditation, in the Treta by sacrifice, in the Dwápara by adoration,
he receives in the Kali by merely reciting the name of Keśava.
In the Kali age a man displays the most exalted virtue by very little
exertion; therefore, pious sages, who know what virtue is, I was
pleased with the Kali age. Formerly the Vedas were to be acquired by
the twice-born through the diligent observance of self-denial; and it
was their duty to celebrate sacrifices conformably to the ritual.
Then idle prayers, idle feasts, and fruitless ceremonies, were
practised but to mislead the twice-born; for although observed by
them devoutly, yet, in consequence of some irregularity in their
celebration, sin was incurred in all their works, and what they ate,
or what they drank, did not effect the fulfilment of their desires.
In all their objects the twice-born enjoyed no independence, and they
attained their respective spheres only with exceeding pain. The
Śúdra, on the contrary, more fortunate than they, reaches his
assigned station by rendering them service, and performing merely the
sacrifice of preparing food, in which no rules determine what may or
may not be eaten, what may or may not be drunk. Therefore, most
excellent sages, is the Śúdra fortunate.

"Riches are accumulated by men in modes not incompatible with their
peculiar duties, and they are then to be bestowed upon the worthy,
and expended in constant sacrifice. There is great trouble in their
acquisition; great care in their preservation; great distress from
the want of them; and great grief for their loss. Thus, eminent
Brahmans, through these and other sources of anxiety, men attain
their allotted spheres of Prajápati and the rest only by exceeding
labour and suffering. This is not the case with women: a woman has
only to honour her husband, in act, thought, and speech, to reach the
same region to which he is elevated; and she thus accomplishes her
object without any great exertion. This was the purport of my
exclamation, 'Well done!' the third time. I have thus related to you
what you asked. Now demand the question you came to put to me, in any
way you please, and I will make you a distinct reply."

The Munis then said to Vyása, "The question we intended to have asked
you has been already answered by you in your reply to our subsequent
inquiry." On hearing which, Krishńa Dwaipáyana laughed, and
said to the holy persons who had come to see him, whose eyes were
wide open with astonishment, "I perceived, with the eye of divine
knowledge, the question you intended to ask, and in allusion to it I
uttered the expressions, 'Well done, well done.' In truth, in the
Kali age duty is discharged with very little trouble by mortals,
whose faults are all washed away by the water of their individual
merits; by Śúdras, through diligent attendance only upon the
twice-born; and by women, through the slight effort of obedience to
their husbands. Therefore, Brahmans, did I thrice express my
admiration of their happiness; for in the Krita and other ages great
were the toils of the regenerate to perform their duty. I waited not
for your inquiry, but replied at once to the question you purposed to
ask. Now, ye who know what virtue is, what else do you wish me to
tell you?"

The Munis then saluted and praised Vyása, and, being freed by him
from uncertainty, departed as they came.

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around 

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list