[Advaita-l] Women and Vedas

Aditya Varun Chadha adichad at gmail.com
Thu Apr 6 01:41:47 CDT 2006

Jaldhar ji,

On 4/6/06, Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:
> I'm afraid wishing thaat something was true doesn't make it so.


> Well I consider myself to be modern (and a thinker even :-) and that's
> precisely what I'm saying.  But is what I mean by "fit" the same as what
> you mean?

I don't know, you tell me what you mean by "fit". When I say "unfit" I
mean that their brains with all the neurons and the structure is
incapable of comprehending the Vedas like males can comprehend.

> pratyaksha is no foundation for a system of ethics.  If while I'm walking
> I perceive that someones wallet is sticking out of his pocket and I can
> steal it without him or the police or anyone else noticing does it now
> become an acceptable thing to do?

You are restricting the circumference of pratyaksha too much. Ever
heard of the brain being able to derive subtler concepts from simple
concepts? The danD nIti of nature is enough to infuse ethics into the
mind. When you refrain from a "bad" action in a particular case where
your action would be undetectable, it is a result of pattern matching
in the brain, not because you remember some verse from some Veda. Do
you imply that irreligious people are more often inethical than
religious people? if so, unfortunate misconception. if not, please

> Shruti is a seperate pramana precisely because its injunctions and
> prohibitions are _not_ amenable to outside perception or inference.  The
> claim is being made that women should not recite not because they are
> frail or mentally deficient but simply because they can't.  No further
> explanation is needed because shruti is its own authority.

Calling a spade a spade by showing that Shruti says something specific
is one thing. But stopping there and not asking why is quite
unacceptable, atleast when there is a pratyaksha doubt. But you HAVE
addressed that question later in your mail to some extent.

> As an aside, a big reason I am so orthodox today
> is because of my perception that "modern" Hindus are largely fools and
> knaves.

My turn to ask you how you define "fool" and "knave" in this context.
Just curious.

> Also what evidence do we have that Maitreyi or Yajnavalkya actually
> existed?  Yes we believe they did but from the Mimamsaka perspective it is
> also quite possible they are just literary characters.  The Mimamsakas
> went to great length to deny personality to the Rshis precisely to avoid
> this kind of second-guessing.

Aren't the Upanishads Shruti? What does it matter whether the
characters existed or not?

> If it is unecessary why would she even want it and why would anyone bother
> to give it in that case?  Initiation is a means to an end not an end in
> itself.  If the result has been acheived, it is no longer relevant.  This
> is the precise reason why Sannyasis in the Advaita traditions give up the
> yajnopavita (the symbol of Vedic initiation) etc.  It is not that they are
> against it, but if they are no longer in the sphere were Vedic commands
> hold true, what is the point?

perfectly fine.

> So to be fair, their are puranas, itihasa, Gita, Yogavasishtha etc. by
> which one can know.  Which in fact are more well known than the Vedas.
> There are also innumerable people who will tell you.  So where is the
> unfairness.

are there any scriptures as general as the Vedas that are prohibited
for men to recite? If yes, fine. If not, then again, asking the
question WHY is can bear some fruit.

> You have inadvertently revealed the hidden sexism that underlies a lot of
> the "women should learn the vedas" talk.  Why is reciting adityahrdaya or
> sahasranamas not evidence of keenness or seriousness?  What about women
> who don't know Sanskrit at all but recite e.g. sundara kanda?  Are they
> too to be deemed not serious.  Why should a woman have to copy a man for
> brahmajijnasa?  Especially when we Advaitins believe karma and jnana are
> as seperate as the north and south pole?

I think you have missed the point. Ofcourse reciting these scriptures
is not anything "lesser". The question boils back to whether men have
such restrictions in the tradition. Ofcourse here I am refering to the
hypothetical you that you have concocted in the above argument.

> Incidently, the story of Satyakama does not prove what people think it
> proves.

Incidentally, your stating that you think you know what people think
it proves does not show that you really know what people think it
proves. maybe you can elaborate at your convenience.

> You know that bit about murder being bad?  Well based on debate I have
> decided it no longer fits in with the times so as of...um...April 15,
> readers may feel free to kill anyone they like without burdening their
> conscience.

I challenge you to show me the proceedings of such a debate. I claim
that I will be able to show that your "decision" is either based on
incorrect premises, or your idea of "murder" is different from the
idea that a majority of humanity has.

> Remember, the source of authority in Advaita Vedanta is not only texts (a
> superset of "books") but also shistachara. A proper analysis includes
> history and anthropology as well.

These sources of authority overlap in their jurisdiction. The history
and anthropology you allude to are forms of pratyaksha pramANa.

Aditya Varun Chadha
adichad AT gmail.com
Mobile: +91 98 400 76411
Room #1024, Cauvery Hostel
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
Chennai - 600 036

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