Womens' role in vedic samskAra

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Jun 24 17:47:38 CDT 2002

On Sat, 22 Jun 2002 bhaskar.yr at IN.ABB.COM wrote:

> Today I have read an article in a daily news paper that a woman has
> conducted more than 250 marriages & numerous anthima samskAras (funeral
> rights).  She has been honoured for this by local rotary club in the
> presence of some orthodox male vedic scholars.  It is mentioned that she
> said in that function NO SCRIPTURAL reference is available as to woman is
> not eligible to do vedic samskAras.  Any explanation from the learned
> members??

What is a scripture anyway?  The Vedas?  Some have tried to show the
Vedic samhitas do not disallow this sort of thing but then those same
samhitas do not mention vivaha and antima samskaras either.  They come
from the Brahmana portions and are explicated in the kalpasutras which
as we've discussed here before do provide the evidence that women have
no adhikara.  The motives of this woman have nothing to do with wanting to
following tradition and hiding behind the fig leaf of "The shastras say I
can" is nothing more than intellectual chicanary of the worst possible
kind.  It may be sufficient to pull the wool over the eyes of the Rotary
Club (who the hell goes to the Rotary Club for Dharmic advice anyway?) but
is it any kind of foundation for the maintanence of Dharma in the future?

When this persons grandson says I'm going to live with a girl and have
children without marrying her because nowhere in the scriptures does it
say that I can't, how is she going to respond?  Or I'm not going to spend
any money or time on your shraddha because I'm busy playing tennis that
day and besides nowhere does it say in the scriptures that I HAVE to.
How will she respond?  She will have no grounds to oppose a rebellion
against religion when she is a rebel herself.  In fact for the past 200
years people have been making such arguments and not one of those
reformist movements have succeeded in increasing the spirituality of the
people.  In fact all they have sown is atheism.  When they confront the
results of their handiwork who will the reformers blame?  "Western
materialism"?  The Muslims? The Christians? The leftists? The rightists?
Probably everyone but their own irresponsible selves.

But I don't blame the reformers.  Every generation has its' misguided
people as history shows.  Rather it is we ourselves--particularly the
Brahmans--who have neglected our duty to learn, teach, and practice the
shastras thus leaving a void in which ignorance can flourish.  This is why
I feel more than a little irritation when people complain about us
discussing "mundane" things here.  Unless you are prepared to truly
renounce everything and head off to the Himalayas, Advaita Vedanta gives
you no license to abandon your duty to society.  We needn't worry with the
evil people, they will reap their own reward.  Instead let us treat this
as a warning sign that we need to redouble our own efforts to understand
and practice Dharma as faithfully as our sages did.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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