[Advaita-l] Advaita-l Digest, Vol 70, Issue 10
Jaldhar H. Vyas
jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu May 13 01:33:10 CDT 2010
On Tue, 11 May 2010, V Subrahmanian wrote:
> In some smriti, Manu (?) there is this verse:
> purAkalpe kumArINAm maunjIbandhanam Iritam
> sAvitreem cha gaayatreem..... (it is very long since I heard this verse and
> have since forgotten!!)
I just remembered we have had a thread on this very topic not long ago.
I would suggest that anyone interested in this subject start from:
(it meanders a bit as our discussions often do :-)
If after that there is still something readers want to say, they should
feel free to post.
> Recently I heard in a discourse that in the Ramayana, Kausalya was
> performing a homa when Rama came to tell her about his imminent departure to
> the forest. Someone familiar with the Valmiki Ramayana could confirm this
> and the exact event.
This is a seperate issue which is discussed in detail in the Mimamsa
sutras (6.1.6-16) In brief, the siddhanta is that women are capable of
performing religious rites (barring further factors e.g Ashvamedha can
only be performed by a Kshatriya samrat so a Brahmana woman would have no
more right to it than a Brahmana man.)
The reason is that karma of any sort depends for its potency on samkalpa
(intention) to procure a certain result (karmaphala) Are women capable
of samkalpa such as the desire to go to Heaven? Yes of course. Then it
follows they have the adhikara to perform actions that result in gaining
But wait this "right" would seem to be purely theoretical because if e.g.
Kaushalya has no adhikara for Vedas, _how_ can she perform a homa? The
answer is the same way any other Hindu does. She can hire a Brahmana
purohit to perform the ceremony for her. Just as when you hire a builder
to construct a new house at the completion of the work you are the owner
not the builder, when a yajamana hires a purohit by means of paying
dakshina, the yajamana gets the punya of performing the ceremony even
though he didn't "do the work."
(As an aside, this is the reasoning by which Hindu law allows women to
earn money and own property. If a woman had no wealth of her own, she
would be rendered unable to fulfill her dharmic obligations and desires.)
So much for the karmakanda. The same issue comes up in the jnanakanda and
the Vedantins have also considered the situation. Brahman is not Brahmana
or Mleccha, male nor female, young nor old or indeed any of the dualities.
It pervades all moving and still. But Brahman is known through the
portion of the Vedas known as Upanishads. If women cannot study them,
then prima facie it would seem they are unable to achieve jnana. The
solution is that Bhagavan Vedavyas out of compassion for the anadhikaris
including women, took the essence of the Vedas and wrote the 18 puranas
Bhagavata etc., and the Mahabharata which includes Gita, Mokshadharma etc.
Other Rshis wrote the Ramayana, Yogavasishta etc. which also contain Vedic
knowledge but have no bar. Or she can hear directly from the Gurus
discourses. Some authorities also say even the upanishads are ok, it is
only the formal recitation of them which is banned. In the
yavadadhikaradhikarana which is currently under discussion, Shankaracharya
mentions Sulabha as a female Jnani.
> *Purakalpe hi narinnam maujibandhanmeeritam I*
> * *
> Meaning: In ancient times (kalpa) thread ceremony for women was recommended.
Beware of translations! Unscrupulous people insert their own agendas into
A proper translation of the relevant text with my commentary on it can be
found in the thread mentioned above, specifically at:
>Even today followers of the Arya Samaj perform the thread
> ceremony (Upanayan) on girls.
The Aryasamajists are nastikas so their silly opinions count for nothing.
Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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