[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:

> Namaste.
> 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 
Heaven etc.

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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