[Advaita-l] RE: Vedic Shakhas for kshatriyas and vaishyas?

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Jan 18 13:16:13 CST 2005

On Tue, 18 Jan 2005 sidha at omkarananda-ashram.org wrote:

> Sir, I'm sorry, but I totally disagree with you. "Svaadhyayo'dhyetavyah"
> is not a statement only for men, it is for all. Studying the Divine Words
> of the Creator is the Svadharma of every human being on this earth. It is
> the duty, because only then one can know the correct path, as described by
> the Supreme Creator.

As per the Mimamsa shastra (and Advaitins concur) the Vedas are not the
words of the creator.  They are apaurusheya and preceded the creator.

> I can't understand when there are nearly 11 Rishikas (Female Seers) in the
> Rig-veda, to whom Divine Mantras were reveled by the Supreme Reality, how
> come somebody can say that women shouldn't read the Vedas.

The figure I have heard is 20 out of 407 -- a trifling 4%.  If we accept
"nearly 11" that makes 2.5%. Subtracting a few other Rshis who were not
human at all, it is clear that from the very beginning the Vedic culture
was overwhelmingly male.  Now if you were to go into any mandir on any
given day, chances are more than half the worshippers there will be women.
So if we take your advice and go back to the Vedas, it will be a
tremendous step backwards for women.  Right?

>What about
> Gargi and Maitreyi?

What about them?  We have no way of knowing even that they existed or not.
This is not a radical skeptics view, it is what the Mimamsaka Kumarila
Bhatta says in shlokavarttika.  A rshi is not the author of mantras but a
mantradrashta -- a "see-er" of mantras.  By what process they did this is
unknown but they did.  So the names of the discoverers are attached to the
mantras.  It like when we talk of "Newtons laws of gravity."  If one is
not a Christian fundamentalist like Isaac Newton does the value of the
gravitational constant change?  If one doesn't live in the 16th century
like Isaac Newton, does one accelerate slower or faster or something?

The nature or personality of the Rshis has no bearing on what they taught.

> Let me make it clear, I have been studying Vedanta from some very
> traditional masters since the last 20 years. I have studied the
> Prasthanatraya Bhashyam with Ananda Giri's commentary from orthodox
> traditional masters. And after I studied the Vedas myself, I came to the
> conclusion that many of the traditional beliefs or statements in Vedanta
> regarding the Vedas are totally wrong and are existing because most of the
> Vedantin simply didn't study the Samhitas.

Then let us ask why this is so?  Do you mean to tell me these rather
simple arguments we both are making didn't occur to a single one of the
greatest minds of India in the entire several-millenia history of our
civilization?  That just strains credulity.  And Occams razors suggests a
simpler explanation.

> I'm very sorry if I'm harsh, I don't intend to hurt,

No offense is taken at all.  But I'll tell you one thing that annoys me.
We say that Hinduism is the "most scientific" religion typically based on
some purported similarity to quantum physics or something.  But here I am
making my arguments on the basis of history, sociology, anthropology,
logic, sciences which are actually relevant to the topic at hand and in
return I get speeches and slogans.  If we are to continue this discussion,
let us atleast base it on facts.

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

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