[Advaita-l] Discussion on "Shudra" and Sandhya Vandana

ravi chandrasekhara vadhula at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 30 14:14:36 CDT 2009

Dear All,
Pranam !  I have listed below an exerpt fro SriRangaSri list from Feb 25, 2006 re: Sandhya and Shudras.  It is SriVaishnava Sampradaya viewponit.  I would like to know what is the Smartha viewpoint.  Sorry if this is long, but I think it is relevant to know.
Dhanyavaad,Ravi Chandrasekhara
Q.15. Is SV to be done only by Brahmins?

A: I would like to invite your attention to a similar query by one who is
not a BrahmaNa as also the reply given to him. I am sure that this FAQ reply
will clear similar doubts entertained by many Bhagavatas in our forum.

“Adiyen has some doubts regarding the news letter you have sent. You have
explained the importance of Sandhaya Vandhanam and these rituals. To
introduce myself adiyen has undergone Bharnayasam under Sri Azhaghiya
singar. adiyen does not belong to Brahmin varna. Now my question is - who
all can do Sandhya. Adiyen presumes that I am not eligible to do that.”

“All "TraivarNikas" (i.e. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas) are required to
have Upanayanam and do SV.
It is not correct to say that those belonging to the fourth VarNa are not
"eligible" or that they are "barred". They are simply "NOT REQUIRED" to go
through these Samskaaras.

Just as the saying goes "The King can do no wrong", it should be understood
that those belonging to the fourth VarNa are treated as children and "they
can do no wrong” and not much is expected of them in such observances!

But, if one belonging to this group desires to do SV, the following “Non –
Vedic” style slOka can be recited at the appropriate times:

« prati purusha ManEkhaa pratyavastham vichitraah
Subha gatishu dhiyO yah chOdayatyam jasaanah/
akhila chid achith antaryaami tath vishNu sanghyam
savituuh aham upaasE tasya dEvasya bhargah //”

This is given on page 46 of the Sandhyaavandanam book published in October
1995 by Sri VisishTaadvaita Research Centre, Madras (of AhObila Matam), Sri
Thillasthaanam Kainkarya Sabha, Bangalore and Sri Poorvacharya Kainkarya
Sabha, Bangalore with a foreword by H.H. Sri Rangapriya MahadEsikan of
Ashtanga yoga Vigyana Mandiram, Hanumantanagar, Bangalore 560 019. It is
stated therein that this is as per "parasara Smriti".

It is further stated therein that "Anyone irrespective of caste, creed or
sex can meditate on the Lord in the orb of the Sun through the above verse
at the Sandhya periods"
Hope this helps.

Q.16: And, why even among Brahmins, women are prohibited from doing SV?

* Excerpts from “Hinduism Rediscovered” book by Anbil Ramaswamy (pages 305
et seq)

A: * “Once, a debate arose as to how and when with minimum effort (in the
observance of Dharma) maximum effect (of benefits) could be obtained and who
was entitled to such a course. The Sages went to the hermitage of Veda
Vyaasa, who had gone to the Ganges to have his bath. The sages waited on the
bank of the river under the shade of trees. Veda Vyaasa dipped himself under
water three times and came out. Every time, he muttered the following three
aphorisms as he rose from the water: “Kali Sadhu, Stree Sadhu, SudrO Sadhu”

When he finally came out and finished his ablutions, he enquired the sages,
the purpose of their visit. When they told him about their doubts, he
replied that he had already answered them even while taking bath and
proceeded to explain:

“Kali Sadhu”
What one can obtain only by “yOga nishTa” or “Dhyaana” (Concentrated
meditation) in the Krita yuga, what one can obtain only by Yagjna (Severe
penance) in TrEta yuga and what one can obtain only by Archana (Intense
worship) in the Dwaapara yuga, can be achieved in Kali yuga by merely
reciting the names of Bhagavaan, known as “Naama Samkeerthanam” and “Daanam”
(gifts). Thus, with minimum effort, maximum effect could be achieved in Kali
yuga. Hence, I said “Kali Sadhu”

“Stree Sadhu”
Only men folk had to perform lot of rituals and observance of penances
prescribed like “Praajapatyam” etc. But, womenfolk derived half the “puNya”
of their husbands by merely assisting them. And, conversely, their husbands
shared the sins committed by their spouses. Thus, both ways, women benefit –
without any effort on their part!
For women, it is a “Win- Win” situation both ways!

Thus, from Vedic period ‘liberation of women’ was integrated with lifestyle
itself, and there was no need for a separate “women’s lib” movement!

That women were “not allowed” to perform the rituals is another way of
saying that they “need not subject themselves to the rigors of penances”,
not that they were “denied” the privilege as some of our pseudo-advocates of
modern women’s lib movement would like us to believe.

May be, this freedom from obligation was itself based on biological reasons
of their propensity for pregnancy and other feminine disadvantages like
menstrual impurities…

…Child bearing and child rearing are very demanding. That is why women were
relieved from breadwinning responsibilities in the family.

“Veda Adhyayanam” has to done for years on end (in Gurukula vaasam) without
any break which is not possible for women as explained above. Also, the
sounds of some “mantras” have to emanate deep from the “Naabhi” (navel) and
this would put an unnecessary strain on the average womenfolk.

In the olden times, however, we learn that women Rishis like Karthyaayani,
MaitrEyi and others were as much “mantra drashTas” as their male
counterparts, probably because they had overcome these disabilities by
virtue of their innate powers.

The very expectation of stricter norms of morality in women is an
acknowledgement of their natural superiority.

“SudrO Sadhu”
The “TraivarNikas” could not act as it pleased them; their activities were
severely curtailed and bound by the Saastras, the severity of observance and
punishment for non-observance diminishing from Brahmins to Kshatriyas to
Vaisyas - in that order. But, in the case of Sudras, they not only do not
have to study Saastras, they do not have to perform any of the rites
enjoined on others. They are exempted from the rigor that binds the others.
By merely assisting others, they shared the benefit accruing from the
penances performed by the higher castes. The higher castes were ‘higher’
only in their duties and responsibilities. On the other hand, the Sudras
were co-sharers of all the “puNya karmas” done by these so called “higher”
castes. Thus, they got maximum benefit without any effort at all”*
But for those who desire to observe SV, SaLagrama Puja etc, the alternatives
indicated in answer to the previous question would suffice.


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