[Advaita-l] yagnOpaveeta & women

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 18 12:26:41 CDT 2009


I am responding to this topic more than a month after it was posted. Only because it is something worth responding to.


The one ventral thing to keep in mind about all our samskAra-s is that there are many schools of thought about them, championed by very respected and respectable people, but not all such views have the sanction of custom and tradition.


For example, in the dharmasUtra-s, there are varying opinions about remarriage of widows or of a woman whose husband has abandoned her. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not always simply prohibited. However, different AcAya-s express different opinions on when it can be allowed. You cannot simply say that Apastambha says one thing and vasishTha says another, therefore there is no consistency in the Hindu thinking about it. Rather, in any particular case, the custom to be followed will have to be influenced by whether the family follows the Apasatambha sUtra or the vasishTha sUtra. In this case, there is no one siddhAnta that is common to all people, but there are multiple choices dictated by usage and family tradition.


Similarly, in the mImAMsA sUtras, there is a discussion about who is entitled to perform yajnas for which the upanayana is a prerequisite. In this case, too, many respected names are cited as holding different opinions, but the final siddhAnta is unmistakably one.


Regarding commonly seen domestic rituals, again, not everything is covered in the dharmaSAstra. Even for such a central life-defining ritual as marriage, there is nothing in the dharmaSAstra texts about the woman wearing a cord around her neck as a Mangalsutra. Yet, centuries old traditions for all communities feature some version or the other of a Mangalsutra. One simple way of looking at these cases is to see whether the concerned dharmaSAstra prohibits a particular commonly observed ritual.


Human beings do things in a million different ways, which cannot all be anticipated and set down in iron-clad do-s and dont-s. The strength of the dharmaSAstra-s is that they do not attempt to do so. Rather, family traditions, commonly observed customs, the advice of elders in the community and the practices followed by the learned (SishTAcAra) are all given some importance. 


In any situation, dharma does not stand up and announce itself, "here I am". The dhArmic way to do things has to be learned and cultivated.



> I was reading a Kannada book ' saMskAragaLu mattu mAnaveeya moulyagaLu' 
> written by Sri Srikanta Kumara Swamy. In this book, it is said that women 
> is entitled to undergo 'upanayanaM' and can do saNdhya vandanaM regularly. 
> Author, justifies his claim by quoting some incidents in rAmAyaNa & 
> other texts. Besides this, author also makes some interesting 
> observations on rAkshOghna hOma (a sort of ritual which we observe before 
> house warming), kooshmAnda bali (here in South India, we cut pumpkin into 
> pieces apply some kumkum & turmeric powder to symbolize the animal 
> sacrifice to dikpAlaka-s, kshetrapAla & vAstu purusha etc. in house 
> warming ceremony). He says these rituals are meaningless & donot have any 
> base in dharma shAstra. 
> I'd like to get more insights into this issue i.e. threading ceremony to 
> women & saNdhyA vandana by women from the prabhuji-s. 
> Kindly ignore if it is out of the scope of advaita. 
> Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!
> bhaskar 
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