[Advaita-l] rAmAyaNa quotes with regard to stree upanayana

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Fri Jul 16 20:40:14 CDT 2010

On Thu, 17 Jun 2010, Bhaskar YR wrote:

> Have you replied this mail prabhuji??  If not, kindly let me know your
> views on these rAmAyaNa quotes.

I am sorry but I was only now able to do some research on this.

> The author of the book Sri R.K. Srikanta Kumara Swamy gives two examples
> from the vAlmeeki  rAmAyaNa in support of 'stree upanayana'.
> (a)  ayodhyAkAnda 30-15 & 16 :  sAkshauma vasanA hrushvA nityaM
> vrataparAyaNA, agniM juhOtisma tadA maNtravat krutamaMgalA, pravishyatu
> tadA rAmO mAturaMtaHpuraM shubhaM, dadarshamAtaraMtatra hAvayanteeM
> hutAshanaM...kausalya, mother of Sri Rama without knowing rAma's vanavAsa,
> by wearing silk dress, was doing vrata and doing hOma by reciting
> maNtra-s, rAma saw this while entering the antaHpura.

These shlokas do not occur either in the Nirnaya Sagara edition of Valmiki 
Ramayana reprinted by Indological Book House, Varanasi  which I have or in 
the BORI critical edition.

In the former, Ayodhyakanda 30.15-16 reads:

patraM mUlaM phalaM yattu alpaM vA yadi hi bahu |
dAsyase svayamAhR^itya tanme.amR^itarasopamam || 15 ||

na mAturna pitustatra smariShymI na veshmanaH |
ArtavAnyupabhu~njAnA puSpANi cha phalAni cha || 16 ||

This is part of Sitajis speech saying that she will endure the hardships 
of the forest rather than abandon her husband.

In the latter the shlokas read:

te lakShmaNa iva kShipraM sapatnyaH sahabAndhavAH |
gacchantam anugacchAmo yena gacchati rAghavaH || 15 ||

udyAnAni parityajya kShetrANi cha gR^ihANi cha |
ekaduHkhasukhA rAmam anugacchAma dhArmikam || 16 ||

Also not spoken by Kaushalya.

Now it is possible that the sequence of shlokas is different in the 
edition your author uses.  There are regional variations etc.  However 
looking in several sargas around the places you mentioned, I was not able 
to find these shlokas.

Also note that in your authors quote, Kaushalya is mentioned as residing 
in the antaHpUra or Harem.  Women being kept in secluded quarters is 
hardly a sign of egalitarianism is it?  Plus it might be a clue as to a 
later date for these shlokas.  Although such customs did exist in our 
society prior to Muslim influence, (which is when they became widespread.) 
historians do not think they were followed in earlier times when the 
Ramayana was composed.

> (b)  sundarakAnda : 14-49 :  saNdhAkAlamanAHshyAmA dhruvameshTati jAnaki,
> nadeemchemaM shubhajalAM saNdhyArThevara varNinee..Hanuman while searching
> for seeta in ashokavana thinks that since there is river flowing  here and
> it is the time for saNdhyAvandana, if seeta around here she would
> definitely come here to do saNdhyAvandana.

This one is on firmer footing.  Both the sources  I consulted have this
(though I think you transcribed it a little bit wrong.)  NS numbers it 
14-49, BORI has it as 12-48.

saMdhyAkAlamanAH shyAmA dhruvameShyati jAnakI |
nadIM chemAM shubhajalAM saMdhyArthe varavarNinI || 49 ||

The Tilaka commentary which is included with the NS edition notes the 
incongruency of this.

tatra kartavyasnAnAdau chAstyeva strINAmapyadhikAra iti kathaM 
strINAM saMdhyAvandanamiti parAstaM veditavyaM | kiM cha 
samyagbhagavaddhyAnasyaiva saMdhyApadArthtvenAstyeva tatra striyA 
adhikAraH | gAyatrImantreNa tadarthasmaraNapUrvakaShyAne tu 
dvijasyaivAdhikAra ityanyat |

In other words what Sitaji was doing was meditating on Bhagavan at 
sunrise.  This is a type of "sandhya" but it not the same as reciting 
gayatri with arghya etc.  It is totally uncontroversial even in the most 
orthodox families for women to get up at sunrise for meditation, puja etc.
Your author is making a very imaginative leap to go from that to assuming 
the same karma as men perform is being mentioned in that shloka.

> Author argues that since according Apasthamba, upanayana saMskAra is only
> for getting 'vidya' (vidyArjana) both stree & purusha are eligible to
> undergo this saMskAra.

That's a bogus argument.  Vidya refers to Vedavidya, not motorcycle 
maintanence or computer science or even vedanta.  Unless he can show that 
strIs are eligible for vedavidyArjana he is asserting what he is trying to 
prove which is a logical fallacy.

One more thing to consider about the Ramayana as a source.  It goes into 
detail about Shri Ramas upanayana and dwelling in gurukul with Vishvamitra 
Maharshi.  If Sitaji had undergone the same why is the Ramayana silent on 
it?  Her birth and childhood in Mithila is covered.  Even that she learned 
the 64 kalas (which include flower arranging, painting etc.) so upanayana 
is a big deal.  It should have been mentioned too right?  The simplest 
explanation for why it wasn't is because it didn't happen.

I also meant to reply to this post.

On Fri, 14 May 2010, Kathirasan K wrote:

> If I am not wrong Julia Jeslie, in her translation of Stridharmapaddhati
> (penguin 1995) , has shown through scriptural references that women did
> engage in such rituals and qualified to do so in early vedic times.

That women can and did perform various yajnas is hardly controversial.  In 
fact it is the mainstream Mimamsaka view.  But did they do so themselves 
or employ purohits for the purpose?  There is little evidence for the 
former view. Leslie actually focuses on the narrower question of whether 
women underwent upanayana in Vedic times.  Even there a lot of 
interpretive imagination has to be used to fit the evidence to the thesis. 
Also, if we are going by purely historical analysis, the sandhyavandana is 
not from "early Vedic times"  In fact it is part of the latest layer.  For 
instance in the Madhyandina shakha which I am familiar with, it is 
mentioned in exactly one line of the Shatapatha Brahmana.  The vidhi is 
given in the Paraskara Grhyasutra but even there, not in the main body of 
the text but a parishishta ("appendix") called trikandika sutra.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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