[Advaita-l] Women and Paramahamsa sannyasa

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Mar 18 04:08:04 CDT 2012

2012/3/18 श्रीमल्ललितालालितः <lalitaalaalitah at lalitaalaalitah.com>

> *श्रीमल्ललितालालितः <http://www.lalitaalaalitah.com/>
> lalitAlAlitaH <http://about.me/lalitaalaalitah/bio>*
> On Sat, Mar 17, 2012 at 23:03, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
> >wrote:
> He also doesn't say that her tridaNDa-dhAraNa is something vaidika.

Shankara relied on the data in the smRti for what He required to quote:

   1. The existence of the person 'sulabhA'
   2. That she was a brahmavAdinI
   3. That she had yogic powers to enter someone else's body
   4. That she had a dialogue with Janaka

Now, this very smRti has other data too that Shankara did not find relevant
for His purpose:

   1. sulabhA was a 'bhikShukI'
   2. she carried tridaNDa
   3. she did bhikShAcharyA

I relied on these extra pieces of data and the commentary of nIlakanTha  to
conclude that there was such a practice in vogue in those times.  So, the
same smRti mUlatvam that Shankara relied upon is the basis for me too.  I
have not argued that women should take or be given sannyasa based on this
information.  I only made an observation by bringing to light these things
from the smRti.


*//The girls’ right to Upanayan*

*‘In the ancient times there was a practice of performing the thread
ceremony (Upanayan) in girls as well. A mention of this is made in the
Kurma Puran as*
*पुराकल्‍पे हि नारीणां मौञ्‍जीबन्‍धनमीरितम्‌ ।*
*Meaning: In ancient times (kalpa) thread ceremony for women was
*Either the father, paternal uncle or brother would impart knowledge to the
girl. However, other men were prohibited from doing this task. A celibate
girl (brahmacharini) would ask for alms in her own household. Manu (2.66)
states that the thread ceremony in girls was performed without a mantra.

*[In the ManusmRti 2.66 we have this verse: After detailing the method of
upanayanam for males, of the three varNa-s, Manus says:*

*अमन्त्रिका तु कार्येयं स्त्रीणामावृदशेषतः ।*

*संस्कारार्थं शरीरस्य यथाकालं यथाक्रमम् ॥

*[This whole series of ceremonies must be performed to the females also in
order to sanctify the body at the proper time and in the proper order but
without reciting the mantras.]*

*वैवाहिको विधिः स्त्रीणां संस्कारो वैदिकः स्मृतः ।*

*पतिसेवा गुरौ वासो गृहार्थोऽग्निपरिक्रिया ॥ २.६७ ॥*

*[The nuptial ceremony is stated to be the Vedic sacrament for women (and
to be equal to initiation), serving the husband is equivalent to residence
in the house of the teacher and the household duties the same as the
worship of the sacred fire.] *


*From this, it appears that since Manu’s times this custom slowly started
*In the succeeding age, the Panigrahan sanskar (rite) performed by the
bridegroom on the girl was the main sanskar. The Upanayan chapter of the
Sanskar-Ratnamala mentions the following two types of women based on the
quotes from ‘Haritsmruti’ : 1. Brahmavadini - the one who is desirous of
studying the Brahman principle. Her thread ceremony should be performed and
she should be allowed to study the Vedas. 2. Sadyovadhu - one who wants a
worldly life. Her marriage should be arranged soon after the thread
ceremony is performed. Even today followers of the Arya Samaj perform the
thread ceremony (Upanayan) on girls.’ (1*)//


//One must ask why *Yājñavalkya* 5.115 and *Viṣṇu* 2.235 would place a fine
on feeding a Śūdra ascetic at a festival, or why *Manu* 8.363 would place a
fine on conversing with a female renouncer, if such individuals did not
exist in the first


ik< icdœ @v tu daPy> Syat! s<-a;a< tai-rœ Aacrn!, àE:yasu c£@k-­asu rh> *
àìijtasu* c.  8£363

//8.363. Yet he who secretly converses with such women, or with female
slaves kept by one (master), and with *female ascetics*, shall be compelled
to pay a small fine.//

For more references to renunciation by Śūdras and women, see Olivelle,
"Renouncer and Renunciation in the *Dharmaśāstras.*" p. 112-115

If someone were to ask: on what basis did Bhishma relate this episode to
Yudhishtira? we will most probably end up with no answer. For there are a
number of stories in the Mahabharata, like that of the Dharma vyAdha's, for
instance, which are themselves only told by someone to someone within the
Mahabharata.   It would be driving one to infinite regress, anavasthA, for
finding mUlam for something that is already in the smRti.  If we get one it
is fine, but if we do not get then also it is fine.


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