The Vedic attitude towards woman is clear and unambiguous. She forms the foundation of our society. If you want to destroy the society, destroy the status, education and dignity of woman, If you want to form a society that stands up to highest benchmarks of principles and nobility, accord highest glory to woman and let her possess knowledge, dignity and leadership.
It was the greatest misfortune that befell on our nation and society when we started considering women as commodity – either for sensual pleasure or for servile jobs. This did not happen in one day. The degradation of women started around 1000 years before Mahabharat. But after the Islamic invasions in middle ages, the status kept deteriorating like anything. And in sync with that, the society started becoming more and more weak, cowardly, impotent, tortured, mutilated and devastated. The price that we paid for ignoring the Vedic advice on women has been indeed very heavy. So foolish have we been that, in name of Dharma, we allowed the undeserving among us to dictate that women do not have rights over study of Vedas or to even recite Vedic mantras.
It is indeed a matter of shame that many such anti-Vedic mindsets claim to represent so-called Hindutva or Hinduism or Vedic culture and many even revere them blindly. And this is what has been making our society even more hypocritical. Agniveer categorically states that all those people and all those texts that justify prohibition of Vedic studies or inferior rights for women are the GREATEST ENEMIES OF HINDUISM. Period.
The lessons of repression of women have been learned by us not from Vedas but from traditions of the invaders who plundered us – be it the tribals of West Asia representing so-called Islam or the British representing so-called Christianity. And of course all those bogus texts that were written to dissuade people from study of Vedas. We do not know when and till when were these texts written. (Some kept being written till printing press became popular in late 19th century!) But we are of firm opinion that any text that demeans women or provides them inferior rights or restricts them from being leaders of society should be trashed into garbage or reinterpreted in lines of Vedas. Its high time we get back directly to the Vedas to know what true Dharma is.
In this article, we shall trash the myth that women do not have right to study Vedas or perform Yajna. We shall also study what Vedas have to say about a scholarly woman.
Woman and Yajna
Rigveda 1.146.3: The Yajamaan (performer of Yajna) and his wife are two cows and the fire of Yajna is the calf.
Rigveda 1.72.5: Scholars perform Yajna with their wives and achieve bliss.
Rigveda 2.6.5: If mother and sister perform Yajna together, that brings bliss.
Rigveda 7.1.6: The young woman approaches the fire with Havi
Atharvaveda 3.28.6: O wife, you have entered the world of Yajna.
Atharvaveda 3.30.6: All the members of family should perform Yajna.
Atharvaveda 14.2.18: O woman, you should perform Yajna in Grihastha Ashram.
Atharvaveda 14.2.25: O woman, perform Yajna with bliss.
Further, there is NOT ONE SINGLE mantra in entire Vedas that prohibit Yajna for women.
Please note that Yajna here does not mean merely Agnihotra or Havan, but all kinds of noble deeds. Vedas simply do not differentiate on basis of gender or birth for conduct of any noble deed.
And when women can do Yajna, what stops her from reciting Vedic Mantras!
The restriction of women from Vedas or Yajna is an innovation of medieval age whose only contribution to our society has been disaster and slavery.
Its a matter of shame that many revered representatives of Hinduism still justify such perverted beliefs. But thanks to legends like Swami Dayanand Saraswati who gave right interpretations of Vedas, we hear Gayatri Mantra sung by women even in temples!
Here is a tip to expose black sheep among us – Ask the representative of Hinduism – be he a Shankaracharya or Mahant or Master of Sanskrit or whatever – if he can have a woman perform priestly duties, recite Vedic mantras and conduct Agnihotra. If answer is anything but an immediate and emphatic yes, he is an enemy to cause of Dharma. Reject him in same manner as one rejects a snake despite having a Mani on head.
Woman and Education
Swami Dayanand even went to the extent to proposing a punishment for those who do not send their children – boys and girls – to school (Satyarth Prakash Chapter 3). Here are some mantras on necessity of education for women.
Rigveda 6.44.18: The government should ensure that all boys and girls get good education, follow Brahmacharya and strengthen the society.
Yajurveda 10.7: Government should put special efforts to make all women into scholars.
Rigveda 3.1.23: Smart people should ensure that all boys and girls become scholars.
Rigveda 2.41.16: All girls should receive education from scholarly women.
Yajurveda 11.36: Parents should ensure good education of children – boys and girls – and then send them to scholars for a long period so that their enlighten the families and nation like sun.
Rigveda 1.152.6: The way mother nourishes her children with milk, scholars should nourish girls and boys with knowledge.
Yajurveda 6.14: Teachers should ensure that they inculcate noble qualities in their students (girls and boys) through dissemination of knowledge of Vedas.
Rigveda 2.41.17: All scholars should instruct their scholarly wives to educate all girls.
Yajurveda 34.40: The way dawn brings happiness among human beings, scholarly woman should bring happiness by educating girls.
Yajurveda 20.85: Scholarly woman should ensure that she educates other women and makes them also scholars.
Rigveda 1.117.24: Teachers should ensure that they train boys and girls with highest levels of noble values and educate them and then return them to their respective parents.
Rigveda 1.164.41: The woman who masters and teaches all the Vedas brings bliss in entire society.
Rigveda 7.40.7: Scholarly woman that possess noble qualities should educate all women and bring happiness everywhere.
Potentials of an educated woman
An educated woman can make her society a world power. She can change the course of history. She is Saraswati. Here is what Vedas have to say about an educated woman.
Yajurveda 20.84: The scholarly woman purifies our lives with her intellect. Through her actions, she purifies our actions. Through her knowledge and action, she promotes virtue and efficient management of society.
Yajurveda 20.85: Scholarly woman inspires us towards knowledge. She promotes conduct of noble acts in society.
Yajurveda 20.86: Scholarly woman rushes an exhilaration within us that comes only through knowledge. She enlightens our knowledge, applications and actions.
Rigveda 1.164.49: O scholarly woman, your knowledge provides us peace and bliss. You lead us to inculcate noble virtues. You provide us prosperity through your knowledge. May we obey your inspiration that you provide as a mother. A scholarly woman is mother of entire society.
Rigveda 2.41.16: O provider of great knowledge, O my mother through the nourishment of knowledge that you have provided, our life is scattered without you. Please provide us direction.
Rigveda 2.41.17: A scholarly woman, the entire life of society depends upon you. You provide us the right knowledge. May you bring knowledge to all segments of society.
Rigveda 6.49.7: O scholarly woman, you purify our character. You have noble characteristics. You conduct noble actions. You have noble habits. We bow to your greatness that provides bliss to all.
Rigveda 6.61.2: O scholarly woman, the way a river breaks away mightiest of hills and rocks, the scholarly woman destroys myths and hypes through her intellect alone. May we bow to women through our polite words and noble actions.
Rigveda 6.61.3: O scholarly woman, destroy the evil inside us through your knowledge and character. Gift us with knowledge of Vedas. O performer of noble actions, you provide us stream of knowledge in same manner as a river provides stream of water.
Rigveda 7.96.3: O scholarly noble woman brings only happiness in society. She makes us knowledgeable and alert. She guides us like the mantras in Yajna and teaches us use of everything in world.
Rigveda 10.17.7: Those who desire the society to become noble and powerful, they respect woman and please her. Those who desire virtues respect woman and please her. Those who respect woman obtain bliss, knowledge and happiness.
Atharvaveda 7.57.1: Whenever I am hurt by meanness of world or misunderstanding with others, a scholarly woman heals my wounds. (Because women possess the soft skills and emotional intelligence that is not naturally and easily available to men.)
May Ishwar, inspire the women of our nation and world to be examples of Vedic women. And may our society put woman and her respect at highest pedestal so that we become lighthouse of entire world.
References: Works of Swami Dayanand, Pt Ramnath Vedalankar, Pt Jaydeva Shastri, Pt Priyaratna and many other Vedic scholars. Vedic Naari by Pt Ramnath Vedalankar, Vedik Shabdarth Vichar by Pt Ramnath Vedalankar, Vedic Kosh by Pt Rajveer Shastri have been consulted primarily.
This article is also available in Persian at http://agniveer.com/woman-foundation-of-knowledge-pe/