TWO TYPES OF VEDIC WOMEN (Post No.7570)

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No.7570

Date uploaded in London – 13 February 2020

Contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

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Many women were regarded as Rishis or seers, i.e. composers of hymns and some of the hymns in the Rig Samhita were attributed to women. Twenty such hymn composing ladies are named in Sarvanukramanika ( List of poetesses and poets).

Lopaamudraa , Apaalaa, Vishwawaraa, Sikataa, Nivaavari, and Ghoshaa are some of the famous women whose names have been preserved in Vedic literature.

The grounds for such high literary attainments were prepared by education in childhood. The girls, like boys, underwent Upanayana ceremony ( sacred initiation) at an early age. That this was the usual practice, and continued even in later ages , is proved by many interesting evidences. We are told in the Atharva Samhita, 11-5-18, that ‘by Vedic studentship a girl wins a young husband’. This shows that high education was regarded as a necessary accomplishment for being well placed in life. Even in later Vedic age we hear of two classes of educated women,

1.Sadyowaahaas, who prosecuted their studies till their marriage,

2.Brahmavaadinis, who did not marry and pursued their studies throughout life.

It is interesting to note in this connection that the list of great Vedic teachers to whom tribute of respect had to be paid at the time of Brahmayajna, includes the names of some ladies, viz. Gaargi Vaachaknavi, Vadavaa Praatitheyi, Sulabhaa Maitreyi ( see Ashwalaayana Grihya Sutra 3-4-4). These evidences to which others may be added, show that the highest education, including Vedic studies was open equally to men and women, and many ladies distinguished themselves not only as Vedic scholars but also as great philosophers, debaters and teachers.

It may be stated without any hesitation that the general position and status of Indian women in the Vedic age was much higher than in any other ancient society that we know of, those of Greece and Rome not excluded. It is hardly necessary to point out that the picture is an ideal one, and cannot be regarded as universally true of all women.

But sons were preferred to daughters because of the funeral ceremony which could be done only by men.

Source book –  Great Women of India, Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, Almora, Himalayas, year 1953 (with my inputs from Tamil literature )

Xxx Subham xxx