India has inherited a rich Vedic cultural legacy from its glorious past. It is also a well-known fact that all the rishi-munis and yogis accept Vedas as their soul. Rishi Kashyap after studying Vedas continuously for 300 years expressed his views that their knowledge is endless and eternal. So, it shall not be out of place to mention that women have always enjoyed high respect from the society in the Vedic period.
We must not forget the invaluable lesson from Atharvaved mantra — Stree Hee Brahma Babhuvith — which means that women have been given the title of Brahma. Even Yajyen considered woman as Brahma as she always gives Vedic advice to everyone.
If we delve deep into our history, especially of Vedic age, we discover various names like Sita, Ansuiya, Madalsa, Savitri, Bhamati, Katyayini, Lopamudra, King Janak’s acharya Gargi and Kunti, who through their devotion, dedication and deep knowledge of Vedas enlightened mankind. There are numerous quotes in our scriptures including that the Devta always experiences divine pleasure and gives blessings to those who respect women.
A child owes a lot to his/her mother because she is the one who nurtures him/her from the beginning. Her teachings hold much more importance than even the teacher in the school. She is the moral builder, that is why we eulogise her by saying, “Matri Devo Bhava” i.e. serve the mother because she gives birth and nurses the child and “Mata Nirmatri Bhavati” i.e. mother constitutes the bright future of the child.
The veteran warrior and wise man of Mahabharat, Bhishma Pitamah is respected even today because his mother Ganga, gave him the right kind of education from the beginning. It was she who persuaded Guru Parshuram, the greatest teacher in weaponary and warfare at that time to teach him the skills of fighting. For the knowledge of scriptures, she sent Bhishma Pitamah to Brihaspati, the biggest scholar of Vedas at that time. Thus he became not only a good warrior but also a great scholar and spiritualist. The credit goes to none else but to his mother.
Women, after the Mahabharat period, due to the lack of knowledge of Vedas, have been mistreated and abused. By not educating them in the Vedas, we are depriving the country of the ability to be stronger.
There is the story of extreme sacrifice by a wife for her ascetic husband. Once, there lived a philosopher, Vachaspati Mishr, who was married in his childhood. He forgot his wife as he was meditating intensely. After the death of her parents, the girl attained puberty and went to his ashram in the hope of a happy married life. Finding Vachaspati deeply engrossed in meditation, she decided not to disturb him. She started managing the affairs of the ashram and serving the rishi day in and day out. With the passage of time, she crossed the age of 75. One day when Vachaspatiji was busy writing a book in the light of an oil lamp, the flame started flickering. Seeing that the oil was finished, she tried to pour in some to replenish it. It was a moonlit night and the gleam fell on her face. He was surprised to see her and asked her who she was. The woman tried to make him remember their marriage during their childhood. When he came to know this, he felt ashamed that he could not look after his wife rather she was left to manage the affairs of his ashram. The aged rishi slowly started moving towards his wife to embrace her. Immediately she moved back and said that by serving him for several years, she had experienced the divine pleasure of maintaining Brahmacharya, so she should be allowed to remain so. The rishi stopped and went towards his seat. He asked her name. She replied that it was Bhamati. By then the rishi had completed his spiritual book based on Vedas but he was yet to give it a title and named it Bhamati.
Sometimes I wonder why the birth of a girl is not welcomed. Whereas Vedas preach that a daughter is a lamp and enlightens two houses — one of her parents’ and the second of her husband’s like maa Sita.
So, a family must rejoice at the birth of a daughter considering her as a pure blessing, harbinger of good fortune and glory to the family. As quoted above, woman is “Brahma”, so a creator must be revered.
(The author, Swami Ram Swarup Yogacharya is the chief editor of Ved Ishvareeya Vani, a bi-annual magazine.)