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Women empowerment in Vedas

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Women empowerment in Vedas

Ancient Indian texts make it quite clear that women were always meant to be respected and valued in our culture, writes DAKSH BHARADWAJ

The Vedas say, man himself (aatmanah) is only half or incomplete (ardha), as long as  (yaavat) he does not obtain (Vindate) a wife (jaayaa). According to the Vedic teachings and ancient Aryan scriptures, women have been placed at a higher status than man. She has been given preference to man in every field, so much so that when giving a boy a joint name of a god and goddess, the name of the goddess is always placed before the god. For example: In the name “Sita Rama”, Sita is wife of Rama. In “Radhe Shyama” Radha is the beloved of Krishna. Again, in “Gori Shankar”, Gori is Shankar’s or Lord Shiva’s wife. We call our country motherland, mother is superior to father. We are taught to be more indebted to mother than father — “Maat devobhava” before “Pita devobhava”.

In our country, there is a festival to worship womanhood as early as when they are little girls, called “Kanya Poojan”, on the eighth day of the moon, or the Asthami. On this day, little boys call their sisters, cousin sisters, relatives and neighbouring girls, to their homes. The girls come with great affection to their brothers, properly dressed and bedecked. The boys first wash the feet of the girls as a token of great respect and service. They feed them sweets and other food prepared by their mothers for the girls. The boys feel great privilege and honour in serving the girls. The mothers guide the boys to perform their duty of serving their sisters and also tell them their duties towards their sisters in future life. Respect of womanhood starts at that age.

Woman stands paramount in Vedic culture. We go as far as saying that if one wants to understand culture and civilisation of a nation, one has only to observe how that nation treats its women folk. She is the symbol of culture.

Lord Manu forcefully states, Wherever women (naaryah) are adored and regarded (Poojyante), believe i, there reside godly people  (ramante tatra devataah). And where they are not regarded or are neglected, there, all efforts (kriyaa) of men (aphalaa) will bear no fruit.

In the field of education, women were given equal opportunities. They had their own Gurukulas — covents — where they studied and acquired knowledge of science and arts. There were highly educated and wise women. There have been great women like Shila Bhattaarikaa, Maarutee, Morikaa and Subhadra etc. Vijayaanganaa is counted next to Kalidasa as a dramatist.

The Gita says that a woman should have the keen desire and capability to give shelter and support to others, have a good memory (smriti) to remember her duties, deep thinking power and good intuition, the courage and boldness to face odd times, and the kindness to pardon others.

In Vedas, the bride-to-be, is called Kanya and it is she who has the birth right of choice and of obtaining a matrimonial partner. The word Kanya is a derivative of root knee deeptow which means “to shine” or be illustrious or to illuminate.”

The women at home are mahaabhaagaah or the source of great fortune. They are poojaarhaah or worthy to be worshiped, they are the lights, who by their behaviour, brighten the whole family atmosphere. It is they who are gracefully good to give us our progeny. In the family or at home, there is no difference between (shree) the wealth and fortune of the family and (striyah) the ladies at home, that is, they are the emblem of prosperity and good fortune.

It is also said that if a husband, in his family, protects and provides well his wife, actually he protects his family prestige, traditions, his progeny and the social laws; much depends on the wife. A man without a wife cannot even perform any ritual or ceremony without his wife, according to the Vedas.

 

 
 
 
 
 

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