By Gokula Candra Das
After reading your paper on “Some Evidence Regarding
Education and Guruship for Vaishnavis” one gets an impression that woman have equal rights for Vedic education and Guruship and that is indeed what was happening in the far past – the Vedic age.
None of us have studied Vedas and it is thus difficult to understand their message and meaning – particularly if is not matching to the teaching and example given by our acaryas.
Vedas are difficult to understand for there are many contradictory statements in Vedas srutayo vibhinna:
tarko ‘pratishthah srutayo vibhinna
nasav rishir yasya matam na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam
mahajano yena gatah sa panthah
Mahabharata, Vana-parva (313.117)
“‘Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated, self-realized person. Consequently, as the sastras confirm, one should accept whatever progressive path the mahajanas advocate.’”
Thus we should follow the Mahajanas, mahajano yena gatah sa panthah
Srila Prabhupada is our Mahajana.
He has never given to Matajis the post of temple president post, or the position of GBC or Diksa Guru. on top of it he never allowed equal education for boys and girls for this is against sastric instructions.
You have said:
“Direct evidence supporting the equal right to education is found in the Atharva-veda (11.5.18) as follows,
brahmacarye.a kanya yuvana. vindate patim
Through brahmacarya a girl attains a suitable husband.
This is clear, through practice of celibacy a girl attains good husband.
The sloka does not say that girls were studying Vedas, for this would be contra
dicting to all other Vedic statements that woman, unqualified brahamans (dvija-bandhus) and sudras are not thought Vedas, as confirmed in Srimad Bhagavatam – the ripened fruit of all Vedic knowledge:
trayi na sruti-gocara
stri—the woman class; sudra—the laboring class; dvija-bandhunam—of the friends of the twice-born; trayi—three; na—not; sruti-gocara—for understanding
Translation by HDG Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati ThakurPrabhupada
“The Rig, Sama, and Yajur Vedas should not be recited before women, sudras, and dvija-bandhus.”
You have given misleading commentary by using definition of brahmacary dharma – which refers to brahmacaris(boys) not to girls – and try to impress uninformed public wrong conclusion that woman were studying in gurukulas equally with boys.
As quoted above Srimad Bhagavatam says no equal education for woman and Srila Prabhupada follows the same conclusion, that boys were thought different knowledge and the girls different.
Tamala Krishna: So we’re… I thought there were girls in Vrindavana now. They said that they’re going to have the girls’ gurukula behind the boys’ gurukula. Gopala was talking about that.
Prabhupada: No, no, no. No girls.
Tamala Krishna: It should be in another city or somewhere else.
Prabhupada: Yes. They should be taught how to sweep, how to stitch…
Tamala Krishna: Clean.
Prabhupada: …clean, cook, to be faithful to the husband.
Tamala Krishna: They don’t require a big school.
Prabhupada: No, no. That is mistake. They should be taught how to become obedient to the husband.
Tamala Krishna: Yeah, you won’t learn that in school.
Prabhupada: Little education, they can…
Tamala Krishna: Yeah. That they can get at home also.
Prabhupada: They should be stopped, this practice of prostitution. This is a very bad system in Europe and America. The boys and girls, they are educated-coeducation. From the very beginning of their life they become prostitutes. And they encourage.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Morning Conversation — April 29, 1977,
Again you tried to give us wrong impression about woman’s education by misusing the quote from Srimad Bhagavatam :
The Srimad-bhagavatam speaks of two ladies attaining to complete Vedic knowledge:
tebhyo dadhara kanye dve vayuna. dhari.i. svadha
ubhe te brahma-vadinyau jshana-vijshana-parage
Svadha, who was offered to the Pitas, begot two daughters named Vayuna and Dhari.i, both of whom were impersonalists and were expert in transcendental and Vedic knowledge. (4.1.64)
This sloka speaks that these two woman have attained spiritual realization – that is true – but the sloka does not say how they have attained it.
The Vedas are not against woman attaining spiritual realization, neither is Srila Prabhupada. So how does the woman attain self realization?
By serving their husband those ladies achieve realization of transcendental knowledge, as Devahuti did:
By the grace of Kardama Muni, Devahuti experienced actual realization simply by serving…By serving her devotee husband, Kardama Muni, Devahuti shared in his achievements.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.23.7
The woman attain knowledge from their father, husband, and eldest son (as Devahuti did) and not by studying Vedas by sitting in Gurukul (next to boys as the western minds would like to imagine “equal education”). They were taught stri dharma at home by their mothers, and other ladies.
Again Srila Prabhupada’s teaching is in accordance with Srimad Bhagavatam but your conclusion is not.
“Another item is, you are married wife, so in that position you should serve your husband nicely, always being attentive to his needs, and in this way, because he is always absorbed in serving Krsna, by serving your husband you will also get Krsna, through him. He is your spiritual master, but he must be responsible for giving you all spiritual help, teaching you as he advances his own knowledge and realization. That is the Vedic system. The wife becomes a devotee of her husband, the husband becomes a devotee of Krsna; the wife serves her husband faithfully, the husband protects his wife by giving her spiritual guidance. So you should simply do whatever your husband instructs you to do, however he may require your assistance. Of course, the nature of woman is to be attached to her husband and family, so our system is to minimize this attachment by making the ultimate goal of our activity the pleasure of Krsna. Just try to please Krsna always, and no material circumstances will be able to cause you any discomfort.” (SPL to Saucarya devi, 23rd October, 1972)
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Duties of the Wife
Even today there are still quite some traditional Gurukulas in India, run by Madhvas and Ramanujas, but there is no single girl studying there.
Again your evidence is not convincing:
There are many hymns in the .g-veda that are reserved for recitation only by women. An example (.g-veda 10.159.1-2) speaks about a woman‘s qualification to speak on transcendental topics:
Let my good fortune rise with the rising sun. May I attain my husband, defeat my enemies, and may I always be very tolerant. May I be an excellent knower of the Vedas, and a powerful speaker on the same. May my husband always be pleasing and behave tolerantly towards me.
Yes, woman can be speaker of the Vedas for whatever is spoken by true and strict followers of varnashrama dharma is Veda. They will speak, behave and discuss anything related to everyday life based on the teaching s of the Vedas. Sloka doesn’t say that they are independent diksa gurus who travel all around the world without their husbands and initiate both men and women. Look how the prayer finishes – “May my husband always be pleasing and behave tolerantly towards me.”
Even recently we have seen in Sri Rangam that all the Brahmin ladies gather together and recite some prayers and sing some songs about the Lord. They have never studied the Vedas, and none of them have taken the role of Diksa Guru. They are great devotees and they will go home back to godhead, but they never do things which their husbands do – preach in the public to common men, or speak on the TV, or go around and give diksa. Not even in a dream. We can learn from the tradition – this is called aihitya pramana – and it is accepted by acaryas and quoted by Srila Jiva Goswami in his Sri Tattva Sandarbha.
Do you remember example from Krsna Book- where brahmanas were engaged in fire sacrifices and their wives were at home. And this was their glory, they did not know how to do sacrifice but they knew how to please Krsna. They were better devotees than their husbands without doing fire sacrifice.
“When the wives of the brahmanas were favored by Lord Krishna and immediately attained the ecstasy of love of Godhead, their husbands said,
“These women have never undergone the purificatory rites of the twice-born classes, nor have they lived as brahmacaris in the asrama of a spiritual master, nor have they executed austerities, speculated on the nature of the self, followed the formalities of cleanliness or engaged in pious rituals. Nevertheless, they have firm devotion for Lord Krishna, whose glories are chanted by the exalted hymns of the Vedas and who is the supreme master of all masters of mystic power. We, on the other hand, have no such devotion for the Lord, although we have executed all these processes.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.23.43, SB 10.23.44, SB 10.23.43-44
We can see from this quote that woman never studied the Vedas as men do.
So all your Vedic quotes cannot stand against Srimad Bhagavatam.
I think that it would be better that we stick to what Srila Prabhupada has said rather than we attempt to understand Vedas on our own.
Gokula Candra Das