3. Vedas & Hindu Women

In the Vedic culture and in Hinduism women are considered the source of power (Shakti). Hinduism is the only religion in the world in which there are female deities and goddesses.

Hindu women enjoyed equal status with men in Vedas and in Hinduism (ardhanariswara). Gender equality has been sanctioned in Vedas and is a cardinal principle of Hinduism and Hindutva. No religious ceremony is complete without participation of one’s wife. Some persons say that Hindu women are not allowed to read and recite Vedas. It is totally incorrect as there are at least 31 lady risikas who were considered eligible by the Param Pita Parmeshwar to be revealed the Vedic richas. In simple words richas composed by 31 lady risikas are included in Rig Veda so they have divine rights to read and recite Vedas. Details of these lady risikas and list of richas revealed to them are given in chapter Six of my book VEDIC EQUALITY & HINDUISM.

In Rig Veda there is only one sukta RV(10.85) to solemnise marriage ceremony (vivah sukta). It is composed by a lady risika Surya Savitri. There are a few richas in other suktas which relate to marriages.

Rig Veda approves women priests in Hinduism vide RV (5.28). In this sukta risika Viswavara (composer of this sukta) facing the east, bearing the ladle with oblations is proceeding alone to the sacred fire to worship.

Atharva Veda AV (11.5.18) expressly sanctions study of Vedas by girls. Whitney & Joshi translate it: “By vedic studentship, a girl wins a young husband.” How could ladies compose richas if have not been allowed to study? AV (14.1.6) asks parents to marry their daughter after she has been educated

There are some richas in Vedas which cannot be recited by men as in these richas husband giving deity (pativedanam) is worshipped. These can be recited only by husband seeking women and unmarried girls.  These are AV(14.1.17) and the second part of Yajurveda (3.60). The first part of Yajurveda (3.60) is the famous Mahamritunjay mantra which appears at RV (7.59.12).

Vedas, Gita and even Manusmriti do not sanction widow burning. There are at least nine vedic richas which sanction re-marriage of a Hindu widow. These are RV (10.40.2), RV (10.18.8,9), AV (9.5.27,28) and A V (18.3.1-4). For details please see chapter seven of my book VEDIC EQUALITY & HINDUISM, A Reformist Agenda: Dalit Emancipation and Return to Vedic Brotherhood.

Rig Veda richa (2.17.7) attests share of a daughter in properties of her father.

Rig Veda richas (10.18.8) and (10.85.42) confirm wife’s rights over matrimonial home. RV(3.53.4) says “ a man’s wife is his dwelling verily she is his place of birth.” Atharva Veda (14. 1 & 2) and RV(10.85.46) declare her to be empress (samragyee) of the household, owner of her matrimonial home.

Yajurveda 20.9 sanctions equal right to men and women in selection of rulers and being appointed as the ruler.

Yajurveda 17.45 encourages women to participate in wars. In fact RV (1.116.15) describes valour of a  lady warrior  Vishpala  who lost her one leg in war and Ashwin Kumars fitted her with an iron made prosthetic leg. In RV (10.102.2) lady Indrasena leads army of her king husband to attack enemies.

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