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====== Women Education as mentioned in Vedas ======
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Education of women in Vedic Age :
Education was an important feature in the upbringing of a girl child. Education was considered essential for girls and was therefore customary for girls to receive education. The girls with education were regarded highly. “A girl also should be brought up and educated with great effort and care” (Mahanirvana Tantra). The importance of a girl’s education is stressed in the Atharva Veda too.
The girls were entitled to Upanayana (to receive sacred thread) and to the privilege of studying Vedas; just as the boys. Women performed religious rites after completing their education under a Guru. They were entitled to offer sacrifices to gods. The son was not absolutely necessary for this purpose.
According to Shrauta and Grihya Sutras, women chanted mantras along with their husbands while performing rituals. There were eminent women in the field of learning and scholarship. These highly intelligent and greatly learned women, who chose the path of Vedic studies and, lived the ideal life of spirituality were called Brahmavadinis; and the women who opted out of education for married life were called ‘Sadyovadhus’. Both the sexes got equal attention for education.
Incidentally, the Shatapatha Braahmana lists some 52 generations of teachers, of which some 42 are remembered through their mothers. The teachers were males. This list acts like a bridge between the end of the Rig-Veda time and the Shatapatha Braahmana time. It is remarkable that a patriarchal society should remember its teachers through their mothers. The preference over the names of their fathers indicates the important position of women as mothers in Vedic society. Their mothers were considered that valuable, as their sons were recognized through their names.
Women and Atharva Ved :
Atharva 11.5.18 :
“ By performing Brahmacharya maiden obtains a youthful husband.“
In this mantra of Brahmcharya Sukta, it is emphasized that girls too should train themselves as students and only then enter into married life. The Sukta specifically emphasizes that girls should receive the same level of training as boys.
Atharva 14.1.20 :
“ Let Bhaga (fortune) take your hand and hence conduct you; let the two Asvins on their car transport you. Go to the house (of your husband) to be the Grihapatni, and may please everyone at her husband’s home through her knowledge and noble qualities. “
Atharva 14.1.61 :
“Hey bride! You shall bring bliss to all and direct our homes towards our purpose of living.”
Atharva 14.1.64 :
“ O bride ! May you be benevolent, the harbinger of good fortune and health and reaching the home of scholars live in great dignity and indeed be illumined in your husband’s home.”
Atharva 2:36:5 :
“Oh bride! Step into the full and inexhaustible boat of Bhaga (prosperity) and take your husband to shores of success.”
Atharva 1.14.3 :
“This woman shall be the protector of your entire family, O king (Yama), and her do we make over to you! May she long sit with her relatives, until (her hair) drops from her head!”
Atharva 2.36.3 :
“This woman shall obtain a husband, since king Soma makes her lovely! May she, begetting sons, become a queen; may she, going to her husband, shine in loveliness!”
Atharva 11.1.17 :
“ These women are pure, sacred, yajniya(as respected as yajna), worth being served, of great character, scholarly. They have given subjects, animals and happiness to us.”
Atharva 12.1.25 :
“ That fragrance of yours which is in men, the loveliness and charm that is in male and female, that which is in steeds and heroes, that which is in the wild animals with trunks (elephants), the aura that is in the maiden, O Prithvi, with that do you blend us: not any one shall hate us!”
Atharva 12.2.31 :
“Let these unwidowed women with goodly husbands, free from all diseases,never weep out of sorrow. Let them adorn themselves with fragrant balm and unguent, ornaments and jewels .”
Atharva 14.1.6 declares that parents should gift their daughter intellectuality and power of knowledge when she leaves for husband’s home. They should give her a dowry of knowledge :
“Thought was her coverlet, the power of sight was unguent for her eyes; Her treasure-chest was earth and heaven, when Sūryā went unto her lord.” (Atharva Ved 14.1.16)
Similar Translation : “When girls ignore external objects and develops foresight and vibrant attitude through power of knowledge, she becomes provider of wealths of skies and earth. Then she should marry an eligible husband.”
Atharva 14.1.42 :
“ O Bride! May your wishes for happiness, for children, for financial well-being, and for being blessed, be fulfilled. Go. Get busy merging your mind with that of your husband; and may both of you live long.”
Atharva 14.1.50 :
“ I take your hand in mine for happy fortune that you may reach old age with me; your consort, Deities- Aryaman, Bhaga, Savitar, Purandhi, have given you to be my household’s mistress.”
Atharva 14.2.71 :
“Hey wife! I am (knowledgeable) man and you are (also knowledgeable) woman. I am Samved , you are Rigved. I am the sky; you are the Earth. We two shall make a home; And, We will bring forth children.”
Atharva 14.2.74 :
“This bride is illuminating. She has conquered everyone’s hearts! May she give birth to noble children and let them convey along future’s pathway.”
Atharva 18.3.4 :
“O ye inviolable one ! (the widow) tread the path of wise in front of thee and choose this man (another suitor) as thy husband. Joyfully receive him and may the two of you mount the world of happiness.”
This mantra blesses the widow to have a happy life with present husband.
Atharva 7.38.4and 12.3.52 declare that women should take part in the legislative chambers and put their views on forefront :
“My speech, not yours, (in this matter) have weight: in the assembly, forsooth, do you speak! To me alone shall thou belong, shall not even discourse of other women!” (Atharva Ved 7.38.4)
Yajur ved 10.26 implies that the wife of ruler should give education of politics to the others. Likewise the king do justice for the people, the queen should also justify her role.
Yajur ved 30.15 states about different problems of women related to pregnancy and their corresponding treatments to be done.
Rigevda contains several Suktas containing description of Usha as a God. This Usha is representation of an ideal woman. One may refer “Usha Devata” by Pt Sri Pad Damodar Satvalekar as part of “Simple Translation of Rigveda (Rigved ka subodh bhashya)”.Page 121 to 147 for summary of all such verses spread across entire Rigveda. In summary:
1. Women should be brave (Page 122, 128)
2. Women should be expert (Page 122)
3. Women should earn fame (Page 123)
4. Women should ride on chariots (Page 123)
5. Women should be scholars (Page 123)
6. Women should be prosperous and wealth (Page 125)
7. Women should be intelligent and knowledgeable (Page 126)
8. Women should be protector of family and society and get in army(Page 134, 136)
9. Women should be illuminating (Page 137)
10. Women should be provider of wealth, food and prosperity (Page 141- 146)