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Women in Leadership

Right to Chant Gayatri: Decision by Malviyaji

Yuga Rishi Shriram Sharma Acharya asked:

Do women have the right to chant Vedic Mantras? With reference to this question, debates have taken place amongst Pandits (Scholars) of Varanasi (India). One girl student named Kumari Kalyani wanted admission in the Vedic classes of Hindu Vishwavidyalaya, Varanasi (India). But based on prevalent beliefs, the University refused to admit her. The University officials declared that according to the scriptures, women do not have the right to study / chant Vedic Mantras.

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A lot of arguments for and against this decision took place via letters, magazine/ newspaper articles etc. The newsletter “Sarvadeshik” printed many articles saying that women too had the right to study Vedas. Opposed to this the newsletter “Sidhant” printed many articles which were against women having the right to study Vedic Mantras. A deputation from Arya Samaj went and met the officials of the Hindu Vishwa Vidyalaya. In entire India, there was a lot of talk on this subject.

Finally, a committee under the leadership of Shri Malviyaji was appointed in the Vishwavidyalaya to answer this question and many religious scholars too participated. The committee while making a deep study of the scriptures came to a conclusion that women too like men have an equal right to study / chant Vedic Mantras. This decision was declared on 22nd August 1946 by Mahamana Madanmohan Malviyaji who is looked upon as the very life force of Sanatan Dharma. As a result, Kumari Kalyani Devi was given admission in the Veda classes of the University and with scriptural injunctions as the basis women were henceforth not debarred from studying the Vedas. Women too were henceforth allowed to study the Vedas on an equal footing with men.

None can cast aspersions on Mahamana Malviyaji and his associates that they were opponents of Sanatan Dharma. In fact their faith in Sanatan Dharma is well-known. What can one say about the intellect of those who rake up buried skeletons regarding the right of women to chant the Gayatri Mantra even after leading personalities of India have aptly answered this question? One truly fails to understand the psyche of such hard core opponents.

Pandit Madanmohan Malviyaji was the very life force of Sanatan Dharma. His knowledge of scriptures, his scholarly nature, far-sightedness and faith in righteousness was beyond doubt. Such a great scholar, after due consultation with other wise scholars, has accepted that women have the right to study the Vedas. Hence if others doggedly refuse to pay heed to their wise counsel, then it will be well nigh difficult even himself, for Brahmaji himself to combat such doggedness.

It is very sad that such people do not recognize changing times. They do not pay heed to the decreasing numbers of the Hindu society alongwith their waning power. Instead they keep quoting 10-15 verses which are imaginary or misleading and thus persist in demeaning our country and society at large. Even today there are innumerable names of great women scholars of the past who were well-known. In the Vedas one finds the name of many female Rishis who were Seers (Dhrishta) of Vedic Mantras. Yet dogged opponents instead of paying heed to the above information insist on quoting lines written by selfish people regarding Rishis of the Middle Age and thus they poke their noses in vain in the sacred task of social reformation. Now it is the duty of social reformers to ignore such dogged individuals and instead follow the decision of the Rishi of this age viz. Pandit Malviyaji.

On the basis of facts and research it has been proved beyond doubt that women have the right to chant / study Vedic Mantras on an equal footing with men. Merely due to wrong traditional beliefs, we should not continue to follow them. Those who are true thinkers should sit in a lonely spot and ask the following questions to his inner self – 1) If women truly do not have the right to chant Vedic Mantras, why do we find instances in the Vedas wherein there were women Rishis who were Seers of Vedic Mantras? 2) If they have no right to study the Vedas, why are they allowed to join in Yajnas, religious rituals like Shodash Sanskars etc? 3) During the marriage ceremony why are women asked to chant Vedic Mantras? 4) Without chanting Ved Mantras how are women allowed to carry out rituals of Sandhya and Yajnas? 5) If women do not have right to study /chant Vedic Mantras, how were women like Anasuya, Ahilya, Arundhathi, Maitreyi, Madalasa etc. scholars of Vedas? 6) Isn’t it a partisan and biased attitude to stop women from studying Vedas, acting righteously and meditating on God? 7) Can the son /daughter of a woman who is labeled incapable in the realms of Spiritual Sciences, be righteous & spiritual? 8) If a wife is the better half of her husband, how can 1 half have certain rights and the other half denied those very rights?

After delving deep into the above questions, an unbiased thinker’s soul will definitely accept that one is unjust if one stops women from following the path of Vedas and hence spirituality. Women like their male counterparts, should have an equal right to study Vedic Mantras. I know many such women who have devotedly meditated on Gayatri and very much like men have risen high, spiritually. In fact many a times they have attained more and faster success while worshipping Gayatri in comparison to men. Girls in attaining husbands, wives in praying for their husband’s /family well-being and widows in exercising self-control have succeeded immensely.

The soul is neither a male nor a female. It is in fact a spark of a sacred light of Brahman (Cosmic Soul or God). Just as a male requires the wise teaching of a preceptor to attain this soul light so too women require a torch bearer, to show the way. The point to be made is that in the realm of spiritual practices there is no difference like male/ female. A spiritual aspirant is the soul (Atman). Hence he/ she should not look upon themselves as male/female. In the realm of spiritual practices all souls are equal. One cannot label any individual incapable just due to a difference based on sexual identity.

After intense research, thought and reflection I strongly believe that women have an equal right just like men, to worship Gayatri. Just like men, women too have the right to climb on to the lap of Mother Gayatri, catch hold of her breast and suckle nectar from it. They should meditate on Gayatri joyfully by renouncing all misgivings. Thus these women will cut asunder all painful bondages to the illusory material world. They will come out of the vicious cycle of birth/death and will attain Supreme heavenly peace. Alongwith this due to their pious activities they will augment health, good fate, prosperity and peace of their family members. All women who devotedly worship Gayatri become Devis (goddesses). Because their divine character gets illuminated, they attain that respect everywhere, which is their god given birthright.

On the worldwide scale infinite men & women of all walks of life, belonging to the Gayatri Parivar and Yuga Nirman Parivar, have aptly worhsipped Gayatri and have thus attained immense benefit. In fact this worship is a blessing for all mankind. Thus instead of falling prey to any deluded concepts one should follow the path of Gayatri worship& encourage others to do so too so as to gain all round benefit.

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