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The Vedic view of Women in the Vaidhika Matham : part 2

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Thu Dec 24 1998 - 12:44:11 PST

In this posting , we would cover selected Rg Veda manthrams
that came our way thru the intercession of great RishikAs 
or the women manthra drushtAs .

The first and formost set of manthrAs of Rg Vedam 
from this perspective are the manthrams housed
in the 10th Canto of Rg Vedam dealing with the Marriage 
Ceremony .Sri VilliputthuR ANDAL transformed them 
into Sundara Tamil in Her NaacchiyAr Thirumozhi 
( VaraNamAyiram Paasurams ).

The manthra dhrashtA of Rg Vedam 's 10th canto , 
soktham 85most appropriately is a Rishi pathni 
by the name Saavithri SooryA .This 85th Sooktham 
has 47 manthrams , number of which are used in 
the different phases of Hindu Marriage Ceremony .

I will focus on these important manthrAs first
which houses the prayer and the vision of 
the RishikA as revealed to her as instructions
from the Veda Purushan . 

The first manthram of 10.85 is a profound one :

satyEnOtthabbhithA Bhumi: SooryENOtthbhithA Dhyau:
R*thEnAdhithyasthishtanthi divi sOmO adhi sritha: 
                                 Rg Vedam : X.85.1 

(Meaning ) : Our Earth is upheld by truth , heaven
is upheld by the Sun ; the solar regions are supported 
by the eteranl laws (r*tham ) ; the elixir of divine love 
reigns supreme in heaven .

The 27th manthram distills the thoughts housed in 
the previous posting of this two part series :

iha priyam prajayA --- vadhAta: Rg Vedam : X.85.27

(Meaning ) : In this new family of your husband ,
May you be happy and prosperous along with your 
offsprings .Be watchful over your domestic 
duties in this house. May you unite your person 
with with your lord,your husband ; thus may you both ,
growing in age together , manage your household 
affairs according to  gruhasthAsrama rules .

Rg Vedam : X.85.33 

SumangalIriyam VadhUrimAm samEtha pasyatha 
SoubhAgyamasya dhathvAyathasthAm vi parEtana 

(Meaning ) ; Blessed indeed is this bride ;
come one , come all of you ; meet , behold
and bless her. Convey to her your feliciations 
and then RETURN to your homes .

Rg Vedam : X.36 

GrubhNAmi --dEvA :

(Meaning ) ; I accept your hand for good fortune , 
that you attain old age with me as your husband. Our 
Lord of grace , cosmic orders , creation and wisdom 
has given you ( purandhi) to me that I may be the
yajamaanan of a household to practise our assigned 
dharmAs .

Rg Vedam X.85.42

May you both reside here together ; may you both
never be separated; may you live together all your 
lives sporting with sons and grandsons ; and thus 
rejoice in your own home .

Rg Vedam X.85.43

May the supreme power grant us progeny , may 
the ordainer unite us together until old age .
May that protector free us from evils , may you
the bride enter your husband's household and 
be the bringer of prosperity to our bipeds and 
quadrupeds .

Rg Veda manthram : X.85.44

O Bride ! May you never look your husband 
with an evil eye ; never be hostile to him ; 
be tender to animals (sivA pasubhya:) ; 
may you ever be amiable and cheeful ;
may you fufill one of your roles as the mother
of brave children , loving to the divine powers , 
be the grantor of happiness , and usher prosperity
to our bipeds and quadrupeds ( dhvipadhE sam 
chathushpadhE ). 

Rg Veda manthram : X.85.45

O Generous Lord ! Make the bride blessed with children !
Make her blessed with fortune ! give her ten sons ; 
and then her husband becomes the eleventh one(son )
(dasAsyAm puthrAn dEhi pathimEkAdasam krudhi ).

Rg Vedam X.85.46

Be a soverign to your father-in-law ; be a queen to
your mother-in-law ; be a queen to your husband's sister,
be a queen to your husnad's brothers ( SamrA~Jni 
svasurE bhava ; samrA~jni svasravam bhava;
nanAndhAri samra~jni bhava;samrA~jni adhi dEvrushu ) 

Rg Vedam X.85. 47

" May  the entire assembly of the invited guests 
unite the hearts of both of us ; may we be calm and 
united like the mixed waters .May we be united like 
the vital breaths ; may both of us be in unison like 
the Creator and His creation ; may we be one like
the preceptor and his disciple; may we be loving to
each other ! " 

B .Indrasnusha Vasukra-pathni Sooktham 

Another illustrious RishikA is Vasukrapathni ,
who has given us Rg Vedam X.28.1, 6 , 8, 10 and 11).

The First manthram is set as the invocation of 
the Goddess of Dawn (to her supreme Lord) in 
a symbolic way :

(Meaning ):Now all other divine forces except You
(including the Sun ) have arrived , but You , 
the Soverign Lord , my sire-in-law has not 
arrived ; may Thou accept my oblations of 
parched grains and the elixir(SomA) and return home 
fully satisfied . (Rg Vedam X.28.1) 

The 1oth and the 11th manthrams are glorious tributes 
to the power of Gayathri by this RishikA :

" The gloriously shining Self( sEshi) is thirsty for the divine
elixir , as a thirsty buffalo for water. For this , Yajamaanan ,
the sEsha soul , invokes Gayathri metre , which becomes a she-hawk 
and fastens her claw in the divine realm , just as a lioness 
confined in a cage places one foot over the other (X.85.10).

Gayathri without difficulty , brings the divine elixir ,
which is enjoyed by the Self , and whatever is left over is
shared by the sense organs . With the help of this elixir ,
the enemies (the aasura svabhAvam ) are retaliated and 
finally destroyed " (X.85.11).
C.RishikA ApAlA : A Human Prayer

The Fourth manthram of Rg Vedam 8.91 is 
symbolic and humorous at the same time .There is 
a lot of legend going with this .Apala is a maiden-
Rishika desirous of marrying the beautiful prince 
SomA and the 7th manthram of this Sooktham is used 
in Hindu marriages even today during mangala snanaam 
for the bride for ceremonila cleansing .Here we will
focus on the Fourth manthram of X.91.

Rg Vedam VIII.91.4 : Dream & Prayer of a Wedding-ready Maiden

Kuvicchath kuvith karath-- samgamAmahE 

(Meaning ):  May the Lord of illustrious lustre and
glory bless us (the family)to be powerful . May He make 
us( the family and the future husband)) wealthier
repeatedly . may He support us and work for us (in our favor).
may he unite me with my (future ) husband , who has been 
indifferent (as a courter ) , unconcerned and unfriendly 
with me so far !

D.RishikA VisvavarA , Agni DEvathA , Four Metres 

This Lady Seer is a great poet as well . She sets her 
Six manthrAs of Rg Vedam Canto 5.28 in four differnet 
metres( Tr*shtup, JagathI , Anushtup and GayathrI chandas ).

The name VisvavarA according to Sayana (Vedic commentator:
Saayana Bhaashyam ) relates to one who repels all sins .
She belongs also to the family of Sage Athri . She is
conducting a Vedic ceremony , which we would think today
would have been the domain of the male seers . Not so !
She is invoked with the Ladle in hand transporting 
the Soma rasam .So much goes for the legend about woman's 
subdued/inferior role in YaaagAs .She specifically prays for 
the concordance of realtions between men and women 
through their complimentary roles to perform assigned tasks 
( the opposite of male chauvinism !).

We will study the first two manthrams of X.28 here .

Rg Vedam : X.28.1(Tr*shtup metre)

SammiddhO agnir dhivi-- havishA gruthAchI

(Meaning ) : The incomparable glories of the revered Lord ,
when enkindled spreads its lustre throughout the firmamnet ,
and shines far and wide and transforms itself into the supreme
light of divine intelligence . Eastward the ladle ! Let knowledge
that repels  all sins and worries proceed to advance ! Let
that diffusion of knowledge honor the nature's bounties with 
reverence and oblations !

Rg Vedam X.28.2: JagathI metre

SamidhyamAnO amruthasya rAjasi-dhatta ithputhra:

(Meaning ): O Revered Lord ! Whilst your glory is eulogized ,
You are recognized as the king of immortals . You take total
care of the offerer of the havis (oblation ) for his well being.
He , whom You favor , acquires universal wealth ; he sets
before You , O Lord , the gifts that (Your) guests may claim .

On this note of moving salutation to the Lord 
eulogizing His glories by the RishikA VisvavarA ,
I conclude this set of two postings on the important
and nourishing role of Women in the Vaithika Mathams
Like Sri VaishNavam , where every thing is rooted in 
the Ubhaya Vedams . 

NamO Veda NaarAyaNAya ,
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri SadagOpan