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Stauts of Women
Date: Sat Jan 24 1998 - 17:40:22 PST

Sri Keshava das asked:

>>>By the way what exactly is the way of thinking towards women. In the
opinion of the list members (with appropriate shastra pramanas) are women a
caste or do women have caste. ie Women brahmins, etc. And if so (barring 3
days a month) why should there be restrictions on them?<<<

As per my limited understanding of this subject, Women have caste just as men.
As we know, a Sudra man could marry only a Sudra woman, a Vysya man could
marry a Vaishya or a sudra woman, a Kshatriya man could marry a Kshatriya, or
a Vaishya or a Sudra woman. Needless to say that a Brahmin man could marry a
woman belonging to any of the four castes. Thus, it is clear  that the caste
afflictions applies to both sexes. 

However, the religious prescriptions and expectations of Brahmin men and women
are different and fits closely with the prakrithi dharmam of the two sexes. 

For performance of Most  Vedic rituals, a Grihastha  has to be accompanied by
his wife. It is the woman who kindles the Agni in the homa  kundam. The
benefits of religious performances, man taes the lead role, but his wife is
assured of half of the benefits. Without being accompanied by a wife, man gets
Zero benefit. 

These are the reasons given why a woman does not take part exactly as a man in
Veda adhyayanam and rituals.

1. The Anushtanams are to be performed withou a break. This is not possible
for a cycling  woman. The Agni ha sto be lept alive without a break- means
Agnikaryam goes uninterrupted (every day). There are some rare circumstances
in a man's life as well where he may be prohibitted at certain times (death of
relatives, birth of relatives, personal sickness etc.) however, these are less
common than the monthly interruptions for a woman

2. Rituals  be performed in the top less attire: may not be appropriate for
most women to do so. The vakshasthalam (Hridaya sthalam) of the individual be
exposed to the Deity without any obstruction, other than air in between.

3. Vedic mantras are supposed to be very poweful and are all faminine by
nature. Thus, a woman chanting it may make it too powerful to bear (unless,
she is gifted with a rather coarse voice!). 

4. Women get the benefits any way (as stated before).

For present day, for most of us, none of the above reasons are that valid- so
anyone (men or women of any caste or no caste) who likes to learn or do,
should be encouraged.  This is the ground rules I(we) have established for our
Temple. We do have some resistance from older and or newer priests- but for
most part we have been able to implement. In my opinion if we don't do this,
all the precious kuladhanams we have will become so precious that it will be
known to only a handful of individuals and eventually become even more
precious (rare). 
Also, let us not forget what Sri Ramanujar did in Ghoshti Puram. Should I say

In this context, I remember my childhood days when our elders, rediculed
Public Gita Pravachans of Chinmayananda in Lal Baug glass house and such
placed telling that it is apacharam to Lords Words.  Most of these were not
aware of Prabhupada and thus he was saved from their wrath.


Tatachar (K. Sreekrishna)