‘God makes abode where women are worshipped’
Er. Rajesh Pathak
In 1840 when for the first time anesthesia was to be used during the delivery of the baby, it faced Church’s stern rejection. As the Eve (The mother of human being), according to the Bible, defied the injunction of God, so as a punishment it was told that -‘Mother will deliver the baby only undergoing the pain!’ It was only when in 1853 Queen Victoria had anesthesia apply on herself for child birth that the issue came to settle. For Church did not have that courage as to punish the queen.
Just contrary to what we see above woman was held to be as sacred as man at the very inception of the civilization in Hindu life- philosophy -“The time when Brahamdev was deeply absorbed in Samadhi [meditation] his body split into two halves- one of a man, Manu; and another of a woman, Shatrupa, the wife of Manu. It is they who were the ancestors of human beings, and thereafter only from them that the entire subject came into existence.”[Bhagwatpuran-3-12]
And, more notably, unlike the ways of the world, this sanctity was not confined to the doctrine alone- this was emulated in the practices of real life as a matter of fact. Taitrey and Shathpath Brahmin [Upnishads] explicitly reveal that husband and wife together were given yagyadiksha [spiritual initiation] in Vedic period. So also, Manu says-“It is not only home is a home, but the real home is none other than the woman”. And, just see what Yamasmiriti likewise says -“In the preceding kalpa [period of time] women used to undergo Upnayansanskara.
They were taught Vedic knowledge and also Gayatri mantra.” It is because of this we get in our scriptures the accounts of Ghosha, Lopmudra, Gargi and Maitery, all highly learned ladies.
How learned was Maitrey that we learn it from the religious polemic went between her and her husband, Yagvalkya, in Brihidaryankopnishad. And among the great exponents of Dharma in the sabha [assembly] of raja Janak, Gargi enjoyed prominent place. So much so that when it came to testify the divine wisdom of Yagvalkya Muni it was none other than she who was assigned to fulfill the task.
Yet this is not all- women could fulfill the role of teacher, as well. There comes in Patanjali Mahabhashya the mention of two terms: Upadhayani and Upadhayaya. Where Upadhayani is referred to the wife of Acharya [teacher]; Upadhayaya , for the lady engaged in the teaching work.
And, likewise, according to Rigveda after the marriage she should be regarded to be the hub of all kind of domestic affairs-“From your attitude father in-law should feel that you are the queen of the home; mother-in-law should feel that you are the owner ; and your sister-in-law should feel that you are the key-functionary of the home.” [Rigveda-10-85-46].
So also, “God makes abode where women are worshipped; and where not, all the rituals come to grief.” [Manu Smiriti]. More notably, besides above rights and honors that they enjoyed, they could also take part in the battle field to demonstrate their prowess, if they possessed it. Well- versed in using the weapons, courageous and forbearing, Mudgalani and Vishpala are the two such of the women who fought valiantly with their husbands in the wars. [Rigveda 2, 7, 11-102-10 & 1-112-1]
Unfortunately with the Mughal invasion of the country thing couldn’t continue to be the same. Former president Pratibha Patil was once invited in the ceremony organised on occasion of Maharana Pratap Jyanti in the premise of Udaipur Municipal Corporation on 17th June, 2007. Addressing the crowd she said-‘The practice of putting on the veil came into being to protect the women folk from the Mughal invaders’.