Why Women are still considered Second Class Citizen in Indian Society?

*[‘International Women’s Day’ – celebrating Womanhood that comprises of all the attributes that are natural to Women i.e., patient, affectionate, caring, emotional, generous, devoted, elegant, calm, sensitive, strong, courageous amongst the top ones.

In this era of male dominance our society is constantly dealing with conflicting issues such as gender equality & women empowerment. Recent movies for instance, Padmaavat and Manikarnika made a huge impact on mindset of people as the portrayal of Women therein, represents & redefine the multitude characteristics of a woman. How significant is to hold on to one’s individuality, is to be learnt from such powerful characters of Indian society. In this small initiative at Vedic WAVES Blog, an effort has been made through a survey to gather an opinion over the current status as enjoyed by women in present day society, in India.]  

*Editorial note by Dr. Aparna (Dhir) Khandelwal, Assistant Professor, School of Indic Studies, INADS, Dartmouth, USA

Women are not just considered but are also treated as 2nd to men in current society. Ancient social engineering made women equal half. First time a woman was considered an object … Bharata rose in arms to protect Dharma of equality and respect.

Ms. Neera Mishra, Chairperson, Draupadi Dream Trust

I consider the very question based on ignorance. Granted gender discrimination occurs around the world (in case of both sexes) and India would have it’s own share of problems. I grew up in villages and also spent time in cities of India. I also lived in multiple countries. Based on my limited experience I have not seen imbalanced discrimination against women.

That remains my experience.  If at all, I have noticed discriminatory laws against men, especially in family law courts around the world.

Mr. Nilesh Oak, Adjunct Faculty, School of Indic Studies, INADS, Dartmouth, USA

Theoretically, women are on a par with men but in actual practice they are considered second class citizens who suffer discrimination in almost all walks of life. This kind of mindset is starkly evident not only in the family for the upbringing of female child in comparison to the male ones but also in education, jobs, career opportunities, promotions and future expectations. The society must eradicate this obvious injustice and menace perpetrated by people in general and institutional biases in particular.

Dr. Dayanand Parashar, Former Associate Professor, Physics, ARSD College, University of Delhi, Delhi

प्राचीन भारत में महिलाओं को देवी के तुल्य सम्मान था। मनु के द्वारा भी इसकी पुष्टि की गई है। जो भी विषमताएं आईं हैं, वो निसंदेह मुस्लिम संस्कृति के प्रभाव से है और अब पाश्चात्य संस्कृति का प्रभाव भी दृष्टिगोचर है। समाज में महिलाओं की स्थिति सुधारने के लिए सर्वप्रथम उनको शिक्षित करना होगा, सिर्फ साक्षर बनाने से बात नहीं बनेगी। अब पहले से महिलाओं की स्थिति में सुधार है, इसका कारण शिक्षा ही है। समानता में लाने के लिए महिलाओं को मुफ्त में शिक्षा, और रोजगार के अधिक अवसर उपलब्ध कराए जा सकते हैं।

श्रीमति स्नेहलता उपाध्याय, पुस्तकालयाध्यक्ष, राष्ट्रीय संस्कृत संस्थान

Yes, women are better than men in respect of mental ability, farsightedness, sincerity, still they are treated as second grade citizens now. They are not getting their due recognition in nation-building. Even in Vedic times, they weren’t treated respectably. Apala can be cited as example, who was abandoned by her husband due to skin disease. Even Gargi was asked to keep shut when Yagyavalkya could not answer her queries. Situation is same even now!

Dr. Raj Kumari Trikha, Former Associate Professor, Sanskrit, Maitreyi College, University of Delhi, Delhi

In this materialistic world those who don’t earn/ have money are looked at as 2nd.

Mrs. Suvarta Vinod, Anandavan Bhakta Samudaya, Institute of Advanced Studies in Veda and Science.

Everything was balanced during Vedic period, but it is only after post Vedic era the misinterpretations of our ancient Indian texts that evolved such thought process in Indian society.

Secondly, It varies from culture to culture –via- family to family in the sense of treating their daughters-in-law, i.e., how families expect their daughter-in-law to behave in particular manner.

Dr. Pankaja Ghai Kaushik, Assistant Professor, Sanskrit, Lady Shree Ram College, University of Delhi, Delhi

भारतीय समाज में सम्बन्धों को महत्व दिया जाता है। ऐसे सामाजिक परिप्रेक्ष्य में महिला का स्थान माँ, बहन, बेटी, और धर्मपत्नी के रूप में सर्वोच्च विदित है। इन सम्बन्धों से वंचित यदि महिला का, या कि किसी और भी वर्ग का, अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय दिवस मनाना भारत में अजूबा सा लगेगा|

प्रोफेसर बलराम सिंह, सदस्य, बोर्ड ऑफ़ डायरेक्टर, वेव्स

Maintaining balance in the society is not a woman’s problem, it’s a national issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced business, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, gender-balance in wealth… Let’s hope this race ends, balance remains with gender equality.

Happy Women’s Day!!

Mrs. Shubha Rawal Wadhawan, Chief communications Officer – IG International pvt. Ltd.

I don’t consider there is a difference between men and women. So first of all there is no need for celebrating International Women’s Day. Is there any International Men’s Day? When you celebrate something like this then you producing yourself as victim. You already give an upper hand to men. In a civilized and sensible society in reality there shouldn’t be difference between men and women. Both have their own limitations biologically, physically and mentally. We should know each other limitations and respect similar to a normal Indian family. Once we understand this we will make a better society.

Dr. Raj Kumar, Assistant Professor, Botulinum Research Center, INADS, Dartmouth, USA

We live in a patriarchal society where in male members are given more liberty and decision making choices. It’s a woman who is expected to change her surname after marriage. It’s a woman who is expected to take care of cooking, cleaning, etc. It’s a woman who works even on holidays. There is no holiday for women. It’s a woman who is expected to take care of family and children after marriage. They are made to do work both inside and outside their homes. It’s just because women are not given a friendly environment to show their talents. The problem lies in our education system and Indian values. Women are still not given adequate education. Even the text books we read show women doing all the household chores like cooking, cleaning and taking care of men. They don’t depict men doing household work rather men are shown going to work or seeking leisure in their free time. Our Indian family values also don’t support a woman standing hand in hand with her male partner. From the very initial stages girls are taught to walk properly, dress properly, keep themselves presentable. The in-laws also expect their daughter-in-law to look after the entire family needs. Even in case of major decision making events the opinion of women is kept as second choice and the ultimate decisions are still taken by male members. Even in job sectors more preference is given to male members keeping less job opportunities to women.

Ms. Tanya Kumra, Accounts Assistant, Shreeram World School, Delhi

I always believe that women are same as the men. When I was a child my MAA always fulfilled my dreams, when my family faced economic problem my elder sister has been there to support me, and now when I  face ups and down in my life  my wife becomes my strength. My supervisor (Prof. Rani Majumdar), my well wishers like Prof. Shashi mam, Dr. Aparna Dhir di and many more always teach me, support me and advise me. They all are women. Therefore how can I believe women are second in Indian society? For me without these women I (men) am incomplete!!!

Kisi ne Kya khoob kaha

Soch ko badlo sitare badal jayenge/

Nazar ko badlo nazareyin badal jayenga/

kastiyan badal ne ke zaroorat nehin hai/

dishayein badlo kinare khud badal jayenge.

Mr. Tahasin Mondal, Research scholar, Department of Sanskrit, AMU, Aligarh, U.P

I don’t think women are considered second in the society. I think there is no society without women. Women are the ones who is giving birth to a child, upbringing the child and making of a future citizen. So in short women only are shaping the thoughts, values and the culture of the society. Whatever a woman teaches a child goes on for generations!! Women are also the biggest strength of a man! A woman who is strongly supporting a man that man is definitely successful in all spheres of life. In Ramayana, it is said man and woman are two wheels of the same chariot, if somehow one wheel breakdown the chariot automatically stop. So, both have to be strong to move in the sphere of life. It is just that every individual has to play his role in life. It is not about 1st or 2nd. I think it is about how efficiently you play your role in life, the tasks assigned to you, your duties towards your people and of course yourself too! It is definitely not about 1st or 2nd at least in today’s times. All the things have to go hand in hand for the smooth running of one’s life.

Mrs. Neeti Chawla, Housewife, Delhi

“As women, we have super powers. We are sisters. We are healers. We are mothers. We are goddess warriors”

It’s International Women’s Day, a day to honor and celebrate the cultural, social, economic and political achievements of women. It’s a day to remind ourselves why women are so amazing. They are the ones who are responsible for bringing new lives to existence. There’s no field where women are lagging behind men. It’s a day to be cherished… Happy Women’s Day to all the lovely ever smiling faces no matter what comes.

Mrs. Shagufa Afzal, Principal, Kuruom Vidayalaya, U.P.

In the modern era, Indian women are no more lacking behind men. They are equally capable and talented in all the fields, e.g., doctors, teachers, astronauts, etc. But still in some places Indian women have not got the equality as men due to religious or orthodox thoughts which need to be changed by giving proper education and awareness.

Mrs. Ankita Dhir, Teacher, K.R. Mangalam World School, Delhi

In present time, Indian women doing their empowerment and society also demand for Equality. The fearless woman today raises her voice against harassment like “MeToo Campaign”.

Mr. Yogendra Bhardwaj, Research Fellow, Sanskrit, JNU, Delhi

The Indian woman has to make her way through all the social prejudices against her, and the men yet have to allow and accept the women to be equal participants in the country’s way forward.

Mrs. Rajni Bhalla, Teacher, DAV Public School, Delhi

In my point of view women are considered to be an integral part of the Indian family and society. They are not given secondary status as we can see in our families or around us in the society.

Ms. Anuja Sinha, Director and Anchor, TCN Media

भारत में आज भी स्त्री का स्थान दूसरे नंबर पर है क्योंकि भारतीय समाज पुरुषों के द्वारा ही संचालित होता रहा है और कहीं ना कहीं स्त्रियां स्वयं भी जिम्मेदार हैं| उन्हें स्वयं को उपभोग की वस्तु के दायरे से बाहर निकलना होगा| वैचारिक रूप से स्वतंत्र होना पड़ेगा|

डॉ. सुषमा चौधरी, अध्यापक, संस्कृत, कमला नेहरू महाविद्यालय, दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय, दिल्ली

The position and status of women in society has been changing from time to time. In Vedic India, woman was considered like a goddess. With time, the position of women received a set- back. But in modern context, women no longer depend on others. Education has raised her status. She holds equal status in society.

Ms. Suruchi Sharma, Teacher, Modern Public School

हिन्दू संस्कृति को जीवंत रखने का श्रेय नारी को ही है। नारी को परिवार का हृदय और प्राण कहा जाता है – न गृहं गृहमित्याहु गृहिणी गृहं उच्यते ।

श्री विकास शर्मा, तदर्थ अध्यापक, संस्कॄत, दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय, दिल्ली

Women are a perfect combination of strength and beauty. 

Happy Women’s Day !!

Mrs. Rekha Khandelwal, Housewife, Mumbai

Indian Festivals based on the Concept of Yajña (Part-III)

Continued from Part-II

-Sh. Anand Gaikwad

Festivals during Māgh, Fālgun, Chaitra and Vaiśkha:

Mahāśivrātrī: This festival is celebrated on the 14th day of Kriśna Pakṣa in Māghmās. This is celebrated with great pomp and glory at twelve Jyotirlinga places i.e. Kedarnāth, Baidyanath, Kashi Vishwanath, Somnath, Mallikarjuna,  Mahakaleshwar, Omkareshwar, Nageshwar, Ghrishneshwar, Tryambakeshwar, Bhimashankar, and Rameshwar. When the twelve Jyotirlingas come for discussion, I must mention their importance for Suvrushti Projects. “Suvrushti’ means ideal, adequate and well-distributed rainfall. The inspirational Research Paper which has been the basis of Suvrushti Pojects undertaken by Vedāśram; was the paper submitted by a primary teacher from Bihar in 1950 to our then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The summary findings of this research paper was that Twelve Jyotirlingas are the Holy Fire Places (nodal centres of Sacred Fires) which attract and accelerate the Monsoon Cycles in Bhārat Khand i.e. India. If a series of Somayāgas are performed during dry season (Rain Conception Period) at these twelve Jyotirlinga places, Bhārat Varsha will get Suvrushti-timely, adequate and well-distributed rainfall during wet season throughout the country. This theory and RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir were validated during the Suvrushti Projects undertaken by Vedāśram in 2005-06 and 2015-16. The reports of these Suvrushti Projects have been published in Asian Agri-History Journal published by Asian Agri –History Foundation.

On the day of Mahāśivrātrī in the ceremonial pūjās, Devas are invited, Śiva is invited, Yajñā is performed. Offerings are made with chants and devotional songs. Rudra Swahakars are performed at most of the places. At our Homa farm we also organize” Rudra SwahakarYajñās” periodically but not necessarily on Mahāśivrātrī Day.

“Rudra Swahakar”Yajñā being performed at the Farm

Holī: On the full moon day of Fālgun, Holī is celebrated throughout India. Holī has religious, philosophical, spiritual and seasonal significance. In India, the Agri-eco production system has basically two cropping patterns in a year i.e. Kharip crops and Rabbi crops. Kharip crops mature during Aświn-Kārtik (Oct. /Nov.) and Rabbi crops mature during Fālgun to Vaiśkha (Jan. to April). It is our Vedic tradition that new produce of crops is first offered to Agni Devatā and Sūrya Devatā which are the main sources of cosmic energy and then we start having it as food to nurture the life bio-energy within us.  In Sanskrit the word ‘Holak’ means raw (just reaching maturity stage) cereals and grams roasted in bonfires of dry cow-dung patties, wood and grass stalks (remains from the fields). Holī as a colourful festival has significance in many ways. The first and foremost is the process of Yajñā. Holy Bonfires are lit and offerings of sweets and snacks prepared from new season’s crops are made to Agni Devatā and Sūrya Devatā. Incense sticks and lamps are lit and sacred fires, which represent success of good over evil, are circumambulated thrice with slow pouring of water from the containers. The next day is celebrated as “Dhulīvandana” where, ’Bhūmi’ or ‘Prithvī’ is recognized and appreciated. From Dhulīvandana to Rang Panchami it is celebrated as a colourful festival representing colours of spring flowers and nature’s beauty and bounty. It is a joyful festival of throwing on or smearing others with colours without any discrimination. In the bonfires, old furniture, dead wood, prunnings of trees and waste material of crops are burnt as and by way of “Holikā Dahan” for “Space Clearance” (discarding old and welcoming new).

From Puraṇas, one story which is associated with “Holikā Dahan” is the story of Bhakta Pralhād and ‘Dhundha’ or ‘Holikā’ Hiranyakashyapu’s sister. Holikā had a boon that she will not get burnt in fire i.e. she had protection from fire. Hiranyakashyapu, the Rakṣasa was against the worship of Lord Vishnu by his own son Pralhād. Since Bhakt Pralhād was not ready to give up worship of Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashyapu ordered that Pralhād be burnt alive. For that purpose he made Holikā to take Pralhād in her lap and lit a big fire. But with the grace of Lord Vishnu Pralhād was saved and Holikā got burnt into the fire, thus representing the success of virtue over vice.

Jyotir bhaskar Jayant Salgaonkar, the founder and author of, “Kālnirṇaya Panchāng” (published in many Indian Languages) describes in his book, “Dharmbodh” a ‘Vrita’ or ’Anuṣṭān’ (practice) called “ Vanhi Vrita” which is related to Agnihotra / Yajñā. Vanhi Vrita is started on the 14th day of Fālgun Kriśna Pakṣa or one day prior to Fālgun Amāvasyā. On this day an idol of Agni made from any metal or five metals is worshipped and offered cow-ghee, til (sesame seeds) and sugar with mantra, “Agnaye Swaha!”. Agni is worshipped because Agni is the connecting link between man and Devatās like Indra, Varun, Ādi Śakti, Lord śiva and Vishnu. During Holī all elements i.e. Prithvī, Āp, Teja, Vāyu are worshipped and readiness is made for celebration of the fifth element,’ Ākāś’ on the following first day of Chaitra i.e.’ Gudi Padava’ by hoisting well decorated/adorned Gudis or flags pointing towards Ākāś’or Space, which is the mother of all other elements, for auguring well the  “ New Year” as per Hindu Calendar.

Rāmnavamī Navrātra: This is celebrated as birth-day of Lord Rāma. In some parts of the country Yajñās like, “Vishnu Yāga” are performed.

Akśaya-Tritīya/Paraśurām Jayantī: Akśaya-Tritīya is supposed to be an auspicious day as per Hindu calendar. On this day also some Yajñās/ Homas are performed. Lord Paraśurām had initiated Param Sadguru Shri Gajanan Mahāraj of Akkalkot Maharashtra, to rejuvenate the Vedic Yajñā system and also the Vedic Way of Life. Followers of Param Sadguru Shri Gajanan Mahāraj perform Havans on this day while celebrating Paraśurām Jayantī.

Vedic Yajñā System and Festivals based on the concept of Yajñā:

Our Vedic Yajñā System broadly consists of Yajñā  performances during “Sandhi Kāl” or “Sankraman Kāl” as Nityakarmas for restoration of atmospheric order, ecological and seasonal balance and ensuring Suvrushti  i.e. good, adequate and well–distributed rains –“ निकामे निकामे न पर्जन्यो वर्षतु-“ “Nikame Nikame Nah ParjanyoVarśatu!”. Apart from these Yajñās there are various Naimittik or Kāmya Yajñās which are prescribed in Vedic system including Homas and Havans which form part of Sixteen Hindu Sanskāras. The Yajñā System for ecological balance, good rains etc. consists mainly of the following :

  1. Agnihotra (Smārta/ Shrouta)— ‘ Nitya’ Daily at the time of sunrise and sunset as per circadian cycle.
  2. Darshya-Poorna Māsya (Smārta/ Shrouta Eshti )— ‘Nitya’ Fortnightly  on Full-Moon/ New Moon Day as per Moon Cycle.
  3. Chaturmāsya Yāga (Shrouta Eshti )—‘Nitya’ during Sandhi Kāl i.e Transition Period of change in Seasons as per Cycle of Seasons. This is also called as Medicinal Homa for healing the Atmosphere.
  4. Somayāgas– ‘Nitya’ during Sharad Ṛtu and during Vasant Ṛtu.” वसंते वसंते ज्योतिस्तोमेन यजत” –“ Vasante Vasante Jyotistomen Yajat!”.
  5. Parjanya Yāga—‘Naimittik’- During Rainy Season when one or two Nakṣatras have gone dry and Bhūmi is “Vrishti Kāmu”, i.e, when the land is desirous of rains for sowing new crops (new life).

( Nitya = Regular ,  Naimittik = Occasional for specific purpose)

From the above it will be clear that Agnihotra can be performed individually by anybody, however for performance of Shrouta Yajñās, particularly so in case of “Sapt Somayāgas”, you require Ritwijas well versed in all Vedas. Our great Rishis had anticipated that if Shrouta Yajñā System gets dwindled or out of practice for whatever reason at least the festivals based on Yajñā Concept will be celebrated by mass-participation; for the purpose of keeping Atmospheric Order and Ecological Balance and also to safeguard cultural traditions. Since Yajñās are related to environmental protection, purification/ restoration of atmospheric order, ecological balance and ensuring good rains during Monsoon Season it is important to understand the relevance of Verse 28 and Verse 30 of Chapter 21 of Brihat Samhitā:

भद्रपदाद्वयविश्र्वाम्बुदेवपैतामहेष्वथर्क्षेषु |

सर्वेष्वृतुषु विवृध्दो गर्भो बहुतोयदो भवति ||२८||

“Bhadrapadādvaya Viśvāmbudeva Paitā Maheṣvathkṣerṣu \

Sarveṣvṛtuṣu Vivṛddho Garbho Bahutoya Do Bhavati  \\28\\

The Rain-foetus that develops when the Moon stands in any of the five asterisms viz. Purvabhādra, Uttarabhādra, Purvaṣadha, Uttaraṣadha and Rohiṇī in any season will yield plenty of rain. Also

मृगमासादिश्वष्टौ षट् षौडश विंशतिश्र्चतुर्युक्ता |

विंशतिरथ दिवसत्रयमेकतमर्क्षेण पन्चभ्य: ||३०||

Mṛgamāsādiśvaṣto  Ṣat Ṣodaś Vimśatischaturyuktā |

Vimśatiratha Divasatraya Mekatamarkṣeṇa Panchabhyaḥ ||30||

Rain-foetuses coming into being when the Moon is in conjuction wih any of the aforesaid asterisms during the month of Margaśirṣa, Pauṣya, Māgh, Fālguna, Chaitra and Vaiśakha; will yield rain after 195 days for 8,6,16,24,20 and 3 days respectively.

Thus celebration of and participation in the festivals based on Yajñā concept by masses ensures restoration of Atmospheric Order, Eco-Seasonal balance and good rains during the rainy season. This is the great wisdom and sagacity of our Ṛṣis and Seers in interweaving seamlessly the festivals based on Yajñā concept in our social and cultural life. Therefore these festivals should be celebrated with proper understanding of the Yajñā concept incorporated into them and not simply by way of fun and frolic or introducing any pervert way of celebration. The sanctity of Yajñā, Agni Devatā and Sūrya Devatā has to be kept in mind in the joyful celebrations of these festivals.

References:

  • Panditabhushan Sastri VS & Bhat MRV, “Varāh Mihir’s Brihat Sanhita” With an English Translation  and Notes . V.B. Soobbiah & Sons Bangalore City.1946.
  • Jyotirbhaskar Jayant Salgaonkar, “Dharmbodh” (in Marathi) Jaya Ganesh Mandir  Nyas, Medha Malwan, Dist-Sidhudurga Maharashtra 2011.

Sh. Anand GaikwadKrishi Bhushan Sendriya  Sheti  M. S. & Retd. Executive Director/Company Secretary