Role of women in men’s life according to Vedic Scriptures

It’s very well known that a man’s life is extremely incomplete without a woman/women. He owes his very existence to a woman who bears in her womb for a period of at least nine months, undergoing all sorts of pain and discomfort. A man cannot even simply imagine the pain, strain and agony that a woman undergoes during her time of giving birth to a child. As a mother, a woman plays a critical role in nurturing the infant and is the first teacher. As a child grows up, various women plays different roles accordingly. From a teacher, mentor, peer, friend, colleague to a loving wife.

All of us know this. Nothing new!

But our Vedas and scriptures attach much more significance and more responsibilities to the fairer sex than that what I have mentioned above. I had just mentioned the tip of the ice berg!

The subtle but significant aspects of human life has been stressed throughout our Vedas and Upanishads and expressed more clearly as corollaries in the form of Ithihasas (Ramayana and Mahabharata) and Puranas (Srimad Bhagavatham, Vishnu, Garuda, Padma, Shiva, Skanda etc.).

A typical example is Panchakanya or five ideal women (AhalyaDraupadiKunti / SitaTara  and Mandodari)

Panchakanya

Ahalyā draupadī kunti tārā mandodarī tathā ।
pañcakanyāḥ smarennityaṃ mahāpātakanāśinīḥ ॥

English translation
Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari
One should forever remember the panchakanya who are the destroyers of great sins

A variant replaces Sita with Kunti:

ahalyā draupadī sītā tārā mandodarī tathā
pañcakanyāḥ smarennityaṃ mahāpātakanāśinīm 

People practicing Sanatana Dharma, especially married ladies, remember the Panchakanya in this daily Morning Prayer.

Their names are extolled and the prayer is pratah smaraniya, prescribed to be recited in the early hours of the morning.

The panchakanya literally means five kanyas. Kanya may be translated as girl, daughter, maiden or virgin.

By the Vedic injunctions, the wife is accepted as the better half of a man’s body because she is assigned the responsibilities of discharging half of the duties of the husband. For a grihastha (for those in the married order of life), the wife is considered to be the source of liberation because she offers her service to the husband for his ultimate liberation. Marriage is actually a duty performed in mutual cooperation for spiritual advancement.

The critical role of a woman as a wife in a man’s life is mentioned directly in Srimad Bhagavatham:

O hero [Vidura], Diti, being thus afflicted by the contamination of lust, and therefore poor and talkative, was pacified by the son of Marīci in suitable words. O afflicted one, I shall forthwith gratify whatever desire is dear to you, for who else but you is the source of the three perfections of liberation? As one can cross over the ocean with seagoing vessels, one can cross the dangerous situation of the material ocean by living with a wife. O respectful one, a wife is so helpful that she is called the better half of a man’s body because of her sharing in all auspicious activities. A man can move without anxiety entrusting all responsibilities to his wife. As a fort commander very easily conquers invading plunderers, by taking shelter of a wife one can conquer the senses, which are unconquerable in the other social orders. O queen of the home, we are not able to act like you, nor could we repay you for what you have done, even if we worked for our entire life or even after death. To repay you is not possible, even for those who are admirers of personal qualities. Even though it is not possible to repay you, I shall satisfy your sex desire immediately for the sake of begetting children. But you must wait for only a few seconds so that others may not reproach me.

Srimad Bhagavatham: Canto 3 – Chapter 14: Pregnancy of Diti in the evening – Verses 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 & 22.

 This clearly sums up the phenomenon of material existence in this universe. Human beings gets conditioned by Maya, the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord to transact its activities for existence but gets entangled when they forget the very purpose of life by getting fully absorbed only in the four material activities: eating, sleeping, mating and defending.

Here is an example of an henpecked husband lured by the extreme beauty of the female body and involved in extreme glorification of his wife (though this glorification about one’s wife is an undeniable fact) but he is doing at the wrong time of the day when he should have restrained her – the twilight hours are considered to be period to perform Vedic rites/devotional service and nothing else. Moreover, he is a Rishi and was involved in austere activities at the time. But he was powerless to stop the lusty advances of his wife. Thus by giving vain reasons that would obviously be unacceptable to her in her situation that time, he tries to post pone the act but miserably fails!

Diti was thus informed by her husband, but she was pressed by Cupid for sexual satisfaction. She caught hold of the clothing of the great brāhmaṇa sage, just like a shameless public prostitute. Understanding his wife’s purpose, he was obliged to perform the forbidden act, and thus after offering his obeisances unto worshipable fate, he lay with her in a secluded place.

Srimad Bhagavatham: Canto 3 – Chapter 14: Pregnancy of Diti in the evening – Verses 3031.

The learned Kaśyapa said: Because of your mind’s being polluted, because of defilement of the particular time, because of your negligence of my directions, and because of your being apathetic to the demigods, everything was inauspicious. O haughty one, you will have two contemptuous sons born of your condemned womb. Unlucky woman, they will cause constant lamentation to all the three worlds! They will kill poor, faultless living entities, torture women and enrage the great souls.

Srimad Bhagavatham: Canto 3 – Chapter 14: Pregnancy of Diti in the evening – Verses 38 , 39 & 40.

Thus the two most vicious demons Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu were born because of performing the act at an inappropriate time and not according to scriptural injunctions. The effect of this act is also mentioned in Bhagavad Gita:

Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 1 – Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra – Verse 40

When there is deliberate negligence of the regulative principles of religious life, the women as a class become polluted, and as a result there are unwanted children. When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krsna, the women of the family become corrupt, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny.

Hence, moderation and restraint in any activity is essential to lead a sane and ideal life.

Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 6 – Sankhya Yoga – Verse 16

 “There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.

Related posts:

  1. Conversation 015 – Women in the material world
  2. Conversation 008: Sacred Seven Steps during marriage and its relevance in modern days

Advertisements

Conversation 037 – Motivation

Disclaimer: All conversations in the conversations series are private and the identity of the subject (Seeker 1) has been kept strictly confidential for obvious reasons, subject to be disclosed only on the discretion of the subject. Please read disclaimer for more information.


Any person, no matter how strong, talented or confident will still have their share of dark moments, moments of despair, moments of agony, moments of lowness, and moments of aching heart.

Edward Munch – The Scream (1893)

To realise everything is transient, someone has to throw some light on them on these aspects.

This conversation attempts to bring that level of comfort that needs to be given, that needs to be shared, to apprise that we are all the same and we all face similar situations.

One’s perspective of situations changes over the years but the need of the experienced to counsel the sincere, the hardworking and the talented people to handle it with poise is more important because it contributes a lot to their mental well-being!

The conversation goes like this:

Seeker 1: Can I ask you something?

Seeker 2: Sure.

Seeker 1: I am very disappointed and depressed today because of the fact that I am not developing myself. I am not gaining out on anything.

Seeker 1: I want to kill myself for these days… So much depression and frustration.

Seeker 2: Please don’t say that. You are one of the sanest and promising person I have ever known.

Seeker 2: Please take one day at a time. Say some of your favourite prayers to yourself all the time. Both good times and bad times are temporary.

Seeker 1: Nothing is clicking as per my plans.

Seeker 2: It all depends on the time…if things are making you wait…there are no options…

Seeker 2: The feelings you are currently having are really dangerous and can hurt your parents.

Seeker 2: You are so much talented and have a great attitude…you just cannot lose your heart for happenings beyond your control. I know you don’t like these kind of motivation words because you are basically self-reliant. But results do not happen in a day.

Seeker 1: People are going so far and I am here sitting idle.

Seeker 2: You are a voracious reader and you must have read about so many people who struggled in their lives to come to a position. Please do not compare with anyone. Just think how you were at the end of the day yesterday and how are you at the end of the day today. Be your own yardstick. We just don’t know what is on in others’ lives.

Seeker 1: Yes!!!! True…..

Seeker 2: Do you know 1% improvement a day is so much cumulative than 1% deterioration over 100 days?

Seeker 2: I came to the conclusion no one can understand anyone, not even oneself, but by living within one’s limitations, one can try to understand oneself…what we are…why so much trouble…what is the need etc. I am sure you are getting something I am saying.

Seeker 1: Yes for sure, I can somewhere relate things

Seeker 1: I have screwed up my life.

Seeker 2: Nobody does that. Everything is happening for some reason. We don’t know immediately but we will realise later.

Seeker 1: I don’t know where I am heading myself. My parents are much worried about me.

Seeker 2: I just want to say nothing happens when we desire it the most…and things happen when we don’t expect…

Seeker 1: Their expectation levels are so much high that I could not even imagine.

Seeker 2: They also know who you are…right…and how much hard you are trying…and sincerely…

Seeker 1: But they can’t do anything of this knowledge of what is going on around me…

Seeker 1: I feel regret of all the educational qualifications I have accomplished…

Seeker 2: If negative thoughts creep deeper and deeper…and the positive attributes gets covered, it is not possible to understand your own strengths, unless pointed out by others!

Seeker 2: You must be knowing in the epic Ramayana, when Hanuman was so down and low and lacking in confidence as to how he can cross the mighty Indian Ocean, as a messenger, Jambhavan, the advisor, the brainiest, the shrewdest reminded him of his immense strengths, after which Hanuman gained the confidence and did the seemingly impossible!

Seeker 2: I can only keep saying you are very capable and all you need is little patience and try to avoid negativity. You got to believe my words.

Seeker 2: Please believe in yourself…if you don’t believe in yourself who else will?

Seeker 2: I am not able to say anything beyond this…

In the end… did this motivational conversation really help the subject in achieving some kind of solace? I really don’t know. The subject is so far away…in fact 1000s of miles…I could not see the physical expressions…The mind is so obstinate and most often refuses to take things in…because it thinks…it tends to think things logically in a subjective (hence the term subject!) manner…evaluating the inputs it has received by past experiences…pre-conceived notions dominate, resisting change.

Only the heart can be more objective, when guided by The Lord in the Heart – the supersoul, judgements become impartial, without any duality. Heart is the place where the Lord resides, as a Supersoul next to the individual soul. Unless one gets the feeling that directs inward, one will always be subject to external unrealistic influences that causes phantom in the mind… For this one has to take the experience of the world to be no more than transient events and let things pass, one will be in peace then. It comes only be practice, introspection by consciously contemplating on the past experiences and sincerely attempting to learn from it.

Vaideeswaran Koil

Yesterday we visited Hampi, Karnataka. Today we are going to go back to Tamil Nadu to visit Vaideeswaran Kovil.

Vaideeswaran Kovil or Pullirukkuvelur is dedicated to the Lord Shiva, located in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Shiva is worshipped as Vaidyanathar or Vaitheeswaran meaning the “God of healing” and it is believed that prayers to Vaitheeswaran can cure diseases. Vaitheeswaran is a Tamil derivative from vaidya (Doctor) and Ishvara (God/Master). The presiding deity is Sri Vaidyanathan, facing towards West whereas East side is the common one. He is the God of Healing. When pronouncing in Tamil, it sounds like “vaideeswaran”. It is one of the nine Navagraha (nine planets) temples and is associated with the planet Mars (Angaraka).

The village is also known for palm leaf astrology called Naadi astrology in Tamil. It is located 7 kilometers from Sirkazhi, 235 kilometers from Chennai, 27 km from Chidambaram, 110 km from Thanjavur and 16 km from Mayiladuthurai.

The holy waters of the Siddhamirtham tank within the temple complex contains nectar, and a holy dip is believed to cure all diseases.

The temple is revered by the Tevaram hymns of 7th-century Saiva nayanars – Tamil saint poets and is also classified as a Paadal Petra Sthalam (temple revered by the nayanars).

The temple has a five-tiered gopuram (temple tower), two inner gopurams and large precincts. The central shrine is that of Vaitheeswaran present as lingam in the inner most sanctum. The first precinct around the sanctum has the metal image of Subramanya, worhsipped here as Muthukumara Swamy. The other metal images in the sanctum are of Nataraja, Somaskanda, Angaraka and stone sculptures of DurgaDakshinamoorthySurya (Sun god), JatayuVedasSampati.

The Veeraraghavaswamy temple at Thiruvallur is considered the Vaishnavite temple equivalent of healing abilities of the presiding deity to that of the Saivite Vaitheeswaran Kovil.

For more information on Vaideeswaran Koil, please visit the Wiki Page: Vaideeswaran Koil.

Hampi

Yesterday, we visited Mysore, the city renowned for beautiful gardens and palaces. Today, we continue our travel to east central Karnataka to visit Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, extremely popular among visitors from outside the country.

Virupaksha Temple

“Hampi’s ruins are spread over 4,100 hectares (16 sq mi) and it has been described by UNESCO as an “austere, grandiose site” of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India that includes “forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures, water structures and others.

Hampi continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple, an active Adi Shankara-linked monastery and various monuments belonging to the old city. Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the eastern part of central Karnataka near the state border with Andhra Pradesh. It is 376 kilometres (234 mi) from Bangalore and 385 kilometres (239 mi) from Hyderabad.

The toponym Hampi—traditionally known as Pampa-kshetraKishkindha-kshetra or Bhaskara-kshetra—is derived from Pampa, another name of goddess Parvati in Hindu theology.

Virupaksha temple and market complex, Krishna temple, market, Narasimha and linga, Achyutaraya temple and market complex, Vitthala temple and market complex, Hemakuta hill monuments, Hazara Rama temple, Kodandarama temple and riverside monuments, Pattabhirama temple complex are some of the important monuments in Hampi.”

For more information on Hampi, please visit the Wiki page: Hampi.

Conversation 015 – Women in the material world

For a spiritual seeker, too much involvement in worldly affairs is a very dangerous thing. Material world revolves around attraction between the sexes.

This post is not to undermine the importance of women or the fair sex but the effects of over indulgence that causes damage. The conversation reflects this sentiment:

Seeker 1: Why does our puranas and ithihasas always seem to reflect the fair sex in a poor light considering the fact that they provide the environment for shelter and growth of a living being and make supreme sacrifices?

Seeker 2: It is a common misconception. At a majority of places, importance of women is stressed. It is only through the grihastha ashrama (Household life through the institution of marriage) and begetting of children and leading an ideal life that one gets liberated from the cycle of births and deaths.

Panchakanyas (Five virgins) – Ahalya (Wife of sage Gautam), Tara (wife of the supreme monkey king Vali) and Mandodari (wife of King Ravana) from Ramayana and Kunti (Wife of General Pandu) and Draupadi (Wife of Pandavas) from Mahabharatha are embodiment of virtue and womanhood and are considered as models of ideal women. The well-known Sanskrit hymn that defines the Panchakanya as:

ahalyā draupadī kunti tārā mandodarī tathā
pañcakanyāḥ smarennityaṃ mahāpātakanāśinīḥ 

which means: Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari. One should forever remember the panchakanya who are the destroyers of great sins. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panchakanya).

Puranas are great in the sense that they also show the life of non-ideal men whose lives got ruined because of lusting after women and the women taking advantage of that to get the benefits. Such examples are an eyeopeners for us that kindle us to lead an ideal life.

First, you will be amazed to know how women think about themselves!

Seeker 1: Tell me that Gyan. I am very eager to know it. It is so valuable to lead a good life.

Seeker 2: Yes. This lesson is taught about the king Pururava enchanted by the celestial girl Urvasi and falls to her whims. It is in the 9th Canto: Liberation, Chapter 14: King Purūravā Enchanted by Urvaśī (https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/9/14/) – verses 35 to 38. Urvashi herself counsels Pururava about the general nature of women! It’s worth reading the entire story.

Seeker 1: 🧞‍♂

Seeker 2: Urvaśī said: “My dear King, you are a man, a hero. Don’t be impatient and give up your life. Be sober and don’t allow the senses to overcome you like foxes. Don’t let the foxes eat you. In other words, you should not be controlled by your senses. Rather, you should know that the heart of a woman is like that of a fox. There is no use making friendship with women. Women as a class are merciless and cunning. They cannot tolerate even a slight offense. For their own pleasure they can do anything irreligious, and therefore they do not fear killing even a faithful husband or brother. Women are very easily seduced by men. Therefore, polluted women give up the friendship of a man who is their well-wisher and establish false friendship among fools. Indeed, they seek newer and newer friends, one after another.”

and later in Srimad Bhagavatam, King Pururava himself regrets his behaviour. See what he says…

“Because I allowed my intelligence to become dull and because I failed to control my senses, the great confusion in my mind did not go away, even though Urvaśī herself gave me wise counsel with well-spoken words. How can I blame her for my trouble when I myself am ignorant of my real, spiritual nature? I did not control my senses, and so I am like a person who mistakenly sees a harmless rope as a snake. Therefore, one should never let his senses associate freely with women or with men attached to women. Even those who are highly learned cannot trust the six enemies of the mind; what to speak, then, of foolish persons like me!” All these comes in the 11th Canto: General History, Chapter 26: The Aila-gītā (https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/11/26/)

Seeker 2: Thus, it is to be realised that this material body is a piece of dull matter that will be later burnt, buried or eaten away by scavenging animals like foxes or vultures. Only the good deeds get carried forward in the form of good karma in subsequent births or renunciation and surrender to the Supreme that gives liberation from future births!

This is such a simple truth but in this present materialistic world no one puts their brains to understand it. The girls, the boys, the adults everyone hanging around with their gadgets waste their valuable time in mindless pursuits. It is high time we realise that and the purpose of our very existence!