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Women & Gayatri Japam
Why should women not chant Gayatri Mantra
by TRS Iyengar
There is a controversy existing that women should not recite/chant 'Gayatri'. As a matter of fact neither do the Vedic Scripts nor the Sanatana Dharma discriminate women. On the contrary, womanhood is held in the Highest Esteem, and women are respected as Maa, (Mother) irrespective of their age and status. Yes, you can call any woman your mother! In ancient days, women were the leading managers and heading their homes while their counterparts were scouting for daily needs. But why then are they not allowed to take part in the rituals? Why were/are they not allowed to chant some of the Vedic versus?
My father, Late Shri T. S. Ramabathrachariar of Mukkur once gave me the reason which is definitely a fitting reply to the above questions.
It is widely believed that some of the Vedic Versus vibrations are so powerful in nature. Once a woman starts chanting these versus regularly, she is likely to lose her female-hood character and get manly tendencies developed in physical appearance . In majority of cases, it might cause hormone disturbances in the body's physical mechanism and disturb their menstrual cycle. In rare cases, a woman who chants these slokhas and versus frequently, even develops masculine character which allows growth of hair in their face & mustache! Imagine, if every woman developed such growth!
It is a fact that to keep women in their natural glory and beauty, the ancient scholars did not allow them to chant or recite these versus. They knew precisely all the effects and side effects of what they did. However, they were allowed to do so once they cross their menopause stage, then the chances of disturbances in their body mechanism were minimal. Also the Gland functional in their body stops, at certain age - any further physical growth is minimal. Certainly it was not for any discriminations but purely on the aforesaid reasons and points.
I hope that this clarification stands valid even in this scientifically developed age. Every ritual and practice of this Great Hindu religion has a valuable hidden meaning. Unfortunately these were not carried on to the next generation that caused some imbalances in the society. Had it been given in full meaning, we very well could have avoided fanatics & half learnt scholars who now dictate and discriminate women on so many counts.
Even at the times of performing the last rites to the departed souls, only male persons are allowed and if there is no male issues for the deceased one, then power of attorney like authorization is taken from the female issues or from the wife of the departed soul. You know why?
After the cremation, the kartha or the performer has to shave/tonsure his head. But for women, would anybody like to do the same? How they will look, if done so, just imagine. Of course, there are many other reasons also given for giving these rights only to the male issues, but surely all are based only on sound and valid reasons.
Further to the above, the following questions I got from a reader, one Ms. Kalpana Lloyd on the chanting of Gayatri Mantra by women. ( Her mail was a bit lengthy with a lots of questions and counter views about Veda in general and Gayatri in particular.) I hope, I give here the convincing and scientifically acceptable reply:
Question 1 - Is there any Mantra that if a man chants it, his getting famine character? (As you said women who chants some powerful mantra can get masculine nature!). Why women forbidden from chanting Gayatri? Is it not just a gender bias?
Indeed it was a pleasure to read the contents of your mail as the same line of questions were creeping my thoughts in my earlier days; when I had the opportunity, I did ask my father & Guru who was a walking university with Vedic knowledge. He simply just explained it to me the with some practical way, by taking me to a nearby pond, where a lots of frogs were seen. We sat on a rock nearby and chanted a specific slokhas for a while, then a few frogs started disappearing from the scene one by one! (it was immediately felt after few lines of recital!). At the end, still there were many frogs left on the bank, despite his reciting a specific slokhas. Till then, all the frogs were just simply wandering on the bank of the pond. He explained to me, that the frogs that are still standing on the banks are of Male in nature and those left are opposite sex! If such a phonetic vibration cause disturbance in other creatures, why it should not with human? (Even the modern time test labs uses mouse. rabbits and frogs for their chemical tests! and with both genders whether any animal or bird)
Fine, now for the matter we need to compare it with human; hormone, the thyroid and other functional glands that produces certain liquid proposition, depending on every individual's body nature is, varying one for male & female. Why, even the Vocal Chord which produces the sound effect in our body too has different functional values for male & female. Apart from the above, the menstrual cycle, the more complicated one in nature, which causes some sort of discharge and with extended period of up to five days; In normal course, this cycle may be regular for every fittest woman. But when compounded with some anxiety, tension, fear and pressure, the period is disturbed with varying fluctuation. This is what the science elaborates. When the aquatic or sound vibrations causes some disturbances in the chemical proposition in mind and body, then the abnormality begins. But it is not just sudden and immediate certain. Where in, the vibrations causes gradual but determined effect in one's analogies of human anatomy!
The reason quoted for women not to recite or chant the versus with stronger power vibrations are thus affects the nerve system to weaken, then the gland functional causes more abnormalities and compounded with menstrual course disturbances. This might cause frequent health set back for a women, if she chants or recites some of the slokhas like Gayatri very often. If this is the case for normal and fittest women, then you may think of the consequences for a weak person. In one specific case, I was told a mother- 32 years of age, who chanted Gayatri daily for 108 times, lost here milk producing capacity, though she had all other normal activities. The medical report confirms that she was absolutely normal wherein, breast feeding was disturbed with here recital.
As far as the Vedic recitals concerned, there is no muscular or gender bias! There is one and only one. Hence man developing feministic characters by listening or chanting any mantras never comes to picture.
Question 2: I was under the impression that Gayatri mantra is a mantra of "Amma"/mother and that one would be meditating upon Shakti, who is all three Lords Brahma - Vishnu - Shiva combined. In that case how come Gayatri mantra gives masculine characters to women?
I hope, my explanations stand valid and your doubts are cleared. Please feel free to write to me back. If you have already gone through the entire pages in my site and if you are impressed, and only if I am not asking for too much, please honor me with putting comments & criticism as well with your signature in the Guest Book for the visitors to read.
In response to this article, another suggestion I got from one Sri. Venkataramana Bhagavati by an entry in the Guestbook. In all fairness, to give view to the corresponding meaning and for a reasobnable discussion, I reproduce the same here for readers to judge; I do agree, that the frogs did not die. It might have suffered with some sound anomalies but sure, I feel it was some sort of disturbance to its nature:
Regarding Gayatri Sadhana by women. Hello Sir, I got a lot of information from your site. I must admit that i liked it quite much.But have one question (please do not take it wrongly). I believe that the Gayatri mantra can be chanted by all after proper initiation by a Guru. My father was posted in North India during my childhood. Many women there chant Gayatri mantra (unlike south Indians Brahmin families). Many lakhs of women belonging to "All World Gayatri Pariwar" & "Arya Samaj" have been chanting Gayatri for many generations now(in the north).Nothing happens to anybody! Regarding the incident regarding the frogs (in the story), I really feel that the female frogs would not have died had "Aachamanam(especially "Achyutayaya Namah" )and "Marjanam" (for the divine protection "aapah") and if possible ("sandhyavandanam water") would have been sprinkled with devotion in the pond before the "Mantra chanting". In fact, I feel that that story is a lesson for all of us to to perform all the "angas" of "Sandhyavandanam" along with "Gayatri japam"....as I feel that "Achamanam", "Marjanam" etc are for our the protection of the devotee. Many of our sages have done intense "Tapas" and "anthills" etc were formed around them. I think that no damage has happened to lower forms of life due to Veda mantras .(I do agree that certain "Tantrika" and maybe some "Atharva veda" mantras may be "dangerous". ) - Regards, Venkat PS: I really want you to investigate the matter(before you change your opinion)....maybe by contacting/seeing "All World Gayatri Pariwar members" or any other such organisation. I changed by views about "women & Gayatri mantra" after seeing it for myself. http://www.awgp.org
Readers comment is welcome on this particular subject. It will help me in posting and feeding more authentic meanings about this Religion and its valuable Rituals.