Friday, November 11, 2011

Women learn Vedas and warfare in Gurukul

A  Gurukul is being run in Varanasi, exclusively for girls teaching warfare and Vedas. The news item is given below.
I think this is in tune with ancient tradition only. We are led to believe that women were not given education in our country. But I came across an interesting verse from a Nadi text by Sage Agasthya which said that the native of the horoscope – a female (under discussion in that verse) would not get education. It gave the inference that education was a must for all women but this woman would not get education due to certain planetary positions. When I analysed the planetary combinations, I found that the 4th house significance was not applicable but the 3rd house significance was applicable. Usually we look into the 4th house for education and the 3rd house for arts / Kalai. Then it occurred to me that the sage was referring to the 64  arts (chathush-shashti kala) as education for women. Archery, languages, certain types of warfare etc are part of the 64 arts. Women have received education and skills in a variety of fields. In Dharampal's book also we come across a reference to girls getting education in arts (64 arts) in temples or through private tuitions. This was the situation around the year 1800. In earlier times even these limitations were not there in their movements and in education.

For the list of 64 arts:-

These Panini girls can cross swords with anyone
Swati Chandra, TNN Nov 10, 2011, 11.29AM IST
Words of wisdom and Vedas on their lips; swords, javeline, arrows and
bows in hand, girls of Panini Kanya Mahavidyala, Varanasi, are not only
challenging the 5,000-year-old laws of Manusmriti (that women cannot
perform religious rites, chant hymns and read Vedas), but are also
showcasing perfect example of self defence to the contemporary world.
The 40-year-old 'Gurukul only' for girls has been imparting knowledge in
Sanskrit, Astyadhyayi, Vedas, vedic hymns, Science, Indian philosophy
and karmakands. At the same time, ample training in self defecnce and
warfare is given to the girls in the residential school based on ancient
methods of teaching.

Archery, swords, daggers, javeline, lathi, horse riding girls of this
Gurukul have kept alive the ancient methods of war games and at the same
time are overshadowing modern world with their self defence skills that
also includes karate and martial arts.

Dharmavati Arya, a student, has won accolades in the field of archery.
Her calm nature and depth of knowledge in her eyes do not give even a
clue that this young girl has mastered archery at national level. She
was recently invited by Tata Archery Academy, Jamshedpur, for advanced
training in the sport at international level. "I can hit the object with
my arrow by looking at the object in the mirror (this act was practiced
by Arjun of Mahabharat)," says 22-year-old Dharmavati.

"By the time girls reach 18-20 years, they know all the warfares. As
the Gurukul is based on Agra Shishya Shiksha Pranali (seniors teaching
juniors), they pass on the knowlegde to the little girls and in this way
we revise our art," says Jyoti Arya, a student of Acharya (Post
Graduation) who has also crossed many 'swords' with her contemporaries
from other other 'gurukuls' of the country. Little girls, Akriti (13)
and Kasturi (14) have mastered two handed swords and knives while some
of them have mastered the art of art of archery performing yogasans.
They can also offer flower garlands to guests with a click from their
bow and arrow and can produce dance drama with the sounds of their

According to Jyoti, apart from applying the art as self defence, girls
of the Gurukul have been participating in various warfares that are held
in the country during special occasions. Rani Laksmi Bai, being the idle
of for these girls, holds special importance and they perform regulary
at Jhansi every year when during the celebration of the birthday of the
brave queen.

Acharya Dr Priti Vimarshini, teacher of warfares who herself studied in
the same Gurukul, says: "There are several tales of self defence.
Madhuri Arya, a student of the Gurukul, jumped off from a running train
chasing a thief and came back safely. Similarly Dharmvati Arya has
solved many cases of eve teasing on roads."

"Girls here do not panic while walking alone on roads and when trapped
in problematic situations. Instead, they fight hard and emerge
victorious.I believe it is very important to have these skills in this
times when we do not know who might turn out to be our enemy," added

At present, around 80 girls are residing at the Gurukul. Out of them,
60 know the art of self defence and warfares and they practice it daily
on the premises of the Gurukul in the evening. The minimum age to enter
the ancient system of education is nine years. However care is taken
with their age groups and matching war sports. Eyebrows were raised on
the methods of the Gurukul as according to Manusmriti, law code of
Hindus, women and Shudras (dalits) were not supposed to attain priest
hood and learn Vedas. Moreover the Gurukul follows on Vedic system
instead of the caste system. Girls from different regions of the country
having different caste, including dalits, and some special guests from
foreign lands study here.

In his message, Swami Avimukateshwaranand Saraswati, the desciple of
Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, appreciated the Gurukul and
the Panini temple describing it as one of its kind which would attract
others towards the Indian culture.

A local resident Anand Kesari says: "We invite girls of Panini Kanya
Mahavidyalaya during our religious functions to perform Vedic mantras
every year. The way they perform rituals is highly appreciating and
accepted by all."

"The Vedic methods of these girls is very effective," says Rahul
Srivastava, a resident of Pandeypur. According to him, the 'karmakand'
(all 16 sanskars) performed by these girls at various homes of city is
so very methodological that his family always invites these girls for
offer religious rites at different occasions.

According to Acharya Priti, the girls were also invited by chief
minister of New Delhi to enchant Vedic mantras at a programme organised
by the Delhi government.


surya said...

Namastay mam,

is the following verse genuine?

Kruthethu manava dharma
tretayaam gowtama smritah
dwaparay sankhalikhitah
kaluv parasarah smritah

"manava dharma (manu smriti)"

NVS Prakasam.

jayasree said...

I don't know what you mean by genuine. But it is said that Parashara Smruthi is the smruthi for Kaliyuga.

surya said...

Namastay mam,

I read that verse in an article, not mentioning from where it was taken. The doubt is because of the following:

I heard kaluv venkatanayakah, thought that is it heard...kaluv chandi...kaluv looked as if everybody is trying to fill the blank and interpret on their asked for genuinity of that verse.

thanks for clarification.


Anonymous said...

What are your comments on the 11/11/11 11:11 am rare occurrence ?

jayasree said...

Its just a fancy number.

Unknown said...

This is Ramanathan, whom you may remember posted comments on article of the same question.

Again the verse if i remember is from the apastamba dharma sutras. If you find this wrong and find the correct source, please let me know and also forgive me for giving wrong info.I remember reading this long ago during adhyayanam when i was around 12 yrs.

The point is even parashara has not prescribed adhyayan for ladies for the simple reason that in this kaliyuga of this vaivasvat manavantara, women do not have upanayanam. And if i remember one of the puranas i think the bhagavata says this is too one of the misfortunes of kali. With sweet words that sounds logical, people will commit a lot of anaachara and will forget svadharma.

Also nowhere in the samhita, brahmana or aranyakas portions of the tattriya yajur veda samhita and also the kalpa, is there a mention of women becoming ritwiks in yajnas. The only place where the women can chant some mantras is along with her husband in soma yajnas. And those karmas are called "patni sayujyam". Also have you read in the puranas or vedas where a women has been a ritwik(priest) in any yajna performed by any king/rishi?.

These are the points which i humbly wish to submit


Vasundhara said...

In this kind of an age - Ramanathan Sir - do you advise women - who seem far more "religiously inclined" than the current crop of men to even abandon that kind of spiritual inquiry?

And, are we not seeing remarkable women - Meera, Mata Amritanandamayi, Anandamoi maa etc who have reached self realization.

Seriously in every family that I have come across in my limited experience it is the women of the household sticking to traditions - and thanks to them much of our culture has been retained. There are a great deal of them married to near-atheists or just agnostics. How can the children even be inclined into the huge repository we have in our traditions if women also abandon? Today at least there are women to tell that there are Vedas to be read - tomorrow even that may vanish if we stop women!

Nagarajan said...


Before pouncing on Mr.Ramanathan, you better understand that he never advised women to remain religiously disinclined. Religious inclination is not limited to reciting Vedas which women are forbidden from doing. This is according to our scriptures which is what Ramanathan is saying.

As far as I know, Meera never recited Vedas to attain liberation. It is her divine love for Krishna which took her to His lotus feet. Same is the case with Andal. Srimad Bhagavatham says that anybody can do Nama Smarana and have such love in this Yuga to attain divinity. Sages call it Nayaka Nayika bhavam. This is regardless of caste, creed, religion and gender.

I don't know if Amritanandamayi is a self realized woman. That is your view. Also, I do not know if a self realized woman has to hug and kiss others to make them realize something. God knows what kind of realization is this.

There are two sets of people who destroy our Dharma. One are those who are suppose to do something which they don't. Another one are those who aren't suppose to do something which they do. This is the cause which you advocate.

If only women and certain others have to chant Vedas to preserve it, let it better vanish. It becomes His responsibility to protect Veda Matha.

Skandan - the way to wisdom said...

Respected Madam,

I came across this webiste and i felt I shd share this with you. I was surprised to see many non Indians so deeply committed in promoting Hindu dharma, its values and preserving the same. The Magazine Hinduism Today is really good. They made it sure that its available in all book stands.

Though we have conversion and love jihad as a challnege in India, i think, many of our gurus are compensating the same in Amercia.

God Bless them all


Unknown said...

Vasundhara madam,
As Mr Nagarajan says, I did not tell women to remain adharmic. All i say is that what is dharma for one, need not be dharma for the others(Even though apparently it seems to be). I also completely agree with you that it is through women that dharma is nurtured. But the role of women is differant and their role is equally important. It is precisely for those who are anadhikaaris in veda adhyayana that the puranas have been promulgated by Krishna Dvaipayana. I too dont know about mata amritananda mayi devi, whether she is a self realized woman or not. Also i would think that Vidura was far greater a brahma jnaani even though being a Shudra by birth. He did not do veda adhyayana. I am sure that Maa Amritanandamayi is nowhere near Vidura A truly self realized man or women need not come out into the world at all. Their presence on earth itself is elevating. I am sure you would have heard of Sada siva brahmendral, Ramana, shuka, jada bharata etc. Also women like meera etc attained godhood through naama japa than through vedic chanting. Nama japa and purana shravana are quite opent to all and have not restrictions. The puranas themselves were taught to Sutas(like Lomaharshana in the Bhagavata for example) and pauranikas who were not Brahmins at all So please dont take any offence. I am not demeaning anybody. It is just that i am putting forth Dharma as told in the Vedas and Dharma shastras.


Anonymous said...


Can someone please give me details on Varanasi Veda learning center for girls? address number or a official site if they have one.
It will save my life please

Jaya Bhat