Let me start a topic about "Vedas and Women" let us see what was the position of women during vedic era. upAdhyAyAn dashAcArya AcaryANAM shatam pita sahasram tu pitRN mAtA gauravenAtiricyate|| 2:145 Manu Samhita The above verse establishes the superiority of mother over the father, the guru and the teacher. One AcAryaa is 10 folds superior to the upAdhyAya the father is 100 folds superior to the AcArya However the mother is 1000 times superior to the father. The shrutis and smritis are replete with such verses glorifying the women during the distant past of our great bhArata varSha. But a look at history and scriptures would confirm that something went wrong somewhere with reference to the status of women in this country. And its not too difficult to establish the reason for the degradation of the status of women in society and the advent of the era of male domination in this country. Starting from the status of being the ‘gRha nAyikA’ and equal partner in the vedic yajnas of the vedic era to the status of being confined to the cattle shed during those “three days’ and to the status of being brutally abused and battered, what went wrong to the society and the country so as to change the mindset of the male to the extent of not only dominating the women physically but also to extent of indulging in brutality? The time has indeed come now for the citizens of this great bhArata varSha who are followers of sanAtana dharma – re-named as Hinduism by the westerners to look back at the glorious Vedic era and allow the girls to enjoy the same rights which our scriptures have declared. Some pseudo vedic scholars have attempted to prove the daughter as an unwelcome member of the family but its absolutely against the tenets of the Vedas which suggest quite the opposite to these claims. In subsequent ages women have been denied the privilege of Upanayana too which is not in accordance with the vedic injunctions. See the following quotes from the gRhya sUtras : Parents desirous of obtaining a daughter perform the KAmya ShrAddha on the second day of the moon (Gobhila ParishiSTa ShrAddha Kalpa [Calcutta ed.p.186] ## PAraskara GRhya Sutra 1.21 ) When a husband is desirous of having a daughter, he should touch all the fingers of his wife except her thumb during the marriage ceremony. (AshvalAyana GRhya SUtra 2:125, Apastamba GRhya SUtra यदि कामयेत स्त्रीरेव जनयेयमित्यङ्गुलिरेव गृह्णीयात् 6:12) Wishing for a daughter, the husband shows the bride the Dhruva and other constellations ( kAthaka Grhya Sutra commentary जीवन्तीं कन्यामिच्छन् ध्रुवादिकं दर्शयेत् 2 :1-2 ) So it is very obvious to a discerning person that the girl child was never disliked or unwelcome in the household. Infact special prayers and propitiations were conducted to have a girl in the family ! Father is found to worship the daughter (KumArI) as an emblem of purity, tenderness, devotion and what not. Just like the Matrika Pooja is performed at beginning of many vedic rituals, Kumari poojan is performed at the end of vedic rituals. Father wraps her in new garments, entertains her with delicious dishes and performs a parikrama around her. During different ages different deities are invoked in her like Sandhyaa , Saraswati etc. ( त्रिवेदिय क्रियाकान्ड पद्धति ) Vedas don't differentiate among boys and girls in the samskaras or shodasa samskara. Upanayanam ( Yajnopavita ) is one of the major samskara in which the child gets officially initiated into Brahma Gayatri and it is mainly focused on Brahmopadesham which enables him to become eligible to learn vedas and other shastras. After this ceremony he attains the "Dwija" hood or Twice born. Sutras prescribe various age groups for different Varna's for initiation. For example about Brahmin varna, अष्टम्वर्षे ब्राह्मणमुपनयेत् ( Ashvalayana Grhya Sutra 1:19:1 ) , गर्भाष्टमे ब्राह्मणमुपनयेत् ( Varaha. Grhya. Sut.) Similar rules are prescribed for Kshatriyas and Vaisyas too only the age limit is extended for them. Here Sutra kaara's by brahmana , kshatriya etc mean that both boys and girls of this varna's are to be initiated. The gender is not designated to be masculine alone. Since most of the rituals are meant for boys and girls both hence they have commonly addressed as masculine words which are generally used in any stories or instructions etc. For example a rule like " ब्राह्मणो न हन्तव्यः" ( the brahmana should not be murdered) it is meant that the ब्राह्मणी also should not be murdered. Similarly "मरणधर्मा मानवः" means man is mortal we mean that women is also mortal. Hence gender is specifically mentioned only where it is required. As per Haarita dharma sutra, those women who are Brahma Vaadini have right for initiation, Vedic studies , Fire establishment and bhiksha etc. द्विऽविधाः स्त्रियो ब्रह्मवादिन्यः सदीवध्वश्च । तत्र ब्रह्मवादिनीनामुपनयनम्योन्धनं वेदाध्ययनं स्वगृहे भिक्शाचर्या चेति ( 21:23) As per Yama Smriti, पुरा कल्पे कुमारिणां मोञ्जोबन्धन मिष्यते । अध्यापनन्श्च वेदानां सावित्रीवाचनन्तथा ॥ पिता पितृव्यो भ्राता वा नैनामध्यापयेत् परः | In olden times tying of girdle was prescribed for girls. So also study of vedas and uttering of Gayatri ( Savitur) preferably from father , brother or uncle. She is allowed for begging alms within her house limits. Yama refers to existence not only in olden days but during his times as well by his sentence पुराकल्पे ( यथैष्यत) तथा (अधुनाऽपि) इष्यते. The word तथा is specially put by Yama by way of comparison between old time and his own time so he says that during his time girls should learn from father, brother etc and she dont need to wear deer skin, bark etc. If Yama had intended to say that girls should not be initiated in his time unlike olden times he would say something like इह कल्पे तासामेवं न कुर्यान्मतिमान् क्कचित् ॥ As he uses verbs in present tense so we can make out that he prescribed rules for his own days and was the case in olden days too. Gobhila says that Bride should wear the sacred thread when the bridegroom leads her to the altar. "प्रावृतां यज्ञोपवीतिनीमम्युदानयन् जपेत् सीमोऽदाद् गन्धर्वायेति " ( Gobhila Grhya sutra 2:1:19) यज्ञोपवीतिनाऽचान्तोदकेन कृत्यम् ( Gobhila Grhya sutra 1:1:2) Like the women are eligible for vedas, they are eligible for brahmavidya too. (यथाधिकरः श्रोतेषु योषितां कर्म सुश्रुतःएवमेवानुमन्यम्ब ब्रह्माणि ब्रह्मवादिताम् Yama Smriti ) Brahamchari is one who is engaged in the study of vedas. ब्रह्मचर्येण ब्रह्म वेदः तदध्ययनार्थमाचर्यम् Atharva veda sAyana bhashyam 117.17 A brahmacharin should be married to a brahmacharini. ब्रह्मचरिणां च ब्रहचारिणीभिः सह विवाह् प्रशस्यो भवति - Pranavavada of maharshi Garga The Rig-Veda (V, 7, 9) refers to young maidens completing their education as brahmacharinis and then gaining husbands… Rv. iii (55, 16) mentions unmarried learned and young daughters who should be married to learned bridegrooms. Without initiated by proper samskara, no one is eligible to utter holy vedic mantras. But women are found to utter them in many of Shrauta and Grhya sacrifices (yajnas). In the sAkamedha the third of chaturmasa (four monthly) sacrifice the girl uses the Tryambaka's mantra (त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पतिवेदनम्। उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनादितो मुक्षीय माऽमुतः, Shukla Yajurveda Samhita III :60 ) As per Shatapatha Brahmana, The priest and Sacrificer go round the altar thrice from right to left, but maidens go from left to right. While doing so the maidens utter the Tryambaka mantra. ( II : 6 : 2 : 13 ) Yajnikadeva in the "paddhati" says वचनात् कुमार्या अपि मन्त्रपाठः meaning that maidens should too utter the sacred formulas as prescribed. In Madana pArijAta the author quotes KAtyayana (KAtyayana samhita p.330) to show that if any samskara before the initiation ceremony is left unobserved, it should be performed with offering of oblation. Since Madana deals with these things under strI samskara section it is clear that women are entitled to initiation.