Doubt: Then what was the role of women like Gargi, Maitreyi, Gayatri etc, whose names appear in the Veda?
Resolution: These women and many more – about 20 – mentioned in the Veda, are all concerned with Jnana [wisdom] and not Karma [action]; and women are certainly entitled for Jnana.
Query: In our tradition why are there restrictions on women during their monthly periods?
Reply: You should know that these restrictions are prevalent even today in all civilized societies in the world. Jews, Arabs and many others follow them. The reason is quite obvious; to keep away from diseases…
There has been a steady increase in the number of hepatitis cases in India, the majority of whom are women. What could be the reason for this rapid spread? Remember that a woman’s monthly periods are most fertile for all communicable diseases to affect her. In the United States it has been noticed that in offices often many women get their periods simultaneously. This means that even normally it is contagious. [?]
Question: Can women have education like men?
Reply: Certainly. But generally their inclination is more towards arts. All through in our tradition women have been pursuing education. It is only during the British occupation that this tradition has been hindered. The extreme poverty created artificially by them ruined the grand educational system in India. It was indeed very superior to that in Britain even till the 18th century. Fortunately, the situation has substantially improved now.
Concluding Story: This is an anecdote from the life of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the great Indian leader. Once, all the women folk in his house were busy doing the Gauri Puja (worship of mother goddess Parvati), and Tilak Ji was sitting outside in the verandah. His daughter in law came to him dragging her four year old son. Handing him over she said to Tilak: ‘Father, he is disturbing everybody very much and not allowing to perform the Puja. Please hold him till the Puja is over’ and left. Tilak kept the struggling chap fixed firmly between his thighs and the following conversation took place between the two:
Tilak: Gauri Puja is only for women and you are a boy. Why do you want to go there?
Child: Why do women perform this Puja?
Tilak: They pray to receive a good husband in each of their births.
Child: Then I too will pray for a good wife in each birth.
Tilak: Son, a man need not pray for a good wife in our culture. In this society, the chances of your receiving a good wife are already very high. But getting a good husband, that definitely requires divine intervention.
Indeed, Dharma is protected at the grass roots by women only. Glory be to the Indian woman!
From ‘Exotic India’