THE WOMEN OF INDIA (New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 411-26.)
Volume 9, Lectures and Discourses
Going back to our Vedas — they are the oldest literature the world possesses and are composed by your and my common ancestors (they were not written in India — perhaps on the coast of the Baltic, perhaps in Central Asia — we do not know).
Their oldest portion is composed of hymns, and these hymns are to the gods whom the Aryans worshipped. I may be pardoned for using the word gods; the literal translation is “the bright ones”. These hymns are dedicated to Fire, to the Sun, to Varuna and other deities. The titles run: “such-and-such a sage composed this verse, dedicated to such-and-such a deity”.
In the tenth chapter comes a peculiar hymn — for the sage is a woman — and it is dedicated to the one God who is at the background of all these gods. All the previous hymns are spoken in the third person, as if someone were addressing the deities. But this hymn takes a departure: God [as the Devi] is speaking for herself. The pronoun used is “I”. “I am the Empress of the Universe, the Fulfiller of all prayers.” (Vide “Devi Sukta”, Rig-Veda 10.125)
There is that beautiful story of the great sage Yâjnavalkya, the one who visited the kingdom of the great king Janaka. And there in that assembly of the learned, people came to ask him questions. One man asked him, “How am I to perform this sacrifice?” Another asked him, “How am I to perform the other sacrifice?” And after he had answered them, there arose a woman who said, “These are childish questions. Now, have a care: I take these two arrows, my two questions. Answer them if you can, and we will then call you a sage. The first is: What is the soul? The second is: What is God?” ( Brihadâranyaka Upanishad 3.8.1.-12.)
Thus arose in India the great questions about the soul and God, and these came from the mouth of a woman. The sage had to pass an examination before her, and he passed well.
Drinking wine, killing a woman and killing a Brahmin are the highest crimes in the Hindu religion.
We come to another class of women. This mild Hindu race produces fighting women from time to time. Some of you may have heard of the woman [Lakshmi Bai, Queen of Jhansi] who, during the Mutiny of 1857, fought against the English soldiers and held her own ground for two years — leading modern armies, managing batteries and always charging at the head of her army. This queen was a Brahmin girl.
The very peculiarity of Hindu women, which they have developed and which is the idea of their life, is that of the mother. If you enter a Hindu’s home, you will not find the wife to be the same equal companion of the husband as you find her here. But when you find the mother, she is the very pillar of the Hindu home. The wife must wait to become the mother, and then she will be everything.
It is alone in the Sanskrit language that we find four words meaning husband and wife together. It is only in our marriage that they [both] promise, “What has been my heart now may be thine”. It is there that we see that the husband is made to look at the Pole-star, touching the hand of his wife and saying, “As the Pole-star is fixed in the heavens, so may I be fixed in my affection to thee”. And the wife does the same.
Aryan civilization has been of three types: the Roman, the Greek, the Hindu. The Roman type is the type of organization, conquest, steadiness — but lacking in emotional nature, appreciation of beauty and the higher emotions. Its defect is cruelty. The Greek is essentially enthusiastic for the beautiful, but frivolous and has a tendency to become immoral. The Hindu type is essentially metaphysical and religious, but lacking in all the elements of organization and work.
And let me tell you, this should be done by women. There are some of our books which say that the next incarnation, and the last (we believe in ten), is to come in the form of a woman.
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
Love And Love Alone
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