The creed of virility ran through every sphere of Vedic life and the making of a Vedic woman was no exception. If in Vedic times valorous men were in their hundreds, valorous women were in equal hundreds. There was Kali and there was Bhavani. There was Ambika and there was Ekweera. And there were numberless others. They were all typical Vedic women in arms, might incarnate. Take for instance the pictures of our gods and goddesses.
|Temples Leased as Fish Markets
(From Our Quilon Correspondent)
34 buildings attached to Hindu temples in Travancore were recently taken over by the State’s secular Christian Government. In Kanyakumari, a place of national pilgrimage the attached building has been leased out for drying fish: Most of the rest have been converted into ordinary lodges where fish, meat and wine are freely served.
The Devasom Board has submitted a memorandum to the States ministry demanding restoration of the 34 premises. Last week Board President Sri PGN Unnithan flew to New Delhi and personally represented the matter to States Minister Gopalaswamy.
Men waited with bated breath for the cessation of official sacrilege.
Our gods are all armed to the teeth, but, what is more wonderful, our goddesses are armed even more. Our gods are shown with four or at the most six hands, all of them containing arms. But our goddesses are shown with so many as eighteen or some times even twenty eight hands —all bearing different weapons. Which means that the Vedic citizen was realistic enough to realize that women needed more aids and a greater capacity then man to defend her honour. And the realization had been translated fully into practice. For our ancestors did not believe in becoming wise after the event,-as we after the shame that was Pakistan or the dishonor that was Baramula or Rajouri.
But this does not mean that the arms a woman bore had only a private purpose. They were as effective for national purposes as those of any other soldier. From the hoary days of Ganesh, the first organizer of our society, to the recent days of Ahilayabai Holkar, the Rani of Jhansi and the heroins of Subhash Bose, our women have formed armies, given battle and routed the enemy. In those day this task formed by no means an unusual part of a woman’s life.
The tale of Vishpala can be an anecdote in point. Once the kingdom of a Vedic King by name Khel was attacked by an enemy and his brave soldiers out-numbered. The rout put the king into a fight; but his young daughter princess Vishpala exclaimed: “This is a time for action and not for tears. I’ll command the army. This general, father, will bring you victory”. And when she does become, she becomes a victorious general. Ganpati too had raised women’s forces at a very short notice in the Kingdom of Kashi. They achieved what men’s forces could not. When Kali, Chandi or Chamunda attacked demons it was with a host of arm bearers.
The Vedic son was called a veer, the Vedic daughter a veera. And can it be without a well-planned programme of education that Vedic children could become veer or v eera? Further, when the baby girl grew up into a lady she could become a purandhri or punandhi. What was a purandhri? Purandhri meant a guard of the city, or in modern parlance, a “home-guard”. It seems, therefore, quite probable that women in those times were entrusted with and trained and equipped for the task or civil defence, while national or military defence was upon the men’s shoulders.
In fine, the Vedic woman was a constant nucleus of virility and might. Since here childhood she was a Veera when she came of age she could become the purandhi. And when married and a respected citizen, she was shakti. The Vedic woman was never an abala and therefore the Vedic man was ever mighty. n