Women doing ‘Sandhya’ & ‘Homa’ and wearing ‘Yajnopavit’ – 14000+ years long Indic tradition

Sahana Singh ji posted few photos of female Murtis wearing ‘Yajnopavit’ from Kolkota museum on Facebook.

If one researches carefully (as Sahana Singh ji did) one can notice numerous wonderful yet under-researched features of Hindu civilization.

These two statues (courtesy: Sahana Singh) from Kolkota museums show two women, both wearing ‘Yajnopavit’.   These statues appear to be from 1st or 2nd century BCE.

Ramanujan Ragagopalan added this image from Bali, Indonesia.

Women with Yajnopavit-1 (ramanujan Rajagopalan) Bali - Indonesia

And naturally the subject of  ‘women wearing Yajnopavit’ led to if they also did ‘Sandhya’ and participated, or led ‘Homa’.

I assert that the tradition of women doing ‘Sandhya’ and leading/participating in  ‘Homa’ is at least 14000+ years old.

(1) Valmiki Ramayana mentions Kausalya purifying herself by sipping water and then performing ‘Homa’

Ayodhya 25

सा अपनीय तम् आयासम् उपस्पृश्य जलम् शुचि |
चकार माता रामस्य मन्गलानि मनस्विनी || २-२५-१

(2) Sita, along with Rama & Laxmana is described doing ‘Sandhya’, before retiring for the night.

Ayodhya 87:18-19

लक्ष्मणेन समानीतम् पीत्वा वारि महा यशाः |
औपवास्यम् तदा अकार्षीद् राघवः सह सीतया || २-८७-१८

ततः तु जल शेषेण लक्ष्मणो अप्य् अकरोत् तदा |
वाग् यताः ते त्रयः संध्याम् उपासत समाहिताः || २-८७-१९

(3) As Hanuman waited  near a pond in the Ashoka-vana, he thought (hoped) that Sita will at least come to the pond (water) to perform ‘Sandhya’

Sundar 14:49
संध्या काल मनाः श्यामा ध्रुवम् एष्यति जानकी |
नदीम् च इमाम् शिव जलाम् संध्या अर्थे वर वर्णिनी || ५-१४-४९



4 thoughts on “Women doing ‘Sandhya’ & ‘Homa’ and wearing ‘Yajnopavit’ – 14000+ years long Indic tradition

  1. Women definitely wore the YAJNYOPAVITAM but it was not on a permanent basis, those were worn for specific time and were activity based. It was a sort of Deeksha.
    The first picture of a lady wearing a YAJNYOPAVITAM and holding a sugar cane is related to the marriage ritual
    The second is of SARASVATI –SAVITRI indicator her involvement in the sacrifice YAJNYA
    She is the YAJNYA-PATNI and She helps practises Her spouse carrying out the sacrificial rituals.
    Remember the wife of the sacrifice stays in the vicinity of the sacrificial ground. A specific place known as PATNI-SHALA is allocated for them.
    Some rituals, are performed in the PATNI-SHALA in the rituals of the Vajapeya sacrifices.

  2. 05.01.18

    Dr. Shridhar Iyer’s suggestion limits the yajnopavit ritual only till the Agnichayan Yajna or the like which has this type of arrangement for Hota’s patni-wife. The Iconography of women bearing the yajnopavita in different postures do suggest her invariably wearing of it despite of any yearly ritual happening. So bearing of the yajnopavit clearly suggests girls wearing them from very tender age when they were induced in learning of the Vedas and Shastras equally like boys.

    यथे मां वाचं कल्याणीमावदानि जनेभ्य:। ब्रह्मराजन्याभ्यां शुद्राय चार्याय च स्वाय चारणाय॥यजु। अ ,२६।२॥
    yathe māṃ vācaṃ kalyāṇīmāvadāni janebhya:। brahmarājanyābhyāṃ śudrāya cāryāya ca svāya cāraṇāya॥yaju। a ,26।2॥

    which says “As I have given this word (i.e, the 4 vedas) which is the word of salvation for all making-Brahmanas, Kshatriya, Vaishya, shudra, women, servants,aye, even the lowest of the low, so should you all do, i.e, teach and preach veda. Let all men therefore read and recite, teach and preach the veda and thereby acquire true knowledge, practice virtue, shun vice, and consequently being freed from all sorrows and pain, enjoy true happiness.”

    ब्रह्मचर्येण कन्या३ युवानं विन्दते पतिं॥अथर्व ११,१६,३,१८
    brahmacaryeṇa kanyā3 yuvānaṃ vindate patiṃ॥atharva 11,16,3,18

    which says “ Just as boys acquire sound knowledge and culture by practice of Brahmacharya and then marry girls of their own choice, who are young, well educated, loving and of like temperament, so should a girl practice Brahmacharya, study the Veda, and other sciences and thereby perfect her knowledge, refine her character, give her hand to man of her own choice, who is young, learned and loving.” it follows, therefore, that girls should also practice Brahmacharya and receive education. It was mandatory to curtail any imbalance of knowledge, thoughts and warfare between Husband and Wife. For initial years of their begotten children mother is always held as first Acharya for her child. In ancient India, Gargi and other ladies, were highly educated and perfect scholars of the Vedas. this is clearly written in Shatapatha Brahmana

    कन्यानां सम्प्रदानं च कुमाराणां च रक्षणम्॥मनु ७।१५२॥
    kanyānāṃ sampradānaṃ ca kumārāṇāṃ ca rakṣaṇam॥manu 7।152॥

    Manu says, “The State should make it compulsory for all to send their children of both sexes to school at the said period( 5th or 8th year) and keep them there for the said period(minimum the 16th year for girls and the 25th year for boys) till they are thoroughly well-educated.
    In other words , let no child – whether a girl or a boy be allowed to stay in the house (father’s house) after the 8th year; let him remain in the seminary till his samāvartana time, (i.e, period of Return Home) and let no one be allowed to marry before that.

    The above elaboration clearly suggests what a refined society we had in the Vedic times where women equally got education and thus she was equally entitled to bear yajnopavit.

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