The wrong notion that women should not read and recite the Vedas still exists in society, though it is being shattered gradually, said speakers of a virtual programme here today.
Speaking at a seminar on 'Women in the light of oriental philosophy' organised by the Department of Philosophy, Nepal Academy in collaboration with the Center for Women's Studies on the occasion of the 81st Yogamaya Memorial Day, Academy chancellor Ganga Prasad Upreti said that such misconception about Vedic philosophy still existed in the society.
The notion that women should not read and recite Vedas, the holy book of the Hindus, does not serve the real essence and values of the Vedas, according to him. He went on to say that such a notion got to rule the society as Vedas at some specific time were misinterpreted intentionally or unknowingly, distorting its basic epistemological elements.
This type of event would be helpful in reassessing and redefining such distorted elements, analysing the historical background of their emergence and protection and the messages they intended to deliver in the society, he said. He was of the view that the Vedas were capable of guiding the human life of all ages if their symbolic significance could be understood and internalized.
Academy vice-chancellor Dr Jagman Gurung said the position of women was special, high, and respected in the light of Eastern philosophy. “This was not the feature of the mythical society, but also the case of the contemporary society as well,” he argued.
He said laws capable of doing justice to all and acceptable to all were the need of the time.
Prof Jagat Prasad Upadhyaya, Academy Member Secretary and Head of the Department of Philosophy said that the programme was successful in presenting the status of women in the Vedas, in the Buddhist philosophy and in Oriental philosophy. Stating the status of women in Vedic literature was respectable, he emphasised that both women and men are the preachers of Vedic mantras.
Presenting a working paper on 'Vedic Philosophy and Women', Dr Shukra Raj Adhikari, said that there is still a wrong mentality in society that women should not read the Vedas but many hymns of Veda were interpreted by the women.
Adhikari shared, "The Veda is the main source of religious, cultural and spiritual knowledge of Aryans. It is the source of Vedic philosophy of overall life, knowledge and science. Now, it is said that the same Veda should not be read by women. But it is women saints who are credited with throwing light on 422 hymns of the Vedas."
Similarly, presenting a seminar paper on 'Buddhism and Women' through a virtual medium from London, Monk Kashyap argued that women always became Sita due to control and oppression of patriarchy, but never became Buddha.
Likewise, Prof Dr Shashi Adhikari presented a seminar paper on "Women rights on religion, philosophy, and law" where she mentioned that though the women's place was equality-oriented during the Vedic period, women have been struggling for gender equality in the modern era.
Adhikari opined that provisions made by the constitution and laws could not be implemented until patriarchal thinking is changed and gender-based discrimination should be wiped out to maintain equality in society.
Constituent Assembly member Prabha Bajracharya, parliamentarian of the federal parliament, Bidhya Bhattarai, and Chairperson of the Centre, Sita Ojha, expressed their views on 'Women in the light of oriental philosophy."