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The Disposition of women
The eternal truths about the disposition of women, revealed in the text which is reproduced below from the Mahabharata and the Shiva Maha Purana, provide the reasons why, down through the centuries, restrictions are applied to women in Christianity, Islam and elsewhere and women being barred from the study of the Vedas in Hinduism. ' The duties of women' etc. as laid down in Hindu scriptures, can be understood more properly if "The disposition of women" is understood. It is more than likely that the following texts may upset the reader.
Therefore, we appeal that the text be read with the aid of your intellect, keeping emotions under control.
THE DISPOSITION OF WOMEN
From the Mahabharata
Anusasana Parva, Section XXXVIII
The same text appears also in Sri Shiva Mahapurana
Uma Samhita Ch 24
Yudhishthira said: O best of Bharatas, I wish to hear thee discourse
on the disposition of women. Women are said to be the root of all
evil. They are all regarded as exceedingly frail. Bhishma said: In this
connection is cited the old history of the discourse between the
Celestial Rishi (Seer) Narada and the celestial courtezan Panchachuda.
Once in ancient times, the celestial Rishi Narada, having roamed over all
the world, met the Apsara Panchachuda of faultless beauty, having her abode
in the region of Brahman.
Beholding the Apsara, every limb of whose body was endued with great beauty, the ascetic addressed her saying, O thou of slender waist, I have a doubt in my mind. Do thou explain it.
Bhishma continued: Thus addressed by the rishi, the Apsara said unto him:
If the subject is one which is known to me and thou thinkest me
competent to speak on it, I shall certainly say what is in my mind.
Narada said; O amiable one, I shall not certainly appoint thee to any task that is beyond thy competence. O thou of beautiful face, I wish to hear from thee of the disposition of women.
Bhishma contitued: Hearing these words of the celestial Rishi, that
foremost of Apsaras replied unto him, saying: I am unable, being myself
a woman, to speak ill of women. Thou knowest what women are and with
what nature they are endued. It behoveth thee not, O celestial Rishi, to
set me to such a task..
Unto her the celestial Rishi said: It is very true, O thou of slender waist. One incurs fault by speaking what is untrue. In saying, however, what is true, there can be no fault.
Thus addressed by him, the Apsara Panchachuda of sweet smiles consented to answer Narad's question. She then addressed herself to mention what the true and eternal faults of women are!
Panchachuda said: Even if high born and endued with beauty and possessed of protectors, women wish to transgress the restraints assigned to them.This fault truly stains them, O Narada!
There is nothing else that is more sinful than women. Verily, women are the root of all faults. That is certainly known to thee, O Narada! Women, even when possessed of husbands having fame and wealth, of handsome features and completely obedient to them, are prepared to disregard them if they get the opportunity.
This, O puissant one, is a sinful disposition with us women, that, casting off modesty, we cultivate the companionship of men of sinful habits and intentions.
Women betray a liking for those men who court them, who approach their presence, and who respectfully serve them to even a slight extent. Through want of solicitation by persons of the other sex, or fear of relatives, women, who are naturally impatient of all restraints, do not transgress those that have been ordained for them, and remain by the side of their husbands.
There is none whom they are incapable of admitting to their favours.
They never take
into consideration the age of the person they are prepared to favour.
Ugly or handsome, if only the person happens to belong to the opposite sex, women are ready to enjoy his companionship. That women remain faithful to their lords is due not to their fear of sin, nor to compassion, nor to wealth, nor to the affection that springs up in their hearts for kinsmen and children. Women living in the bosom of respectable families envy the condition of those members of their sex that are young and well adorned with jewels and gems and lead a free life.
Even those women that are loved by their husbands and treated with great respect, are seen to bestow their favours upon men that are hump-backed, that are blind, that are idiots, or that are dwarfs. Women may be seen to like the companionship of even those men that are destitute of the power of locomotion or those men that are endued with great ugliness of features. O great Rishi, there is no man in this world whom women may regard as unfit for companionship.
Through inability to obtain persons of the opposite sex, or fear of relatives, or fear of death and imprisonment, women remain, of themselves, within the restraints prescribed for them. They are exceedingly restless, for they always hanker after new companions. In consequence of their nature being unintelligible, (unable to be understood) they are incapable of being kept in obedience by affectionate treatment.
Their disposition is such that they are incapable of being restrained when bent upon transgression. Verily, women are like the words uttered by the wise. Fire is never satiated with fuel. Ocean can never be filled with the waters that rivers bring unto it. Similarly women are never satiated with men.
This, O celestial Rishi, is another mystery connected with women. As soon as they see a man of handsome and charming features, unfailing signs of desire appear on their persons.
They never show sufficient regard for even such husbands as accomplish all their wishes, as always do what is agreeable to them and as protect them from want and danger. Women never regard so highly even articles of enjoyments in abundance or ornaments or other possessions of an agreeable kind as they do the companionship of persons of the opposite sex.
The destroyer, the deity of wind, death, the nether regions, the equine mouth that roves through the ocean, vomiting ceaseless flames of fire, the sharpness of the razor, virulent poison, the snake and Fire- all these exist in a state of union in women. That eternal Brahman whence the five great elements have sprung into existence, whence the Creator Brahman hath ordained the universe, and whence, indeed, men have sprung, verily from the same eternal source have women sprung into existence. At that time, again, O Narada, when women were created, these faults that I have enumerated were planted in them!
They (women) make a lie appear as truth, and a truth appear as a lie
Anusasana Parva, Section XXXIX
Addressing Bhishma, Yudhishthira said:
All men, O king, in this world are seen to attach themselves to women, overcome by the illusion that is created by the divine Being. Similarly, women too are seen to attach themselves to men. All this is seen taking place everywhere in the world. On this subject a doubt exists in my mind, why do men (when women are stained with so many faults) still attach themselves to women?
Who, again, are those men with whom women are highly pleased and who are they with whom they are displeased?
It behoveth the, O chief of men, to explain to me how men are capable of protecting women?
While men take pleasure in women and sport with them, women, it seems, are engaged in deceiving men. Then, again, if a man once falls into their hands, it is difficult for him to escape from them. Like kine (cows) ever seeking pastures new women seek new men one after another. Š. If man laughs, women laugh. If man weeps, they weep. If the opportunity requires, they receive the man that is disagreeable to them with agreeable words.
That science of policy which the preceptor of the Asuras knew, that science of policy which the preceptor of the celestials, Vrihaspati, knew, cannot be regarded to be deeper or more distinguished for subtility than what woman's intelligence naturally brings forth. Verily, how can women, therefore, be restrained by men? They make a lie appear as truth, and a truth appear as a lie.
They who can do this, - I ask, O hero, - how can they be ruled by persons
of the opposite sex? It seems to me that Vrihaspati and other great thinkers
evolved the science of policy from observation of the understandings of
Whether treated by men with respect or with disdain, women are seen to turn the heads and agitate the hearts of men. Living creatures are virtuous. Even this is what has been heard by us. How then, can this be consistent with fact? For treated with affection and respect or otherwise, women (forming a fair portion of living creatures) are seen to deserve censure for their conduct towards men. This great doubt fills my mind, viz., when their behaviour is such, what man is there that can restrain them within the bounds of righteousness? Do thou explain this to me, O highly blessed scion of Kuru's race! It behoves thee to tell me whether women are truly capable of being restrained within the bounds prescribed by the scriptures or whether anyone before our time did really succeed in so restraining them.
Bhishma said: It is even so as thou sayest. There is nothing untrue in all this that thou sayest on the subject of women.. I shall tell thee, O king, how women were created by the Grandsire Brahman and the object for which they were created by Him.
There is no creature more sinful than women. Woman is a blazing fire.
She is the illusion, O king, that the Daitya Maya created. She is the
sharp edge of the razor. She is poison. She is a snake. She is fire. She
is, verily, all these united together. It has been heard by us that all
persons of the human race are characterised by righteousness, and that
they, in course of natural progress and improvement, attain to the status
of deities. This circumstance alarmed the deities. They, therefore, assembled
repaired to the presence of the Grandsire. Informing Him of what was in their minds, they stood silent in his presence, with downcast eyes.
The puissant Grandsire having ascertained what was in the hearts of
the deities, created women, with the aid of an Atharvan rite. In a former
creation women were all virtuous.
Those, however, that sprang from this creation by Brahman with the aid of an illusion became sinful. The Grandsire bestowed upon them the desire of enjoyment, all kinds of carnal pleasure. Tempted by the desire of enjoyment, they began to pursue persons of the other sex. The puissant lord of the deities created Wrath as the companion of Lust.
Persons of the male sex, yielding to the power of Lust and Wrath, sought the companionship of women.
Women have no acts prescribed for them. Even this is the ordinance that was laid down. The Sruti (Vedas) declares that women are endued with senses the most powerful, that they have no scriptures to follow, and that they are living lies. Beds and seats and ornaments and food and drink and the absence of all that is respectable and righteous, indulgence in disagreeable words, and love of sexual companionship, these were bestowed by Brahman upon women. Men are quite unable to restrain them within bounds.
The Creator Himself is incapable of restraining them within the limits that are proper : what need then be said of men?
Bhishma said to Yudhishthira: Devasarman of great energy addressed his disciple in words which I shall recite to thee, O king!
Devasarman said: ŠŠWomen should always be protected by thee from temptations
and opportunities of every kind. Amongst women both kinds are to be seen,
that is, those that are virtuous and those that are not so. Those women
that are virtuous are highly blessed. They are the mothers of the universe
( for they it is that cherish all creatures on every side).They it is,
who uphold the earth with all her waters and forests.
Those women that are sinful, that are of wicked behaviour, that are the destroyers of their races, and that are wedded to sinful resolves, are capable of being ascertained by indications, expressive of the evil that is in them, which appear on their bodies. It is even thus that high-souled persons are capable of protecting women.
They cannot be protected in any other way.
Women are fierce. They are endued with fierce prowess. They have none whom they love or like so much as they that have sexual congress with them. Women are like those Atharvan incantations that are destructive of life. Even after they have consented to live with one, they are prepared to abandon him for entering into engagements with others. They are never satisfied with one person of the opposite sex. Men should feel no affection for them.
Nor should they entertain any jealousy on account of them. Having a
regard only for the considerations of virtue, men should enjoy their society,
not with enthusiasm and attachment but with reluctance and absence of attachment.
By acting otherwise, a man is sure to meet with destruction. Reason is
respected at all times and under all circumstances. There is none in the
three worlds who is capable of protecting women.
WOMEN CAN COMMIT NO FAULT
The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCLXVI
Then again woman can commit no fault. It is man only that commits faults.
By perpetrating an act of adultery, the man only becomes stained with guilt.
It has been said that the husband is the highest object with the wife and
the highest deity to her. Women can commit no fault. Indeed, in consequence
of the natural weakness of the sex as displayed in every act, and their
liability to solicitation, women cannot be regarded as offenders.
From the Mahabharata
Anusasana Parva, Section XIX
Yudhishthira (addressing Bhishma) said:
Women in particular, the Rishis have said, are false in behaviour. Women in paticular have been declared in the ordinances to be false. In the very Vedas one may read that women are false.
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section VI
Vaisampaya said: Possessed of great energy, the righteous King Yudhishthira,
then, in sorrow, cursed all the women of the world, saying, "Henceforth
no woman shall succeed in keeping a secret."
From the Mahabharata
Anusasana Parva, Section XIX & XXI
Addressing sage Ashtavakra, the old Lady said:
The very deities of wind and fire and water, or the other celestials, O regenerate one, are not so agreeable to women as the deity of desire. Verily, women are exceedingly fond of sexual congress. Among a thousand women, or perhaps, among hundreds of thousands, sometimes only one may be found that is devoted to her husband. When under the influence of desire, they care not for family or father or mother or brother or husband or sons or husband's brother, but pursue the way that desire points out.
Verily, in pursuit of what they consider happiness, they destroy the family to which they belong by birth or marriage, even as many queenly rivers eat away the banks that contain them. Even women that are aged are tortured by the desire of sexual union. The Creator himself had said this, quickly marking the faults of women.
Anusasana Parva, Section XX
Sage Ashtavakra said:
Women can never be their own mistresses. This is the opinion of the Creator himself, viz., that a woman never deserves to be independent. There is not a single woman in the three worlds that deserves to be regarded as the mistress of her own self. The father protects her while she is a maiden. The husband protects her while she is in youth. Sons protect her when she is aged. Women can never be independent as long as they live.
From The Mahabharata
Adi Parva, Section LXXIV
Addressing Shakuntala, Dushmanta said:
" Women generally speak untruth".
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCXIII
Persons of wisdom should not pursue women in especial. Indeed, women are like frightful mantra-powers. They stupefy persons reft of wisdom. They are sunk in the attribute of Passion. They are the eternal embodiment of the senses.
[Note: The Sanskrit word in the original scriptural text is "kritya" which is mantra-power or the efficacy of Atharvan rites. What is said here is that women are frightful as Atharvan rites which can bring destruction upon even unseen foes. Sanskrit word "Rajasi antarhitah" means that they (women) are sunk so completely in that attribute (Rajas) as to become invisible, i.e., completely enveloped by the attribute of Rajas.]
From The Mahabharata
Anusasana Parva, Section LIX
Women have one eternal duty in this world, viz., dependence upon and obedient service to their husbands, and as such, this one duty constitutes their only end.
THE HUSBAND IS THE WIFE'S HIGHEST DEITY
From the Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CXLIV
Since the marriage union takes place in the presence of fire, the husband
is the wife's highest deity. She is no wife with whom her lord is not content.
In the case of women, if their lords be gratified with them all the deities
also become so. That wife with whom her husband is not pleased becomes
consumed into ashes, even like a creeper adorned with bunches of flowers
in a forest conflagration. A woman has no protector like her lord, and
no happiness like her lord. Abandoning all her wealth and possession, a
woman should take to her lord as her only refuge. What chaste woman is
there that would, when deprived of her lord, venture to bear the burden
A householder's home, even if filled with sons and grandsons and daughters-in-law and servants, is regarded empty if destitute of the housewife. One's house is not one's home; one's wife only is one's home. A house without the wife is as desolate as the wilderness.
In the Mahabharata, a husband describing her truly devoted wife says:
"She never eats before I eat, and never bathes before I bathe. She rejoices
if I rejoice, and becomes sorry when I am sorry. When I am away she becomes
cheerless, and when I am angry she ceases not to speak sweetly. Ever devoted
to her lord and ever relying upon her lord, she was ever employed in doing
what was agreeable to and beneficial for her lord. Worthy of praise is
that person on earth who owns such a spouse. That amiable wife knows that
I am fatigued and hungry. Devoted to me and constant in her love, my spouse
is exceedingly sweet-tempered and worships me devoutly.
Even the foot of a tree is one`s home if one lives there with one`s spouse as a companion. Without one`s spouse, a very palace is truly a desolate wilderness.
One`s spouse is one`s associate in all one`s acts of Virtue, Profit and Pleasure. It is said that the wife is the richest possession of her lord. In this world the wife is the only associate of her lord in all the concerns of life. The wife is ever the best medicines that one can have in sickness and woe. There is no friend like unto the wife.
There is no refuge better than the wife. There is no better ally in the world than the wife in acts undertaken for the acquisition of religious merit. He that has not in his house a wife that is chaste and of agreeable speech, should go to the woods. For such a man there is no difference between home and wilderness.
WHAT THE EXCELLENT BEHAVIOUR IS OF GOOD AND CHASTE WOMEN WOMAN'S DUTIES TOWARDS HER HUSBAND
From the Mahabharata
Anusasana Parva, Section CXXIII
Bhishma said: Once upon a time, in the celestial regions,a lady named
Sumana, addressing Sandili possessed of great energy and conversant with
the truth relating to everything, said :
'By what conduct, by what course of acts, have you succeeded in attaining to heaven, purged of every sin? You blaze forth with your own energy like a flame of fire. You wear vestments of pure white, and are quite cheerful and at your ease. You shine with energy multiplied a thousandfold. You have not attained to this region of happiness by inconsiderable penances and gifts and vows.'
Thus questioned sweetly by Sumana, Sandili of sweet smiles answered:
I never, in heedlessness, addressed any disagreeable or evil speech to my husband. I was always devoted to the worship of the deities, the Pitris, and the Brahmanas. Always heedful, I waited upon and served my mother-in-law and father-in-law.
Even this was my resolution that I should never behave with deceit. I never used to stay at the door of our house nor did I speak long with anybody. I never did any evil act; I never laughed aloud; I never did any injury. I never disclosed any secret. Even thus did I bear myself always.
When my husband, having left home upon any business, used to come back, I always served him by giving him a seat, and worshipped him with reverence. I never ate food of any kind which was unknown to my husband and at which my husband was not pleased.
Rising at early dawn I did and caused to be done whatever was brought about and required to be accomplished for the sake of relatives and kinsmen.
When my husband leaves home for going to a distant place on any business, I remain at home engaged in diverse kinds of auspicious acts for blessing his enterprise. Verily, during the absence of my husband I never use collyrium or ornaments; I never wash myself properly or use garlands and unguents, or deck my feet with lac-dye, or person with ornaments.
When my husband sleeps in peace I never awake him even if important business required his attention. I was happy to sit by him lying asleep.
I never urged my husband to exert more energetically for earning wealth to support his family and relatives. I always kept secrets without disclosing them to others.
I used to keep always our premises clean. That woman who with concentrated attention, adheres to this path of duty, becomes the recipient of considerable honours in heaven like a second Arundhati."
Bhishma continued: The illustrious and highly blessed Sandili, of righteous conduct, having said these words unto Sumana on the subject of woman's duties towards her husband, disappeared there and then. That man, O son of Pandu, who reads this narrative at every full moon and new moon, succeeds in attaining to heaven and enjoying great felicity in the woods of Nandana.
From the Mahabhatara
Anusasana parva CXLVI
Mahadev said,: Thou , o goddess, art conversant with what is Supreme
and what is not.
Thou art acquainted with all duties. I desire to question thee about the duties of women.
O thou, whose words are always consistent with righteousness. I desire to hear thee discourse on that subject from the beginning. The subject, when discoursed upon by thee, will become endued with great merit. Indeed, that discourse will then become authoritative in the world. Women, in especial, are the highest refuge of women.
Among human beings, that course of conduct which thou wilt lay down will be followed from generation to generation. Half of my body is made up of half thy body. All the eternal duties of women are well-known to thee. Do thou, therefore, tell me in detail what are the duties of thy sex.
Uma said,: O holy one, it is through thy grace that the words I am uttering are taking their rise in my mind. I shall, according to the ordinance, discourse on the subject of women`s duties. The duties of women arise as created at the outset by kinsmen in the rites of wedding. Indeed, a woman becomes, in the presence of nuptial fire, the associate of her lord in the performance of all righteous deeds.
[comments by the scholar and the translator of the Mahabharata, Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli: "According to the Hindu scriptures, marriage is not a contract. It is the union of two individuals of opposite sexes into one person for better performance of all deeds of piety."]
Possessed of a good disposition, endued with sweet speech, sweet conduct,
and sweet features, and always looking at the face of her husband and deriving
as much joy from it as she does from looking at the face of her child,
that chaste woman who regulates her acts by observing the prescribed restraints,
comes to be regarded as truly righteous in her conduct.
Listening with reverence to the duties of wedded life (as expounded in the scriptures), and accomplishing all those auspicious duties, that woman who regards righteousness as the foremost of all objects of pursuit, who observes the same vows as those that are observed by her husband, who adorned with chastity, looks upon her spouse as a god, who waits upon and serves him as if he is a god, who surrenders her own will completely to that of her lord, who is cheerful, who observes excellent vows, who is endued with good features, and whose heart is completely devoted to her husband so much that she never thinks even of any other man, is regarded as truly righteous in conduct.
That wife who, even when addressed harshly and looked upon with angry eyes by her lord, presents a cheerful aspect to him, is said to be truly devoted to her husband. She who does not cast her eyes upon the Moon or Sun or a tree that has a masculine name, who is adored by her husband and who is possessed of beautiful features, is regarded as truly righteous. That woman who treats her husband with the affection which she shows towards her child, even when he (the husband) happens to be poor or diseased or weak or worn out with the toil of travelling, is regarded as truly righteous in her conduct.
That woman who is endued with self-control, who has given birth to children, who serves her husband with devotion, and whose whole heart is devoted to him, is regarded as truly righteous in her conduct. That woman who waits upon and serves her lord with a cheerful heart, who is always cheerful of heart, and who is possessed of humility, is regarded as truly righteous in her conduct.
That woman who always supports her kinsmen and relatives by giving them food, and whose relish in gratifying her desires or for articles of enjoyment, or for affluence of which she is possessed, or for the happiness with which she is surrounded, falls short of her relish for her husband, is regarded as truly righteous in her conduct.
That woman who always takes a pleasure in rising at early dawn, who is devoted to the discharge of all household duties, who always keeps her house clean, who always attends to the domestic fire (for pouring libations upon it), who never neglects to make offerings of flowers and other articles to the deities, who with her husband gratifies the deities and guests and all servants and dependants of the family with that share of food which is theirs by the ordinances, and who always takes according to the ordinance, for herself, what food remains in the house after the needs have been met of gods and guests and servants, and who gratifies all people who come in contact with her family and feed them to their fill, succeeds in acquiring great merit. That woman who is endued with accomplishments, who gratifies the feet of her father-in-law and mother-in-law, and who is always devoted to her father and mother, is regarded as possessed of ascetic wealth.
That woman who supports with food Brahmanas that are weak and helpless, that are distressed or blind or destitute, comes to be regarded as entitled to share the merit of her husband. That woman who always observes, with a light heart, vows that are difficult of observance, whose heart is devoted to her lord, and always seeks good of her lord, is regarded as entitled to share the merits of her husband. Devotion to her lord is woman`s merit; it is her penance; it is her eternal Heaven. Merit, penances, and Heaven become hers who looks upon her husband as her all in all, and who, endued with chastity, seeks to devote herself to her lord in all things.
The husband is the god which women have. The husband is their friend.
The husband is their high refuge. Women have no refuge that can compare with their husbands, and no god that can compare with him. The husband`s grace and Heaven, are equal in the estimation of a woman; or, if unequal, the inequality is very trivial.
O Maheshwara, I do not desire Heaven itself if thou art not satisfied with me. If the husband that is poor, or diseased or fallen among foes, or afflicted by a Brahman`s curse, were to command the wife to accomplish anything that is improper or unrighteous or that may lead to destruction of life itself, the wife should, without any hesitation, accomplish it, guided by the code whose propriety is sanctioned by the law of Distress.
I have thus, O god, expounded, at thy command, what the duties of women are. Verily, that woman who conducts herself in this way becomes entitled to a share of the merits won by her husband.
SHE IS A TRUE WIFE WHO IS.
Adi Parva, Section LXXIV
She is a true wife who is skilful in household affairs. She is a true
wife who has borne a son. She is a true wife whose heart is devoted to
her lord (husband). She is a true wife who knows none but her lord. The
wife is a man's half.
The wife is the first of friends. The wife is the root of religion, profit and desire. The wife is the root of salvation. They that have wives can perform religious acts.
They that have wives can lead domestic lives. They that have wives can achieve good fortune. Sweet speeched wives are friends on occasions of joy. They are the fathers on occasions of religious acts. They are mothers in sickness and woe.
Even in the deep woods to a traveler a wife is his refreshment and solace. He that has a wife is trusted by all. A wife, therefore, is one's most valuable possession. Men scorched by mental grief, or suffering under bodily pain, feel as much refreshed in the companionship of their wives as a perspiring person in a cool bath.
No man even in anger, should do anything that is disagreeable to his wife, seeing that happiness, joy and virtue, - everything depends on the wife.
Even when the husband leaving this world goes into the region of Yama (God of death), it is the devoted wife that accompanies him there. A wife going before waits for the husband. But if the husband goes before, the chaste wife follows close. For these reasons does marriage exist.
From Yajur Veda Chapter XXXIII, Verse 59
Translated by Devi Chand M.A.
A wife, obedient to her husband, renowned, light-footed, eloquent
in speech, sympathetic to the patients, attains to happiness when she lives
peacefully with her husband, and nicely cooks the food highly efficacious,
and grown through rain, conducive to our physical growth, brought daily
in use, and relished by our ancestors.
SOME WIFELY VIRTUES
From Tulasi Ramayana, Aranya Kanda, 4,
Then Sita, who was so good natured and modest, met Ansuya (sage Atri's
wife). Ansuya blessed her and seated her by her side. In affectionate and
mild tones the holy woman then proceeded to discourse on some wifely virtues,
making Sita an occasion for such discourse:
Listen,O Princess: A mother , father, and brother are all kind to us; but they bestow only limited joy. A husband, however, bestows unlimited joy.
Vile is the woman who refuses to serve him.
Fortitude, piety, a friend and a wife - these four are put to the test only in times of adversity. A woman who treats her husband with disrespect, --even though he is old, sick, dull headed, indigent, blind, deaf, wrathful or most wretched-- shall suffer various torments in hell.
Devotion of body, speech and mind to her lord's feet is the only duty, sacred vow and penance of a woman.
There are four types of faithful wives in this world : so declare the Vedas, the Puranas and all the saints.
A woman of the best type is convinced in her heart of hearts that she cannot even dream in this world of a man other than her lord (husband).
The middling regards another's husband as her own brother, father, or son (according to his age).
She who is restrained by considerations of virtue or by the thought of her race is declared by the Vedas as a low woman.
And know her to be the lowest woman in this world, who is restrained only by fear and want of opportunity.
A woman who deceives her husband and loves a paramour is cast for a hundred cycles into the worst form of hell known by the name of Raurava. Who is so depraved as the woman who for the sake of a moment's pleasure reckons not the torment that shall endure for a thousand million births? The woman who sincerely takes a vow of fidelity to her husband easily attains the highest state; while she is who is disloyal to her lord is widowed as soon as she attains her youth wherever she may be reborn.
Women should always be worshipped and treated with affection.
The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Section XLVI
Bhishma said: Respect, kind treatment and everything else that is agreeable,
should all be given unto the maiden whose hand is taken in marriage. Her
sire and brothers and father-in-law and husband's brothers should show
her every respect and adorn her with ornaments. If they be desirous of
reaping benefits, for such conduct on their part always leads to considerable
happiness and advantage. Women should always be worshipped and treated
with affection. There where women are treated with respect, the very deities
are said to be filled with joy.
There where women are not worshipped, all acts become fruitless. If the women of a family, in consequence of the treatment they receive, grieve and shed tears, that family soon becomes extinct. Those houses that are cursed by women meet with destruction and ruin as if scorched by some Atharvan rite. Such houses lose their splendour.
Their growth and prosperity cease.
Women are weak. They fall an easy prey to the seductive wiles of men, disposed to accept the love that is offered to them, and devoted to truth. There are others among them that are full of malice, covetous of honours, fierce in disposition, unlovable and impervious to reason. Women, however, deserve to be honoured.
Do ye men show them honour. The righteousness of men depends upon women. All pleasures and enjoyments also completely depend upon them. Do ye serve them and worship them. Do ye bend your wills before them.
The begetting of offspring, the nursing of children already born, and the accomplishment of all acts necessary for the needs of society, behold, all these have women for their cause. By honouring women, ye are sure to attain to the fruition of all objects.
In this connection a princess of the house of Janaka the ruler of the Videhas, sang a verse. It is this: Women have no sacrifices ordained for them. There are no Sraddhas which they are called upon to perform. They are not required to observe any facts. To serve their husbands with reverence and willing obedience is their only duty. Through the discharge of that duty they succeed in conquering heaven.
In childhood, the sire protects her. The husband protects her in youth. When she becomes old, her sons protect her. At no period of her life does woman deserve to be free.
Deities of prosperity are women. The persons that desire prosperity should honour them. By cherishing women, one cherishes the goddess of prosperity herself, and by afflicting her, one is said to afflict the goddess of prosperity.
From The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Section CLXII
As the sacred fire waits for libations to be poured upon it when the hour for Homa arrives, even so a woman, when her functional period is over, expects an act of congress with her husband. One that never approaches one's spouse at any other time save after the functional period, is said to observe the vow of Brahmacharya.
WIFEHOOD VERSUS MOTHERHOOD
By Swami Ranganathananda
Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Belur Math
It is in this sphere that Indian thought, with its spiritual view of
life, has much to contribute to steady the feet of men and women in East
and the West. Motherhood is a spiritual transformation of wifehood. The
wife may and does demand and take; but the mother feels it her privilege
to give. If woman as wife is socially significant, woman as mother is spiritually
glorious. The culture of the Hindu trains him to look upon all women as
forms of the one Divine Mother. The mother is more worthy of reverence
than father or teacher according to our scriptures.
Says the manu Smriti (ii. 45):
"From the point of view of reverence due, a teacher is ten fold superior to a mere lecturer, a father a hundredfold to a teacher, and a mother a thousandfold to a father."
Hindu ideals versus Western ideals
By Swami Shivananda, Divine Life Society, Rishikesh
In the West the wife governs the home.
In an Indian home it is the mother who controls.
In the West the woman is wife. In India she is the mother. The mother is worshipped as the goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of prosperity) of the house.
The Sruti (Taittiriya Upanishad) emphatically declares: "MATRU DEVO BHAVA" (Let thy mother be thy God).
In the West the wife governs the home. In an Indian home it is the mother
In the West the mother has to be subordinate to the wife. In India the wife has to be subordinate to the mother.
If a woman is pure she can save and purify man. She can purify the race. She can make a home a sacred temple. Hindu women have been the custodians of the Hindu race. Hindu religion and civilisation still survive in spite of the many foreign invasions. Other civilisations have come and gone, but only Hindu civilisation has survived on account of the purity of Hindu women. The women are taught to regard chastity as their most priceless possession, and the loss of it equal to the eternal damnation of their soul. From their very childhood religion is ingrained in Hindu women. As such they illumine and enliven the home through the glory of their purity. This is the secret of the endurance of the Hindu religion, civilisation and culture.
That home is a miserable place, a veritable hell on earth wherein the husband moves up in spirituality and the wife pulls him down into sensual grooves, and vice versa. Both should be harmoniously blended or joined by the sacred thread of self-knowledge, each aspiring eagerly for God-consciousness. That home really is heaven where the husband and wife lead an ideal divine life, singing the Lord's name, repeating His mantra, studying sacred scriptures, controlling the senses and serving devotees and renunciates.
Manu Smriti says:
"Where women are honoured, there the gods are pleased, but where they are not honoured, there no sacred rite is fruitful."
Such is the glory of Indian womanhood.
The woman in the West is dazzled by the glamorous rush and speed of the modern age. She does not like to do her household duties. You can find her now in the house of parliament or at the typewriter. She is a telephone operator, a pilot, a film star and a shop assistant. She compliments herself in the thought that she is sharing and lessening the
work of man. She vies with him in his field and tries to oust and replace him.
She has asserted her rights and broken the four walls of her home.
She works in the war zones and industries. She thinks that she lives a glorious life but it is not so. She is not really peaceful and happy.
Women can no more do the work of men in the world than men can do that of women. If they withdraw from their homes, the result will be disastrous. There will be subversion of domestic discipline and family order, and social decay will set in.
Children will grow up uneducated and sorely neglected.
[The above highlighted text was written by Swami Shivananda some decades ago. The predictions set out in this text are with us here and now. In an article featured as a major report in 'TIME' magazine dated 29th January 1996, Richard Zoglin wrote the following]
TEENAGE TIME BOMB
They are just four, five and six years old right now, but already they are making criminologists nervous. They are growing up, too frequently, in abusive or broken homes, with little adult supervision and few positive role models. Left to themselves, they spend much of their time hanging out on the streets or soaking up violent TV shows. By the year 2005 they will be teenagers- a group that tends to be, in the view of Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, "Temporary sociopaths- impulsive and immature. If they also have easy access to guns and drugs, they can be extremely dangerous."
CALM BEFORE THE CRIME STORM
Between 1990 and 1994, the crime rate for homicide jumped 16% for youths between 14 and 17, the age group that in the early '90s supplanted 18-to-24-year-olds as the most crime prone. And that is the age group that will be booming in the next decade. There are currently 39 million children under 10 in the U.S, more than at any other time since the 1950s. "This is the calm before the crime storm," says Fox. "So long as we fool ourselves into thinking that we are winning the war against crime, we may be blindsided by this bloodbath of teenage violence that is lurking in the future."
Nearly all the factors that contribute to youth crime- single parent house holds, child abuse, deteriorating inner city schools- are getting worse. At the same time, government is becoming less, not more, interested in spending money to help break the cycle of poverty and crime. All of which has led John J. DiIulio jr, a professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton, to warn about a new generation of "SUPER-PREDATORS," youngsters who are coming of age in actual and "moral poverty," without "the benefit of parents, teachers, coaches and clergy to teach them right or wrong and show them unconditional love."
STRENGTHEN RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS
Can anything defuse the demographic time bomb? Fox urges "reinvesting in children": improving schools, creating after-school programs and providing other alternatives to gangs and drugs. DiIulio, a law-and -order conservative, advocates tougher prosecution and wants to STRENGTHEN RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS TO INSTILL BETTER VALUES." A failure to maintain existing welfare and health commitments for kids," he says, "is to guarantee that the next wave of JUVENILE PREDATORS will be even worse than the one we are dealing with today."
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Why religion is necessary?
"TAKE RELIGION AWAY FROM HUMAN SOCIETY AND WHAT REMAINS IS A FOREST OF BRUTES"
-Swami Vivekananda (The first disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa)
"The two great pillars upon which all human well being and human progress
rest are, first the spirit of religion and second, the spirit of
science. These two groups of sciences - the science of inner nature and
the science of outer nature - need to pull their resources together to
advance man on the evolutionary path of total fulfilment. Without
the spiritual nourishment coming from religion, the phenomenal progress
of the modern age has become wobbly in its movement and blind in its course."
Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Belur Math
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__ __ __ __ __ __
We continue below with Swami Shivananda's writings on
the vital role of women as the builders of nations:
The performance of domestic duties, the management of her household, the rearing of children, the economising of the family means- these are a woman's proper office. She is already endowed with divine power. She already governs the world by her power of gentle love and affection. To make noble citizens by training her children, and to form the character of the whole human race is undoubtedly a power far greater than that which a woman could hope to exercise as a voter or a law-maker, as a president, minister or judge.
The mother's impressions strike deep root in the brain of the foetus that dwells in the womb. If the pregnant woman does Japa (repetition of Lord's name with or without rosary) and Kirtan (Singing the Lord's glories), if she studies religious books and leads a pious life during pregnancy, the foetus is endowed with spiritual inclination or spiritual tendency.
A woman's natural sphere of activity is the home, where she can prove most helpful to man, because she is the most adored. She can be patriotic by living in a simple homestead, bringing forth noble, cultured citizens, politicians, warriors and saints.
In the West babies are born and brought up in nursery schools and maternity homes. They do not know the health giving, affectionate, tender and soul-expanding caresses of their mothers. They do not know what it is to sleep in the warm embrace of a loving mother. Brought up in the atmosphere of bargain and economics, they develop even in their teens, an unceasing devotion to the dollar and mammon.
The social atmosphere in the West is overcharged with sex. Early marriages may be rare in the West but not early sex-indulgence. There cannot be real love between the parties.
Marriage becomes a contract, not a sacrament. Hence there are countless divorces.
India recognises the ideal of motherhood as the highest for a woman.
There is so much talk in the West about the emancipation of women. Scrutinise her closely and you will find her a slave of appetites, fashions, and the dollar. In our Vedic period women enjoyed an honourable and exalted position. They occupy a high position now also. The object of marriage is mutual happiness of the parties, the raising of children, and worship and service of the Lord.
Coming to the forefront in blazing daylight is certainly not the test or criterion of the true greatness of a woman.
The happiness for a woman lies not in catering for carnal passions, not in challenging man in his own field by forgetting her natural course of duties, but in leading the ideal life as taught in the sacred scriptures; the crowning glory of womanhood. Then alone will woman be restored to the original dignity of the
Universal Mother, which she is to every Indian now.
WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE HOME
The eternal fidelity of a Hindu woman to her husband makes her an ideal of the feminine world. It makes her sublime. This lofty virtue of fidelity runs deep in the heart of every Hindu woman of India, superior to any of the other countries in national integrity and honour.
The inspiring force of the home is the woman. The home is the origin and beginning of every form of social organisation. It is the nursery of the nation. It is the sweet place wherein children are trained for future citizenship. The woman illumines the home through the glory of motherhood. Man is incapable of doing the domestic duties incident upon the rearing of children. Good habits, right conduct and formation of good character are created in children spontaneously in a well regulated home under the personal influence of the mother. The loving kindness and the cultured gentleness of the mother help the children to unfold their native talents and dormant capacities quickly. Children absorb ideas by suggestion and imitation. Early training and impressions formed at early age are lasting. The mother at home can do the formation of character very efficiently. Therefore, home is the most beautiful training ground for the building of character in children under the personal guidance of the mother.
Woman is the backbone or bedrock to sustain religion and national strength, peace and prosperity. Manu declares:
"The woman who always does good, who is efficient in work, sweet in speech, devoted to her duty and service of her husband, is really no human being but a goddess."
If the mother trains her children on the right lines from the early age, she is rendering great service indeed to the nation and national culture.
Women have good and ample opportunities of improving national health and increasing prosperity. It is they who really build the nation. They can utilise their talents and abilities in making the home a cradle of culture, character, personal ability and religious revival.
It is therefore wrong to say that their lives are cramped and stunted by attending to the duties at home, and that no scope is given for their evolution and freedom. This is a sad mistake indeed. The life of a woman is as noble and serious as that of a man. There is no doubt about this.
It is the women who keep up the life and happiness of the home through their smiles, tender affection, sweet speech, grace, angelic presence and charming personalities. The home will be a real void without them. It will lose its peculiar charm and beauty without their presence.
Women are the mothers of the home. The extraordinary ability, intellectual attainments and magnetic personalities of modern women are standing monuments of their undoubted equality with men. The personal influence of women at home is essential to unify the various interests of the family. It is women alone who can rear or nurse children. Hindu wives are queens of their own homes. The husbands should treat their wives with intense love and respect. They should be regarded as equals in all respects and held in the light of partners in life.
If a man earns and the wife stays at home, it does not mean that the woman is a parasite and a slave. She is indeed the builder of the nation.
Verily, women exercise an authority over their husbands through their love, tenderness, affection, grace, beauty, selfless service, fidelity, purity and self-abnegation.
DUTIES OF WOMEN
By Swami Shivananda (1887-1963)
Divine Life Society, Rishikesh
The chief duty of woman is to maintain her PATIVRATA DHARMA. To a woman,
there is no higher duty than service of her husband. She should worship
him daily. She should take sole refuge in her husband. He is everything
to her. He is her all-in-all. She should perform all actions to please
him. Manu says: "For a woman there is no other sacrifice. She who serves
her husband with intense devotion and faith is honoured even if the husband
is not endowed with virtuous qualities, even if he is lustful, and even
if he has no good conduct.
The wife should not look to the defects of her husband. She should not even talk of his defects to her relatives and friends. If a woman looks into the weaknesses or vicious qualities of her husband she is not a devoted wife. Even if the husband fails to show much love towards her, she should love him with a full heart. Even if he taunts and hates her, she should speak sweetly and gently to him. She should speak with warm affection. She should never show her anger towards him. This is difficult but gradually she will gain strength of mind and power of endurance through the grace of the Lord. It is difficult to
have the divine feeling towards the husband all at once. It will develop gradually through constant reflection, service and training of the mind. She should be extremely vigilant.
She should possess endless patience.
Even if the husband is unrighteous she should be faithful to him. She should pray to God to put him on the path of righteousness, to infuse in his heart faith and devotion and make him realise God-consciousness. A devoted and chaste wife who sticks tenaciously to her dharma (duty) can change the life of her husband to the path of righteousness even though he may be wicked. Many have succeeded in doing so.
She should never grumble or murmur when she is ill-treated by her husband. She should never retort. She should lead a life of perfect contentment. The path of "STREE DHARMA" (duties of women) is also the razor's path. It is only through the grace of the Lord that she can surmount all difficulties and obstacles on the way. Then the path will be rendered smooth and easy.
O Devis! Serve your husbands properly during his ailment. Do not allow the servant to serve him. Take (eat) food only after he is served. Serve him more diligently when he is in difficulties, troubles and critical circumstances. The service of the husband is more than the service of God to you.
Service with a wry face or murmur is no service at all. One should rejoice when service is rendered.
To a woman there is no greater Yoga, sacrifice or act than the service of her husband.
She who worships him in thought, word and deed is adored by all the gods. Even if the husband is blind and deaf, even if he is poor and illiterate, even if he suffers from an incurable chronic disease, even if he is easily irritated and mean, the wife should serve him whole-heartedly. If she ill-treats him, she goes to the unhappy world.
RESPECT HUSBAND'S RELATIVES
Respect all your husband's relatives. Serve your aged mother-in-law and father-in-law. Do prostration to the aged women of the house, to your father-in-law, mother-in-law, sadhus, sannyasis, and brahmacharins, when they come to your door. Treat the guests and friends of your husband with respect. Invite them to dinner on auspicious occasions. Never live beyond the income of your husband. Be charitable and spend one-tenth of your husband's income in charity. Cut the coat according to the cloth. Never borrow. Never allow the expenditure to exceed the income of your husband. A woman should be moderate in sexual enjoyment. She can attend religious discourses and Kathas with the permission of her husband. She can go to the place with other women or with her husband. She should never go alone. She should take recourse to spiritual books and philosophical journals. She should not trouble her husband for ornaments or expensive clothes. She should not go out with attractive, fashionable, semi-transparent dress. She should wear simple clothing. She should treat the servant of the house with kindness. She should train her children by giving them moral instructions. A virtuous son brings fame to his parents. A wicked son brings a bad name.
Women are very talkative. They are fond of tale-bearing and criticism. They should observe the vow of silence for two hours daily. Jealousy, hatred, pride, hypocrisy, suspicion, intolerance and crookedness are some of the common evil qualities in women.
They do not know how to behave properly towards their mother-in-law and other family members. There is always some rupture in the home. All sorts of troubles crop up in a family through women. They should destroy their vicious and mischief making nature by developing kindness, patience, truthfulness, adaptability, love and contentment. Then only will there be happiness and joy, peace and prosperity in the home.
Fom the Bhagavad Gita, Ch.9, Verse 32:
"For, taking refuge in Me, they also who, O Arjuna, may be of sinful birth--women, vaisyas as well as sudras--attain the Supreme Goal."
Commentary by Swami Shivananda, Rishikesh:
"........Women and Sudras are debarred by social rules from the study of the Vedas. ...."
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCXL
Vyasa said: Even if a person happens to belong to the inferior order
(Sudra), even if one happens to be a woman, both of them, by following
in the path of Yoga, will surely attain to the highest end.
From Tulasi Ramayana
Aranya Kanda, 5 A-B:
Ansuya (Rishi Atri's wife) said to Sita:
"A woman is impure by her very birth; but she attains a happy state by serving her lord (husband)".
From Valmiki Ramayana
Ayodhya Kanda, 39-21, 39-23
"It is also characteristic of faithless women to lead a false life, do acts unworthy of them, possess a heart ever unfathomable, be inclined to do sinful acts and in a trice cease to be affectionate."
"A woman's affections cannot be won over by nobility of birth, or the
help rendered or education or gifts, or even the sacred marriage tie, because
by nature they (women) are not constant."
Aranya Kanda, 45.29
"It is the nature of women all over the world to be vicious, fickle,
and sharp-tongued and to sow seeds of dissension".
Ayodhya Kanda, 24-26, 39-24, 39-29, 62-8
"A true wife should ever be desirous of serving her husband in all that is conducive to his good and happiness. This is the law eternal expounded by the Vedas and the codes of morals".
"For those high-souled women who are truthful, cultured and patient and have a clean conduct there is none more sacred than their husbands."
"A veena (musical instrument) without strings and a chariot without wheels are on a par with a woman without a husband. She derives no enjoyment even though she may have a hundred sons."
"For those women that lead a life of virtue, the husband with or without character is visible god."
Ayodhya Kanda, 24-12, 24-21, 24-25, 24-26, 27-5, 27-8, 29-7, 35-8
"Nothing is so sinful for women as to forsake their wedded husbands.
Even harbouring such a thought in mind is disdainful."
"For a wife during her life-time, the husband is both god and lord alike."
"Though a woman may attain a high position by the observance of fasts
and ceremonies, she has only to tread the path of sinners, if she is not
devoted to her husband."
"A wife devoted to the service of her lord attains the lofty heavenly abode even though she does not adore the gods and is devoid of other qualities."
"Neither the father nor the son, nor her own self nor the mother nor the friend is the final resort of a woman. Her husband is her only resort both in this world and the world beyond."
"To repose still under the shadow of the husband's feet is at all times more delightful than dwelling in palaces or pleasure drives in aerial cars."
"A woman who is separated from her husband cannot sustain her life."
"The desire of the husband is of a greater consequence to a woman than even ten million of her children."
Ayodhya Kanda, 37-24, 39-20, 39-21, 62-13, 117-21, 117-22, 118-9
"The wife is the soul of all those that lead a wedded life."
"However much a loving husband may satisfy the wants of his faithless wife, he is discarded by her in times of distress."
"It is characteristic of the womenfolk to enjoy in times of prosperity (of their husbands) but abuse and even discard him at the slightest advent of adversity."
"She who is always at loggerheads with her husband, however good and wise he may be, does not merit the name wife, here and hereafter."
"A woman goes to the worlds of bliss if only she cheerfully serves her lord wherever he may be, living in beautiful cities or suffering in the forests, and whatever he may be, a sinner or a saint."
'The husband is the god for a worthy wife be he a wretch or be he sensuous or devoid of property."
"For a woman there is no penance greater than service to her husband."
Sunder Kanda, 16-26
"For women there is no ornament more valuable than their husbands."
Yuddha Kanda, 117-26
"Neither houses nor garments, neither ramparts nor veils, nor the royal paraphernalia can protect a woman. Her own chastity is her shield of strength."
The Life Partner
From The Tiru-k-Kural by Tiru Valluvar
Translated by Sri C.Rajagopalachari
A true wife thinks not of God when she rises in the morning. She offers
her worship to the husband and that is enough. Even the clouds will obey
and pour the rain at her command.
The Vedanta philosophy and Hindu practice recognise forms of worship which enable the devotee to see the Supreme Deity in every object of love and adoration. Husband-worship is not a neglect of God.
What possession of greater value can one have than a wife, if she be firm in her loyalty to her partner in life?
Karppu is not mere physical chastity. It is unqualified loyalty to husband.
It is essential for happiness in family life that culturally and economically the wife should fall into line with the family of her adoption. The partnership will not work otherwise.
How to choose a wife - How to treat your wife
Translated from an Indian manuscript discovered in Tibet, written by an ancient Brahmin.
Take unto yourself a wife and obey the ordinance of God; take unto
yourself a wife and
become a faithful member of society.
But examine with care; on your present choice depends your future happiness.
If much of her time is deployed in dress and ornaments, if she is enamoured with her own beauty, and delighted with her own praise, if she laughs much and talks loud, if her foot does not abide in her father's house, and eyes with boldness rove on the faces of men; though her beauty were as the sun in the firmament of heaven, turn your face from her charms, turn your feet from her path and suffer not your soul to be ensnared by the allurements of imagination.
But when you find sensibility of heart joined with softness of manners, an accomplished mind with a form agreeable to your fancy, take her home to your house, she is worthy to be your friend, your companion in life, the wife of your bosom.
Cherish her as a blessing sent to you from heaven; let the kindness of your behaviour endear you to her heart.
She is the mistress of your house; treat her therefore with respect, that your servants may obey her. Do not oppose her inclination without cause; she is the partner of your cares, make her also the companion of your pleasures.
Reprove her faults with gentleness; do not exact her obedience with rigour. Trust your secrets in her breast; her counsels are sincere; you shall not be deceived.
Be faithful to her bed; for she is the mother of your children.
When pain and sickness assault her, let your tenderness soothe her affliction; a look from you of pity and of love shall alleviate her grief, or mitigate her pain, and be of more avail than ten physicians.
Consider the tenderness of her sex, the delicacy of her frame, and be not severe to her weakness, but remember your own imperfections.
Who is she that wins the heart of man?
From other sources
In the spring of your youth, in the morning of your days, when the eyes
of men gaze on you with delight, and nature whispers in your ear the meaning
of their looks; ah! hear with caution their seducing words; guard well
your heart. Do not listen to their soft persuasions.
Remember you are made man`s reasonable companion, not the slave of
his passion. The end of your being is not merely to gratify his loose desire, but to assist him in the toils of life, to soothe him with your tenderness, and recompense his care with soft endearments.
Who is she that wins the heart of man, that subdues him to love, and reigns in his breast?
Lo! there she walks in maiden sweetness, with innocence in her mind, and modesty on her cheek. Her hand seeks employment; her foot does not delight in idle wandering abroad. She is clothed with neatness; she is fed with temperance; humility and meekness are as a crown of glory circling her head. On her tongue dwells music; the sweetness of honey flows from her lips.
Decency is in all her words; in her answers are mildness and truth. Submission and obedience are the lessons of her life; and peace and happines are her reward. Before her steps walk Prudence; and Virtue attends at her right hand.
Her eye speaks softness and love; but discretion with a sceptre sits on her brow. The tongue of the licentious is dumb in her presence; the awe of her virtue keeps him silent.
When scandal is busy, and the fame of her neighbour is tossed from tongue to tongue, if charity and good nature open not her mouth, the finger of silence rests on her lip.
Her breast is the mansion of goodness; and therefore she suspects no evil in others.
Happy will be the man that should make her his wife; happy the child that shall call her mother.
She presides in the house and there is peace; she commands with judgment and is obeyed.
She rises in the morning; she considers her affairs; and appoints to every one their proper business.
The care of her family is her whole delight; to that alone she applies her study; and elegance with frugality is seen in her mansions. The prudence of her management is an honour to her husband, and he hears her praise with silent delight.
She informs the minds of her children with wisdom; she fashions their manners from the example of her own goodness. The word of her mouth is the law of their youth; the motion of her eye commands their obedience. She speaks, and her servants fly; she points, and the thing is done; for the law of love is in their hearts; her kindness adds wings to their feet.
In prosperity she is not puffed up; in adversity she heals the wounds of fortune with patience. The troubles of her husband are alleviated by her counsels, and sweetened by her endearments; he puts his heart in her bosom and receives comfort.
Happy is the man that has made her his wife; happy the child that calls her mother.
From The Mahabharata
The mother is the panacea for all kinds of calamities. The existence
of the mother invests one with protection; the reverse deprives one of
all protection. The man who, though divested of prosperity enters his house,
uttering the words, "O mother!"- has not to indulge in grief. Nor does
decrepitude ever assail him. A person whose mother exists, even if he happens
to be possessed of sons and grandsons and even he himself is hundred years
old, but in the eyes of his mother he looks like a child of two years of
Whether the mother is able or disabled, lean or robust, the son is always protected by the mother. None else, according to the ordinance, is the son's protector. Then does the son become old, then does he become stricken with grief, then does the world look empty in his eyes, when he becomes deprived of his mother. There is no shelter like the mother. There is no refuge like the mother. There is no defense like the mother. There is no one so dear as the mother. For having borne him in her womb the mother is the son's dhatri. For having been the chief cause of his birth, she is his janani. For having nursed his young limbs, she is called amva (Amma). For nursing and looking after the son she is called sura. The mother is one's own body.
There is no mode of life that is superior to serving one's mother.