Role of Women in the Vedas


I read a list of the incarnations of Vishnu in the seventh chapter of the Second Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam and saw that there are no female incarnations and even the animal incarnations are male. This clearly reflects the predominant male mentality in Hinduism. In the Vedas, women are relegated to the shadows of her husband’s cast. They didn’t study or go to gurukula, instead only learning how to be maidservants to their husbands. Further their birth is considered inferior in the Bhagavad-gita. How can we consider such a society to be based on the instructions of a Divine Being, by definition, morally perfect?


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There are two unrelated points in this question:

  1. All the incarnations are masculine.
  2. In the Vedas, the woman is relegated to the shadow of her husband’s cast.


  1. Women didn’t study and didn’t go to Gurkula.
  2. Women’s position in India today reflects this attitude.

All these points are problematic as follows:

  1. Almost every “masculine” incarnation comes with a feminine counterpart: Laksmi-Narayana, Radha-Krishna etc.
  2. Women in the Srimad Bhagavatam are not “relegated.”
  3. The ancient Upanisads reveal learned women in the past, such as Gargi, a guru to kings. Bhagavatam ladies often speak in very sophisticated, intellectual ways. Clearly many women were highly educated.
  4. India today is a paradox. Certainly many women are mistreated, yet mothers have extraordinary power over grown sons. Indians worship goddesses, yet there is a high level of rape. India elected a female Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, etc. etc. We must keep in mind that India was ruled by foreign cultures for almost 900 years. After 900 years of foreign rule, it may take more than 66 years to reestablish one’s own culture.