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Role Of Women As Per Satapatha Brahmana

A look at the role of women as enunciated in Satapatha Brahmana.

‘Man is only one half’ says a Vedic passage, but he is not complete till he is united with a wife who gives birth to children (Satapatha Brahmana V.1.6.10). Without her he cannot go to heaven either; so at the time of the symbolic ascent to heaven in the ritual, he has to wait till his wife comes to accompany him (Satapatha Brahmana V.2.1.10)

Satapatha Brahmana (V.2.1.10) refers to the ideal oneness of a married couple as complementary halves of one whole, when it records that the sacrificer includes his wife in Vajapyea ritual, as she is half of himself.

The role of a wife in rituals is clearly indicated. She should enter the Agnihotra hall by its southern door, but the performer of the ritual should enter from the east (Satapatha Brahmana II 3.3.13). If he were to take his place after entering from the south, he would fail to reach heaven (Satapatha Brahmana II.3.3.16). Any walking about in the Agnihotra enclosure should be done along the sacred path.

The husband should not eat food in the presence of his wife. If they eat apart, a viryavan (a strong son) will be born (Satapatha Brahmana X 5.2.9). ‘Since, among men, kings keep apart, mostly, they are the ones who have strong sons’ (Satapatha Brahmana X 5.2.100. This remark presumably refers to the predominantly kshatriya customs of polygamy and separate women’s quarters.

These are ritual texts intended to guide priests through complex rituals. They mark the transition from Vedic to later Puranic social order. They explain the meaning of rituals and also the methods of performing them. They are commentaries on various shlokas in Vedas to which they are appended. They are called liturgies. Each Brahmin is connected with one of the Samhitas. Satapatha Brahmana, so called because it consists of one hundred chapters, belongs to Shukla Yajur Veda Samhita and is the most exhaustive and important of Brahmanas.