--> Skip to main content

Brahmavadini – Woman Who Discusses About Brahman

The concept of "Brahmavadini" provides a fascinating glimpse into the social and spiritual dynamics of ancient Hindu society, particularly in relation to the roles of women. In the ancient days, women were categorized into two main classes: the brahmavadinis and the sadyovadhus.

The brahmavadinis were women who underwent the sacrament of Upanayana, a sacred thread initiation, which was traditionally reserved for men. They kept the Vedic fires, engaged in the study of the Vedas under the guidance of their fathers, and lived a life of austerity by begging for their food. This period of Vedic studies culminated in the Sama-Vartana, a valedictory rite, after which they were allowed to marry and settle down in life.

The term "brahmavadinī" is derived from the ability of these women to recite or speak about the Vedas (Brahma = Veda). Additionally, it was applied to women who were interested in discussing Brahman, the Absolute, and engaging in spiritual practices to realize the ultimate reality. This inclination towards philosophical discussions and spiritual pursuits might explain why Maitreyi, the wife of the sage Yajnavalkya, is referred to as a "brahmavadini" in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (4.5.1).

On the other hand, the "sadyovadhus" were women who transitioned directly into married life (vadhus or brides) immediately upon reaching puberty, without undergoing the extensive training in Vedic studies. For them, the Upanayana ceremony was performed just before marriage as a formality.

The term "brahmavadini" is not only associated with women who undergo Vedic studies but is also sometimes applied to the renowned Gayatri Mantra, emphasizing the spiritual significance of reciting and understanding the sacred verses.

Overall, the classification of women into these two categories reflects the diversity of roles and opportunities available to women in ancient Indian society, ranging from active participation in Vedic studies and spiritual pursuits to more traditional roles as brides and homemakers.