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Vedic Misogyny: Hindu Scriptural Quotes on Women

    Hindu Scriptural Quotes on Women

    An anthology of sacred quotes from Hinduism on women.

    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.  Yajur Veda  Chapter XXXIII, Verse 59

    Rama (addressing Bharata) said: "Do you keep your womenfolk pacified? Are they duly protected by you? I hope you do not repose excessive faith in them and do not confide your secrets to them."  Valmiki Ramayana Ayodhya Kanda, 100.49

    Krishna said: "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."  Bhagavad Gita, Ch.9, Verse 32

    [Commentary by Swami Shivananda, Rishikesh:
    "........Women and Sudras are debarred by social rules from the study of the Vedas. ...."]

    Men must make their women dependent day and night, and keep under their own control those who are attached to sensory objects. Her father guards her in childhood, her husband guards her in youth, and her sons guard her in old age. A woman is not fit for independence.  Manusmriti 9.2-3

    They (women) make a lie appear as truth, and a truth appear as a lie.  The Mahabharata Anusasana Parva, Section XXXIX

    Addressing Shakuntala, Dushmanta said: 
    "Women generally speak untruth"  The Mahabharata Adi Parva, Section LXXIV

    Yudhishthira (addressing Bhishma) said:
    Women in particular, the Rishis have said, are false in behaviour. Women in particular have been declared in the ordinances to be false. In the very Vedas one may read that women are false.  The Mahabharata Anusasana Parva, Section XIX

    Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age; (thinking), '(It is enough that) he is a man,' they give themselves to the handsome and to the ugly. Through their passion for men, through their mutable temper, through their natural heartlessness, they become disloyal towards their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this (world). Knowing their disposition, which the Lord of creatures laid in them at the creation, to be such, (every) man should most strenuously exert himself to guard them. (When creating them) Manu allotted to women (a love of their) bed, (of their) seat and (of) ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct. For women no (sacramental) rite (is performed) with sacred texts, thus the law is settled; women (who are) destitute of strength and destitute of (the knowledge of) Vedic texts, (are as impure as) falsehood (itself), that is a fixed rule.  Manusmriti 9.14-18

    For women there is no ornament more valuable than their husbands.  Valmiki Ramayana Sunder Kanda, 16-26

    A damsel whose menses begin to appear (while she is living) at her father's house, before she has been betrothed to a man, has to be considered as a degraded woman: by taking her (without the consent of her kinsmen) a man commits no wrong.  Vishnusmriti 24.41

    "Lord Indra himself has said, 'The mind of woman cannot be disciplined; she has very little intelligence.' "  Rig Veda 8.33.17

    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. The Mahabharata Anusasana Parva, Section XX

    Even if destitute of virtue, or seeking pleasure (elsewhere), or devoid of good qualities, a husband must be constantly worshipped as a god by a faithful wife.  Manusmriti 5.154

    After the death of her husband, a woman should preserve her chastity or ascend the pyre after him.  Vishnusmriti 25.14

    Arjuna said:
    When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krishna, the women of the family become corrupt, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrishni, comes unwanted progeny.  Bhagavad Gita, Ch.1, Verse 40

    Women are powerless, have no inheritance, and speak more humbly than even a bad man.  Krishna Yajur Veda Taittiriya Samhita

    Rama said:
    For a (married) woman, so long as she is alive, her husband indeed is her deity as well as her lord. ... Nay, that woman who, though extremely noble and keenly devoted to sacred observances and fasts, does not serve her husband, is sure to attain the destiny of a sinner. Through service to one's husband (on the other hand) even that woman who does not offer salutations (to anyone other than her husband) and is averse to the worship of gods secures the highest heaven. Intent on doing that which is pleasing and good to her husband, a (married) woman should, therefore do service to him alone: this is the lasting duty enjoined on a woman in the Vedas as well as in the Smrti texts.  Valmiki Ramayana Ayodhya Kanda, 24

    Sita said:
    In the case of women neither father nor son nor their own body nor mother nor their female companions serve as an asylum here or hereafter. The husband alone is their refuge at all times.  Valmiki Ramayana Ayodhya Kanda, 27.6

    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.  The Mahabharata Anusasana Parva, Section XIX & XXI

    One thing mixed with another should not be sold, nor anything that is spoiled, deficient, far away, or concealed. If one girl is shown but another is given to the bridegroom, he may marry both of them for the single bride-price; that is what Manu says.  Manusmriti 8.203-204

    Lakshmana (addressing Sita) said:
    It is the nature of women all over the world to be vicious, fickle, and sharp-tongued and to sow seeds of dissension.  Valmiki Ramayana Aranya Kanda, 45.29

    A woman who has been unchaste should worship Siva in his calm aspect, Siva who is Kama. Then she should summon a Brahmin and give herself to him, thinking, 'This is Kama who has come for the sake of sexual pleasure.' And whatever the Brahmin wishes, the sensuous woman should do. For thirteen months she should honour in this way any Brahmin who comes to the house for the sake of sexual pleasures, and there is no immorality in this for noble ladies or prostitutes.  Matsya Purana 70.40-60 (cf. Mahabharata III, 2.23)

    A discarded wife is one who has no son. ... For a wife that is without a son, is possessed with Nirriti (destruction, calamity).  Shatapatha Brahmana

    It is the nature of women to seduce men in this (world); for that reason the wise are never unguarded in (the company of) females. For women are able to lead astray in (this) world not only a fool, but even a learned man, and (to make) him a slave of desire and anger. One should not sit in a lonely place with one's mother, sister, or daughter; for the senses are powerful, and master even a learned man.  Manusmriti 2.213-215

    A union of a twice-born man with a Sudra wife can never produce religious merit; it is from carnal desire only that he marries her, being blinded by lust. Men of the three first castes, who through folly marry a woman of the lowest caste, quickly degrade their families and progeny to the state of Sudras. If his oblations to the gods and manes and (his hospitable attentions) to guests are offered principally through her (a Sudra wife's) hands, the gods and manes (and the guests) will not eat such offerings, and he will not go to heaven.  Vishnusmriti 26.5-7

    And whilst not coming into contact with Sudras and remains of food; for this Gharma is he that shines yonder, and he is excellence, truth, and light; but woman, the Sudra, the dog, and the crow, are untruth: he should not look at these, lest he should mingle excellence and sin, light and darkness, truth and untruth.  Shatapatha Brahmana

    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)".  Tulasi Ramayana Aranya Kanda, 5 A-B

    Bhishma said:
    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 Mahabharata Anusasana Parva, Section LIX