Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 20 Nov 2020


Can women chant the verse 'Brahmaarpanam…' before eating food and perform sandhya vandanam?]

[An online spiritual discussion was conducted on November 01, 2020, in which several devotees participated. Some of the questions of devotees answered by Swāmi are given below.]

[Reply to a question by Smt. Ramasundari] Swāmi replied: There is no difference between a man and a woman, as far as spiritual life is concerned. We think that the word puruṣa means a male person. It is not correct. Puruṣa means the soul that is present in either a male or female body. The meaning of the word puruṣa is the awareness spread all over the body (Puri śete iti puruṣaḥ). Another misunderstanding is related to the word gāyatrī. Gāyatrī means singing songs on God and not reciting a particular verse written in a Vedic metre named Gāyatrī (Tat Savitur vareṇyam). The ritual called upanayanam is traditionally done only for males of certain castes, after which they are supposed to perform gāyatrī. However, the gāyatrī performed by them is not the real gāyatrī. The real gāyatrī, which is singing devotional songs, is practiced by the females of all castes, who were excluded by tradition!

Sandhyā vandanam means the prayer done to God in the form of a sweet devotional song sung at the time of twilight, which is sunrise and sunset. Sandhyā means a junction or a transition. Even noon is treated to be a time of sandhyā because the sun transits from east to west. So, sandhyā vandanam is also performed at noon. Sandhyā vandanam does not mean reciting a particular verse written in the gāyatrī metre. The word sandhyā only denotes the time of prayer and not the actual prayer. In the Rāmāyaṇam, Hanumān says that Sītā used to come to a certain lake in Laṅkā for doing her sandhyā vandanam. Hence, He waits on a tree near that lake (Imāṃ śivajalāmeti, sandhyārtham varavarṇinī…—Sundara Kāṇḍa). This clearly shows that women used to perform sandhyā vandanam, as per the ancient tradition of the sages. Doing sandhyā vandanam with gāyatrī means singing any song on God, in any language you like, at the time of twilight. The word sandhyā vandanam by itself is not connected to gāyatrī because at twilight, you may sing a song, recite a poem or read some prose that is related to God.