From Desk of Hindu Bhartiya’s Notes
( Copied and Reposted here with his permission.)
In Vedic times women and men were equal as far as education and religion was concerned. Women participated in the public sacrifices alongside men.
One text mentions a female Rishi Visvara. Some Vedic hymns, are attributed to women such as Apala, the daughter of Atri, Ghosa, the daughter of Kaksivant or Indrani, the wife of Indra.
Apparently in early Vedic times women also received the sacred thread and could study the Vedas. The Haritasmrti mentions a class of women called Brahmavadinis who remained unmarried and spent their lives in study and ritual.
Panini’s distinction between arcarya (a lady teacher) and acaryani (a teacher’s wife), and upadhyaya (a woman preceptor) and upadhyayani ( a preceptor’s wife) indicates that women at that time could not only be students but also teachers of sacred lore.
He mentions the names of several noteworthy women scholars of the past such as Kathi, Kalapi, and Bahvici. The Upanishads refer to several women philosophers, who disputed with their male colleagues such as Vacaknavi, who challenged Yajnavalkya.
The Rig Veda also refers to women engaged in warfare. One queen Bispala is mentioned, and even as late a witness as Megasthenes (fifth century B.C. E.) mentions heavily armed women guards protecting Chandragupta’s palace.