Women In Hinduism

1. No Inheritance For Women

The impact of other religions, such as Islam, has prompted certain Hindu revivalists to advocate for the reform of Hindu society. However, Hindu scholars have faced challenges in presenting a Hindu text that unequivocally supports a woman’s right to inherit her father’s property. It is mentioned in Vedas,

📚Krishna Yajur Veda📚
women are powerless, have no inheritance, and speak more humbly than even a bad man”  (source)

📚Baudhayana Dharmasutra📚
Now they quote also (the following verse): Their father protects (them) in childhood, their husband protects (them) in youth, and their sons protect (them) in old age a woman is never fit for independence.’ The Veda declares, ‘Therefore women are considered to be destitute of strength and of a portion.”  (source)

📚Rig Veda 3.31.2📚
The son does not transfer paternal wealth to his sister. He makes her receptacle of the embryo of her husband. When parents procreate children of either sex, one (the male) becomes the performer of holy rites (he is the legal inheriter), the other (the female) is to be enriched with gifts.”  (source)

This verse is further elaborated by Yaska,

📚Nirukta 3.6📚
Na Jamaye’ means not for the sister. Jamih (sister) is (so called because) others beget ‘Ja’, i.e. offspring, on her, or the word may be derived from (the root) jam, meaning to go : she has mostly to go (to the husband’s family). The legitimate, i.e. one’s own son, left, i.e. gave, wealth. He made her the place of depositing the seed of her husband, i.e. the man who accepts her hand. If the mothers have engendered Vahni, i. e. a son, and Avahni, i.e. a daughter, one of them, i.e. the son and the heir, becomes the procreator of children, and the other, i.e. the daughter, is brought up and given away (in marriage) to another person.”  (source)

A daughter can inherit property only if she has no brother, and even then, it is contingent upon her father designating her as the Appointed Daughter. If the daughter eventually has a son, he becomes the legitimate heir and is adopted by his maternal grandfather. Yaska states,

📚Nirukta 3.5📚
One should not marry a brotherless maiden, for his (the husband’s) son belongs to him (to the father of the girl). From this, the prohibition of marrying a brotherless maiden and the father’s right to appoint his daughter as a son are evident. When a father selects a husband for his unmarried daughter, he unites himself with a tranquil mind.”  (source)

It is mentioned in Purana,

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.57.37📚
Since Satrājit had no sons, his daughter’s sons should receive his inheritance. They should pay for memorial offerings of water and piṇḍa, clear their grandfather’s outstanding debts and keep the remainder of the inheritance for themselves.”  (source)

It is evident that the Vedas and the Brahmanas do not grant inheritance rights to women. Even an appointed daughter cannot retain her father’s property after she bears a son. In Hinduism, inheritance remains an exclusive right of sons.

Wives cannot own property,

📚Manusmriti 8.416📚
The wive, the son and the slave,—these three are declared to have no property; whatever they acquire is the property of him to whom they belong.”  (source)

2. Preference Of A Son Over A Daughter

Hindu scriptures predominantly emphasize the importance of having sons, with several verses and dedicated hymns praying for their birth. Sons are often associated with saving the father from the hell called “Put,” earning them the name “Putra” (Son). On the other hand, daughters are referred to as “Duhita,” which means “one who does bad.” Hindu rituals, such as Pumsavan Sanskar, are performed specifically for the birth of a son. While thousands of verses exist in the Vedas, none specifically pray for the birth of a daughter. The Vedas rather say,

📚Atharva Veda 6.11.3📚
Prajāpati, Anumati, Sinivāli have ordered it. Elsewhere may he effect the birth of maids, but here prepare a boy.”  (source)

It is mentioned in Grihya Sutras,

📚Sankhayana Grihya Sutra 1.19.6📚
Pragapati has created him, Savitar has shaped him. Imparting birth of females to other (women) may he put here a man…”  (source)

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 2.6.36-48📚
Once while he was listening to the religious discourses of the Munis, he heard unmistakeably the Munis telling that the man who is sonless can never go to the Heavens; so he must get a son somehow or other.”  (source)

Within the Vedas, there indeed exist several hymns and verses that fervently pray for the birth of a son, emphasizing the significance of male progeny in ancient societal norms. These verses, found in texts like Atharva Veda and the Rig Veda exemplify the prevailing desire for male heirs to carry forth the family lineage and perform vital ancestral rites.

• Female Infanticide

Conversely, it is troubling to note that there are no explicit verses in the Vedas that wish for the birth of a daughter. This historical perspective has inadvertently perpetuated the practice of female infanticide, with the tragic reality being that India continues to lose millions of unborn female babies each year –

India ‘most dangerous place in world to be born a girl

India loses 3 million girls in infanticide

It is worth noting that the Krishna Yajur Veda includes references to the distressing practice of female infanticide during the Vedic period, wherein certain sections of the Aryan community were known to abandon female newborns,

📚Krishna Yajur Veda📚
Therefore they deposit a daughter on birth, a son they lift up…”  (source)

Below are some of the verses that earnestly offer prayers for the birth of a son,

📚Atharva Veda 14.1.22📚
Be not divided; dwell ye here; reach the full time of human life. With sons and grandsons sport and play, rejoicing in your happy home.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 12.3.47📚
I cook the offering, I present oblation: only my wife attends the holy service. A youthful world, a son hath been begotten. Begin a life that brings success and triumph.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 2.36.3📚
O Agni, may this woman find a husband. Then verily King Soma makes her happy. May she bear sons, chief lady of the household, blessed and bearing rule beside her consort.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 14.2.72📚
Unmarried men desire to wed; bountiful givers wish for sons. Together may we dwell with strength unscathed for high prosperity.”  (source)

📚Rig Veda 3.31.1📚
WISE, teaching, following the thought of Order, the sonless gained a grandson from his daughter. Fain, as a sire, to see his child prolific, he sped to meet her with an eager spirit.”  (source)

📚Rig Veda 10.85.42-45📚
Be ye not parted; dwell ye here reach the full time of human life. With sons and grandsons sport and play, rejoicing in your own abode. So may Prajāpati bring children forth to us; may Aryaman adorn us till old age come nigh. Not inauspicious enter thou thy husband’s house: bring blessing to our bipeds and our quadrupeds. Not evil-eyed, no slayer of thy husband, bring weal to cattle, radiant, gentlehearted; Loving the Gods, delightful, bearing heroes, bring blessing to our quadrupeds and bipeds. O Bounteous Indra, make this bride blest in her sons and fortunate. Vouchsafe to her ten sons, and make her husband the eleventh man.”  (source)

Below is the verse in which Kashyap Rishi recommends the Pumsavan ritual,

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 6.18.54📚
Kaśyapa Muni continued: If you perform this ceremony called puṁsavana, adhering to the vow with faith for at least one year, you will give birth to a son destined to kill Indra. But if there is any discrepancy in the discharge of this vow, the son will be a friend to Indra.”  (source)

📚Sankha Smriti 2.1📚
On the full manifestation of the signs of pregnancy, the rite of Nisheka should be performed (an encicnte); the wise should perform the rite of Pumsavanam (rite for the causation of the birth of a male child) unto her, as soon as she would be quick with the child.”  (source)

A daughter is regarded as an object of compassion, while a son is seen as a light of heaven,

📚Aitareya Brahmana 7.13📚
Food preserves life, clothes protect from cold, gold (golden ornaments) gives beauty, marriages produce wealth in cattle; the wife is the friend, the daughter object of compassion, but the son shines as his light in the highest heaven.”  (source)

• Insane Reasons to Abandon Wives

📚Garuda Purana 1.115.64📚
A barren woman shall be abandoned in the eighth year after marriage; a woman whose children die in infancy shall be abandoned in the ninth year; a woman who gives birth only to daughters shall be abandoned in the eleventh year and a woman who speaks unpleasant words shall be abandoned immediately.”  (source)

📚Yajnavalkya Smriti Verse 73
One can take a second wife, [if his existing wife] drinks intoxicating liquors, suffers from any disease, is wicked, barren, dissipates money, utters unpleasant words, gives birth to female issues [only], and is inimical to her husband.”  (source)

📚Manu Smriti 9.81📚
The barren wife shall be superseded in the eighth year; in the tenth she whose children die off; in the eleventh she who bears only daughters; but immediately she who talks harshly.”  (source)

📚Narada Smriti 12.94📚
Let not a husband show love to a barren woman, or to one who gives birth to female children only, or whose conduct is blamable, or who constantly contradicts him; if he does (have conjugal intercourse with her), he becomes liable to censure (himself).”  (source)

According to the Shatapath Brahmana, a wife without a son is labeled as a discarded wife, and her fate is described as being destined for destruction,

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
And on the following day he goes to the house of a discarded (wife), and prepares a pap for Nirriti;–a discarded wife is one who has no son…hail!’ For a wife that is without a son, is possessed with Nirriti (destruction, calamity)…”  (source)

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 1.4.15-27📚
There is no prospect in the after birth of the sonless; never, never will Heaven be his. Without son, there is none other who can be of help in the next world. Thus in the Dharma S’âstras, Manu and other Munis declare that the man who has sons goes to Heaven and the sonless one can never go to Heaven. The man possessing a son is entitled to the Heavenly pleasures can be vividly seen, rather than imagined. The man with son is freed from sins; this is the word of the Vedas…”  (source)

📚Brahma Vaivarta Purana Ganesha Khanda 2.16-31📚
The disturbance in conjugal pleasure and the second painful experience is the fall of your semen on the ground and the third painful experience is that I have no son. I don’t have a son inspite of achieving you the lord of the three worlds as my husband. Such of the ladies who have no sons, their life is said to be of no consequence. The merit earned by performing tapas and charity provides pleasure after many births but a son born in the high race, provides pleasure in this world and even beyond.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
A son saves the father from the Naraka called Put. So he is called Putra by the Self-born Lord himself. The house of a man without a son is a void…King Raghava (i.e. Dasaratha) convened an assembly of sages for the sake of (obtaining) a son since the seat of Indra occupied by him was purified by sprinkling water. Residence in Svarga is not (possible) without a son, O son of Pandu. Hence Dasaratha performed an excellent Yajna for the sake of sons. Rama, laksmana, Satrughna and Bharata were born to him…”  (source)

Himavat and Mena, the parents of Parvati, said,

📚Skanda Purana📚
For the accomplishment of the task of Devas a good daughter has to be begotten. It is for the benefits of Devas, sages and ascetics. (Of course) the birth of a daughter may not be pleasing to women. Still, O lady of splendid face, a daughter has to be procreated. Mena laughed and spoke to her husband Himalaya: ‘What has been spoken by you (is true). Let my words be heard by you now. O my lord, a daughter is the cause of misery unto men. So also, O highly intelligent one, she causes sorrow unto women. Hence ponder over this for a long time yourself with your keen intellect. Let what is conducive to our welfare to our welfare be told, o lord of Mountains.”  (source)

When the highest authoritative texts like Vedas and other scriptures such as Puranas and Brahamanas show a lack of preference for daughters, it can be concluded that female foeticide was prevalent in ancient India, and even today, many Hindus still prefer sons over daughters. When questioned about this preference, Hindus often cite that sons are preferred because only they can perform certain rites like the funeral rites of parents and take care of them in their old age.

• Methods to Obtain a Son

📚Brahma Purana 113.75-76📚
In the case of the people of all castes, a woman in her monthly course should be avoided for the first four nights. To prevent the birth of a female child, one shall avoid the fifth night also. Thereafter he shall carnally approach her on the sixth or other excellent nights even in number. Boys will be born (if intercourse is carried out) on even nights and girls on nights odd in number.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.178.27📚
A woman desiring to beget a male child must drink ghee medicated with seeds of Matulunga and roots of Eranda.”  (source)

📚Manu Smriti 3.262-263📚
The (sacrificer’s) first wife, who is faithful and intent on the worship of the manes, may eat the middle-most cake, (if she be) desirous of bearing a son. (Thus) she will bring forth a son who will be long-lived, famous, intelligent, rich, the father of numerous offspring, endowed with (the quality of) goodness, and righteous.”  (source)

📚Narada Purana 68.81-84📚
The devotee shall worship at night, a jar filled with the boiling decotion of (the pieces of twigs) of a milk exuding tree and on the next day in the morning he shall repeat the mantra ten thousand times. For twelve days the woman should be bathed with that water. If this is performed, even a barren woman shall beget sons of longevity in life. The woman who is desirous of a son shall silently drink in the morning the water charged with the mantra in a leaf of the holy fig tree. The mantra should be repeated hundred and eight times. The procedure should be continued for a month. Even a barren woman will beget a son with all good marks.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
There is a Tiirtha there, well-known in the worlds as Hanumatkunda. It suppresses all great miseries. It yields the benefit of heavenly pleasures and salvation. It subdues the suffering in hells (Narakas). It liberates (people) from poverty. It bestows sons on those who are sonless and wives on those who have no wives.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 6.81.3📚
The Amulet which Aditi wore when desirous of a son, Tvashtar hath bound upon this dame and said, Be mother of a boy.”  (source)

📚Rig Veda 10.63.15📚
Vouchsafe us blessing in our paths and desert tracts, blessing in waters and in battle, for the light; Blessing upon the wombs that bring male children forth…”  (source)

📚Sankhayana Grihya Sutra 1.19.3-6📚
When he has finished, let him murmur, ‘Into thy breath I put the sperm, N.N.!’ Or, ‘As the earth is pregnant with Agni, as the heaven is with Indra pregnant, as Vayu dwells in the womb of the regions (of the earth), thus I place an embryo into thy womb, N.N.!’ Or, ‘May a male embryo enter thy womb, as an arrow the quiver; may a man be born here, a son after ten months. ‘Give birth to a male child; may after him (another) male be born; their mother shalt thou be, of the born, and (to others) mayst thou give birth…”  (source)

When a family already has a male child, the question arises why there is still a desire for more male children? Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj, recommended Niyoga (a practice of having a child through a designated person) to procure sons, even when a couple had a daughter. This raises the question of why there is so much discrimination against the birth of daughters. Various texts like Sankhayana Grihya Sutra 1.16.11 (source); Narada Purana 2.56.320-325 (source); Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 6.4.20 (source) also contain prayers and instructions seeking the birth of a male child.

3. Purpose Of Creating Women

📚Brahma Vaivarata Purana Krishna Janma Khanda 61.22-41📚
There can be no creation without a woman. This is why at the command of Lord Krisna, Brahma created the woman to entice the heart of lustful people. The beauty of a woman is the seat of illusion, the bar or bolt (or obstacle) in the way of a man’s act or Karma, the impediment of meditation and the harbour of evil…”  (source)

📚Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 6.4.2📚
Prajapati thought, ‘Well, let me make an abode for it,’ and he created woman. Prajapati, the Creator, thought, ‘Since the seed is thus the quintessence of all beings; what can be a fit abode for it’? Thinking thus he created woman.”  (source)

📚Brahma Purana 69.91📚
My austerities have perished. The spiritual wealth of the knowers of Brahman is doomed. Sense of discrimination has been taken away. A woman has been created by someone only for delusion.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 3.31.40📚
The woman, created by the Lord, is the representation of maya, and one who associates with such maya by accepting services must certainly know that this is the way of death, just like a blind well covered with grass.”  (source)

Maya means illusion, deceit, and fraud. According to Maharishi Manu, women were created by God and were allotted qualities such as dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct.

📚Manusmriti 9.17📚
Manu assigned to women sleep, sitting, ornament, lust, anger, dishonesty, malice and bad conduct.”  (source)

It is also mentioned in Mahabharata,

📚Mahabharata 13.40📚
The Sruti declares that women are endued with senses the most powerful, that they have no scriptures to follow, and that they are living lies. Beds and seats and ornaments and food and drink and the absence of all that is respectable and righteous, indulgence in disagreeable words, and love of sexual companionship,–these were bestowed by Brahman upon women.”  (source)

According to the Mahabharata, it is mentioned that God created women with the intention of making men unrighteous,

📚Mahabharata 13.40📚
Bhishma said, ‘It is even so as thou sayest, O thou of mighty arms. There is nothing untrue in all this that thou sayest, O thou of Kuru’s race, on the subject of women. In this connection I shall recite to thee the old history of how in days of yore the high-souled Vipula had succeeded in restraining women within the bounds laid down for them. I shall also tell thee, O king, how women were created by the Grandsire Brahman and the object for which they were created by Him. There is no creature more sinful, O son, than women. Woman is a blazing fire. She is the illusion, O king, that the Daitya Maya created. She is the sharp edge of the razor. She is poison. She is a snake. She is fire. She is, verily, all these united together. It has been heard by us that all persons of the human race are characterised by righteousness, and that they, in course of natural progress and improvement, attain to the status of deities. This circumstance alarmed the deities. They, therefore, O chastiser of foes, assembled together and repaired to the presence of the Grandsire. Informing Him of what was in their minds, they stood silent in his presence, with downcast eyes. The puissant Grand sire having ascertained what was in the hearts of the deities, created women, with the aid of an Atharvan rite. In a former creation, O son of Kunti, women were all virtuous. Those, however, that sprang from this creation by Brahman with the aid of an illusion became sinful. The grandsire bestowed upon them the desire of enjoyment, all kinds of carnal pleasure. Tempted by the desire of enjoyment, they began to pursue persons of the other sex. The puissant lord of the deities created Wrath as the companion of Lust. Persons of the male sex, yielding to the power of Lust and Wrath, sought the companionship of women. Women have no especial acts prescribed for them. Even this is the ordinance that was laid down…”  (source)

4. Women Are Of Sinful Birth

Krishna said,

📚Gita 9.32📚
O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth – women, vaiśyas [merchants] and śūdras [workers] – can attain the supreme destination.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 14.19.61📚
By adhering to this religion, even they who axe of sinful birth, such as women and Vaisyas and Sudras, attain to the highest goal.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 13.40📚
There is no creature more sinful, O son, than women. Woman is a blazing fire. She is the illusion, O king, that the Daitya Maya created. She is the sharp edge of the razor. She is poison. She is a snake. She is fire. She is, verily, all these united together.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 2.7.46📚
Surrendered souls, even from groups leading sinful lives, such as women, the laborer class, the mountaineers and the Siberians, or even the birds and beasts, can also know about the science of Godhead and become liberated from the clutches of the illusory energy by surrendering unto the pure devotees of the Lord and by following in their footsteps in devotional service.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 7.7.54📚
O my friends, O sons of demons, everyone, including you (the Yakṣas and Rākṣasas), the unintelligent women, śūdras and cowherd men, the birds, the lower animals and the sinful living entities, can revive his original, eternal spiritual life and exist forever simply by accepting the principles of bhakti-yoga.”  (source)

📚Shiva Purana 5.24.16📚
There is none more sinning and more sinful than women. Women are at the root of all sins. This you know already.”  (source)

5. Nature Of Women

📚Manusmriti 2.213-214📚
It is the very nature of women to corrupt men. It is for this reason that the wise are never unguarded regarding women. In this world women are capable op leading astray the ignorant, as well as the learned, who becomes a servile follower of desire and passion.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 13.19📚
Women, in particular, the Rishis have said, are false in behaviour. When human beings are such, and when women in particular have been declared in the ordinances to be false, how, O sire, can there be a union between the sexes for purposes of practising all duties together? In the very Vedas one may read that women are false.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.109.45📚
Women are incorrigible; they can never be brought round by making a gift, or offering respect, or a straightforward dealing, or repeated service. They can neither be threatened with a weapon nor asked to be quiet by citing scriptural codes.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.109.14📚
Implicit trust in rivers, clawed beasts, horned animals, armed men, women and scions of royal families is never to be encouraged.”  (source)

📚Shiva Purana 5.24.3📚
O sage, women are light-minded. They are at the root of all troubles. Attachment towards them should not be pursued by wakeful persons who desire liberation.”  (source)

Lakshmana addresses Sita in the following way,

📚Valmiki Ramayana 3.45.29-30📚
Thou art a very Goddess unto me, I therefore dare not answer thee. What thou hast spoken, O Maithili, is nothing surprising for females. Such is the nature of womankind on this earth. Women by nature are crooked, fickle, devoid of religious knowledge, and bring about difference between father and sons.”  (source)

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 1.15.1-67📚
The fools do not understand how the women suck the blood out of persons like leeches, for they get themselves deluded by their gestures and postures! The lady of the house, whom the people call kântâ, the beautiful one, steal away the semen virile, the strength and energy in the way of giving them happiness as sexual intercourse, and their minds and wealth and everything by their crooked love conversations; so see what greater thief can there be than a woman? In my opinion, those that are ignorant are certainly deluded by the Creator; they accept wife to destroy their own pleasure of happiness. They can never understand that the women can never be the source of pleasure; they are the source of all miseries…”  (source)

Krishna said,

📚Varaha Purana 177.17-22📚
Looking at Narada, Krsna bent down his face in shame. He then told Narada in detail about the nature of women and their conduct leading to sin. ‘They have no consideration of time, of secrecy of what they do. Still they pass to be virtous. Women irrespective of their age, whether they be girls, teenagers, middle-aged or advanced in age, get their passion excited at the sight of a handsome man. O great sage, this is natural to them.”  (source)

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 1.5.83📚
Falsehood, vain boldness, craftiness, stupidity, impatience, over-greediness, impurity, and harshness are the natural qualities of women.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.109.33-34📚
The diet of a woman is twice as much as that of a man; shrewdness four times, energy is six times and amorousness is eight times as much as that of a man. It is impossible to overcome sleep by sleeping it off; to overpower a woman by loving her; to smother a flame by adding fuel and to quench thirst by drinking wine.”  (source)

📚Chanakya Neeti Shastra 1.17📚
Women have hunger two fold, shyness four fold, daring six fold, and lust eight fold as compared to men.”  (source)

📚Brahma Vaivarta Purana Brahma Khanda 23.14-39📚
The heart of women is keen like the edge of a razor…Immodesty and daring characterise their conduct, and their deeds are tainted with defect and hypocrisy. O Lord of the universe the lust of a woman is eight times as great; hunger twice as great and cruelty, four times as great as the lust, hunger and cruelty of a man…”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 7.150📚
(Such) despicable (persons), likewise animals, and particularly women betray secret council; for that reason he must be careful with respect to them.”  (source)

6. Testimony Of Women Is Not Considered Valid

In some cases, a woman should provide a witness for another woman, and likewise, a Shudra for another Shudra, and a Dvija for another Dvija. However, there are certain situations in which a woman’s testimony is not considered valid at all. This is mentioned in Manusmriti,

📚Manusmriti 8.77📚
One man who is free from covetousness may be (accepted as) witness; but not even many pure women, because the understanding of females is apt to waver, nor even many other men, who are tainted with sin.”  (source)

📚Chanakya Neeti Shastra 1.15📚
Do not put your trust in rivers, men who carry weapons, beasts with claws or horns, women and members of a royal family.”  (source)

📚Katyayana Smriti Verse 351📚
Women should bear witness for women (when women are litigants)…”  (source)

7. Women Are Equal To Dogs And Pigs

📚Manusmriti 3.239📚
A Kandala, a village pig, a cock, a dog, a menstruating woman, and a eunuch must not look at the Brahmanas while they eat.”  (source)

📚Atharva Veda 4.5.2📚
Lull all the women, lull the dogs to sleep, with Indra as thy friend!”  (source)

The Shatapatha Brahmana states that dog, Sudra, and women are considered untruthful,

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
And whilst not coming into contact with Sûdras and remains of food; for this Gharma is he that shines yonder, and he is excellence, truth, and light; but woman, the Sûdra, the dog, and the black bird (the crow), are untruth: he should not look at these, lest he should mingle excellence and sin, light and darkness, truth and untruth.”  (source)

📚Samvarta Samhita Verse 181📚
By being touched by a dog or by another woman in her menses, a woman in menses should fast for the remaining days [of the menstrual period] and get herself purified by drinking clarified butter after bathing [at the end of the menstrual period].”  (source)

8. Women In Her Menses

In Hindu texts, there are instances of women during their menstrual periods being compared to dogs and pigs, and unfortunately, some of these notions continue to be practiced. Recently, a Hindu temple board made a decision to allow women inside the temple premises only after a machine detects that they are not menstruating –

In an unfortunate incident, when a woman entered a temple to worship, the temple authorities responded by purifying the idol and temple using cow urine – Women Barge Into Temple That Prohibits Women. Priests Purify It With Cow Urine After They Leave

In certain Hindu texts, there are references to a prescription that a woman in her menstrual period touching a Dvija (twice-born, referring to higher castes) should be subjected to lashes with a whip,

📚Vishnu Smriti 5.105📚
If a woman in her courses (touches a member of a twice-born person), she shall be lashed with a whip.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana Chp 231📚
A Brahmana having touched a dog, a shudra, or any other beast, or a woman in her menses, before washing his face after a meal, shall regain his purity by fasting for a day, and by taking Panchagavyam.”  (source)

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 9.33.20-50📚
He who takes the food of a childless widow and the same of any woman that has just bathed after menstruation goes for one hundred years to the hot Lauha Kunda (where iron is in a molten condition). For seven births he becomes then a crow and for seven births he becomes born of a washerwoman, full of sores and boils, and poor. Then he gets purified.”  (source)

📚Markandeya Purana 35.28📚
If a man touches a woman in her menses, a horse, a jackal, a woman, who has of late given birth to a child, the offspring of a Chandala, or an undertaker, he should bathe for the purpose of being purified.”  (source)

📚Brahma Purana 113.140-147📚
A person who is conversant with righteousness becomes purified by taking a bath if he touches these: a medicant who is not worthy of being fed (?), a heretic, a cat, an ass, cook, a fallen man, an outcaste (a person ostracised), a Candala and those who bear dead bodies, a country pig and a woman in her monthly course…’  (source)

📚Kurma Purana 2.17.26📚
One shall avoid an article once smelt by a dog and cooked again. So also the article seen by a Candala, or a woman in her menses, or smelt by a cow, or seen by a fallen men, shall be avoided.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 4.208📚
Nor that at which the slayer of a learned Brahmana has looked, nor that which has been touched by a menstruating woman, nor that which has been pecked at by birds or touched by a dog.”  (source)

📚Linga Purana 1.89.100📚
Hence, one shall assiduously avoid conversing with a woman in her monthly course. On the first day, she has to be avoided like a cāṇḍāla woman.”  (source)

📚Linga Purana 1.89.104-107📚
A woman in her monthly course shall avoid bath, toilet, singing, crying, laughing, going in vehicles, applying collyrium, playing dice, applying unguents, sleeping during the daytime, washing the teeth, sexual intercourse, worship of deities whether mental, verbal or physical as well as bowing down. A woman in her monthly course shall avoid touching another woman in her monthly course and talking to her also. She shall assiduously avoid changing her garments. A woman in her monthly course shall not touch another man after her bath.”  (source)

📚Shiva Purana ShivaPurana-Mahatmya 7.14📚
He shall not look at women in their menstrual period. He shall not converse with fallen people, nor talk to haters of brahmins or unbelievers in the Vedas.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 2.32.9📚
A woman in her menses is an outcaste on the first day, a slayer of brahmana on the second day and a washerwoman on the third. She becomes pure on the fourth day.”  (source)

📚Krishna Yajur Veda📚
therefore one should not converse with (a woman) with stained garments, one should not sit with her, nor eat her food, for she keeps emitting the colour of guilt…”  (source)

9. Women Devoid Of Intellect And Strength

Swami Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, wrote,

Here is a difference between male and female that exists even in the higher statuses of life — in fact, even between Lord Śiva and his wife. Lord Śiva could understand Citraketu very nicely, but Pārvatī could not. Thus even in the higher statuses of life there is a difference between the understanding of a male and that of a female. It may be clearly said that the understanding of a woman is always inferior to the understanding of a man. In the Western countries there is now agitation to the effect that man and woman should be considered equal, but from this verse it appears that woman is always less intelligent than man.”  (source), He also said, “We are speaking of ordinary woman. Because Kṛṣṇa says, in another place, striyo vaiśyas tathā śūdraḥ [Bg. 9.32]. They are considered, women, vaiśya, the mercantile community, and śūdra, and the worker class, they are less intelligent.” (source), He also said, ”To understand Brahman is not the business of teeny brain. Alpa-medhasam (BG 7.23). There are two Sanskrit words: alpa-medhasa and su-medhasa. Alpa-medhasa means having little brain substance. Physiologically, within the brain there are brain substance. It is found that the brain substance in man is found up to sixty-four ounce. They are very highly intellectual persons. And in woman the brain substance is not found more than thirty-four ounce. You’ll find, therefore, that there is no very great scientist, mathematician, philosopher among women. You’ll never find, because their brain substance cannot go. Artificially do not try to become equal with men. That is not allowed in the Vedic śāstra. Na striyaṁ svatantratām arhati (Manu-saṁhitā). That is called śāstra.”- (source), He also wrote, Generally women are very much passionate and are less intelligent…” (source)

Hindu Scriptures on the intellect of women,

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 9.38.1-6📚
O Bhagavân! The woman kind has been created by the Creator as devoid of any Tattvajñâna or true knowledge…”  (source)

📚Rig Veda 8.33.17📚
Indra himself hath said, The mind of woman brooks not discipline, Her intellect hath little weight.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 9.18📚
For women there is no dealing with the sacred texts; such is the rule of law; the fact is that, being destitute of organs and devoid of sacred texts, women are ‘false”’  (source)

Acharya Medadithi writes on Manusmriti 9.18, Destitute of Organs.’- ‘Organ’ here stands for strength; courage, patience, intelligence, energy and so forth are absent in women.”  (source)

📚Baudhayana Dharmsutra📚
The Veda declares, ‘Therefore women are considered to be destitute of strength and of a portion.”  (source)

10. Women Should Not Be Given Freedom

Hinduism claims that women are dependent and unsuitable for independence, deeming them incapable of being self-reliant. Swami Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, further asserts that females should never be granted independence, advocating continuous control over them, and discrediting their ability to hold leadership positions,

“In India we have got little experience. The female is always controlled. Female is never given the position of controller. Nowadays it is going on. Just like Indira Gandhi, she has given the position of controller. This is artificial. In the history of India, greater India, Mahābhārata, you will never find that a woman has been given a position of controller. No. It is not possible. We have to take things from the śāstra. In the Bhagavad-gītā also woman’s position has been equated with śūdra. Striyaḥ śūdrās tathā vaiśyas te ‘pi yānti parāṁ gatim.” (source)

Yogi Adityanath, the Mahant of Gorakhnath Muth, stated, ”Shastras have emphasized providing protection to women. Just as unrestricted energy (urja) can lead to destruction, women too don’t need independence; they need protection. Their energy should be channeled towards productive endeavors.”  (source)

📚Narada Purana Uttarbhaga 24.46-47a📚
O Brahmanas, the following fall into hell: viz.- a woman who behave according to her own sweet will…”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 5.147-148📚
By a girl, by a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house. In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent.”  (source)

📚Yajnavalkya Smriti Verse 85📚
When a maiden, her father; when married her husband; and when old, her sons, should protect her. In their absence, the kinsmen (should take care of her.) The women are never independent.”  (source)

📚Padma Purana 1.52.25
As cooked food, in the absence of protection, is controlled by (i.e. eaten by) dogs and crows, in the same way, a young woman would become corrupt due to freedom.”  (source)

📚Vasistha Dharmasutra 5.1📚
A woman is not independent, the males are her masters. It has been declared in the Veda, ‘A female who neither goes naked nor is temporarily unclean is paradise.”  (source)

📚Narada Smriti 13.30📚
It is through independence that women go to ruin, though born in a noble family. Therefore the Lord of creatures has assigned a dependent condition to them.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.115.62📚
One shall not reside in a land where there is no leader or where there are many leaders or where the leadership is vested in a woman or in a child.”  (source)

📚Yajnavalkya Smriti 1.85📚
A father should protect [a woman when she 15} a maiden; a husband after she is married ; and a son, in her old age; in the absence [of a legitimate protector] the kinsmen (should protect her}; independence is not for womankind.”  (source)

📚Brihaspati Smriti 24.2📚
A woman must be restrained from slight transgressions even by her relations; by night and by day she must be watched by her mother-in-law and other wives belonging to the family.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 13.45📚
There is the well-known declaration of the scriptures that women are incompetent to enjoy freedom at any period of their life.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
If a woman transgresses the injunction of her husband and performs holy rites, fasts and other observances, she takes away the longevity of her husband. After her death, she falls into a hell.”  (source)

Rishi Ashravakra said,

📚Mahabharata 13.20📚
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.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.115.63📚
The father protects her in childhood, the husband in youth and the son in old age. A woman is not to be allowed to stay independently.”  (source)

📚Shiva Purana📚
She shall not stand near the entrance for a long time. She shall not go to other people’s house. She shall not take his money, even though it be a little, and give it to others.”  (source)

📚Vishnu Smriti 25.12-13📚
Not to act by herself in any matter; To remain subject, in her infancy, to her father, in her youth, to her husband; and in her old age, to her sons.”  (source)

📚Baudhayana Dharmasutra📚
Women do not possess independence. Now they quote also (the following verse): ‘Their father protects (them) in childhood, their husband protect (them) in youth, and their sons protect (them) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.”  (source)

Swami Prabhupada writes, A woman is not supposed to take sannyāsa. So-called spiritual societies concocted in modern times give sannyāsa even to women, although there is no sanction in the Vedic literature for a woman’s accepting sannyāsa. Otherwise, if it were sanctioned, Kardama Muni could have taken his wife and given her sannyāsa. The woman must remain at home. She has only three stages of life: dependency on the father in childhood, dependency on the husband in youth and, in old age, dependency on the grown-up son, such as Kapila. In old age the progress of woman depends on the grown-up son.” (source)

📚Shiva Purana 3.54.24📚
Without the permission of her husband she shall not go even on pilgrimage. She shall eschew the desire to attend social festivities.”  (source)

11. Women Are Child Production Machines

In Hinduism, even animals like cows are given more importance and respect compared to women, who are treated like commodities. Hinduism has deprived women of their basic rights by confining them to the four walls of the house. Women in Hinduism are nothing but child production factories and sex objects.

📚Mahabharata 5.39📚
The fruits of the Vedas are ceremonies performed before the (homa) fire; the fruits of an acquaintance with the scriptures are goodness of disposition and conduct. The fruits of women are the pleasures of intercourse and offspring.”  (source)

📚Narada Smriti 12.19📚
Women have been created for the sake of propagation, the wife being the field, and the husband the giver of the seed. The field must be given to him who has seed. He who has no seed in unworthy to possess the field.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 9.96📚
Women were created for the purpose of child-bearing, and men for the purpose of procreation. hence it is that Religious Rites have been ordained in the Veda as common between the man and his wife.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
[Atri said]…It is cited by expounders of the Vedas that a woman is one who gives sexual pleasure and a son…”  (source)

12. Women Are Bad Luck

📚Garuda Purana 1.64.8📚
If the sides of a woman or her breasts contain plenty of hair and if her lips are high the husband dies soon.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.64.11-12📚
If the little finger and thumb of a woman placed on the ground do not rest there: she will become a widow and of ill repute. Woman who shakes the ground as she treads, kills her husband quickly and lives like a mleccha woman.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.65.57-60📚
if it is of a lady she will beget a son; a long face indicates poverty, misfortune and great sorrow. A square face indicates that he is a coward, sinner and a rogue. A depressed face indicates issuelessness; a short face indicates miserliness.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.65.114📚
If the neck is short it indicates poverty; if it is very long — destruction of the family.”  (source)

13. Beating Of Wives

Swami Prabhupada had approved wife beating,

“Prabhupāda: Dull, dull. Dhol guṇār, dhol means drum and guṇār means dull. Śūdra, and the laborer class. Three. Dhol, guṇār, śūdra, and paśu, household animals, just like cows, dogs. Brahmānanda: Pet. Prabhupāda: Pet, like that. Dhol guṇār śūdra paśu and narī. Nari means woman. (laughs) Just see. He has classified the narī amongst these class, dhol, guṇār, śūdra, paśu, narī. Ihe sab śaśan ke adhikārī. Sasan ke adhikārī means all these are subjected for punishment. And what about the guest? Govinda dāsī: Oh, the guest? It’s coming. Prabhupāda: So śaśan ke adhikārī means they should be punished. (laughs) Punished means, just like dhol, when the, I mean to say, sound is not very hard, dag-dag, if you beat it on the border, then it comes to be nice tune. Similarly, paśu, animals, if you request, “My dear dog, please do not go there.” Hut! (laughter) “No, my dear dog.” Hut! This is the way.(?) Similarly, woman. If you become lenient, then she will be troublesome. So in India still, in villages, whenever there is some quarrel between husband wife, the husband beats and she is tamed. (laughs) In civilized society, “Oh, you have done this?” Immediately some criminal case. But in uncivilized society they don’t care for court or civilized way of… Kicharī. (prasādam being served)” (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.109.31📚
Wicked persons, artisans, slaves, defiled ones, drums and women are softened by being beaten; they do not deserve gentle handling.”  (source)

It is mentioned in Tulsi Ramayana,

📚Tulsi Ramayana Sundara Kanda Doha 58.3📚
A drum, a rustic, a Shudra, a beast and a woman all these deserve to be beaten up.”  (source)

Bhagvatananda Guru, in his book “मूरख हृदय न चेत,” presents the same interpretation of ‘Tadan.’ He asserts, “The verse ‘ढोल गंवार सूद्र पसु नारी । सकल ताडना के अधिकारी ।’ is pure and authentic. Here, the meaning of ‘Tadan’ is indeed beating, specifically referring to physical discipline.”  (source)

📚Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 6.4.7📚

”If she do not give in, let him, as he likes, bribe her (with presents). And if she then do not give in, let him, as he likes, beat her with a stick or with his hand, and overcome her, saying: ‘With manly strength and glory I take away thy glory,’–and thus she becomes unglorious.”  (source)

📚Kautilya Arthashastra 3.3📚
Women of refractive nature shall be taught manners by using not even such expressions as “Thou, half naked; thou, fully naked; thou, cripple; thou, fatherless; thou, motherless” (nagne vinagne nyaṅge’pitṛke’mātṛke ityanirdeśena vinayagrāhaṇa). Or three beats, either with a bamboo bark or with a rope or with the palm of the hand, may be given on her hips.”  (source)

📚Matsya Purana 227.154📚
Wife, sons, servants, disciples, brothers should be beaten on their back with a rope or a cane when they commit a fault. They should never he beaten on their heads.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 8.299-300📚
A wife, a son, a slave, a pupil, and a (younger) brother of the full blood, who have committed faults, may be beaten with a rope or a split bamboo, But on the back part of the body (only), never on a noble part; he who strikes them otherwise will incur the same guilt as a thief.”  (source)

📚Agni Purana 227.43-47📚
A woman defiled by one of the superior (caste) should have her head shaved. A brahmin copulating with a vaiśya woman and a kṣatriya going to a woman of the low caste (should be fined) with the first (variety of fine). A kṣatriya and a vaiśya are punishable for going to a śūdra woman. If a courtesan after having received a contract, goes to another on account of greed, she should pay (the first one), twice the contracted amount and (pay) twice the amount as fine. One’s wife, sons, servants, pupil and brother having done an offence should be beaten with a rope or with a piece of bamboo. A thief should be struck on the back but not on the forehead. One would acquire sin (by doing so) (by striking on the forehead). The officers in charge of protecting the people seizing very much should be banished (from the kingdom) after having seized all their (property).”  (source)

📚Shiva Purana📚
A chaste lady shall never mention her husband’s name. If the husband scolds or rebukes her she shall not abuse him in return. Even when beaten by him she shall remain glad and say “I may even be killed, O lord. Be kind to me.”  (source)

But a wife is not allowed to physically harm or beat her husband,

📚Shiva Purana📚
If she desires to beat her husband in retaliation, she becomes a tiger or a wild cat. She who ogles at another man becomes squint eyed. She who partakes of sweet dish denying the same to her husband becomes a pig in the village or a wild goat eating its own dung. She who addresses her husband in a singular becomes dumb. She who is jealous of a cow-wife becomes ill-fated in matrimony again and again.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
On being struck, if she were to strike him back, she is reborn as a tigress or a cat. She who casts loving glances at others, becomes a squint-eyed one.”  (source)

14. Cannot Read The Vedas Or Perform Sacrifices

Before teaching the Vedas to students, a ceremony called Upanayana is performed, during which Dvija (twice-born) students wear the sacred thread. While you may have seen Brahmin men wearing this thread, it is not commonly observed for women to wear it. Traditionally, women were not allowed to study the Vedas, and according to Hindu scriptures, only those who have undergone the Upanayana ceremony are eligible to read the Vedas. This is mentioned in Agni Purana,

📚Agni Purana 152.9-12📚
The women are not entitled to utter the Veda Mantras, and hence they are not invested with the holy threads, but their marriage ceremonies should be celebrated by repeating the sacred hymns of the Vedas.”  (source)

📚Matsya Purana 154.156-174📚
Women are by their nature meek and weak, women cannot study the Sastras.”  (source)

Swami Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, made a statement during one of his lectures, “So dealing with woman… Especially instruction are given to men. All literatures, all Vedic literatures, they are especially meant for instruction to the men. Woman is to follow the husband, that’s all. The husband will give instruction to the wife. There is no such thing as the girl should go to school to take brahmacārī-āśrama or go to spiritual master to take instruction. That is not Vedic system. Vedic system is a man is fully instructed, and woman, girl, must be married to a man. Even the man may have many wives, polygamy, still, every woman should be married. And she would get instruction from the husband. This is Vedic system. Woman is not allowed to go to school, college or to the spiritual master. But husband and wife, they can be initiated. That is Vedic system.” (source)

Shrimad Bhagavatam Purana mentions that Ved Vyasa composed the Mahabharata out of compassion for women and Shudras, as they were historically barred from studying the Vedas,

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 1.4.25📚
The degenerated twice-borns, the Sudras and women are barred from the holy truths of the Vedas, and, out of compassion for them, Maharshi Vyasa composed the Mahabharata.”  (source)

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 1.3.18-24📚
knowing this in every Dvâpara Yuga Bhagavân expounds the holy Purâna Samhitas. The more so because women, S’udras, and the lower Dvijas are not entitled to hear the Vedas; for their good, the Purânas have been composed…”  (source)

📚Brahma Purana 64.19📚
In regard to the people of the first three castes the rite of holy bath and the reception of Mantras is in the manner mentioned in the Vedas. The utterance of the Vedic passage is to be avoided by women as well as Sudras.”  (source)

Women are not even allowed to utter Om and Vedic Japas,

📚Narada Purana Uttarabhaga 61.51-53📚
The procedure for the holy dip and the repetition of Japas is, in regard to the three castes, the same as mentioned in the Vedas. O fair lady, in regard to the Sudras and the women the repetition of the Vedic texts is to be avoided…”  (source)

📚Narada Purana 70.72-73📚
This is called Visnu Gayatri which removes all sins. Tara=om., hrt=namah, then bhagavan ending in the dative case, then vausdevaya. This great mantra consisting of twelve syllables gives enjoyment and salvation. This is to be used without tara=om by women and sudras but by the twice born it is used with tara=om”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
The following six things cause downfall of women and Sudras: japa, penance, pilgrimage, renunciation of the world, practice of Mantras and initiation for the adoration of a deity.”  (source)

Maharishi Manu writes that for a woman, marriage is considered equivalent to the study of Vedas, implying that they should not study it separately,

📚Manusmriti 2.66📚
For females, this whole series should be performed at the right time and in the proper order, for the purpose of sanctifying the body; but without the Vedic formulas.”  (source)

📚Vishnu Smriti 27.13-14📚
For female children the same ceremonies, (beginning with the birth ceremony, should be performed, but) without Mantras. The marriage ceremony only has to be performed with Mantras for them.”  (source)

According to certain Hindu scriptures, reading the Vedas in the presence of women and Shudras is considered punishable in hell,

📚Narada Purana 1.15.100-101📚
I shall mention the fruits of sins accruing to those who engage themselves in the recitation and study of the Vedas in the vicinity of women and Sudras. Listen to it attentively. They are compelled to stand with their heads down and legs upwards. Thus, they are nailed to two pillars and are compelled to inhale smoke continuously in this posture. They stay thus for the period of year of god Brahma.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 2.67📚
The sacrament of marriage is to a female, what initiation with the thread is to a male. The service of the husband is to the wife, what his residence in the preceptor’s house, as a religious student, is to the husband; the household duty is to a woman, what the making of burnt offerings is to man.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 9.18📚
For women no (sacramental) rite (is performed) with sacred texts [Vedic Mantras], 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.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 3.204📚
[Markandeya Rishi said] As regards women again, neither sacrifice nor sraddhas, nor fasts are of any efficacy. By serving their husbands only they can win heaven.”  (source)

The Linga Purana mentions that women are not authorized to perform worship, specifically referring to leading prayers and sacrifices,

📚Linga Purana 2.20.1-3📚
Rudra, Mahadeva, the grandfather stationed in the mystic diagram is worthy of being worshipped by the Brahmins, Ksatriyas and Vaisyas as well. For the Sudras the service rendered to a worshipper is enough. Undoubtedly women are not authorised to perform worship. If the worship is conducted through leading Brahmins, women and Sudras shall derive the same benefit.”  (source)

📚Padma Purana 5.20.23-27📚
A woman should never worship a salagrama. If a woman who is a widow or whose husband is alive, who desires her well-being in heaven, touches through ignorance a salagrama, she would, even though she is endowed with good character and virtues, be deprived of her collection of religious merit and would quickly go to hell…”  (source)

📚Vishnu Smriti 25.15📚
No sacrifice, no penance, and no fasting is allowed to women apart from their husbands; to pay obedience to her lord is the only means for a woman to obtain bliss in heaven.”  (source)

Certain apologists argue that many verses of the Vedas were revealed to Rishikas (female Rishis), suggesting that there is no prohibition for women from studying the Vedas. What apologists often do is selectively quote specific incidents from texts, taking them out of context and attempting to interpret them according to their own perspectives. It is noteworthy that even within the Vedas, there are verses attributed to prostitutes. The presence of verses like these in the Vedas doesn’t imply that common women should also engage in prostitution. For instance, in Rig Veda Mandala 10 Sukta 95, we find the Rishika Urvashi, a celestial Apsara (Nirukta 5.13). Swami Prabhupada’s writings refer to her as ‘Urvaśī, a resident of the heavenly kingdom,’ illustrating the multifaceted nature of characters within ancient scriptures, ”Mitra and Varuṇa chanced to meet Urvaśī, the most beautiful prostitute of the heavenly kingdom, and they became lusty…” (source)

It is mentioned in Devi Bhagavatam,

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 9.1.96-143📚
those that are sprung from Tamo Guna are recognised as worst and belonging to the unknown families. They are very scurrilous, cheats, ruining their families, fond of their own free ways, quarrelsome and no seconds are found equal to them. Such women become prostitutes in this world and Apsaras in the Heavens…”  (source)

This is one of the old tricks used by Hindu apologists, where they selectively quote verses praising goddesses and present them as if the Vedas are praising common women. To support their claims, these apologists should provide proper references demonstrating that the Vedas indeed endorse the study of sacred texts by women from all walks of life. While some may argue that Urvashi was not a prostitute, it cannot be denied that she was involved in an adulterous relationship. Additionally, in attempts to highlight equality among castes in Hinduism, apologists often cite the example of Vasistha, who, they claim, was born of Urvashi’s mind but not from her womb, portraying her as a prostitute. Such arguments seem to be shaped to fit their vested interests, and it is crucial to critically examine the context and accuracy of their claims. Renowned Hindu scholar Madhvacharya writes, Those of the first three castes who are sincerely devoted to the Lord Hari (the purifier) are fit to acquire knowledge as given in the Vedic texts. And the women (of the celestial order) are also eligible for the study of Scripture; and they are Urvasi, Yami (the wife of Yama), Sachi and other goddesses, (as also the wives of Rishis)…” Madhvacharya on Brahma Sutra Pada 1, Adhyaya 1.1, Tr. S. Subba Rau

Madhvacharya indeed supported the view that the study of Vedas is limited to special women like Urvashi, Yami, Sachi, etc., implying that common women may not study the Vedas. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna states,

📚Gita 9.32📚
O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth – women, vaiśyas [merchants] and śūdras [workers] – can attain the supreme destination.”  (source)

Hindu scholar named Swami Swarupananda writes,

”Of inferior birth…Shudras because by birth, the Vaishyas are engaged only in agriculture, etc., and the women and Shudras are debarred from the study of the Vedas.” (source)

Swami Nikhilananda writes, The Vaisyas are engaged in agriculture and trade; women and Sudras are debarred from the study of the Vedas. Therefore all these classes of people remain outside the Vedic scheme of salvation…” [Swami Nikhilananda on The Bhagwad Gita 9.32, page 233, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1944, Printed in USA by The Haddon Craftsmen, Inc.]  (source)

Another scholar named Swami Sivananda writes, “…Women and Sudras are debarred by social rules from the study of the Vedas…”

15. Women Are Like Shudras

Women belonging to the upper three castes are not Shudras, but they are treated similarly to Shudras and considered to be on the same level as them. Hindu texts often mentions Shudras on par with women,

📚Manusmriti 5.139📚
Let him who desires bodily purity first sip water three times, and then twice wipe his mouth; but a woman and a Sudra (shall perform each act) once (only).”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 11.153📚
But he who has eaten the food of men, whose food must not be eaten, or the leavings of women and Sudras, or forbidden flesh, shall drink barley (-gruel) during seven (days and) nights.”  (source)

📚Brahmanda Purana 3.15.56📚
The leavings of food from a Sraddha should not be given to women or Sudras.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 13.128📚
That man who thinks it all right when a Sudra ignites the fire upon which he is to pour libations or who does not see any fault when women who are incompetent to assist at Sraddhas and other rites are allowed to assist at them, really becomes stained with sin.”  (source)

According to Manu, during the period of a vow, it is considered inappropriate to engage in conversation with a woman, a Sudra, and an outcaste,

📚Manusmriti 11.224📚
Let him bathe three times each day and thrice each night, dressed in his clothes; let him on no account talk to women, Sudras, and outcasts.”  (source)

16. Duties Of A Wife

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 6.18.7-24📚
The eternal Dharma of women is to serve their husbands; whether the husband be a saint or a sinner, the woman, desirous of her welfare, should serve her husband in every way…”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 5.155-156📚
No sacrifice, no vow, no fast must be performed by women apart (from their husbands); if a wife obeys her husband, she will for that (reason alone) be exalted in heaven. Afaithful wife, who desires to dwell (after death) with her husband, must never do anything that might displease him who took her hand, whether he be alive or dead.”  (source)

📚Baudhayana Dharmasutra📚
Those (women) who strive (to do what is) agreeable to their husbands will gain heaven.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.95.24-26📚
The highest duty of a woman is to carry out the behests of her husband. Sixteen nights subsequent to the month menstrual flow are the nights of rut for women. The husband shall restrain himself during the parvan (full moon and new moon days), when the stars Magha and Mula are ascendant and on the first four nights. Thereafter, on even nights, he will be able to beget a healthy son of auspicious traits. If the woman is in a mood to receive him on any night he should satisfy her remembering that lust in women is terrible.”  (source)

📚Padma Purana 1.50.55b-57a📚
In (performing) duty, she is (like) a maid-servant; in (giving) sexual pleasure she is (like a prostitute); in (serving) a meal she is (like) a mother; she is a counsellor to her husband in his difficulties. Such is a chaste woman. That woman is loyal to her husband (i.e. is a chaste woman), who never disobeys her husband by speech, body or deeds, and who eats after her husband has eaten.”  (source)

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 3.19.11📚
The women are able to attain heaven and emancipation, if they serve their husbands; therefore if we be sincere in serving our husbands, we will no doubt be happy.”  (source)

A wife should drink the water that was used to wash her husband’s feet!,

📚Shiva Purana📚
If a women wants holy water she shall drink the same with which her husband’s feet have been washed. All holy rivers are present in that water.”  (source)

📚Brahma Viavarta Purana Krishna Janma Khanda 57.20-21📚
He is immensely chaste and happens to be lord Krsna in the form of husband. Therefore, such of the women who consume the food taken by her husband and sip the water of his feet, the gods are always anxious to have an audience with such women. With the touch of such women all the holy places are relieved of all the sins.”  (source)

Wives should eat their meals only after their husbands have finished eating,

📚Shiva Purana📚
A chaste lady shall take food only after her husband has taken it. O Śivā, if he stands, the woman too shall remain standing.”  (source)

A wife should eat the leftovers of her husband’s food,

📚Shiva Purana 3.54.26📚
She shall partake of the leavings of her husband’s food or whatever is given by him saying “This is thy great grace.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 13.59
As women have one eternal duty, in this world, viz., dependence upon and obedient service to their husbands, and as such duty constitutes their only end, even so is the service to Brahmanas Our eternal duty and end.”  (source)

📚Narada Purana 14.17📚
If, out of wickedness, a woman does not render physical service to her husband, she must be punished by abandoning her for twelve years, without giving her financial assistance.”  (source)

According to Hinduism, a wife is expected to remain loyal to her husband even if he lacks qualities, behaves foolishly, abuses her, or faces impotence,

📚Manusmriti 5.154📚
Though destitute of virtue, or seeking pleasure (elsewhere), or devoid of good qualities, (yet) a husband must be constantly worshipped as a god by a faithful wife.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
Even if the husband is poor, fallen, foolish or wretched, he is the refuge unto his wife. By abandoning him a woman falls into hell.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
The duties of chaste women have been enumerated by Sage Vyasa. She takes food after the husband has taken food; when he stands, she stands up together. She goes to bed after he has gone to sleep, and gets up before him…She does not speak out the name of her husband in order to give him long life. She never mentions the name of another man too. Even when dragged by him, she does not cry aloud. Even if she is beaten by him, she continues to be gracious. When he says, ‘Do this’, she reples, ‘My lord, be assured that it is done.’ When she is called, she leaves off the work on hand and goes to him quickly (and says) ‘Wherefore, O lord have I been called? Be pleased to tell me that…She partakes of the leavings of her husband’s food, fruit etc. liked by him. She completely avoids watching community festivals etc. (if he is not accompanying her). She should not exhibit bold wilfulness in anything except during sexual dalliance. She should always express her interest and delight whenever her husband shows his interest. She should never transgress the words of her husband… She should never stray from her husband even if he is impotent, miserably placed, sickly, senile, infirm or unsteady…If a woman transgresses the injunction of her husband and performs holy rites, fasts and other observances, she takes away the longetivity of her husband. After her death, she falls into a hell. A hot-tempered woman who, when addressed, gives rude reply, is reborn as a bitch in a village or as a vixen in a desolate forest. This is said to be the greatest and only sacred observance of women that they should resolve to take their food only after worshipping the feet of their husbands. (A chaste woman) should not occupy a seat higher (than that of her husband)…On being struck, if she were to strike him back, she is reborn as a tigress or a cat…She who sets aside her husband and partakes of sweet dishes alone, is reborn in a village as a female pig or a bat feeding on faeces.”  (source)

📚Brahma Viavarta Purana Brahma Khanda 9.70-73📚
A lady bom in an evil family always remains environs her husband because her mind always remains unstable and she feels attracted towards the evil and wicked people. But the chaste ladies serve her husbands even when he is mean, degraded, sickly, wicked, poor deprived of virtues and whether young or old.”  (source)

This is how women may face punishment if they disobey their husbands and use harsh words against them,

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 9.35.1-44📚
If any woman, being very furious with anger, chastises and uses harsh words to her husband, she goes to Ulkâmukha Kunda for as many years as there are hairs on his body. My servants put fiery meteors or torches in her mouth and beat on her head. At the end of the term, she becomes a human being but she has to bear the torments of widowhood for seven births. Then she is again born as diseased; when at last she gets herself freed. The Brâhmana woman, enjoyed by a S’ûdra, goes to the terrible dark Andhakûpa hell, where she remains, day and night, immersed in the impure water and eats that for fourteen Indra’s life periods. Her pains are unbounded and My messengers beat her severely and incessantly.”  (source)

📚Valmiki Ramayana 2.24.25📚
Even if a woman is interested in religious vows and fastings in addition to being the best of the excellent ;if she does not obey her husband she will become ill-fated!”  (source)

📚Brahma Viavarta Purana Prakriti Khanda 31.19-22📚
The woman who looks at her husband in rage and also utters harsh words to him, falls into the hell named Ulkamukha. The messengers of Yama continuously insert the burning wood into her mouth and she remains in that hell suffering the torture striking her head. She is then reborn in the human race and becomes a widow seven times. Thus suffering the misfortune of becoming a widow, she suffers from ailments and thereafter she is purified. When a Brahmana woman keeps the company of a Sudra, she falls into and andhakupa hell. She had to spend time in the dirty water and has to consume the same day and night.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
In the vicinity of elders, she should not speak loudly or call others in a loud voice. An evil-minded woman who abandons her husband and goes to a secret place, is reborn as a ruthless female owl always lying ensconced in the hollow of a tree.”  (source)

📚Valmiki Ramayana 2.24.20📚
Rama spoke thus these words bemoaningly to her, who was weeping= “as long as a woman is alive ,her husband is god and master to her.”  (source)

17. Women Are Sex Maniacs

📚Skanda Purana📚
On seeing an excellent man, the excellent organ of generation of women becomes moistened and dump even if they are observing celibacy or are Yoginis.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
Ordinarily sexual appetite is very strong in women. Especially during menses, they are afflicted all the more by the arrows of Kama. Shunned or neglected by their husbands, women naturally think about paramours.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 13.19📚
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. The Creator himself had said this, quickly marking the faults of women.”  (source)

📚Chanakya Neeti Shastra 16.2📚
The heart of a woman is not united; it is divided. While she is taking with one man, she looks lustfully at another and thinks fondly of a third in her heart.”  (source)

📚Padma Purana 2.53.11b-20📚
O lord of gods, the vulva, and also the tips of the breasts of women, throb. They do not have patience…”  (source)

📚Shiva Purana 5.24.16-36📚
There is none more sinning and more sinful than women. Women are at the root of all sins…Women usually do not observe the limitations of conventional decency. If at all they stand by them with their husbands it is because no man makes advances to them or because they are afraid of their husbands…They carry on their dalliances with any man ugly or beautiful…Even women of noble families aspire for the life of lascivious women who in their prime of youth adorned with lovable ornaments and beautiful wearing garments move about frivolously…Women become desperate when they do not get men…women are not satiated with the number of men they cohabit with. O excellent sage, there is another secret of all women that immediately on seeing a man their vaginal passage begins to exude slimy secretions. On seeing a man fresh and clean from his bath with his body perfumed with sweet scents, the vaginal passage of women begins to exude like water dripping from a leather bag…on hearing her words Narada was satisfied in his mind. Considering it to be the truth…”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.109.35-40📚
A delicious fatty meat diet, pleasing dress, glowing wine, fragrant scented pastes, and sweet smelling flowers kindle passion in women. It can be said with certainty that even during the period of celibacy the god of love is busily active. On seeing a man pleasing to her heart the vagina of a woman becomes wet with profuse secretion. O Saunaka, it is true, definitely true that the vaginal passage of a woman begins to secrete profusely on seeing a well dressed man whether a brother or a son. Rivers and women are of similar nature in their love of freedom to choose their own course. The rivers erode the banks and the women undermine their own families. The river undermines the banks and the woman causes the fall of the family. The course of rivers and women is wayward and cannot be checked. A blazing fire cannot be satiated with sufficient supply of fuel; the ocean can never be filled to satiety by rivers flowing into it; the god of death is never satiated by the living beings (whom he smites) and a passionate woman is never satiated with man.”  (source)

18. Women Referred To As A Field

Some Hindus quote certain Quranic verses to argue that the Quran refers to women as ‘fields,’ often misinterpreting the metaphorical context. However, it is worth noting that several verses in their own scriptures, also use similar words like ‘fields’ or ‘soil’ etc to address women,

📚Manusmriti 9.33📚
The woman has been declared to be like the ‘soil,’ and the man has been declared to be like the seed; and the production of all corporeal beings proceeds from the union of the soil and the seed.”  (source)

📚Katyayana Smriti Verse 859📚
When a person begets a fruit (a son) with the consent of the owner of the field (husband of the wife), both of them are entitled to the fruit (the son), since a fruit is not produced in the absence of one (of the two)”  (source)

📚Narada Smriti 12.19📚
Women have been created for the sake of propagation, the wife being the field, and the husband the giver of the seed. The field must be given to him who has seed. He who has no seed in unworthy to possess the field.”  (source)

📚Apastamba Dharmasutra 2.13.6📚
Diligently guard this progeny of yours, lest strangers sow their seeds in your held; in the transit to the next world, a son belongs to the man who fathered him. Otherwise a husband makes this progeny of his worthless for himself.”  (source)

📚Baudhayana Dharmasutra📚
Diligently guard this progeny of yours, lest strangers sow their seeds in your held; in the transit to the next world, a son belongs to the man who fathered him. Otherwise a husband makes this progeny of his worthless for himself.”  (source)

📚Vasistha Dharmasutra 17.9📚
Diligently guard this progeny of yours, lest strangers sow their seeds in your held; in the transit to the next world, a son belongs to the man who fathered him. Otherwise a husband makes this progeny of his worthless for himself.”  (source)

The reference mentioned below do not explicitly label women as ‘fields,’ but the Sanskrit Shloka of the verse uses the word ‘क्षेत्रे’ (field) to address women,

📚Gautama Dharmasutra 18.11📚
(And the child begotten at) a living husband’s (request) on his wife (belongs to the husband).”  (source)

”जीवतश्च क्षेत्रे ||”  (Sanskrit Shloka)

19. Cannot Choose Their Husbands

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 6.22.31-36📚
The girl must accept him to whom the father betrothes. The girl is under every circumstances dependent. Never do they get any independence…”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 5.151📚
Him to whom her father may give her, or her brother with the father’s permission, she shall obey as long as he lives, and when he is dead, she must not insult (his memory)”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 9.92📚
When the girl chooses her own husband, she should not take away any ornaments given to her either by her father, or mother or brother; if she did take them, she would be a thief.”  (source)

Hinduism provides a list of girls that should be avoided for marriage, but there is no mention of guidelines for a girl to choose her husband,

📚Narada Purana 1.26.3-14📚
A twice-born should marry a virgin who is endowed with good features and beauty, who is born of a good family, who possesses good qualities, whose conduct and habits are good and who practises righteous activities. The intelligent Brahmana should marry a girl beyond the seventh remove his father and fifth remove from his mother; otherwise he is on a par with the defiler of the preceptor’s bed. A sensible man should not marry a girl who is sickly, whose eyes are round, who is born in a family of ailing persons (i.e. with unhealthy heredity), who has too much of hair or who has no hair at all or who is garrulous. A wise person should not marry a girl who is hot-tempered, too short, too tall (in stature), who is wanting in any limb, who has an extra limb (i.e. physically handicapped or abnormal), who is mad, or slanderous. One should not marry a girl with heavy, big ankles or long shanks or has masculine features with traces of moustache and beard and is hunchbacked. A prudent person should not marry a girl who laughs without reason, who stays in others’ houses always, is habitually contentious, wayward and ruthless. A sensible man should not marry a voracious girl whose teeth and lips are too large and thick, who snorts and grumbles, who is very dark or red in complexion, or who is cunning and mischievous. One should not marry a girl who is always given to weeping, is of pallid complexion, who is despicable, a chronic patient of cough and Asthma or of somnolent nature. A sagacious man should not marry a girl who habitually speaks worthless and meaningless words who is interested in antagonizing the world, who is in the habit of scandalising others or is a thief. A worldly-wise man should by no means marry a girl whose nose is too long, who is a liar, and a cheat, whose body is covered with hair, who is arrogant or a religious hypocrite. If the marriage had taken place during childhood when the real nature had not been realised and if her defect is realized after maturity, he should by all means forsake her. If any woman is always harsh and ruthless to the husband and children but is favourably disposed towards others, he (the husband) should by all means forsake her.”  (source)

Manu and Swami Dayanand Saraswati shared similar views,

”Let a man never marry one who is pale and anaemic, nor one who is altogether a bigger and stronger person than himself or has a redundant member,* nor one who is an invalid, nor one either with no hair or too much hair or too much hair, nor one immoderately talkative, nor one with red eyes.” MANU 3: 8. “Nor one with the name of star, of a tree, or of a river, or of a mountain, nor one bearing a name denoting low origin, or servility, nor one named after a bird, a snake, nor one whose name inspires terror.” MANU 3: 9. These names are despicable and belong to other things as well.
“Let him choose for his wife, a girl who has a graceful figure without any deformity, who has a pretty name, who walks gracefully like a swan or an elephant, who has fine hair and lovely teeth, and whose body is exquisitely soft.” MANU 3: 10.”  Satyarth Prakash Chp 4, Page 89-90 – (source)

20. How To Determine The Nature Of Women

If you want to determine if a woman is a whore, adulteress or a murderer, Garuda Purana has a list that can describe her nature,

📚Garuda Purana 1.65.112📚
If the palm is placed on the ground and the little finger and the ring finger do not touch the ground, she is surely a whore. If the thumb goes beyond the root of the index finger that too is inauspicious similarly.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.65.115📚
If it is very stout the woman becomes very fierce, there is no doubt about this. Squint in the eyes, dark blue or tawny in the eyes, roving eyes — these indicate absence of chastity.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.65.116📚
If when she smiles two dimples are seen in the cheeks, she is surely one adulteress. If the forehead hangs down the woman kills her brother-in-law.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.65.117📚
if the buttocks hang down, she kills her husband. A mustache-like growth of hair above the upper lip is inauspicious for the husband.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.65.118📚
Hairy breasts are inauspicious and uneven ears too are inauspicious. Sharp and uneven teeth indicate misery.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.65.120📚
If they are sinewy, uneven and dry (wrinkled), the woman becomes poor. An elevated upper lip indicates quarrelsome nature and harshness in speech.”  (source)

21. Proud Wife Should Be Punished

📚Matsya Purana 227.132📚
The woman who is disobedient to her husband on account of being proud of her brothers, etc., should be driven out of the house by the king.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 8.371📚
If a wife, proud of the greatness of her relatives or (her own) excellence, violates the duty which she owes to her lord, the king shall cause her to be devoured by dogs in a place frequented by many.”  (source)

22. Derogatory Remarks Against Women

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
Wherefore even to this day women are given to vain things: for it was on this wise that Vâk turned thereto, and other women do as she did. And hence it is to him who dances and sings that they most readily take a fancy.”  (source)

📚Rig Veda 10.95.15📚
Nay, do not die, Pururavas, nor vanish: let not the hideous wolves devour thee. Female friendships do not exist. With women there can be no lasting friendship: hearts of hyenas are the hearts of women.”  (source)

📚Shiva Purana 5.24.33-35📚
Women do not remain satisfied and contented so much with simple loves and pleasures and with ornaments and money as with illicit love pursued by them with other men. Women can be kept equally balanced against all these put together viz., god of death, Yama, Antaka, Pātāla, the submarine fire, the sharp edge of razor, poison, serpent and fire. Ever since the five elements, the world, the men and women were created by Brahmā, O Nārada, the defect lies in women always.”  (source)

Women become lesbians if they do not get male partners for cohabitation,

📚Shiva Purana 5.24.26📚
O brahmin, if women do not get men for their dalliance they begin to indulge in abnormal sexual activity with one another. They do not stand by their husbands.”  (source)

📚Shiva Purana 5.24.29📚
The god of death is not satiated with the living beings he kills and women are not satiated with the number of men they cohabit with.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
A hot-tempered woman who, when addressed, gives rude reply, is reborn as a bitch in a village or as a vixen in a desolate forest.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 9.14.36-38📚
Urvasi said: My dear King, you are a man, a hero. Don’t be impatient and give up your life. Be sober and don’t allow the senses to overcome you like foxes. Don’t let the foxes eat you. In other words, you should not be controlled by your senses. Rather, you should know that the heart of a woman is like that of a fox. There is no use making friendship with women. Women as a class are merciless and cunning. They cannot tolerate even a slight offense. For their own pleasure they can do anything irreligious, and therefore they do not fear killing even a faithful husband or brother. Women are very easily seduced by men. Therefore, polluted women give up the friendship of a man who is their well-wisher and establish false friendship among fools. Indeed, they seek newer and newer friends, one after another.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana 1.115.59📚
The prosperity of a kingdom comes to an end with the curse of a brahmana; the spiritual power of a brahmana comes to an end with his sin; all decency in conduct of life comes to an end if residence is taken near cowsheds; the family is ruined if women rule.”  (source)

📚Chanakya Neeti Shastra 12.18📚
Courtesy should be learned from princes, the art of conversation from pandits, lying should be learned from gamblers and deceitful ways should be learned from women.”  (source)

📚Chanakya Neeti Shastra 2.1📚
Untruthfulness, rashness, guile, stupidity, avarice, uncleanliness and cruelty are women’s seven natural flaws.”  (source)

Hinduism also views barren women and widows as degraded women,

📚Brahma Vaivarta Purana Prakriti Khanda 30.42-53📚
Whoever eats food offered by a childless widow or a woman in her menses dwells in the pit of red hot iron for a century…”  (source)

📚Vishnu Smriti 65.34-36📚
Having seen an insane, intoxicated or deformed person he shall turn back in his journey (34) As well as those who have purged, vomited or shaved their head and dwarfs, and persons, wearing dirty clothes or clotted hairs. Similarly, having seen persons clad in Kashaya (yellow-tinged) or dirty clothes as well as Kapilas, [barren women, eunuchs, haunch-backed persons one shall refrain from starting on a journey.”  (source)

📚Apastamba Dharmasutra 9.24📚
Boiled rice should not be partaken of in the house of a barren woman. He, who unknowingly eats at such a house, is consigned to the hell of Puyasam, after death.”  (source)

📚Agni Purana 230.1-5📚
a pregnant woman, widow and oil-cake, etc., dead (body), husk, ash, skull and bone and broken vessel are not commendable (to be seen). The sounds of musical instruments that are broken, frightening and harsh are also not commendable. The sound ‘come on’, (heard) in front of the person undertaking a journey is commendable…”  (source)

Hinduism says that whores becomes widows and barren in their next lives,

📚Brahma Vaivarta Purana Krishna Janma Khanda 85.105-116📚
A whore after having suffered the torments of hell called Raurava for a long time attains the form of a useless worm for a century and by turns for seven birth she attain the condition of a widow, a barren woman, an untouchable woman of low class and a woman with her nose cut…”  (source)

Hinduism even advises men to avoid the sight of widows and barren women, equating them with societal outcasts such as bastards and thieves,

📚Brahma Vaivarta Purana Krishna Janma Khanda 78.34-41📚
O father, now I am going to describe to you things whose sight is sinful. Bad dream is the root of sin and sole cause of calamity. The sight of the following…the cook of a S’udra, one who burns the corpse of a S’udra, a Brahmin who eats food prepared in connexion with the funerals of a S’udra…a S’udra, a widow, a Candal…a bastard, a thief, a liar…a Brahmin who is the husband of a barren woman, a S’udra who commits adultery with a Brahmin woman…”  (source)

Hinduism also associate prostitutes with childless widows and prohibit the consumption of their food,

📚Brahma Vaivarta Purana Krishna Janma Khanda 85.22-25📚
The food cooked by a widow having no son or husband should not be taken because such a food is like the cow’s flesh or even worse than that. If a Brahmana takes such a food from a widow due to ignorance, all the adoration’s of the manes and the gods become infructuous…”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
A widow is more inauspicious than all inauspicious things. Never can there be accomplishment of anything when a widow is sighted. All widows except one’s mother are devoid of auspiciousness. A wise man must avoid their blessings, like serpents. At the time of the marriage of a girl, the Brahmanas shall recite thus: ‘She shall be the constant companion of her husband whether he is alive or not.”  (source)

The mentioned verses illustrate guidelines on how a widow should lead her life, including references to tonsuring widows,

📚Brahma Vaivarta Purana Krishna Janma Khanda 83.93-124📚
A Brahmin widow should daily take boiled rice with ghee at sunset and never cherish lust in her heart as the S’astras hold. Such a widow must not put on fine clothes; she should avoid the use of spices, incense, oil, wreath, sandal, conch-shell, vermillion and ornaments. She should put on dirty clothes and remember Narayana alone. She should not use sweet-meat and must avoid riches (or splendour)….A widow sleeping on a bedstead causes the downfall of her husband; and if she mounts a car, she goes to hell. A widow ought not to polish her hair or cleanse her body. And if the clusters of her hair be knotted, she may shave them off even in places not meant for pilgrimage. A widow should not anoint her body with oil. She should not see her face in the looking-glass or behold the face of any other man. She should not witness an opera, dance, a grand festival or see the face of a dancer, a singer or a well-dressed man. She should always listen to pious narratives as recited in the Sama Veda…”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
The braided tresses of hair of a widow cause disaster to the husband. Hence a woman shall always get her hair shaved off.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
A kingdom without Vaisnavas is like a widow with tresses of hair not removed or like Vrata (without taking) holy bath or like Dvadasi with Dasami overlapping it.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
A widow who habitually lies on a couch causes the downfall of her husband. Hence she should resort to the habit of lying on the ground, if she desires for the ultimate happiness of her husband. Cleansing of the body with fragrant unguents should never be indulged in by a widow. She would never make use of sweet scents.”  (source)

📚Baudhayana Dharmasutra📚
A widow shall avoid during a year (the use of) honey, meat spirituous liquor, and salt, and sleep on the ground. Maudgalya (declares that she shall do so) during six months.”  (source)

Brahma Purana even refers to women as objects,

📚Brahma Purana 45.77-78📚
Whatever the Brahmins desire in their mind may be given to them, even if the objects be women, jewels, villages and cities. Let the fertile lands or fields be given to the suppliants. So also other beautiful things be given to those who ask for them.”  (source)

23. Widows Cannot Remarry

Verses prohibiting the remarriage of widows,

📚Mahabharata 1.104.31-32📚
At these words of his wife, Dirghatamas said, ‘I lay down from this day as a rule that every woman shall have to adhere to one husband for her life. Be the husband dead or alive, it shall not be lawful for a woman to have connection with another. And she who may have such connection shall certainly be regarded as fallen. A woman without husband shall always be liable to be sinful. And even if she be wealthy she shall not be able to enjoy that wealth truly. Calumny and evil report shall ever dog her.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 1.160.36📚
O revered sir, abandoning me you mayest obtain another wife. By her you mayest again acquire religious merit. There is no sin in this. For a man polygamy is an act of merit, but for a woman it is very sinful to betake herself to a second husband after the first.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 1.197.27-28📚
Drupada answered, O scion of Kuru’s race, it has been directed that one man may have many wives. But it has never been heard that one woman may have many husbands!”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 14.80.12-18📚
Oh, let Vijaya, let him that is called Gudakesa, let this hero with reddish eyes, come back O life. O blessed lady, polygamy is not fault with men. Women only incur fault by taking more than one husband.”  (source)

📚Aitareya Brahmana 3.23📚
For one man has man has many wives (represented by the Richas), but one wife has not many husbands at the same time.”  (source)

📚Garuda Purana Chp 95📚
A girl should be given only once in marriage…”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 5.156📚
A faithful wife, who desires to dwell (after death) with her husband, must never do anything that might displease him who took her hand, whether he be alive or dead.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 5.160📚
What is born of another is not a ‘child’: nor is one begotten on another man’s wife; for good women a second husband is nowhere ordained.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
If somehow by chance, a wife does not follow the husband (after death), even then, the chastity should be preserved unviolated. There is downfall through the violation of chastity. A husband falls from heaven due to the misdemeanour of the wife and not for any other reason. Similarly her mother, father and all her brothers (fall). After the death of the husband, if a woman preserves her widowed state (in purity), she goes back to the husband and enjoys heavenly pleasures. The braided tresses of hair of a widow cause disaster to the husband. Hence a woman shall always get her hair shaved off.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 9.47📚
Once is the partition (of the inheritance) made, (once is) a maiden given in marriage, (and) once does (a man) say,’ I will give;’ each of those three (acts is done) once only.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 9.65📚
Nowhere in the mantra-texts bearing upon marriage is ‘authorisation’ mentioned; nor again is the marriage of the widow mentioned in the injunction of marriage.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 8.226📚
The marriage-ritual texts are applicable to virgins only, and nowhere among men, to non-virgins; and this because these latter are excluded from religious acts.”  (source)

📚Chanakya Neeti Shastra 4.11📚
King speak for once, men of learning once, and the daughter is given in marriage once. All these things happen once and only once.”  (source)

Verses discouraging the remarriage of widows,

📚Apastamba Dharmasutra 2.13.3-4📚
It is a sin to engage in sexual intercourse with a woman who has been married before, or whom he has not married with the proper rites, or who belongs to a different class than he; and a son born from their union undoubtedly participates in their sin.”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
If a remarried widow, Vṛṣalī and Śūdrī frequent anyone’s abode, he (such a Brāhmaṇa) should be abandoned even from a distance by one who wishes for one’s welfare…”  (source)

📚Vamana Purana 12.35📚
Those who remarry widows and those that defiles unmarried girls, and the ancestors of the offsprings of such unions are made to eat worms and ants.”  (source)

📚Markandeya Purana 14.82📚
Those men who have married virgin widows and have grown old to the full extent of life, these turned into worms are consumed by ants.”  (source)

📚Kurma Purana 2.21.30📚
Those who sell their sons, those who are born as sons of a remarried widow, those who perform the Yajnas of even ordinary persons—all these are spoken of as fallen ones.”  (source)

📚Kurma Purana 2.17.14📚
One should particularly avoid the food served by a widowed woman who has remarried…”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
It is mentioned by Kasyapa that these burn the family like fire: The daughter of a widow who marries again should be always avoided. She is the lowliest born…one who has gone round the fire and one who is a child of a widow remarried – all these burn the family like fires (says Kasyapa).”  (source)

📚Skanda Purana📚
I shall narrate other means of sustenance of which the Bhūtas are always fond. These are your permanent residences: the places where there are thorny trees, the creeper of Niṣpāva(?), where someone’s wife (widowed?) marries again and where there is Valmīka (an ant-hill).”  (source)

📚Uma Samhita 4.23-30📚
The following are disqualified to be present at the Sraddha ceremony:- Those, who sell the Sruti; those who marry widows; those, who enter in to a locked room without the permission of the owner; and those, who officiate as priests for inferior castes; are described as out castes.”  (source)

📚Padma Purana 3.56.4-15📚
(He should avoid) the food of women having no children…(He should) especially (avoid) the food of a widow who is remarried, so also of the husband of a woman who is married twice…”  (source)

However, this rule does not apply to men, as they have the option to remarry each time their wife passes away,

📚Manusmriti 5.168📚
Having thus, at the funeral, given the sacred fires to his wife who dies before him, he may marry again, and again kindle (the fires).”  (source)

Some apologists use Yajnavalkya 1.67, which mentions the term ‘Punarbhu’ for a remarried woman, as evidence supporting remarriage. However, it is essential to note that Yajnavalkya is not specifically permitting remarriage for women; rather, it is merely categorizing different types of wives. Hence, this verse cannot be considered as proof of Yajnavalkya advocating remarriage for women.