The wrong notion that women should not read and recite the Vedas is still prevalent in the society, even though it is being shattered gradually, said speakers in the midst of a virtual programme here today.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Women in the Light of Oriental Philosophy' organised by the Department of Philosophy, Nepal Academy in collaboration with the Centre for Women's Studies on the occasion of the 81st Yogamaya Memorial Day, Academy chancellor Ganga Prasad Upreti said such misconception about Vedic philosophy still existed in the society.

The notion that women should not read and recite Vedas, the holy book of the Hindus, does not serve the real essence and values of the Vedas, according to him.

He went on to say that such notion got to rule society and theVedas were misinterpreted intentionally or unknowingly at some specific time, thereby distorting its basic epistemological elements.

"This type of event will be helpful in reassessing and redefining such distorted elements, thereby analysing the historical background of their emergence and protection and the messages it intended to deliver in society," he said. He was of the view that the Vedas were capable of guiding human life in all ages if their symbolic significance could be understood and internalised.

Academy Vice-chancellor Dr Jagman Gurung said the position of women was special, high and respected in the light of Eastern philosophy.

"This was not only a feature of mythical society, but also the case of contemporary society," he argued.

He said the laws capable of doing justice to all and acceptable to all was the need of the hour. Prof Jagat Prasad Upadhyaya, Academy Member Secretary and Head of the Department of Philosophy, said the programme was successful in presenting the status of women in the Vedas, in Buddhist philosophy and in oriental philosophy.

Stating that the status of women in Vedic literature was respectable, he emphasised that both women and men were preachers of Vedic mantras.

Presenting a working paper on 'Vedic Philosophy and Women', Dr Shukra Raj Adhikari said there was still wrong mentality in society that women should not read the Vedas but many hymns of Vedas were interpreted by women. Adhikari said, "The Vedas is the main source of religious, cultural and spiritual knowledge of Aryans.

It is the source of Vedic philosophy of overall life, knowledge and science.

Now, it is said that the same Vedas should not be read by women. But it is the women saints who are credited for shedding light on 422 hymns of the Vedas."

Similarly, presenting a seminar paper on 'Buddhism and Women' through virtual medium from London, Monk Kashyap argued that women always became Sita due to control and oppression of patriarchy, but never became Buddha.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 8 2021, of The Himalayan Times.