Qn. Can women learn and practise Vedas? Can women chant Gayatri mantra? I would like you to elaborate. Ans. No, the Sastras do not permit it. Let me try to give you the rationale in some detail and related aspects of this much misunderstood subject. The Sastras have advised women not to chant Vedas. There are a number of reasons. Before we begin, it has to be understood that Vedas are not to be equated to devotional songs or namaavalis. _ When you recite Vedas, three things are vital: the swaras, the maatras and the pronunciation. Unless these are perfect, the benefit of chanting Vedas cannot be attained. It has been established that men have the bodily and the biological structure to chant Vedas and that women do not. The nerve formation in the female anatomy is not compatible with the swaras that you have to use in chanting Vedas. The Veda swaras generated from the nabhi or the abdomen can actually harm a woman. _ Veda parayana generates great heat in the body, and this again is not conducive to the feminine nature. Besides the pronunciation that arises from â€™Jataraagniâ€™ goes against the natural ethos of the female structure. _ Secondly Veda adhyayana demands that you learn from a Guru â€“ and this is difficult for a woman. _ Though men are qualified to learn Veda, they cannot do it unless men have had upanayana samskara. And you are aware that women cannot wear yagnopaveeta. Incidentally men from all the three varnas, viz., Kshatriyas, Vysyas and Brahmins can learn and chant Vedas â€“ not only Brahmins. Whether the reasons given above are convincing or not, one reason is enough. our dharma sastras do not permit chanting of Vedas by women. When we say women cannot learn Vedas, it does not mean that they should not study things like commentaries on Vedas. Even in the ancient days we come across ladies possessing good knowledge of Vedas and vedangas. There are many powerful devotional chants like Soundarya Lahari, Lalita Sahasranama, Vishnu Sahasranama, Subrahmanya Bhujanga etc., that women can chant. In addition to these, we have slokas on deities like Siva, Lakshmi, etc. Then we have Divya Prabandha, Ramayana and Mahabharata. In addition to these, we are all aware that there are numerous bhajans and kirtanas that women can learn and practise regularly. There are several vratas exclusively for women, which are powerful. They include Chaturthi vrata, Uma Maheswara vrata, Rishi panchami vrata etc. Our worship methods include special puja-s and vratas that are exclusive for women. And for practising spiritual acts like atma-vichara women are equally qualified. Hence Hindu dharma has many. many ways and means by which ladies can offer prayers. Just because a woman cannot do a certain thing because of her natural bodily or anatomical makeup or there is no permission from our Sastras, it does not make her inferior in any way. Finally, if despite all the points set out above that justify the proscribing of Veda chanting by women, if a lady should want to try it out, by all means let her do so. This is a free country and in Kaliyuga you can expect anything. So let us not stand in her way; Let her get the experience for herself and decide.