Lord Indra himself has said, 'The mind of woman cannot be disciplined; she has very little intelligence.' " Rig Veda 8.33.17

Women are powerless, have no inheritance, and speak more humbly than even a bad man. Krishna Yajur Veda Taittiriya Samhita

Women by nature are crooked, fickle, devoid of religious knowledge, and bring about difference between father and sons -Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kanda, Sarga 45.29-30

  • 5
    It seems to be those Sages deeply hurt by Women who effects their life's. A part from jokes, Manu Smriti says: "Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased, but where they are not honored, there no sacred rite is fruitful." Such is the glory of Indian womanhood. So which one is correct? Scriptures misunderstood the contest?
    – CR241
    Jun 1, 2017 at 18:58
  • @CR241 Bhagavad Gita is the word of god, not sage
    – user9554
    Jun 1, 2017 at 19:02
  • Oh yeah, Bhagavad Gita is the word of god but here discussing between two sages is not decided by god. Because of these Disposition of Women (apsaras) sinful word used and those all personal experiences. Don't think it's gods words these are our Scriptures words. read this link.. hinduism.co.za/women.htm
    – CR241
    Jun 1, 2017 at 19:14
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    Most of the these verses are out of context.
    – The Destroyer
    Jun 2, 2017 at 3:59
  • 5
    Unfavourable birth, women, vaishyas are separated by commas. In the next verses, there is a mention of Kshatriyas and Brahmins. Hence vaishyas are attached with women and shudras even though they can read Vedas. Some translators do not use commas which changes the real meaning. They say unfavourable birth i.e., women, shudras,vaishyas which is a wrong interpretation. Jun 2, 2017 at 8:22

7 Answers 7


Rig Veda 8.33.17 is a poetic verse and conversation between Indra and poet. Just looking at whole thing will give you an idea that it's not talking bad about "all" women.

[Poet:] He finds no pleasure in the instruction of you or me, (but only in that) of the other one [=Indra], the hero who led us hither.Indra said just this, “the mind of woman is not to be instructed, and her will is fickle.[Indra, cont’d:] “(Nonetheless,) it’s the twin span, the complementary pair [/married couple], aroused to exuberance, that draws the chariot [=sacrifice]; but even so the chariot-pole of the bull [=husband] is higher.”[Poet:] “ ‘Keep your eyes to yourself: look below, not above. Bring your two little feet closer together: don’t let them see your two little “lips” [?]‌.’ For you, a brahmin, have turned into a woman!"

The above verse is for "brahman" who has turned into a dame- women!

The other verse you've given from aranya kanda is missing it's context -

vimukta dharmāḥ capalāḥ tīkṣṇā bhedakarāḥ striyaḥ | na sahe hi īdṛśam vākyam vaidehī janaka ātmaje || 3-45-30 śrotrayoḥ ubhayoḥ madhye tapta nārāca sannibham |

30, 31a. striyaH = women; vimukta dharmaaH = unbound, by rightness - etiquette of decency; capalaaH = whimsical; tiikSNaaH = cantankerous; [svabhaavena = with such a nature]; bheda karaaH = vicissitudes, artificers of; janaka aatmaje vaidehii = Janaka', daughter, oh, Vaidehi; [me = my]; ubhayoH shrotrayoH madhye = both, ears, in between; tapta naaraaca sannibham = burnt, iron arrow, like [words]; iidR^isham vaakyam = this kind of, words; na sahe hi = not, bearable, indeed.

"Women by their nature are unbound by the etiquette of decency, whimsical, cantankerous and they tend to become the artificers of vicissitudes, and oh, Vaidehi, the daughter of Janaka, indeed unbearable are this kind of words that are much the same as burnt iron arrows thrust in between my two ears. [3-45-30, 31a]

The role of women in bringing alterations in joint families, peaceful histories or even in transcending legends is evident in every culture. mahaanto api hi bhidyante striibhiH adbhiH iva acalaaH | kaamandaka - lavaNa jalaantaa nadyaH strii bhedaantaani bandhu hR^idayaani | praaciina smR^iti - dk - 'They, the women, may be great beings but they tear asunder hearts, like oceans tearing great mountains.' Lakshmana is not eye-to-eye with Seetha and he is going on listening all her accusations with his two ears. And in between his two ears his conscience is there which is not permitting him to tolerate these words, yet he is tolerating.

Here laxmana is talking to himself when Sita has sent him into forest for looking for rama, in just last verse he says that he should follow the instruction because she is like his mother and is worshipful like diety, here because of emotions he is saying that women are like that because Sita who is like his mother sent him away even though rama had said to guard Sita, he is dharma sankat because of sita's command.

I'm pretty sure the third verse you've given from taittriya samhita is also taken without its context.

Hinduism doesn't have law books like abrahamic religions it has story books- thus there is context in every dialogue, these are not considered "teachings", the teachings like bhagvad geeta etc are kept totally different.

Also similar dialogues are used in present storytelling in serials and other tv shows, they should be explained through their context and what emotion was character in.

  • 2
    @AnuragSingh I don't know about smriti but sruti is apaurausheya, I dont think it will have man made bias in it.
    – Anisha
    Apr 18, 2018 at 6:16
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    @AnuragSingh there are plenty of verses in purans insulting men, but men generally don't take it as insult, in Mahabharata bhisma says women are faultless and only men have faults- this is totally misandrist because men are being blamed but men don't take it as insult.
    – Anisha
    Apr 18, 2018 at 6:31
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    @AnuragSingh There has always been context behind saying anything such to women. In Tantra, women are even worshipped & said to be posses capability to achieve enlightenment faster than men. Whatever you write here has an impact. Do you wanna Hindu women to get converted? Apr 18, 2018 at 8:21
  • 1
    @Anisha Nice first post. Keep contributing to the site and write answers. I think this answer deserves more than a vote. Apr 18, 2018 at 8:42

Indra is not a supreme deity like Lord Vishnu or Shiva etc. He is Indra cause he performed more good deeds(Punya Karmas) than others. Whatever he says should not be taken so seriousely to conclude that scriptures are against women.

Krishna Yajurveda was taught to Vaishampayana by his Guru Krishna Dvaipayana or Vyasa which was then taught to Vaishampayana's disciples and so on.... Thus we can't blindly trust on the things mentioned in these scriptures as they might have been altered.

According to many scholars of 20th century like Hon. Judge Mr. Ram Keshav Ranade, Aranya Kand was never part of Ramayana, it was introduced afterwards by some stupid writer. So Valmiki Ramayana that we have is adulterated one. If you want real and pure Ramayana then go for 'Tulsi Ramayana' by Tulsidasji.

Himduism has never condemned women rather they have glorified women like in no other relegion.

Lets look at few examples.

Hindu dharma's foundation is four Vedas which are hold by a woman 'Devi Saraswati'. Devi Saraswati

The one who put feet on Mahakala himself was a woman 'Devi Tara'. Devi Tara

When Lord Narsimha was out of control and was troubling universe, he was defeated by 'Devi Pratyangira'. Devi Pratyangira

If women are so powerful in Hinduism. One should not think that Hindu scriptures are against women.

  • The question asks clarification about those mantras and verses posted in the question. Apr 18, 2018 at 9:17
  • The verses do not need clarification, for that one has to ask them to Indra, Vaishampayana and Valmiki respectively. I am trying to say that these verses do not conclude that the scriptures are against women. Apr 18, 2018 at 9:20
  • The clarification is the reason of the question. If we need to ask Valmiki or Vyasa, what is the need of this Q&A? The main question is not about women being insulted. The reason is women insulted in those verses posted. Edit accordingly to answer the question. Otherwise, it is not an answer. Apr 18, 2018 at 9:22
  • If the question asks clarification for verses said by beings who were here some millions of years ago, over stackexchange, then it is foolish. There are thousands of verses that glorify women in scriptures. One can not neglect that and conclude that scriptures are against women because of such few verses which are not even worth reading. The question is so stupid that it deserves thousand downvotes. Apr 18, 2018 at 9:28
  • "If women are so powerful in Hinduism. One should not think that Hindu scriptures are against women." No this is not true. Hinduism has contradicting statements regarding women.
    – Wikash_
    Jun 17, 2020 at 10:35

Scriptures ain't being "against" women, they are merely indicating nature of an average woman to keep a patriarchal system perpetually vigilant about the aforementioned facts. Women are closer to the creation & farther to the creator in general, for being the source of creation. Discussing their nature is not tantamount to disrespecting them & on the contrary, it's important for a family to render their women satisfied else devatas forsake such families.

  • Manu 3.56: Where women are honoured, there the gods rejoice; where, on the other hand, they are not honoured, there all rites are fruitless.
  • Manu 3.57: Where the female relations live in grief, the family soon wholly perishes; but that family where they are not unhappy ever prospers.
  • Manu 3.58: The houses on which female relations, not being duly honoured, pronounce a curse, perish completely, as if destroyed by magic.
  • Manu 3.59: Hence men who seek (their own) welfare, should always honour women on holidays and festivals with (gifts of) ornaments, clothes, and (dainty) food.
  • Mahābhārata (Anuśā. 46.5-6).—‘O king, women should be always honoured and fondled; where women are honoured, there the gods rejoice; where they are not honoured, there all rites are fruitless.’
  • Mahābhārata (Anuśā. 46.6).—‘Where the ladies are aggrieved, that family becomes doomed.’
  • Mahābhārata (Anuśā. 46.7).—‘Houses cursed by women are as if struck down by malignant spirits; such houses neither shine nor prosper; and they are devoid of all prosperity—O king.’
  • Mahābhārata (Anuśā. 46.15).—‘The women are like the Goddess of Wealth: they should be respected by the man desiring his own welfare; when loved and fondled, woman becomes the veritable Goddess of Prosperity.’
  • Atri Smriti 191-195 : They are never affected by any sin. If a woman carries a child born of a man beyond her caste, she remains impure only till the birth of the child. After delivering when she gets her seasonal flow, she is purified. If a man has approached a woman by prowess, deceit, such a woman must not be abandoned because it was not her will. It is okay to unite with her after her seasonal flow as she is purified during such time.
  • Yajnavalkya Smriti 2.71 : Soma gave them purification, Gandharva sweet speech, and Agni, perfect purity. Therefore verily women are always pure .
  • Yajnavalkya 1.82 : The husband should be loyal to his wife. Since women are to be well protected the husband, his brothers, father, mother or kinsmen should honour her with ornaments, clothing and foodstuffs.

Therefore, the dictum is to invariably honor & respect them while being aware of the facts about their general characteristics.

Credit to @Archit for the last few verses.

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    Yes but this is regarding religious/pati-vrata women only. It is specifically and repeatedly mentioned in scriptures that we should NOT RESPECT irreligious women. Even Manusmriti says "The wife, the son, the slave, the servant and the uterine brother shall be BEATEN with a rope or a split bamboo, when they have committed a fault." So you are to respect them only if they are behaving according to dharma/Hinduism.
    – R. Kaushik
    May 24, 2021 at 15:26
  • 1
    Thank you @Archit May 28, 2021 at 6:26
  • @R.Kaushik I think you have defined the term Dharma wrong with it meaning moral code over religion although the two are perhaps interchangeable. Also, even Brahmins who don't follow this Dharma are not respected. I think you fail to understand that India at some point in time was a Vedic theocracy and there were rules. If you didn't follow those rules you were considered Adharma whether those rules are fair is a different story and requires deeper analysis. But it's not only obvious but a given that someone who is a breaker of perceived moral codes in those days isn't respected?
    – Haridasa
    Feb 15 at 2:51
  • Even in today's world, we have things such as cancel culture.
    – Haridasa
    Feb 15 at 2:52

Please don't delete my answer but the reason is because religious scriptures tell truth. Everything said by Laxman ji is correct. The highly upvoted post by Anisha says - "Here laxmana is talking to himself when Sita has sent him into forest for looking for rama" - This is completely wrong. You can see it in the link itself. Laxman ji is responding to Sita mata when she said "I will just discard my life in your presence" (verse 27).

Vedas, Puranas, Itihasa and even the semi-sacred Smritis are there for the purpose of truth. Here are two more parts of the Vedas:

अशूद्रोच्छिष्टी। एष वै घर्मो य एष तपति सैषा श्रीः सत्यं ज्योतिरनृतं स्त्री शूद्रः श्वा कृष्णः शकुनिस्तानि न प्रेक्षेत नेच्छ्रियं च पाप्मानं च नेज्ज्योतिश्च तमश्च नेत्सत्यानृते संसृजानीति - Satpath Brahamana १४.१.१.[३१] and Maitrayani Samhita (Krishna Yajurveda) ३.६.३

This means that "Women, shudras, black crows and dogs are indeed false (evil)."

न वै स्त्रैणानि सख्यानि सन्ति सालावृकाणां हृदयान्येता॥ (Rig Veda 10.95.15)

This means that there can be no friendship with women because their hearts are like those of "Vrikas" which can mean hyena, bitch, jackal and wolf.

Here is from Manusmriti 9:

शय्याऽऽसनमलङ्कारं कामं क्रोधमनार्जवम् । द्रोहभावं कुचर्यां च स्त्रीभ्यो मनुरकल्पयत् ॥ १७ ॥

नास्ति स्त्रीणां क्रिया मन्त्रैरिति धर्मे व्यवस्थितिः । निरिन्द्रिया ह्यमन्त्राश्च स्त्रीभ्यो अनृतमिति स्थितिः ॥ १८ ॥

This tells about the character of women as explained by Medhatithi - ‘Anger’—Hatred. ‘Dishonesty’—Consisting in hating those who love, loving those who hate, concealing one’s real feelings, immorality. ‘Malice’—Maliciousness. ‘Drogdhṛ’ is derived from the root ‘druh’ and the affix ‘tṛch’, and it is then compounded with ‘bhāvam’. ‘Bad conduct’—Association with wicked people. ‘Women are false’;—on account of the inconstancy of their character and affections, they are deprecated as being ‘false’

Same is given in Mahabharata as other poster Seshadri Kumar has said. Now lets look at Shiva Purana 5.24 -

Vyasa said: O sage, if you are pleased with me you shall narrate succinctly what was mentioned by Pañcacūḍā viz., that women are despicable.

Sanatkumāra said: women are light-minded. They are at the root of all troubles..... Thus prompted, the sweet-smiling lady, resolved and immediately began to explain truthfully the permanent defects of women.

Pañcacūḍā said: There is none more sinning and more sinful than women. Women are at the root of all sins.

So same thing is found in **Vedas, Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Smriti. These scriptures are sacred. You will find same thing in other scriptures also.

Now as for Rig Veda 8.33 which says women are less intelligent. Some modern people try to say that the word RAGHUM used means fast. But there are many old commentaries and translations on Vedas and these all say that it means small. This includes commentary by Sayana from Medieval times.

  • I'm very interested to know how do you interpret : "यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते"?
    – Vivikta
    May 24, 2021 at 13:08
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    It is correct !! But only religious/pati-vrata women (not irreligious women) who 100% obey their husband, do not leave the house and even take his beating with grace. It is specifically and repeatedly mentioned in scriptures that we should NOT honor/respect irreligious women. Even Manusmriti says "The wife, the son, the slave, the servant and the uterine brother shall be BEATEN with a rope or a split bamboo, when they have committed a fault." So you are to respect them ONLY if they are behaving according to dharma/Hinduism.
    – R. Kaushik
    May 24, 2021 at 15:01
  • 1
    Your answer is fine but would request to remove your commentary i.e Also there is nothing wrong with being against women. That's why they are against women.. Let's keep strictly professional.
    – Mr_Green
    May 26, 2021 at 7:03
  • @Mr_Green Now you have edited way too much :( There was no need to remove that part which said scriptures job is to show correct path !!
    – R. Kaushik
    May 26, 2021 at 11:02
  • @R.Kaushik Sorry, please add that. I meant only to remove the controversial part.
    – Mr_Green
    May 26, 2021 at 11:27

You are right, there is plenty of stuff in Hinduism that is blatantly misogynistic. Why, you ask? Simply because the text only reflects the attitude of the society in which these texts were written. And they were written by men.

Here is an extract from the Mahabharata (Anushasana Parva, Section XXXVIII):

"Yudhishthira said, 'O best of the Bharatas, I wish to hear thee discourse on the disposition of women. Women are said to be the root of all evil. They are all regarded as exceedingly frail.'

"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old history of the discourse between the celestial Rishi Narada and the (celestial) courtesan Panchachuda. Once in ancient times, the celestial Rishi Narada, having roamed over all the world, met the Apsara Panchachuda of faultless beauty, having her abode in the region of Brahman. Beholding the Apsara every limb of whose body was endued with great beauty, the ascetic addressed her, saying, 'O thou of slender waist, I have a doubt in my mind. Do thou explain it.'

"Bhishma continued, 'Thus addressed by the Rishi, the Apsara said unto him, 'If the subject is one which is known to me and if thou thinkest me competent to speak on it, I shall certainly say what is in my mind.'

"Narada said, 'O amiable one, I shall not certainly appoint thee to any task that is beyond thy competence. O thou of beautiful face, I wish to hear from thee of the disposition of women.'

"Bhishma continued, 'Hearing these words of the celestial Rishi, that foremost of Apsaras replied unto him, saying, 'I am unable, being myself a woman, to speak ill of women. Thou knowest what women are and with what nature they are endued. It behoveth thee not, O celestial Rishi, to set me to such a task.' Unto her the celestial Rishi said, 'It is very true, O thou of slender waist! One incurs fault by speaking what is untrue. In saying, however, what is true, there can be no fault.' Thus addressed by him, the Apsara Panchachuda of sweet smiles consented to answer Narada's question. She then addressed herself to mention what the true and eternal faults of women are!'

"Panchachuda said, 'Even if high-born and endued with beauty and possessed of protectors, women wish to transgress the restraints assigned to them. This fault truly stains them, O Narada! There is nothing else that is more sinful than women. Verily, women, are the root of all faults. That is, certainly known to thee, O Narada! Women, even when possessed of husbands having fame and wealth, of handsome features and completely obedient to them, are prepared to disregard them if they get the opportunity. This, O puissant one, is a sinful disposition with us women that, casting off modesty, we cultivate the companionship of men of sinful habits and intentions. Women betray a liking for those men who court them, who approach their presence, and who respectfully serve them to even a slight extent. Through want of solicitation by persons of the other sex, or fear of relatives, women, who are naturally impatient of all restraints, do not transgress those that have been ordained for them, and remain by the side of their husbands. There is none whom they are incapable of admitting to their favours. They never take into consideration the age of the person they are prepared to favour. Ugly or handsome, if only the person happens to belong to the opposite sex, women are ready to enjoy his companionship.'

'That women remain faithful to their lords is due not to their fear of sin, nor to compassion, nor to wealth, nor to the affection that springs up in their hearts for kinsmen and children. Women living in the bosom of respectable families envy the condition of those members of their sex that are young and well-adorned with jewels and gems and that lead a free life. Even those women that are loved by their husbands and treated with great respect, are seen to bestow their favours upon men that are hump-backed, that are blind, that are idiots, or that are dwarfs. Women may be seen to like the companionship of even those men that are destitute of the power of locomotion or those men that are endued with great ugliness of features.'

O great Rishi, there is no man in this world whom women may regard as unfit for companionship. Through inability to obtain persons of the opposite sex, or fear of relatives, or fear of death and imprisonment, women remain, of themselves, within the restraints prescribed for them. They are exceedingly restless, for they always hanker after new companions. In consequence of their nature being unintelligible, they are incapable of being kept in obedience by affectionate treatment. Their disposition is such that they are incapable of being restrained when bent upon transgression. Verily, women are like the words uttered by the wise. Fire is never satiated with fuel. Ocean can never be filled with the waters that rivers bring unto him. The Destroyer is never satiated with slaying even all living creatures. Similarly, women are never satiated with men.

This, O celestial Rishi, is another mystery connected with women. As soon as they see a man of handsome and charming features, unfailing signs of desire appear on their persons. They never show sufficient regard for even such husbands as accomplish all their wishes, as always do what is agreeable to them and as protect them from want and danger. Women never regard so highly even articles of enjoyment in abundance or ornaments or other possessions of an agreeable kind as they do the companionship of persons of the opposite sex. The destroyer, the deity of wind, death, the nether regions, the equine mouth that roves through the ocean, vomiting ceaseless flames of fire, the sharpness of the razor, virulent poison, the snake, and Fire--all these exist in a state of union in women. That eternal Brahman whence the five great elements have sprung into existence, whence the Creator Brahma hath ordained the universe, and whence, indeed, men have sprung, verily from the same eternal source have women sprung into existence. At that time, again, O Narada, when women were created, these faults that I have enumerated were planted in them!'"


Now, no doubt, some here will say that these are the views only of the Apsara Panchachuda and not the word of God. But note that this is part of the Anushasana parva. This is Bhishma's last conversation before his death. Prior to Bhishma beginning this discourse, Krishna tells Yudhishthira that Bhishma knows about all things past present and future, and is the greatest authority on dharma and wisdom, and so Yudhishthira should ask all his doubts of the great man.

Krishna also blesses Bhishma before the discourse, saying that he is giving Bhishma divine vision, so that Bhishma knows everything that is ever there to know, and tells the assembled Pandavas that the words of the wise Bhishma are to be "regarded as authoritative as the Vedas themselves."

Given this context, if Yudhishthira asks Bhishma a question about women's character, and if this is the reply Bhishma gives, then this IS THE WORD OF GOD as regards women.

  • "they were written by men" - I posted a question on this: Feminist's claim that the Vedas, Ramayana and Mahabharata were written by male writers Jun 3, 2017 at 12:42
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    "the text only reflects the attitude of the society in which these texts were written." - Gandhi would agree with you: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/15545/2995 Jun 3, 2017 at 12:45
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    "Why, you ask? Simply because the text only reflects the attitude of the society in which these texts were written. And they were written by men."..you should cite sources for this statement.
    – The Destroyer
    Dec 5, 2017 at 18:22
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    Aren't all those statements true to a very good extent for mundane hedonistic women? Just because men of contemporary society have almost lost their masculine psyche and consider all women as equal in all aspects doesn't mean the scriptures are wrong.
    – Gokul NC
    May 29, 2021 at 16:57
  • @GokulNC The Anusasanika Parva also has verses praising women I cannot find them I have them bookmarked somewhere reply if you're interested. Also I believe Bhishma is narrating a story and not teaching, so I need to know context in that regard.
    – Haridasa
    Feb 15 at 2:55

Critics of Hinduism quote Rig-Veda 8.33.17 and say that according to this verse, women’s have short brain.

But this highly mistranslated. The word used is “रघु-कुशल” which means ‘sharp’ but they mistranslate it as ‘short”. In fact, this verse says that God has designed Women’s mind so sharp that none can rule it.

I have witnessed enormous Islamic scholars quoting Taittriya Samhita and claiming that according to this verse women’s are powerless. The problem with Muslim world is that they don’t read. They copy information from fake websites and build their arguments on the basis of that.

I would like to suggest them to read entire story of Taittriya Samhita 6.5.8 (1-4). It is describing a story where Soma has made ‘ghee’ a bolt and made women’s powerless, at the same time (in next verse), it says, Soma has made a bolt and overpowers women’s.

So it nowhere says that women’s are powerless. It is a story where Soma has made women’s powerless and again he overpowered them.

Further, to see how women are highly respected and glorified in Hinduism, one can go through this blog.


  • The word RAGHUM also means SMALL in Sanskrit. All translations before 21st century say it means ONLY SMALL. Even Sayana said it means small in medieval times. There are many medieval and old commentaries that EXPLAIN THE SANSKRIT USED. Please read them before making such comments
    – R. Kaushik
    May 24, 2021 at 14:52

As I already answered here, Rigveda 8:33:17 is not talking about all women but for Asanga.

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Now Regarding Taittaraiya Samhita 6:5:8:2, there is a story that first made women powerless and then he again empowered them. So even if you go as per the story, it means women are now not devoid of strength as soma empowered them again

they could not discern the world of heaven, they saw this (cup) for the wives, they drew it; then indeed did they discern the world of heaven; in that (the cup) for the wives is drawn, (it serves) to reveal the world of heaven. Soma could not bear being drawn for women; making the ghee a bolt they beat it, they drew it when it had lost its power; therefore women are powerless, have no inheritance, and speak more humbly than even a bad man 2. In that he mixes (the cup) for (Tvastr) with the wives with ghee, he overpowers it with a bolt and draws it.

Note:- I think your questions are similar to the hinduphobic blog Vedkabhed. I am writing a thread to expose him You can follow and read it.

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