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Chandipath recitation is a very common practice in Bengal. However, I have seen many people saying the practice is only restricted to males and that women are forbidden to recite it. What is the reason of women being barred from reciting the Chandipath? Do the scriptures saying anything about this?

P.S. If I am not wrong, Chandipath belongs to the Markandeya Purana (Please correct me if I am wrong). So I am guessing that there might be something written regarding females being barred from reciting the Chandipath.

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  • No you aren't wrong, it does belong to Markandeya Purana. And regarding your question, I too am puzzled at the wide varieties of answers.
    – user9072
    Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 9:33
  • @ArkaprabhaMajumdar What do you mean by "wide varieties of answers"?
    – user9969
    Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 11:09
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    Devi Mahatmya doesn't explicitly say women are prohibited.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 16:24
  • @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury Wide varieties of answers from different people and pandits here in Kolkata.
    – user9072
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 6:04

2 Answers 2

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It is totally wrong that women are not allowed to chant ChaNDi paath or devI mahAtmaya.

When goddess herself is in the feminine form, how come her worship and chant be forbidden for women?

If at all anyone has first right on these then it the woman.

In shakta literature, it is very well documented that female gurus and female upasakas enjoy a high and respected position.

Many texts resonate with the opinion that female guru is auspicious and leads the sishya in a better way.

While orthodoxy appeared to regard women as inferior to men, the Kaulas took a different approach. Initiation from a female guru is held in the highest esteem, as she is Shakti on earth. The female guru is Ananda Bhairavi and the male guru Ananda Bhairava, together in union, drinking the intoxicating wine of consciousness which is bliss (ananda) itself. Below, we find a meditation (dhyana) and an armour (kavacha) devoted to the Stri or female guru, ascribed to the Brahmayamala. The armour in the first translation is made up from the vidya (mantra) of the female guru. After this is a short hymn (stotra) to the male guru from the Matrikabhedatantra, in which his identification with Shiva is plain.

There is also a specific stree guru kavacham in this regard.

Of this Striguru Kavacha, the Female Guru is the devata and attaining the four aims of mankind is the application Obeisance to Sadashiva on the head. Obeisance to the Female Guru in the heart. Ishvara said: Sadashiva is the rishi of this Female Guru kavacha. It is said that this devata is the fruit-giver of the four aims.

When stree is given the position of highest guru in shaktism then there is absolutely no scope of denying or forbidding anything which is related to shastra and specifically agama (shakta/shaiva)

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In Durga Saptashati Keelak Stava itself it is written that feminine auspiciousness(aspects of good luck specific to women's lives, concerning marriage, husbands, in laws, family, reproductive health, children etc) is experienced as a result of reading the Chandi. (12th verse : 'Saubhagyadi cha yat kinchit drishyate lalanajane/ tat sarvam tatprasaden ten japyamidam shubham'). Now tell me, if only men are allowed to read it, then why would there be a mention of the above? After all, men do not need to worry about seeking the feminine kind of good-luck. Even about 50 years ago, many of our Bengali Grandmothers used to read verses from both Bhagvad Geeta and Chandi daily. My Grandmother had a printed 'pnuthi' of Chandi to read.

Also, Tantra allows Ladies to be Gurus as it has had a component of matrilineality historically, and in BrihadTantrasara Krishnananda Agamvageesh, the famous Bengali medieval Tantra scholar gives a list of Smarta-like rules and regulations that male Tantric Gurus and their disciples have to follow, but female Tantric Gurus and their disciples are exempt from(for example a father cannot directly initiate his biological children but a mother can initiate hers into Tantra). How will a female become a Tantric Guru, if she is not allowed to read the central scripture of Tantra, that is Durga Saptashati itself?

Obviously women can read Durga Saptashati too. If you still feel inhibitions or are unable to read Sanskrit well or unable to follow rules and regulations, then you can read translations or listen to the recordings on YouTube, as in the Chandi, the Goddess herself says that reading and listening to Durga Saptashati gives equal benefits. Nowhere in the entire course of the Saptashati does the Goddess say that a person of any particular gender, sexual orientation or family background is not allowed to read Her story, rather She encourages everyone to learn its meaning and read or listen to it. Also in the text, the Devas venerate MahaDevi by saying that all women/feminine beings of the cosmos are miniature forms of Her own Self. I cannot imagine that Mother Chandi forbids Her own Self from reading Her own story, can you?🤔😊

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