Some answers to What do Hindu scriptures say about women headscarf (hijab)? on Quora.com cite these verses from the Rigveda that seem to suggest Hindu women should wear a head veil:

God made you women, so that you shall lower your gaze, do not look at men, keep your feet close, cover your head and do not disclose the garment, which should be concealed with the veil

(Rig Veda Book 8 Hymn 33 Mantra 19-20)

It's not good that a man covers his thigh with the female garment

(Rig Veda Book 10 Hymn 85 Mantra 30)

In Zakir Naik style, the guy in this YouTube video (Hindi) also quotes one of these verses.

What is the context of these mantras/verses? Do they really suggest women during Rigvedic times wore a veil to cover their heads and faces?

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    If that was the case would you see any goddess without a veil? – Just_Do_It May 15 '19 at 20:17
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    One vedic scholar told me that the word कषप्लकौ in Rig Veda Book 8 Hymn 33 Mantra 19-20 has no known meaning - hapax legomenon. The sage used it mystically.@sv – Srimannarayana K V Jun 22 '19 at 5:50
  • How can words that too from Vedas not have any meaning? Check this post. I don't think there's anything mystical about it. @srimannarayana – Say No To Censorship Jun 23 '19 at 2:23
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    @sv.: I am not a Sanskrit scholar. It was the opinion of a scholar. That is I posted it as a comment – Srimannarayana K V Jun 23 '19 at 3:35

This is what the Rig Veda hymns say:

enter image description here reference Mandal 10 Sutak 85 Mantra 30

The hindi version clearly states that in certain condition if the husband engages with his wife then his body too will be affected.

Rig Veda Book 8 Hymn 33 Mantra 19-20:

19 Cast down thine eyes and look not up. More closely set thy feet. Let none See what thy garment veils, for thou, a Brahman, hast become a dame.

It doesn't say cover your head etc. it says no one should see what the garment is concealing.

Rig Veda Book 10 Hymn 85 Mantra 30

30 Unlovely is his body when it glistens with this wicked fiend, What time the husband wraps about his limbs the garment of his wife.

In this as well it inquiring about the time a husband wraps the garment of his wife around his limbs ... nothing about women using a veil. Perhaps the difference is in the translations.

Adding couple of more references:

Rig Veda Book 8 Hymn 33 Mantra 19-20:

19.Cast your eyes (son of Playoga) downwards, not upwards: keep your feet close together; let not (men) behold your ankles, for from having been a Brahma you have become a female.

You have Become, Female- Indra is supposed to say this to Asanga as a female.

Rig Veda Book 10 Hymn 85 Mantra 30

  1. The (bridegroom's) body is lacking in beauty; shining with this wicked (Krtya), when he wishes to crothe his own limbs with his wife's garments.

Fiend in general means evil/wicked and here it appears to refer to evil act/intentions.

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    What is the context of these mantras/verses? – Say No To Censorship May 15 '19 at 21:17
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    Who is this wicked fiend mentioned? What are the mantras talking about? What is the incident? This hymn is about husband and wife. What is the explanation for "husband wraps about his limbs the garment of his wife". There is not much difference between what is posted in the question and griffith translation. Saying translation difference will not answer the question. There should be some explanation. Please explain the mantras and their context. – Sarvabhouma May 16 '19 at 4:07

A Partial answer.

Rig Veda 8.33.19 doesn't seem to be saying that women should wear a veil. This hymn 8.33 is about Asanga who became a female due to curse.

अधः पश्यस्व मोपरि सन्तरां पादकौ हर |

मा ते कषप्लकौ दर्शन सत्री हि बरह्मा बभूविथ ||

Cast your eyes downwards, and don't look up. Keep your feet closer; let not anyone observe your back side, for from having been a Brahma you have become a female.

Indra is advising Asanga not to look upwards but look downwards. He also advises him to keep both of his feet very closer without leaving much gap. He also advises him let not anyone see your back side (कषप्लक - back side, translated by Griffith as garment) since Asanga has become a female.


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