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Are shudras and women not allowed to chant aumkara? I heard many purohits and one great saint say that. Is there any scriptural basis? Please give the reference of scripture for such injunctions. I heard that Kulanava Tantra says so, but don't know any reference.

Edit: I have scanned to Kularnava Tantra but nowhere it says anything such. Instead, it has slokas such as gato shudrasya shudratava ... which is after Diksha shudra is no more shudra and brahmin is no more brahmin. Also in purascharan vidhi in the same shastra it says how Aum must be chanted to get proper results of purascharana. Here is the link to the Shashtra. https://archive.org/details/Kularnava

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  • rockmine.blogspot.com/2023/10/… Here are my thoughts on the same. Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 20:47
  • I have read it and appreciate your thoughts on the same, but did not find any scriptural reference.
    – Ayus
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 4:44
  • You need to inquire who am i? you call urself shudra but who it it that says so ? in deep sleep there was no body and no duality. what happened in waking state ? i suggest you to leave these shudra Brahmin etc these are just words. if one is spiritually serious, meditative he is top quality Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 13:28
  • yes. they can say AM, not the pranava. it is specifically restricted, even during vishnu sahasranama. source - elders, shastris, purohits, acharyas of mutts.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 18:54

4 Answers 4

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Unlike popular opinion, śūdra and strī aren't adhikṛta in praṇavajapa, as per śāstras.
This would be supported by the citations below from many śāstras (including an Upaniṣad).

sāvitrīṁ praṇavaṁ yajurlakṣmīṁ strīśūdrāya necchanti / ... sāvitrīṁ lakṣmīṁ yajuḥ praṇavaṁ yadi jānīyāt strīśūdraḥ sa mṛto'dho gacchati tasmātsarvadā nācaṣṭe yadyācaṣṭe sa ācāryastenaiva sa mṛto'dho gacchati //
~ Nṛsiṁhapūrvatāpanīya Upaniṣad (1.7)

Transl.: Jñānin ācāryas (who are well-versed in śāstra & sadācāra) shouldn't give upadeśa of gāyatrī, praṇava, & yajuḥ-svarūpa mahālakṣmī mantra, to strī and śūdra, otherwise they (strī and śūdra) attain adhogati (gati in narakas such as kumbhipāka and subsequent janma in pāpayonis such as sūkara, vṛkṣa, etc.) upon mṛtyu. That is why, caution must be undertaken and strī & śūdra shouldn't be given the said mantras in upadeśa. In case, some ācārya gives upadeśa of these mantras to them (strī & śūdra), that ācārya also attains adhogati upon mṛtyu.

Śāṅkarabhāṣya on the quoted śloka from Upaniṣad

sāvitrīṁ praṇavaṁ yajurlakṣmīṁ strīśūdrāya strī ca śūdraśca strīśūdraṁ tasmai strīśūdrāya necchantīti niṣedhaṁ kurvanpradhānopāsanāyāṁ strīśūdrasyāpyadhikāraṁ darśayati / .. yo jānīta ityādyuktārtham / sāvitrīṁ lakṣmīṁ yajuḥ praṇava yadi jānīyātstrīśūdraḥ sa mṛto'dho narakaṁ gacchatīti pratyavāyadarśanena niṣedhameva dṛḍhyati / tasmātsarvadā nā''caṣṭa iti kadācidāpi yadyācaṣṭe sa ācāryastenaiva mṛto'dho gacchato //

Upaniṣadbrahmayogin's comm. on the quoted śloka from Upaniṣad

amṛtāpteḥ sarveṣṭatvāt saṅgasāmnaḥ sarvādhikāre prāpte strīśūdrayordhikāraṁ vyāvartayayi — sāvītrimīti / santaḥ sāvitrādikaṁ striyaśca śūdrāśca strīśūdraṁ tasmai dātuṁ necchanti strīśūdrayoḥ anadhikāraṁ manyante / .. strīśūdrayoḥ ācāryāṇāṁ dātumicchā'bhāve'pi yena kenacidupāyena strīśūdrābhyāṁ etatpām yadi labdhaṁ tadā tāvapi mantrarājamahimnā kṛtakṛtyau syātāṁ ityatra śiṣyācāryayoḥ adhaḥpatanameva syādityāḥ — sāvitrimīti / sāvitryādikaṁ strīśūdrajātiḥ upāyāntareṇa yadi jānīyāt vedanmātreṇa sa mṛtho'dho gacchati tayoḥ atraivarṇikatvāt / yasmādevaṁ tasmāt sāvitrādikaṁ sarvadā sarvāpadyapi nācaṣṭe, na hi sadācāryaḥ kathayati / yadyācaṣṭe tadā strīśūdraguruḥ so'yaṁ apakīrtibhāk vyādhyādinā mṛtaḥ tataḥ kumbhīpākādinarakajātamanubhūya tataḥ sūkarādiyoni sthāvarabhāvaṁ vā gacchati //

In case, there's doubt on the prāmāṇya of Nṛsiṁhapūrvatāpanīyopaniṣat, that doubt must be extinguished, because this Upaniṣad is one of the 108 Upaniṣads of the Muktikā canon, numbered 27 in the list of Muktikopaniṣat (1.30-39). It's a Vaiṣṇava Upaniṣad, and belongs to the Atharva Veda. It has two surviving Advaitin commentaries, by ācārya Śaṅkara and by Upaniṣadbrahmayogin, both of which have been cited above on the quoted śloka from Nṛsiṁhapūrvatāpanīyopaniṣat. Advaitācārya Śaṅkarānanda (guru of Vidyāraṇya) wrote a detailed exposition on Nṛsiṁhatāpanīyopaniṣat in 17th adhyāya of Ātmapurāṇam & Vidyāraṇya has 20th adhyāya of Anubhūtiprakāśa devoted on Nṛsiṁha Uttara Tāpanīya Upaniṣad.

Praṇavakalpa (1.1.17-19), part of Skanda Purāṇa, contains Śiva-Pārvatī saṁvāda, where Śiva says the following to Devī (comm. -Praṇavabhāṣya) -

ajñānanāśanadvārā praṇavō mōkṣadāyakaḥ /
na tatra yōgyatā tē’sti yatō nārī bhavasyahō //
gāyatryāṁ dvijasaṅghānāṁ yatīnāṁ praṇavē ratiḥ /
nārīṇāṁ bhartaśuśrūṣā na japō na tapō vratama //
tatō varaya rājyādiprāptiṁ yadyasti tē manaḥ /
karmaṇā manasā vācā yē tyajanti yatīśvarāḥ //

In these ślokas, Śiva clearly states that strī & other non-dvijas (such as Śūdras) don't have adhikāra in the japa of praṇava and gāyatrī. Dvijās have adhikāra of gāyatrījapa & saṁnyāsins have the adhikāra of praṇavajapa. Śambhu even says that Pārvatī doesn't have the yogyatā of praṇavajapa, due to being a nārī (na tatra yōgyatā tē’sti yatō nārī bhavasyahō). Since Devī is not restricted like manuṣyas, the purpose of such a mention (by Śiva) is to show that strī don’t have praṇavādhikāra.

Śiva Purāṇa (1.17.127b-129) prescribes that śūdra & strī should do japa of praṇava rahita pañcākṣara mantra with 'namaḥ' at the end (i.e. 'śivāya namaḥ').

Sūta saṁhitā (1.4.14-16) of Skanda Purāṇa restates what's in Śiva Purāṇa regarding pañcākṣara for Śūdra, women, etc. that non-dvijas should do japa of pañcākṣara (without praṇava) by applying namaḥ at the end, and also adds saṁnyāsins should do pūjā of Śiva with praṇava.

saṁnyāsī devadeveṣaṁ praṇavenaiva pūjayet /
namontena śivanaiva strīṇāṁ pūjā vidhīyate //
viraktāṇāṁ ca śūdrāṇāmevaṁ pūjā prakīrtitā /
anyeṣāmapi sarveṣāṁ narāṇāṁ munipuṅgavāḥ //
pūjā devālaya dr̥ṣṭvā praṇāmastasya kīrtitaḥ /
evaṁ pūjā kr̥tā yena saphalṁ tasya jīvitam //
~ Sūta saṁhitā (1.4.14-16)

In Skanda Purāṇa (6.257.1-2), upon Pārvatī's query on dvādaśākṣara mantra, Śiva states -

dvijātīnāṁ sahoṁkārasahita dvādaśākṣaraḥ /
strīśūdrāṇāṁ namaskārapūrvakaḥ samudāhṛtaḥ //

As per this śloka, dvijātis can do japa of dvādaśākṣara mantra with praṇava, while strī & śūdra are adhikṛta in praṇava rahita namaskārapurvaka dvādaśākṣara mantra (i.e. 'namo bhagavate vāsudevāya').

Therefore, as shown above, the śāstrīya vidhāna is pretty explicit regarding praṇavādhikāra. The most basic requirement of having praṇavādhikāra, is dvijatva. Śūdra & strī lack the adhikāra to receive upadeśa in praṇava and the adhikāra to do its japa. Thus, doing its japa would be pāpakarma for them (and it's upto them if they want to commit pāpa or avoid it).

Note: The praṇava is not aum (औम्) or auṁ (औं). A basic svara-sandhi rule is -
In Devanāgarī, (अ, आ) + (उ, ऊ) = ओ and (आ, अ) + (उ, ऊ) = ओ
In IAST, (a, ā) + (u, ū) = o and (ā, a) + (u, ū) = o
So, those who say that praṇava is aumkāra, are not even following the basic rules of Saṁskṛta vyākaraṇa. Praṇava is oṁkāra (ओम्) simply, as is well known.
a (अ) + u (उ) + m (म्) = om (ओम्)
om (ओम्) + kāra (कार) = oṁkāra (ओंकार) or oṅkāra (ओङ्कार)

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  • So women and shudras can't chant bajrang baan?
    – amit
    Commented Apr 9 at 7:23
  • Bajaraṅgabāṇa itself requires dīkṣā based on what I have heard. @amit
    – Bingming
    Commented Apr 9 at 14:37
  • So non dvijas can't be given diksha for it right? Or is there some sort of exception(like for ashtakshari for thenkalais)? @Bingming
    – amit
    Commented Apr 9 at 15:03
  • I am not properly aware of the rules regarding Bajraṅgabāṇa, so I would suggest you to consult a proper ācārya, maybe from the Rāmānandī sampradāya. Before that, it's better not to do japa of Bajraṅgabāṇa, unless you do have dīkṣā and are a dvija. Bajraṅgabāṇa is not a normal stuti like Hanumān cālīsā after all. Also, there's a tāntrikī mantra (with bīja hrīm) within Bajraṅgabāṇa, and all tāntrikī mantras require dīkṣā, be you a dvija or non-dvija. But of course, not all tāntrikī mantras can be given to non-dvijas in dīkṣā. @amit
    – Bingming
    Commented Apr 9 at 17:24
  • I asked a ramanandi and he said that there are divided opinions. Also are there any tantrika paramparas which worship hanuman alone as brahman?
    – amit
    Commented Apr 9 at 19:01
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These verses demonstrate that anyone can be allowed to chant Om.

All the four orders, therefore, have always the right to the performance of all pious duties and of sacrifices (MB Santi CLXXXVIII )

Sufficient liberty of action is left to them in consequence of which all individuals may attain to an equality of condition. (MB Anu CLXIV)

O ruler of the Videhas, Brahmins learned in the Vedas, monarch, regard a (virtuous) Sudra as equal to a Brahmin himself. I, however, O king, look upon such a Sudra as effulgent Vishnu of the universe, the foremost one in all the worlds.” (MB Shanti 302,Shl 12-18)

Because people of all varnas are born from Brahma, they are all Brahmanas. All are all the time reciting the name of Brahma. I am telling the correct shastra by the buddhi given by Brahma. Entire universe and this visible world is nothing but Brahma. Therefore whatever be the varna, they should not be considered as being different from Brahma(MB Shanti 378,Shl 90)

Hanuman says about Krita Yuga that “For all four varnas meditation (dhyana) was the main karma. Paramatma who shines like a lamp in all hearts will be the Adhishtana-Murthy for all varnas.‘Omkara’ alone was their main mantra. All four varnas followed only Upanishad Dharma.They all worshipped only the Jyoti-Swarupa Paramatma who resides in all hearts”(MB Anu 149)

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    I didn't write anything regards Varna and ashrama. I just quoted Mahabharata, only if you had brain to read verses quoted above, you wouldn't start with your useless rants. @mar Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 16:38
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    Illiterate kids should be humble and learn. Reading is not your cup of tea. Here is entire quote. " Bhrigu said, 'There is really no distinction between the different orders. The whole world at first consisted of Brahmanas. Separated by these occupations, Brahmanas, falling away from their own order, became members of the other three orders. All the four orders, therefore, have always the right to the performance of all pious duties and of sacrifices. Even thus were the four orders at first created equal by Brahman who ordained for all of them." Don't humiliate yourself repeatedly @mar Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 19:27
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    "Separated by these occupations, Brahmanas, falling away from their own order, became members of the other three orders." - clearly, they have BECOME different now, so different rules apply. Krishna also says "chatur-varnam mayaa srushtihi" in Gita. The 4 varnas are specifically mentioned in Purusha Suktam. The different duties for each varna are mentioned in all Smritis/Puranas. You are an embarrassment to this website if you say all varnas are the same, and anyone can do anything.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 8:20
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    Kid, atleast bother to read the full statement quoted above. Bhrigu, a Rishi, unlike a troll like you says clearly that , " All the four orders, therefore, have always the right to the performance of all pious duties and of sacrifices. " because they degraded from Bramhanas and all varnas cannot be different from Brahman. It's not your cup of tea. You won't get it. Ignoring your rants from now. Bark somewhere else. @mar Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 8:25
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    yes, if some have degraded that means they are not same as the un-degraded ones i.e. shudras are not equal to brahmanas. the same Brighu maharishi says Vishnu is the most satvik of all deities and that Shiva and Brahma are beneath him due to Tamo and Rajo Guna. If you believe that also, then great, I rest my case. Only dogs think that all sounds are barking sounds cos that's the only sound they can make.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 13:21
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oṁ can be chanted by all people regardless of their age, nation, race, religion, gender etc. oṁ is śabda brahman (īsvara in sonic form). oṁ is non-different from īśvara. bhagavān śrī kṛṣṇa in bhagavad gītā says:

[BG 7.8]

रसोऽहमप्सु कौन्तेय प्रभास्मि शशिसूर्ययो: | प्रणव: सर्ववेदेषु शब्द: खे पौरुषं नृषु ||

I am the taste in water, O son of Kunti, and the radiance of the sun and the moon. I am the sacred syllable Om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether, and the ability in humans.

So, oṁ is a universal sound. It can be chanted in a bhakti context or a person engaged in yoga.

yoga sūtra 1.23-26:

तस्य वाचकः प्रणवः ॥ १.२७ ॥ तज्जपस्तदर्थभावनम् ॥ १.२८ ॥ ततः प्रत्यक्चेतनाधिगमोऽप्यन्तरायाभावश्च ॥ १.२९ ॥

The sacred word designating Him is praṇava, the mystic syllable ‘OM’. Repeat it and contemplate upon its meaning. From that comes realization of the individual self and the obstacles are resolved.

Also, bhakti mārga can be taken up, even by women and śūdras.

[BG 9.32]

मां हि पार्थ व्यपाश्रित्य येऽपि स्यु: पापयोनय: । स्त्रियो वैश्यास्तथा श‍ूद्रास्तेऽपि यान्ति परां गतिम् ॥

O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth – women, vaiśyas [merchants] and śūdras [workers] – can attain the supreme destination.

The only restriction is in chanting the vedic mantras which are related to the ṛg, sāma, atharva, and yajus. The reason being, vedic mantras are to be chanted in a proper meter, with proper pronunciation and with great attention to detail (niyama and vidhi). As these classes of people are not properly trained in this practise, the utterance of vedic mantras by them can cause ill-effects, i.e. effects opposite to that of initially intended.

Thanks.

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    Your own answer contradicts what you write. Of the Vedic mantras I am Om. And Vedic mantras are restricted for stri Shudra is what you say, then how can Om be allowed?
    – Adiyarkku
    Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 12:25
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    I agree that vedic mantra is restricted for shudras, but how can you tell that Om is vedic mantra, just because Om occurs as a word in a mantra does not make it vedic. If I take your arguement then many words or names or deities like Narayan,Purusha, Rudra, Shiva,Saraswati Ganga etc should also not be used by shudras as they occur in vedas.
    – Ayus
    Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 13:20
  • See your own quote in your answer
    – Adiyarkku
    Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 18:09
  • @Adiyarkku I think you confused me with the answerer. I am the questioner here. BTW if you say about the quote, it says I am the Om among the sacred SYLLABLES (shabda)in in the vedas. प्रणव: सर्ववेदेषु शब्द: . It does not say I am the Om among the MANTRAS. Mantra and Shabda are different.
    – Ayus
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 16:56
  • bhagavan himself specifically said pranava and NOT the (or 3) letter symbol that you mentioned. he could have said 2(or 3)-letter-kara (another synonym for pranava). that itself shows that the sacred symbol is supposed to be secret. even if it is an open secret.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 18:53
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In this answer, I mentioned how Pranava Mantra Omkara = Panchakshari Mantra.

Now,

Sri Skanda Purana 3.3.1.:

  1. Hence this five-lettered Mantra (NaMa SiVaYa) is declared as the bestower of everything. It may be practised (muttered) even by women, Śūdras and men of mixed caste and nativity desirous of salvation.

Sri Shiva Purana 7.2:12.:

  1. A person steady in the Japa of the five-syllabled mantra is released from the cage of sins whether he be a Śūdra, base-born, fool or a learned man.

Linga Purana - Purva Bhag/Chapter 27.:

  1. All the Vedas and mantras reside in subtle form in this supremely auspicious ' Namah Shivaya ' Sutra.

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..

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    panchakshari (5 letters) means pranava is excluded. otherwise it will become 6 letters. fyi, ashtakshari includes pranava.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 18:56
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    it's a semantic stretch to say panchakshari = om based on an article, and then say panchakshari can be chanted by anyone, therefore om can be chanted by anyone (including menstruating women, shudras, mlechhas etc.). question clearly asks about pranava, not namasivaya. by this logic, anyone can chant anything since bhagavan encompasses om and all other names, so any name is equivalent to any other name.
    – ram
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 13:29
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    1st of all, The question clearly only asked about Women and Shudras. Plus, there is no air palaces but proper verses and if A=B and B=C, then obviously A=C. Anyways, Mahabharata clearly mentioned all varnas can chant pranava as mentioned in the other ans, but still u downvoted that also based on some prejudices that's seem more illogical stretch. So, i guess u r against the very idea itself. But it's ok it's not necessary for everyone to agree in every topic. U hv ur own views n i hv my own. So, its ok. Instead of commenting just write ur own ans. I don't like unnecessary chit-chats. Goodbye.. Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 15:04
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    In the question there's no mention of Kali yuga it's a straight forward question. So stop adding ur own thinking to it If u don't like it then don't chant pranava no one is forcing u. Yes the verse say about krita yuga but if u read that chapter it says in subsequent yugas the merits of every varna degraded. So, it's not because they can't it's because they don't due to rise of adharma n all. And like i said earlier stop behaving like a child n write ur own ans instead and move on. Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 10:05
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    Yes, guys don't even bother to comment its like bothering others. If someone don't like anything or they like anything just use the voting button to upvote or downvote n just move on. I do the same. Prd.. Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 10:11

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