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Events > Women Priests/Purohitas | Prof. Oliver Rafferty | Prof. Shyam Cawasjee | Dr. Andreas Vonach
Nobody becomes a saint merely by
making poems.
Nobody becomes a saint just by
being a saint's kin.

A saint is not known by the manner
of his dress.
A saint is not known by his family's
A saint does not wait for the chance
to become a saint.

Nobody becomes a saint just by
carrying a begging bowl.
Nobody becomes a saint only by
wearing rags.
Nobody becomes a saint by
delivering songs and sermons.
Nobody becomes a saint by telling
sacred myths.
Nobody becomes a saint by reciting
the Vedas.
Nobody becomes a saint by
performing rites.

Nobody becomes a saint through
penance or pilgrimage.
Nobody becomes a saint by living
alone in forests.
Nobody becomes a saint by merely
wearing beads.
Nobody becomes a saint by merely
smearing ashes.

Says Tuka, all these so‐called saints
have worldly desires
As long as they do not have one
unflinching faith.
Says Tuka. Selected Poetry of Tukaram.
Translated from the Marathi with an
Introduction by Dilip Chitre.
Penguin 1991. p.147.

There is a movement in Maharashtra among orthodox Hindu women to learn to celebrate the Samskaras. Apart from the shortage of Purohits there is a certain enthusiasm has erupted in some orthodox Brahmin women circles to learn the Sanskrit formulae and prayers as well as the ritual ceremonies so that they too can be authorized to celebrate the Samskara-rituals.

On February 11th 2009 the Institute for the Study of Religion together with Dr. Bhagyalata Pataskar, Director of the Vaidic Samshodhan Mandal, Pune, organized a sharing with 15 representatives from various groups of Purohitās. It turned out to be both an interesting and an enriching encounter between orthodox Brahmin women, and women and men from Christian circles. The Purohitās had never met Christians before and the Christians had never met Hindu Purohitas.

The Christian women were interested in knowing how, when and where this movement started, how they fared in the actual exercize of the Samskāras, how they were looked upon by their own husbands, by other women and men, especially by the Purohits. On the whole it was felt that almost on all counts their experience was positive. Apparently the paucity of Purohits also contributed to the overall positive response.

The Christian women were happy to hear of this movement because women are now entering what seemed to be an exclusively male domain. But they also confessed that the nature of priesthood in the Catholic world is understood very differently. That is why their struggle towards a similar goal would be extremely difficult.

But the Christian women had an altogether different question to put before the end of the evening. They recalled how the general situation of women in India, more especially of women in rural India leaves much to be desired. Also in the cities they felt the increase in female foeticide, infanticide, etc. was very alarming, to say nothing about the far from rare and not-reported cases of so-called bride-burning or dowry deaths. In this context the Christian women wanted to know what the involvement of Purohitās was in such cases and whether and how they were involved in the bettement of women. The Purohitās confessed that they were not involved but would like in future to collaborate with the Christian women.

The ISR plans a follow-up with people from both sides to tackle theoretical themes which would be of interest to them all.

Institute for the Study of Religion, Pune   Institute for the Study of Religion, Pune   Institute for the Study of Religion, Pune   Institute for the Study of Religion, Pune
Institute for the Study of Religion
  "ASHIRWAD" Survey No. 47, Sunita Nagar Vadgaonsheri, Pune 411014 Maharashtra State, India.
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