Sthree Dharmam was elaborated upon in the anugraha BhAshaNams by Srimath Azhagiya Singar on February 1 and 2, 2012. The high lights of these two anugraha BhAshaNams are :
1. The DharmAnushtAna UpakArams of the GruhiNees ( Saha dharma ChaariNees) to their husbands are irreplaceable and are very important . Gruhastan is the one , who observes GruhastASramam . GruhiNee is the one who protects the Gruham . Every other Asramam ( BrahmachAri , Vaanaprasthan and SanyAsi) depends on the Sapatneeka Gruhastan . For instance , the Bikshai for BrahmachAri and SanyAsi comes from the Gruhastan .
2. The women(sthrees) have unique advantages from the point of phalans . Dharma Saastram says that half of the PuNyam acquired by dharmAnushtAnam by their husband goes to them . At the same time , She does not inherit the sins committed by her husband. Finally half of the Paapams acquired by the sthrees end up with the husband. She has thus built in advantages in her favor .
3. When DharmasAstrams state that the Sthree-s do not have independence (SvAtantraym) , they are not trying to insult Feminism and the independence of ladies . This asvAtantryam codified as protection by the Father during Baalyam , by the husband during GruhastAsramam and the protection of grown up children in old age is meant well and is aimed at protecting the noble status of the Sthrees in our sampradhAyam because of their uniqueness . It goes so far as to edict the disqualification of the males without wives to perform Yaagams , Yajn~ams , OupAsanam . A widowed or separated husband is not eligible for performing the above KarmAs. ( One might recall Sri Rammachandran placing a golden statue of SitA Piratti next to Him during the Performance of Yaagams after SitA Piratti was at Sage Vaalmiki’s TapOvanam . That is how He could becoe eligible to perform the yajn~ams and Yaagams like AswamEdham ).
4. The Vedic prayers are for the conductance of dharmAs to gether , dhAnams together as long as they live(Yaavath jeevam). When an appropriate wife keen on dharmAnushtAnam is gained , the entire Kulam becomes auspicous ( KalyANa Paramparai). They become exemplary dampatis ( AadarSa dampathis) and sakala SoubhAgyams result. Money will come and go but the wife observing the Sthree dharmams protects both kulams ( PiRantha VeeDu and Puhuntha VeeDu). This ideal sthree dharmam is valid not only for GruhiNee but also for Kanyaa and Vidhavaa with appropriate variations.
5. Ahnika Grantams spell out the Sthree dharmams. The significant grantham on the Ahnikams has been bequeathed to us by
Sri Ranganatha Yatheendhra Mahaa Desikan , the 27th Pattam Azhagiya Singar . This has been expanded by Prakrutam Periya Azhagiya Singar , Sri NaarAyaNa Yateendhra MahA Desikan , the 45th Pattam Srimath Azhagiya Singar .
Here are the highlights of what HH the 46th Pattam Srimath Azhagiya Singar referred regarding the Sthree dharmams for GruhiNees /Suvaasinis) :
a) A Sumangali Sthree wakes up at Brahma MuhUrtham ( SiRRam SiRu Kaalai) before their husband wakes up . They should wash their hands and feet . She should sip water ( Aachamanam) three times separately with the uccharaNam of the names of the Lord , Achyuta , Ananta and Govindha . They do not need to add praNavam and the chaturthi vibhakti ( AchyutAya . AnantAya , GovindhAya). They do not need to recite the 12 KesavAdhi Naamas and touch the 12 sites relating to these Moorthys on one’s body as Men do.
b) They should recite 7 times “Hari” naamam followed by recitation of the dhivya Prabhandhams like PeriyAzhwAr Paasurams . Next the inside and the outside of the house are cleaned with fresh water mixed with gOmEyam and the Tudaippam is used thereafter. On days like EkAdasi , the house should be well cleaned( lEpanam) with the GomEyam water .After that , use the sweeper ( Tudaippam) and draw the RangOlis thereafter with rice flour that would serve later as food for ants and birds .
c) after attending to nature calls and souchams , rinse the mouth , perform Aachamanam , clean the teeth and rinse again.
After the rise of the Sun , a sthree takes snAnam up to the neck and sprinkles Water containing turmeric on her siras . On EkAdasi and other vratam days , Snanam wetting the hair ( Sira: SnAnam) should be done with recitation of AshtAksharam . The Pinnal and old flowers should be removed before Sira: snAnams . Only colored garments should be worn by the sumangalis and never white Pudavais by them .
Next , they should Wash their feet , perform aachamanam , adorn the ThirumaNN (HaripaadhAkruti) between brows and above it SrI ChUrNam ( not stickers) over that ThirumaNN in the form of dheepa rEkha . Argyam should be given looking at Sooryan once without mantram . After that Guru Paramparaai anusantAnam should be done followed by UpadEsa Mantrams received from the AchAryan without the sankalpam and PrANAyAmam preceding them .
Next the aduppu and Agni KuNDam/UpAsanaikkAl should be examined and kindled after getting rid of the ashes of the previous night and the fire enhanced and archanai is to be done to it with akshatais. After the husband finishes the homam , close the mouth of the agni guntam and protect it .
Now one arrives at Bhagavadh Sannidhi , clean and sprinkle and draw the Kolams. Clean the vessels to be used for Bhagavad AarAdhanam and prostrate before the Koil AzhwAr and recite stOtrams and Dhivya Prabhandha Paasurams . Next bathe the children and take them near Koil AzhwAr and make them offer their own prostrations. Next , offer one’s own prostrations to the elders , the husband and AchAryan .
The two vessels for collecting water , one for direct use in ThiruvArAdhanam and the other for use in preparing NaivEdhyams during the ArAdhanam are kept separate. These Waters have to be filtered thru a fresh piece of cloth . Fresh cloth is also used for handling hot vessels containing cooked materials.
Gingelly seed , Grams , fresh rice and boiled rice ( Puzhangal arisi) are placed in clean places and pounded in a mortar to remove the husks and prepare them for use in naivEdhyam / TaLikai . Arisi and other ingredients should be rinsed 4 times before cooking. The vegetables allowed in AahAra Niyamam should be rinsed with clean water ,thorns should be removed from the appropriate thorny vegetables . Different kinds of vegetables should be used . On special utsavam days , chitrAnnam , Sugar rice and Pongal et al should be prepared for BhagavAn’s pleasure .
Sweat should not fall on the foods under preparation . If one touches one self during cooking , the hands have to be washed. The cooked food should not be touched with the hands during the preparation .Once the cooking is done , the cooked food is transferred to vessels marked by Sankham and Chakram. The vessels used for cooking are cleansed and ThirumaDaippaLLi is sprinkled and cleaned. Sthree changes now in to new clothes . Sthrees in olden times had 10 by 8 like Men to wear , one for upper and the other for use as lower garment . Washing of the feet and achamanm follows .
Next the lamps are lit in the Poojaa Gruham with cow’s ghee . When the husband starts ThiruvArAdhanam , the wife helps with Sandal paste, Pushpam , DhUpam , Dheepam , Madhuparkam and TaambhUlam. During the BhOjyASanam stage of the AarAdhanam , the naivEdhyam material should be presented with their names to her husband for offer to BhagavAn.
After the completion of the ThiruvArAdhanam by the husband , PrahdakshiNa namaskArams are done. VaiswadEvam follows and agni SusrUshanam ( caring of the Agni thru kindling to form bright jwAlai) is done. Next Bikshai is presented to BrahmachAris and SanyAsis after samarpaNam of water in their hands .
The place for the bhOjanam by the husband is cleansed and the food is presented on plantain leaves. Ladles ( KaraNDi) should be used for all foods except for those cooked in oil (Vadai et al) . The Sthree should eat after Husband , elders and children . During their bhOjanam , the sthrees and men should not engage in laughing, crying and gossipping. After completion of hOjanam , they should wash their feet and perform Achamanam.
In the evenings , lamps should be lit by the sthrees in Bahgavan’s sannidhi and the inner/ outter portions of the house ; they should prostrate before elders and husband . The agni susrushai for evening homam (VaiswadEvam)and preparation for the evening bhOjanam for the Lord (dEva susrUshai) and family should be taken care of next . NellikkAi , curd , ginger and sesame seed should be avoided in evening meals. The husband and family elders, children are served and then the Sthree completes her bhOjanam. She should present her husband TaambhUlam and change in to sleeping dress , adorn sandal paste , pushpams and press her husband’s feet and receive his blessings. Pati SusrUshai , cooking of food for ThiruvArAdhanam should be considered as Kiamkaryams for BhagavAn .
There are separate dharmams for widows , children younger than six (not having the sacred thread) and BrahmachAris as well as for SanyAsis that was not covered in this series in view of the priority on the Sthree dharmams chosen by Srimath Azhagiya Singar as anaugraha bhAshaNam subject .
Tough as they may sound , these dharmAs have been and are practiced at Vaidhika households and it is only appropriate to describe them as given to us by Ahnikam in the hope that the sthrees would follow them and get their doubts about their practice clarified by their AchAryans .
Written by Sri Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan Swami