On 30 September 1893, an interview of Swami Vivekananda was published in the Boston Evening Transcript. In that interview he was asked if he had a plan to get married. Vivekananda’s prompt reply was— “Why should I marry, when I see in every woman only the divine Mother? Why do I make all these sacrifices? To emancipate myself from earthly ties and attachments so that there will be no re-birth for me. When I die I want to become at once absorbed in the divine, one with God. I would be a Buddha.”[Source]
Swami Vivekananda considered Sita as the ideal Indian woman. He also told, “The ideal womanhood of India is motherhood— that marvellous, unselfish, all suffering, ever-forgiving mother.” He understood the day India started neglecting their women, the downfall of the nation started.
In this post we’ll make a collection of Swami Vivekananda‘s quotes on women and womanhood.
Our first quotation — food for thought?
This will be the first quotation of this collection. Might be some food for thought? From Complete Works, Volume V, Sayings and Utterances—[Source]
Your men bow low and offer a chair, but in another breath they offer compliments. They say, ‘Oh, madam, how beautiful are your eyes!’ What right have they to do this? How dare a man venture so far, and how can you women permit it? Such things develop the less noble side of humanity. They do not tend to nobler ideals.
Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on women and womanhood
- Can you better the condition of your women? Then there will be hope for your well-being. Otherwise you will remain as backward as you are now.[Source]
- If you do not allow one to become a lion, he will become a fox. Women are a power, only now it is more for evil because man oppresses woman; she is the fox, but when she is not longer oppressed, she will become the lion.[Source]
- Is there any sex-distinction in the Atman (Self)? Out with the differentiation between man and woman—all is Atman![Source]
- Liberty is the first condition of growth. It is wrong, a thousand times wrong, if any of you dares to say, “I will work out the salvation of this woman or child.” I am asked again and again, what I think of the widow problem and what I think of the woman question. Let me answer once for all — am I a widow that you ask me that nonsense? Am I a woman that you ask me that question again and again? Who are you to solve women’s problems? Are you the Lord God that you should rule over every widow and every woman? Hands off! They will solve their own problems.[Source]
- Our right of interference is limited entirely to giving education. Women must be put in a position to solve their own problems in their own way. No one can or ought to do this for them. And our Indian women are capable of doing it as any in the world.
- The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women. In ancient Greece there was absolutely no difference in the state of man and woman. The idea of perfect equality existed. No Hindu can be a priest until he is married, the idea being that a single man is only half a man, and imperfect. The idea of perfect womanhood is perfect independence. The central idea of the life of a modern Hindu lady is her chastity. The wife is the centre of a circle, the fixity of which depends upon her chastity. It was the extreme of this idea which caused Hindu widows to be burnt. The Hindu women are very spiritual and very religious, perhaps more so than any other women in the world. If we can preserve these beautiful characteristics and at the same time develop the intellects of our women, the Hindu woman of the future will be the ideal woman of the world.[Source]
- The great Aryans, Buddha among the rest, have always put woman in an equal position with man. For them sex in religion did not exist. In the Vedas and Upanishads, women taught the highest truths and received the same veneration as men.[Source]
- The highest of all feminine types in India is mother, higher than wife. Wife and children may desert a man, but his mother never. Mother is the same or loves her child perhaps a little more. Mother represents colourless love that knows no barter, love that never dies. Who can have such love?– only mother, not son, nor daughter, nor wife. “I am the Power that manifests everywhere”, says the Mother — she who is bringing out this universe, and She who is bringing forth the following destruction. No need to say that destruction is only the beginning of creation. The top of a hill is only the beginning of a valley.[Source]
- There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of woman is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.
- There is no hope for that family or country where there is no estimation of women, where they live in sadness. For this reason, they have to be raised first.
- We should not think that we are men and women, but only that we are human beings, born to cherish and to help one another. No sooner are a young man and a young woman left alone than he pays compliments to her, and perhaps before he takes a wife, he has courted two hundred women. Bah! If I belonged to the marrying set, I could find a woman to love without all that![Source]
- Woman has suffered for eons, and that has given her infinite patience and infinite perseverance.
- Woman is as courageous as man.[Source]
- Women have faith…. Gain independence, gain everything, but do not lose that characteristic of women![Source]
- Women similarly must go forward or become idiots and soulless tools in the hands of their tyrannical lords.[Source]
- “Women’s moods and man’s luck — the gods themselves do not know.[Source]
Women will solve their own problems
- Educate your women first and leave them to themselves; then they will tell you what reforms are necessary for them. In matters concerning them, who are you?[Source]
- Women will work out their own destinies — much better, too, than men can ever do for them. All the mischief to women has come because men undertook to shape the destiny of women.[Source]
Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on chastity of women
From Swami Vivekananda’s book The East and the West—[Source]In all countries good care is taken to preserve the chastity of women. Behind this attempt of every society to preserve the chastity of women is seen the hand of nature. The tendency of nature is to multiply the population, and the chastity of women helps that tendency. Therefore, in being more anxious about the purity of women than of men, every society is only assisting nature in the fulfilment of her purpose.
Swami Vivekananda’s quotes and comments on marriage
Main article:Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on marriage
- In Tibet there is no marriage, and there is no jealousy, yet we know that marriage is a much higher state. The Tibetans have not known the wonderful enjoyment, the blessing of chastity, the happiness of having a chaste, virtuous wife, or a chaste, virtuous husband. These people cannot feel that. And similarly they do not feel the intense jealousy of the chaste wife or husband, or the misery caused by unfaithfulness on either side, with all the heart-burnings and sorrows which believers in chastity experience. On one side, the latter gain happiness, but on the other, they suffer misery too.[Source]
- The natural ambition of woman is through marriage to climb up, leaning upon a man; but those days are gone. You shall be great without the help of any man, just as you are.[Source]
Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on Motherhood
Main article: Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on Motherhood
- Every manifestation of power in the universe is “Mother”.[Source]
- . . . In my opinion, a race must first cultivate a great respect for motherhood, through the sanctification and inviolability of marriage, before it can attain to the ideal of perfect chastity.[Source]
- The mother is the ideal of love; she rules the family, she possesses the family.[Source]
- The one thing that fulfils womanhood, that is womanliness in woman, is motherhood.[Source]
To the women of India
Swami Vivekananda’s suggestion to the Indian women—[Source]
To the women of this country. . . I would say exactly what I say to the men. Believe in India and in our Indian faith. Be strong and hopeful and unashamed, and remember that with something to take, Hindus have immeasurably more to give than any other people in the world
On Indian womahood
Here we’ll make a collection of Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on Indian women and Indian womanhood
- Every girl in India must aspire to be like Savitri, whose love could not be conquered by death, and who through this tremendous love snatched back from even Yama, the soul of her husband.[Source]
- I should very much like our women to have your intellectuality, but not if it must be at the cost of purity.[Source]
- In India there are two great evils. Trampling on the women, and grinding the poor through caste restrictions[Source]
- In what scriptures do you find statements that women are not competent for knowledge and devotion? In the period of degradation, when the priests made the other castes incompetent for the study of the Vedas, they deprived the women also of all their rights. Otherwise you will find that in the Vedic or Upanishadic age Maitreyi, Gargi, and others ladies of revered memory have taken the places of rishis through their skill in discussing about Brahman. In an assembly of a thousand Brahmanas who were all erudite in the Vedas, Gargi boldly challenged Yajnabalka in a discussion about Brahman. Since such ideal women were entitled to spiritual knowledge, why shall not the women have the same privilege now? What has happened once can certainly happen again. History repeats itself. All nations have attained greatness by paying proper respect to women. That country and that nation which do not respect women have never become great, nor will ever be in future. The principal reason why your race has so much degenerated is that you have no respect for these living images of Shakti. Manu says, “Where women are respected, there the god delight; and where they are not , there all works and efforts come to naught.” There is no hope of rise for that family or country where there is no estimation of women, where they live in sadness. For this reason they have to be raised first.
- It is very difficult to understand why in this country so much difference is made between men and women, whereas the Vedanta declares that one and the same conscious Self is present in all beings. You always criticize women, but say what have you done for their uplift?
- Our women are not so learned, but they are more pure.
- The highest of all feminine types in India is mother, higher than wife. Wife and children may desert a man, but his mother never. Mother is the same or loves her child perhaps a little more. Mother represents colourless love that knows no barter, love that never dies. Who can have such love? — only mother, not son, nor daughter, nor wife.
- They (Indian women) have many and grave problems, but, none that are not to be solved by that magic word ‘education’.
- To all women every man save her husband should be as her son. To all men every woman save his own wife should be as his mother.[Source]
- To make a beginning in women’s education : our Hindu women easily understand what chastity means,because it is their heritage.Now, first of all, intensify that ideal within them above everything else, so that they may develop a strong character by the force of which, in every stage of their life, whether married, or single if they prefer to remain so, they will not be in the least afraid even to give up their lives rather than flinch an inch from their chastity. Is it little heroism to be able to sacrifice one’s life for the sake of one’s ideal, whatever that ideal may be?
- With five hundreds men, the conquest of India might take fifty years: with as many women, not more than a few weeks.
- Without Shakti (power) there si no regeneration for the world. Why is it that our country is the weakest and most backward of all countries? — Because Shakti is held in dishonour here.
Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on Sita
Main article:Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on Sita
- Sita was chastity herself; she would never touch the body of another man than that of her husband.
- Sita is the name in India for everything that is good, pure, and hold; everything that is woman we call woman. Sita— the patient, all-suffering, ever-faithful, ever-pure wife! Through all the suffering she had, there was not one harsh word against Rama. Sita never returned injury. “Be Sita!”
- Sita— the pure, the pure, the all-suffering!
Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on American women
Main article: Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on American women
On 19 March 1894, Vivekananda wrote a letter to Swami Ramakrishnananda (Shashi). In that letter he wrote—[Source]
Nowhere in the world are women like those of this country. How pure, independent, self-relying, and kindhearted! It is the women who are the life and soul of this country. All learning and culture are centred in them. The saying, ” या श्री: स्वयं सुकृतिनां भवनेषु—Who is the Goddess of Fortune Herself in the families of the meritorious” (Chandi)—holds good in this country, while that other, ” अलक्ष्मीः पापात्मनां—The Goddess of ill luck in the homes of the sinful” (ibid.)—applies to ours. Just think on this. Great God! I am struck dumb with wonderment at seeing the women of America. “त्वं श्रीस्त्वमीश्वरी त्वं ह्रीः etc. — Thou art the Goddess of Fortune, Thou art the supreme Goddess, Thou art Modesty” (ibid.),” “या देवी सर्वभूतेषु शक्तिरूपेण संस्थिता—The Goddess who resides in all beings as Power” (ibid.)—all this holds good here. There are thousands of women here whose minds are as pure and white as the snow of this country. And look at our girls, becoming mothers below their teens!! Good Lord! I now see it all. Brother, “यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवताः—The gods are pleased where the women are held in esteem”—says the old Manu. We are horrible sinners, and our degradation is due to our calling women “despicable worms”, “gateways to hell”, and so forth. Goodness gracious! There is all the difference between heaven and hell!! “याथातथ्यतोऽर्थान् ब्यदधात्—He adjudges gifts according to the merits of the case” (Isha, 8). Is the Lord to be hoodwinked by idle talk? The Lord has said, “त्वं स्त्रि त्बं पुमानसि त्वं कुमार उत वा कुमारी—Thou art the woman, Thou art the man, Thou art the boy and the girl as well.” (Shvetâshvatara Upa.)
This following quotation may be removed from this article. You may share your opinion.
Reply to drunkard’s wifeThe following quote appears in a lecture of Swami Vivekananda named On Fanaticism. You may consider it as a funny quote—[Source]
I remember a woman whose husband was a great drunkard, and she complained to me of his becoming so. I replied, “Madam, if there were twenty millions of wives like yourself, all husbands would become drunkards.” I am convinced that a large number of drunkards are manufactured by their wives. My business is to tell the truth and not to flatter anyone. These unruly women from whose minds the words bear and forbear are gone for ever, and whose false ideas of independence lead them to think that men should be at their feet, and who begin to howl as soon as men dare to say anything to them which they do not like — such women are becoming the bane of the world, and it is a wonder that they do not drive half the men in it to commit suicide. In this way things should not go on. Life is not so easy as they believe it to be; it is a more serious business!