Ancient Female Contributions to the Nurturing History of Science and Math
According to Hindu scriptures, the Goddess Samjna, invented all the symbols that convey the meaning of what it is to be human, including art and the letters of the alphabet. Her name is the word for sign, name, and image. An important figure in the nurturing history of the Hindu religion, she is also said to have given birth to the Vedas, important texts considered revelations, as well as logic, grammar and all measurements of time and space. Those measurements include the scales which produce the music by which life is celebrated as well as the end of time which marks death.
The Sanskrit word for mother “matr” is the root of the word “matra”, which means “measurement”. Similarly, the Greek word “meter” means both “mother” and “measurement.” The linguistic derivation of the word mathematics is a combination of “mother” and “wisdom”. In addition to mathematical terms such as geometry, trigonometry, and hydrometric, the root word of motherhood also produced many other words, such as mensuration and mentality. According to the Vayu Purana, an ancient Hindu religious text, men once believe that women had the power to give birth due to their superior skill in measuring and figures vrvup3b. Further, there was a time in nurturing history when they believed that acquiring these skills would enable them to give birth as well.
Ancient Female Contributions to the Nurturing History of Linguistics
In addition to the contribution of the goddesses to mathematics, many other cultures also credited them for the creation of the alphabet. The Latin alphabet was believed to have been created by the Goddess Carmenta, who was also considered the mother of charms. In Egypt, the alphabet was believed to have been created by the goddess Isis, who is often depicted in art nursing a child. She is believed by some to serve as an archetype of the Virgin Mary.
In the Middle East, the last ruler of the Assyrian Empire, Ashurbanipal, took great pride in having learned the “noble art of tablet writing”. This knowledge was usually possessed only by learned scribes called maryanu. At the beginning of Babylonian civilization, numbers and letters were inventions of the Goddess and were the concern of priestesses. The Egyptian word for scribe, “maryen”, also meant “mother” or “great one”. Only women who had given birth were allowed to enter the Holy of Holies in the municipal temple of Babylon, which was dedicated to the Goddess Mari-Anna, also known as Ishtar. The nurturing history of Hittite society also included priestesses who taught the art of writing as well as practicing medicine, keeping records, and advising kings.
Ancient Germanic society was guided in part by a number of female deities, including Sjöfn, whose name means “love”. Female writers were called Die Schreiberinnen, while the Roman mother of destiny was called Fata Scribunda, meaning “the fate who writes”. Before the advent of Christianity, the nurturing history of ancient Roman culture included several deities believed to perform certain functions throughout the process of pregnancy, childbirth, and child development. For example, Proverta, goddess of the past, was believed to prevent breech births. The goddess Rumina was believed to endow new mothers with milk for suckling infants.
The mother’s ability to nourish life as well as her role in creating it was revered in most ancient cultures. According to the Mahanirvanatantra, a sacred Hindu text, “Mother is superior to father on account of her bearing and also nourishing the child.” The Laws of Manu, some of which date back to the 2nd century BC, state that “A spiritual teacher exceeds a worldly teacher ten times, a father exceeds a spiritual teacher one hundred times, but a mother exceeds one thousand times a father’s claim to honor on the part of a child and as its educator.”
Women, able to nourish a child during its first year of life, certainly deserve a special place in the nurturing history of mankind. Fortunately, modern technology is making it possible for fathers to play a larger role in their children’s lives. The division of labor caused first by agriculture and then industrialization, is gradually being rendered obsolete by time and labor-saving technology that promises to allow all parents to participate more fully in their children’s lives. The world’s children of tomorrow can look forward to a fusion between the best of the past and the brightest of the future.