Position of Women in the Indian Civilization
The Indian Women fascinates me. Her ability to give, share, bear, nurture, cook, work, qualities of head and heart, adjust are just some of the qualities that I admire. Throughout our country’s tumultuous history, she suffered so much yet she continues to retain qualities that make her unique. She has done great service to religion by preserving age old traditions, moral fervor and spiritual vein in our society. It is the mother who conducts puja in our homes, attends spiritual discourses, wears Indian clothes i.e. sari while men have adopted western wear completely.
This essay is dedicated to the Indian women. As a nation, we progressed when the Indian woman was accorded her rightful place in society. Its time we treat her like she was up to 300 B.C. It is my belief that India will progress much faster if a greater number of women are educated, financially independent and realize that equality does not mean that you listen to yourself only. Let us resolve to allow her to blossom, flower and show her inner beauty.
The position of women is covered under the following chapters and periods.
1. 2500 to 1500 BC
2. 1500 to 600 BC
3. 600 BC to 300 AD
4. 320 to 750 AD
5. 750 to 1000 AD
6. 1000 to 1300 D
7. 1300 to 1526 AD
8. 1526 to 1707 AD
9. 1707 to 1818 AD
10. 1818 to 1905 AD
11. 1905 to 1947 AD
12. Status of women in Western society – must read.
The Age of the Rig Veda (2500 to 1500 BC)
The frequent reference to unmarried girls speaks in favor of a custom of girls marrying long after they had reached puberty. Among Aryans, marriage among brothers and sisters was prohibited. There seems to have been considerable freedom on the part of young persons in the selection of their life partners as they generally married at a mature age. Approval of the parent or the brother was not essential, the boy and the girl made up their minds and then informed the elders though their participation in the marriage ceremony was essential i.e. the blessings of the elders were sought.
Suprising as it may sound, in some cases a bride-price was paid by a not very desirable son in law. So also when a girl had some defect, dowry was given. A hymn in the RV gives us an idea of the old marriage ritual. The boy and his party went to the girl’s house where a well-dressed girl was ready. The boy catches the hand of the girl and leads her round the fire. These two acts constitute the essence of marriage. The boy takes the girl home in a procession followed by consummation of the marriage.
The wife was respected in her new house and wielded authority over her husband’s family. The wife participated in the sacrificial offerings of her husband. Abundance of sons was prayed for so, naturally so in a patriarchal society since the son performed the last rites and continued the line.
There is little evidence to show that the custom of Sati existed. Even if known, it was limited to the Kshatriya class. Remarriage of widows was permitted under certain conditions. Female morality maintained a high standard although but the same degree of fidelity was not expected from the husband.
Net Net women enjoyed much freedom. They took an active part in agriculture, manufacture of bows. They moved around freely, publicly attended feasts and dances.