Editor excerpts from article – The rights and privileges women enjoyed in ancient India were almost equal to that of men. The accounts, available in the earliest texts, show that women were not subject to awkward restrictions and that they were relatively free. Women, for instance, rose to become seers and intuited many Vedic mantras. This attainment fetched some of them the venerable appellations of rishika, female rishi, and brahmavadinis, female expounders of the knowledge of Brahman.
Rishikas were the products of the gurukula, studying at the guru’s house, system of education, to which both girls and boys had access. Girls too pursued their studies and received training to attain the highest goal of life. The choice of being a householder or taking up a life of renunciation was open to men as well as women. A wife was saha-dharmini, coreligionist, who would follow, with her husband, the stages of grihastha, householder; vanaprastha, dwelling in the forest; and sannyasa. The performance of certain religious rites was deemed invalid if the wife was absent. That women had an equal voice in contentious religious matters is evident from the public debates and discussions in which they participated along with men. Marriages were secure, sacred, and monogamous, except in some select cases like that of certain rulers.
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