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Indian Culture And Traditions

Essence Of Womanhood In India
By Swami Sandarshanananda, December 2013

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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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This  article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata  (www.advaitaashrama.org).  I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it  enlightening. You can subscribe online at www.advaitaashrama.org.  Cost is Rs 100/ for one year, Rs 280/ for three years, Rs 1,200/ for  twenty years and Rs 2,000 for twenty five years.

Also read
1. Swami Vivekananda Vision for Women
2. Let’s not make men out of women by Aparna Sharma Nayyar
3. Five    Elemental Women
4. Worship of God as Mother in Indian Tradition
5. Differences on women’s rights and choice between the US, India and the Middle East

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