Monday, August 10, 2015

Position of Hindu Women in the Epic Ancient India

Position of Hindu Women in the Epic Age 

From the two great epics, it has been found that even in the epic age women enjoyed a respectable position. Like for instance, the Mahabharata asks a man to treat his wife with great kindness even if he is extremely angry. A man is not supposed to use cruel words to her, as because a person himself is born as his son; so it is expected from him that he should treat his wife with the same regard as he shows towards his mother. Further, in another context of this great epic, it is stated that one`s wife is one`s friend at the time of death; which means that though a person may have many friends but his wife is the real friend in his difficult times. In another passage, women are said to be honourable. It was believed that by dishonouring or neglecting a woman one honours or disregards Goddess Laxmi. 

Before coming to Smriti Shastra, it may be mentioned that the word `patni` implies equal participation of men and women in sacrifices. In the Manu Smriti, it has been mentioned that women are given a very respectable position in the household. In the same context, Manu states that, where they are not honoured, all rites become futile. It is also stated that a family, in which ladies suffer soon perishes. Similar sentiments are expressed in several other verses of the Manu-Smriti. This epic also emphasises that the wife is the better half of her husband; she is his greatest friend and is the source of his dharma, artha and kama. In legal matters too, women have assured privileges. Interestingly, in some respects, women appear to have enjoyed great privilege, sometimes higher than that of men. Even as a result of committing some big offences, women might be abandoned but they did not lose the right to maintenance. 

According to the Vashistha Smriti, the son of a degraded person becomes degraded; but the daughter of such a person is not subjected to apostasy. According to some authorities, women had to undergo only half the prayaschitta prescribed for men committing the same offence. Further, it has also been found that in ancient societies women of all castes, excepting those born in the reverse order of castes, were exempted from all taxes. According to certain authorities, newly married girls and unmarried girls and pregnant women were to be fed before others in the household. Apastamba Dharma Shastra ordains that the rules, not stated in it, are to be ascertained from women. Apastamba Grhya Sutra provides that usages, connected with marriage, are to be learnt from women.
Position of Hindu Women in the Epic Age From the two great epics, it has been found that even in the epic age women enjoyed a respectable position. Like for instance, the Mahabharata asks a man to treat his wife with great kindness even if he is extremely angry. A man is not supposed to use cruel words to her, as because a person himself is born as his son; so it is expected from him that he should treat his wife with the same regard as he shows towards his mother. Further, in another context of this great epic, it is stated that one`s wife is one`s friend at the time of death; which means that though a person may have many friends but his wife is the real friend in his difficult times. In another passage, women are said to be honourable. It was believed that by dishonouring or neglecting a woman one honours or disregards Goddess Laxmi. Before coming to Smriti Shastra, it may be mentioned that the word `patni` implies equal participation of men and women in sacrifices. In the Manu Smriti, it has been mentioned that women are given a very respectable position in the household. In the same context, Manu states that, where they are not honoured, all rites become futile. It is also stated that a family, in which ladies suffer soon perishes. Similar sentiments are expressed in several other verses of the Manu-Smriti. This epic also emphasises that the wife is the better half of her husband; she is his greatest friend and is the source of his dharma, artha and kama. In legal matters too, women have assured privileges. Interestingly, in some respects, women appear to have enjoyed great privilege, sometimes higher than that of men. Even as a result of committing some big offences, women might be abandoned but they did not lose the right to maintenance. According to the Vashistha Smriti, the son of a degraded person becomes degraded; but the daughter of such a person is not subjected to apostasy. According to some authorities, women had to undergo only half the prayaschitta prescribed for men committing the same offence. Further, it has also been found that in ancient societies women of all castes, excepting those born in the reverse order of castes, were exempted from all taxes. According to certain authorities, newly married girls and unmarried girls and pregnant women were to be fed before others in the household. Apastamba Dharma Shastra ordains that the rules, not stated in it, are to be ascertained from women. Apastamba Grhya Sutra provides that usages, connected with marriage, are to be learnt from women.