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Status of women in hinduism

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Status of women in hinduism

  1. 1. Status of women inStatus of women inHinduismHinduism
  2. 2. Rigveda is a vast book of more than tenRigveda is a vast book of more than tenthousand verses in Sanskrit.thousand verses in Sanskrit.TheThe Rig VedaRig Veda is a collection of 1,028.is a collection of 1,028.hymns to the gods.hymns to the gods.Three other collections the Samaveda,Three other collections the Samaveda,Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda were addedYajurveda, and Atharvaveda were addedlater.later.
  3. 3. women in Vedaswomen in Vedas attitude towards women streams from religiousattitude towards women streams from religiousscriptures which refer to women as disregard.scriptures which refer to women as disregard. the Vedas referred to women in more disapprovingthe Vedas referred to women in more disapprovingform.form. Sati prathaSati pratha (custom of burning the widow with the(custom of burning the widow with thebody of her husband)body of her husband) Dasi PrathaDasi Pratha (keeping the slave girls)(keeping the slave girls) Niyog PrathaNiyog Pratha (ancient Aryan custom of childless(ancient Aryan custom of childlesswidow or women having sexual intercourse with awidow or women having sexual intercourse with aman other than husband to beget child),man other than husband to beget child), were among cruel customs responsible for the plightwere among cruel customs responsible for the plightof the women.of the women.
  4. 4. No one wanted a daughter. As a result;No one wanted a daughter. As a result;female infant came to be consideredfemale infant came to be consideredunwanted. Everyone was interested inunwanted. Everyone was interested inhaving a son.having a son.The birth of the son was celebrated,The birth of the son was celebrated,but the birth of the daughterbut the birth of the daughterplunged family into gloom. Thisplunged family into gloom. Thisattitude still persists, even thoughattitude still persists, even thoughcertain other customs havecertain other customs haveundergone changes.undergone changes.
  5. 5.  "Almighty God, you have created this"Almighty God, you have created thiswomb. Women may be born somewherewomb. Women may be born somewhereelse but sons should be born from thiselse but sons should be born from thiswomb" - Atharva Ved 6/11/3womb" - Atharva Ved 6/11/3 "O Husband protect the son to be born."O Husband protect the son to be born.Do not make him a women" - AtharvaDo not make him a women" - AtharvaVed 2/3/23Ved 2/3/23 Rig Veda censures women by saying:Rig Veda censures women by saying:"Lord Indra himself has said that women"Lord Indra himself has said that womenhas very little intelligence. She cannot behas very little intelligence. She cannot betaught" - Rig Ved 8/33/17taught" - Rig Ved 8/33/17
  6. 6.  At another place in Rig Veda  it isAt another place in Rig Veda  it iswritten:written:"There cannot be any friendship with a"There cannot be any friendship with awomen. Her heart is more cruel thanwomen. Her heart is more cruel thanhyena" - Rig Ved 10/95/15.hyena" - Rig Ved 10/95/15. Yajur Ved (Taitriya Sanhita)- "WomenYajur Ved (Taitriya Sanhita)- "Womencode says that the women are withoutcode says that the women are withoutenergy. They should not get a share inenergy. They should not get a share inproperty. Even to the wicked they speakproperty. Even to the wicked they speakin weak manner" - Yajur Ved 6/5/8/2in weak manner" - Yajur Ved 6/5/8/2
  7. 7. Custom of PolygamyCustom of Polygamy In Rig Ved (10/59) it is written that Lord IndraIn Rig Ved (10/59) it is written that Lord Indrahad many queens that were either defeated orhad many queens that were either defeated orkilled by his principal wife.killed by his principal wife. In Aitrey Puran, preachings of Rig Veda, (33/1),In Aitrey Puran, preachings of Rig Veda, (33/1),there is a reference to the effect that Harishthere is a reference to the effect that HarishChandra had one hundred Wives.Chandra had one hundred Wives. Not only one man had many wives (married andNot only one man had many wives (married andslave girls), but there were cases of many menslave girls), but there were cases of many menhaving a joint wife. It is confirmed from thehaving a joint wife. It is confirmed from thefollowing mantra in Atharva Veda: "O men, sow afollowing mantra in Atharva Veda: "O men, sow aseed in this fertile women" - Atharva Veda 14/1seed in this fertile women" - Atharva Veda 14/1
  8. 8. Vedas also sanction Sati PrathaVedas also sanction Sati Pratha    Widow was burnt at the funeral Pyre of her husband.Widow was burnt at the funeral Pyre of her husband.The widow was burnt at the funeral pyre of herThe widow was burnt at the funeral pyre of herhusband so that she may remain his slave, birth afterhusband so that she may remain his slave, birth afterbirth and may never be released from the bonds ofbirth and may never be released from the bonds ofslavery.slavery.The Atharva Veda says:The Atharva Veda says:"O dead man following the religion and"O dead man following the religion andwishing to go to the husbands world, hiswishing to go to the husbands world, hiswomen comes to you.“women comes to you.“ If the women was not remarried, then herIf the women was not remarried, then herhead was shaved. This is evident fromhead was shaved. This is evident fromAtharva Veda (14/2/60).Atharva Veda (14/2/60).
  9. 9. Girl childGirl child Many mantras in Rig Veda express desire to beMany mantras in Rig Veda express desire to beget heroic sons. There are no similar prayersget heroic sons. There are no similar prayerswishing for a girl child. This perhaps reflectedwishing for a girl child. This perhaps reflectedthe anxiety of a society that needed a largerthe anxiety of a society that needed a largernumber of male warriors to ensure its survival.number of male warriors to ensure its survival.Sons were preferred to daughters. Sons were preferred to daughters.  In the Rig-Veda, twin daughters were comparedIn the Rig-Veda, twin daughters were comparedto heaven and earth. The daughters were notto heaven and earth. The daughters were notunpopular. They were allowed Vedic studies andunpopular. They were allowed Vedic studies andwere entitled to offer sacrifice to gods. The sonwere entitled to offer sacrifice to gods. The sonwas not absolutely necessary for this purpose.was not absolutely necessary for this purpose.
  10. 10. EducationEducation The girls were entitled to Upanayana (to receive sacredThe girls were entitled to Upanayana (to receive sacredthread) and to the privilege of studying Vedas; just asthread) and to the privilege of studying Vedas; just asthe boys.the boys. Women performed religious rites after completing theirWomen performed religious rites after completing theireducation under a Guru.education under a Guru. women chanted mantras along with their husbands whilewomen chanted mantras along with their husbands whileperforming rituals.performing rituals. These highly intelligent and greatly learned women, whoThese highly intelligent and greatly learned women, whochose the path of Vedic studies and, lived the ideal life ofchose the path of Vedic studies and, lived the ideal life ofspirituality were called Brahmavadinis; and the womenspirituality were called Brahmavadinis; and the womenwho opted out of education for married life were calledwho opted out of education for married life were calledSadyovadhus. Sadyovadhus. 
  11. 11. Dowry & MarriageDowry & MarriageThe practice of dowry is not endorsed byThe practice of dowry is not endorsed byorthodox Hinduism and "may be a perversion oforthodox Hinduism and "may be a perversion ofSanskritic marriage prescriptions.“Sanskritic marriage prescriptions.“ In the Manu Smriti, on the other hand, 8 types ofIn the Manu Smriti, on the other hand, 8 types ofmarriages are specified.marriages are specified. There is very little evidence of child (or infant)There is very little evidence of child (or infant)marriage in the Rig Vedamarriage in the Rig Veda The Rig-Veda (v, 7, 9) refers to young maidensThe Rig-Veda (v, 7, 9) refers to young maidenscompleting their education as brahmacharinscompleting their education as brahmacharinsand then gaining husbands.and then gaining husbands.
  12. 12. Marriage was an established institution inMarriage was an established institution inthe Vedic Age. It was regarded as a socialthe Vedic Age. It was regarded as a socialand religious duty; and not a contract. Theand religious duty; and not a contract. Thehusband-wife stood on equal footing andhusband-wife stood on equal footing andprayed for long lasting love and friendship.prayed for long lasting love and friendship.At the wedding, the bride addressed theAt the wedding, the bride addressed theassembly in which the sages too wereassembly in which the sages too werepresent. [Rig Veda (10.85.26-27)]present. [Rig Veda (10.85.26-27)]
  13. 13. Status of MotherStatus of Mother"A son must always serve his mother even"A son must always serve his mother evenif she has been an outcast.“if she has been an outcast.“"The professor is equivalent of ten"The professor is equivalent of tenteachers, the father is equal to hundredteachers, the father is equal to hundredprofessors, the mother exceeds aprofessors, the mother exceeds athousand fathers in honour.“thousand fathers in honour.“"All other sins are expiable but he who is"All other sins are expiable but he who iscursed the mother never liberated."cursed the mother never liberated."
  14. 14. Divorce, Widowhood and remarriageDivorce, Widowhood and remarriage Hinduism in general disapproves of divorce.Hinduism in general disapproves of divorce. Widows are expected to devote their lives toWidows are expected to devote their lives topursuit of religion.pursuit of religion. These restrictions are traditionally strongest inThese restrictions are traditionally strongest inthe highest castes, in which the head isthe highest castes, in which the head isfrequently shaved as well.frequently shaved as well. The highest castes also have severe restrictionsThe highest castes also have severe restrictionson remarriage.on remarriage. Such restrictions are now strictly observed onlySuch restrictions are now strictly observed onlyby a small minority of widows, though someby a small minority of widows, though somedegree of ritual inauspiciousness lingersdegree of ritual inauspiciousness lingers
  15. 15. Property rightsProperty rights Daughters and sons equally inherited theirDaughters and sons equally inherited theirmothers property; but some scriptures insist thatmothers property; but some scriptures insist thata mothers property belongs solely to thea mothers property belongs solely to thedaughters [Manu IX 131], in order of preference:daughters [Manu IX 131], in order of preference:unmarried daughters, married but poor daughters,unmarried daughters, married but poor daughters,married and rich daughters.married and rich daughters. When a father died, unmarried daughters had toWhen a father died, unmarried daughters had tobe given a share in their father’s property, equalbe given a share in their father’s property, equalto one-fourth from every brothers share [since it isto one-fourth from every brothers share [since it isassumed that the married daughter had beenassumed that the married daughter had beengiven her share at marriage] [Manu IX. 118].given her share at marriage] [Manu IX. 118]. If the family has no sons, the (appointed)If the family has no sons, the (appointed)daughter is the sole inheritor of the propertydaughter is the sole inheritor of the property[Manu IX 127].[Manu IX 127].

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