Our great land, Bharatha has been witness to innumerable highly revered souls who have been a model of inspiration to many. In this, the many women take their right place.
However, it is disheartening to know that many often misunderstand (especially with the advent of British rule in our country) that, women in our great Bharatha not given an equal status in our society. Some even go to the extent of mentioning that women either had no administrative rights politically or domestically or worse even prevented from formal learnings. However, this is not true! Many illustrations are there from our Puranas and Ithihasas that contradict this modern belief. We look upon with great awe and wonder on the western world when it comes to respect to the women. We as Indians belittle our own culture and forget that Women right from the Vedic age were top-notch knowledgeable group. I myself have seen many deride the Indian way of treatment meted out to their women folk!
Let us prove them wrong !!!
- Take the example of Panchakanya stotra
|| अहल्या द्रौपदी सीता तारा मन्दोदरी तथा । पंचकन्या स्मरेन्नित्यं महापातकनाशनम् || Let us remember the five women, ahalyA, draupadI, sItA, tArA, mandodarI regularly as their character can provide strength to get rid of sins and ill feelings. Just note it says स्मरेन्नित्यं i.e just remembering these great women daily absolves our sins and prevents us from committing further sins.
- We have incidents in the holy Ramayana where the women were held in high esteem. We can see by the way of portrayal of following central characters (to name a few)
- Mandodari, (spouse of King Ravana) who always advices against the kidnapping of Sitadevi, consort of Lord Rama and quotes various dharmic texts. It is also worth mentioning that Mandodari was also an expert in political and economic aspects of running a country that she used to advice Ravana on these matters too.
- Tara, (Spouse of King Vali) who is supposed to have been well versed in Raja Dharma.
- Sitadevi meeting a host of Rishi Patnis’ (Spouses of various Ascetics) who were very well versed with the tenets of Sanathana / Vedic Dharma and had been bestowed with super natural powers.
- Gargi, who was unparalleled authority on philosophical matters and very few could excel her in debates at those times.
- Urmila, (Spouse of Laxmana) who is the epitome of sacrifice often ignored by many scholars of the day. She stayed back in Ayodhya to comfort her in-laws and citizens to tide through the separation of Lord Rama through the exile period. Other sources also mention that she took refuge in continuous sleep for a period of 14 years! Whatever may be the case, separation from her husband itself was a sacrifice.
- We have many such central characters in Mahabharata too where the women power was the order of the day then like Druapadi, Kunti, Subhadra, Rukhmini, Gandhari etc.
To summarize, I just want to say that a correct understanding of our Ithihasa and Puranas will lead us to the knowledge that the role and power wielded by women were tremendous and we still fall prey to false propaganda.
Even in our modern history, we have plenty of examples to prove that our land Bharat’s culture was to respect women and give them their due status in the society. Rani Padmavati, Kittur Rani Chenamma, Jhansi Rani Laxmi Bai, Onake Obavva, Jeejabai (Mother of King Shivaji), Sharanu Akkamahadevi are some quick names one can think of.
Hence, next time someone says “In India women were always looked down upon and not allowed to flourish”, let us say “NO” to this false propaganda with verifiable facts from past and present.
Srividya is a student of 10th grade in RVK, BSK, Bengaluru.
Special interests in Dancing, Music and sports (won many national and state level inter school competitions).
A special interest in Indian philosophy and Sanskrit studies.