In as well. Women held very important

In ancient India, though patriarchal system was highly prevalent – al1 maledomination — women enjoyed a position of respect and reverence. Several inscriptionsmake references to the status of women in that they enjoyed the freedom to make liberalgifts to religious institutions like temples, dharmasalas not merely for the welfare ofheads of the families but for their parents as well.Women held very important position in ancient Indian society. There areevidences to suggest that woman power destroyed kingdoms and mighty rulers. ElangoAdigal’s Sillapathigaram mentioned that Madurai, the capital of Pandyas was burnt,when Pandyan ruler Nedunchezhiyan killed a woman’s husband by mistake. VedaVyasa’s Mahabharata tells the story of the fall of Kauravas because they humiliatedDraupadi.

Valmiki’s Ramayana is also about the annihilation of Ravana when abductedand tried to marry Sita forcibly. The plethora of Goddesses in ancient period was createdto instill respect for women. Ardhanareshwar (God is half-man and half-woman) washighly worshipped. Women were allowed to have multiple husbands. They could leavetheir husbands. In the vedic society women participated in religious ceremonies andtribal assemblies.

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There is no seclusion of women from domestic and social affairs butthey were dependent on their male relatives throughout their lives. The system of Satiexisted among the Aryans in the earlier period. The hymns of the Rig-Veda, the AdharvaVeda show that it was still customary for the widow to lay symbolically by the side of herhusband’s corpse on the funeral, forced child marriages were unknown. Women couldchoose their husbands through a type of marriage cal1ed Swayamvara. In this, potential 40grooms assembled at the bride’s house and the bride selected her spouse. Instances ofSwayamvara ceremony can be found in epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharaya. Thiscontinued even in the later period in high caste families.

As the time passed the position of women underwent changes in all spheres oflife. In the vedic period, women lost their political rights of attending assemblies. Childmarriages also came into existence.


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