Hindu woman

Women in Hinduism have a rich past. In ancient India, women were treated equal to men and in fact they were considered superior to men in many aspects. It is indeed remarkable to note that the word for strength, virility and power in Hindu culture is represented by the feminine “Shakti”. Shakti is the all prevailing universal manifestation of the feminine and she is worshiped as the goddess of strength, valour and power in Hinduism. All male power is said to be derived from this universal power and strength of the feminine principle. As per Hindu Mythology and literature kings and towns were completely destroyed because a single woman was wronged by the state or the people in power. Examples are Ravana in the epic called Ramayana and the Kauravas in Mahabharatha.

Women in Hinduism: Role of women in ancient Hinduism

The ancient history and the origins of Hinduism can be traced from the Vedic times. This was a golden period when women and men had equal rights in all aspects of life including education and religion. There were great women scholars who mastered the Vedas and in fact the creation of the Vedas itself was a joint effort of women and men rishis. The Vedas and Upanishads the first and foremost sacred texts of Hinduism mention in detail various rituals involving women as well as the contributions of women scholars and philosophers of those times.

Women in Hinduism: The creation of caste sysetm and degradation of the status of women

Later history and the creation of the caste system in fact became the bane of Hinduism. Later texts like the Manusmriti which were created to enforce the brahmanical order systematically degraded the role of women in Hindu society. Texts like Manusmriti cannot match the sacred texts like the Vedas and Upanishads but still they had a deep impact on the society. It’s not that this and the similar kind of later texts which are together called the “smritis” are completely junk but we have to accept that it contained lot of rubbish as per the standards of today’s society. There is no second opinion on the fact that women faced most of the burnt from the thinking and practice based on these later texts. Women became subordinate to men, they were always to be in control of men either in the form of a father, husband, brother or son. They were barred from education and overt religious practices and their socio-cultural role was also diminished considerably in various ways. This was in fact very ironical because on one hand still the feminine and the women power was worshiped in the form of goddess but the actual social situation of women was far inferior and pathetic. Though many aspects of later Hinduism were not congenial to women, still as a ancient and old religion the strength of Hinduism was its ability to adopt and change according to the times and this ensured that despite quite a bit of negativity and discrimination women in Hinduism evolved and positively contributed to society for their own benefit as well as the overall benefit of the society and the community.

Further to understand the role of Women in Hinduism there are many topics and issues which need to be analyzed and studied in detail.

These include

1. Women in Hinduism: Hindu view on the Woman
2. An initial orientation to women and Hinduism: This includes topics like, The Position of Women in Hinduism, Women as equals of men in early Vedic Religion, A growing net of restrictions, The liberation of women in the Puranas, Heroic women of the Epic Tradition, Women Poet-Saints, The ‘Mothers’ and from sati to dowry murders
3. Religious and Social variance in Women’s status in Hinduism
4. Famous Women of Ancient and Modern India: These include Gargi, Mira bai, Sarojini Naidu, Sita, Durgavati, Sarada Devi, Savitri, Queen of Jhansi Lakshm Bai, Bhagini Nivedita, Draupadi, Shakuntala Devi and Mother Mirra
5. Dowry Didn’t Evolve from India
6. Developing an Ecofeminist Ethic Within the Hindu Tradition: This includes topics like, Principles of Ecofeminism, Ecology and Hinduism, Hindu Sacred Texts and Ecofeminism and Shaktism, Tantra and Ecofeminism etc.
7. The Status of Dalit Women in India’s Caste Based System
8. The Divine Mother: God as Goddess
9. Mother Earth, Mother Nature
10. Feminine Spirituality, Feminine Rituals
11. Women as Hindu Spiritual Leaders: The Women of God
12. Women Scholars and Poetesses
13. The many achievements and talents of Hindu Women: Able Rulers, Warriors, Poetesses, Scholars, Mathematicians, Freedom fighters, Musicians, Artists and so on.
14. Musicians and Dancers
15. Ideal Queens
16. Warriors, Warrior Queens and Freedom Fighters
17. Social Status of Hindu Women: This includes topics such as Woman as Mother, Woman as Daughter, Woman as an unwanted Fetus, Woman as Sister, Woman as the Bride, Woman as Wife and Woman as Widow
18. The Woman as a Woman: Of Panegyrics and Caricatures
19. Women as the Strength and Inspiration of Great Men
20. Transforming Hindu Women into Shakti

As I said before, despite the latter developments in Hinduism which were never encouraging, exceptional contributions from “women in Hinduism” took place throughout its history. Whether it was the contributions from ordinary women or from the queens, warriors, artists and philosophers, “history, mythology and literature” are testimony to the fact that women played an important role in the evolution of Hinduism as a religion. These contributions from women are now increasing many folds in every aspect of life and that’s why even today Hinduism is one of the most fluid, ever adapting religions of the world.

For free information and advice on topics and issues related to women, visit [http://www.rise-of-womanhood.org]

[http://www.rise-of-womanhood.org]

This site envisions the rise of womanhood in true sense that is the rise of the “essence” of womanhood in the physical, mental, intellectual and the spiritual planes. It calls for the beginning of a campaign for the true rise of women in all spheres of life for the restoration of the balance in nature.

Somewhere we have to make a beginning and it’s always better if we make the initiation at our own self. We can strengthen this mass movement for the “rise of womanhood” by bringing about the necessary changes in our own life as felt by our inner self. Further we can transmit the new thinking to others who care to listen. A small step today will definitely lead to a giant leap tomorrow.