Women have fought for their status and roles in the society for many years and Hindu women are no different. Traditionally, women would live the life of a mother and wife, following their forefather's footsteps. The roles of women were outlined in Hindu law books like the Dharma-Sastras, but elementary rules in the Laws of Manu outlines how a woman should behave in the house and towards her spouse. Nonetheless, women's roles have changed over time and they are going against the social norm of their tradition as well as their way of life.
Unlike many western religions, Hinduism is a complex religion and it is also a way of life. The family is very important and women play an important role in the tradition as the keeper of the house. According to the sacred scriptures, women are presented as being benevolent and malevolent showing great contrasting powers (Mahavidya).In times of prosperity, she is depicted as the goddess of wealth who gives prosperity in the men's houses; and in times of troubles, she becomes the goddess of misfortune and brings about destruction. Because of this power changes, it is rational that men would want to control this enigma. The, possibly it may have been deduced that women should remain to stagnate; as such, they should run the household, rear children, and partake in religious ceremonies as a subordinate to their husband.
It is the role of the wife to bear children and educate them in their traditional practices. To maintain dominance, men have their women maintain the homes while they provide for the family. The praktri (nature) of the woman is like soil where the male plants his seeds to grow into (Mahavidya).Hence, the man controls the woman just like the society controls nature. Before marriage, the woman is controlled by her father and when she is married, her husband takes charge. The wife must then be duly devoted to her husband and it is thought that she can transfer her natural feminine power to the spouse for daily rituals and care for the family.
The wife's daily roles involve more than just taking care of the household. They also involve religious ceremonies. Though only Brahman males can do the Vedic practices, women still play a significant role in religious rituals. Wives to the Brahmin clerics act as subordinates to their husbands since there are no scriptural consents against such ritual behaviour. A lot of Hindu scriptures put forward that women should be honoured and cherished. Though females have acquired a stronger religious status, they are still thought to be dangerous to men; whether it is because of their inner power it is not certain, thus they are acknowledged as active partakers in the Vedic rituals.
The Hindu scriptures put forward that both men and women are equal but practically, women are considered inferior to men majorly because of the social and economic conditions in India. Numerous people blame this to Hinduism but the religion is not necessarily responsible for this. In the early times, Hindu women had a pretty good status in the society. Child marriage was not practiced, Sati or restrictions on education but this status declined with time primarily because of security issues from foreign intruders and internal conflict (Hinduism Facts).
Some of the devious foreign intruders used rape as a way of discrimination against Hindus. As such, it had become almost impossible for Hindu girls to move out of their houses. Evil practices such as child marriage might have started as a result of this insecurity. After independence and as things went back to normal mainly because of education, women are now coming out of their houses and have established an important presence worldwide. Moreover, there is a steady change in the attitudes of Hindu men towards their women and Hindu women are now freer than they used to be.
Hinduism Facts. Hindu Women. n.d. http://www.hinduismfacts.org/hindu-women/.
Mahavidya. Women's roles in Hinduism. 23 June 2008. http://www.mahavidya.ca/2008/06/23/womens-roles-in-hinduism/.
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