Question 34. What is the status accorded to woman in Hindu Society? Does she have equality with man? How much does she enjoy?
Hinduism has looked at the status and position of woman from two standpoints. As a soul in bondage, the goal of her life also, like man's, is Moksha. Hence all the moral and spiritual disciplines like purity of mind, self control, devotion to God and austerities, prescribed as means thereof, apply to her too. Thus, in this respect she enjoys equal freedom with man.
However, the fact that she differs from man both biologically and psychologically, has not been overlooked. Accordingly, she has been entrusted with certain special duties and responsibilities and given some privileges. Her role as the chief guiding force in running the family and in the internal management of the home, has amply been recognized. The well known adage that a griha (home or house) is no Griha by itself and that it is the Grihini (the mistress of the house) that really constitutes the Griha, proves this point.
The perfect housewife is the ideal presented before the Hindu woman. She is the personification of the ideal wife, friend and mother, all rolled into one. Thus, she complements man. But, at home, she plays the major role. During the period of the Vedas and the two epics, women enjoyed equal freedom with men. They had equal opportunities in the religious and spiritual fields. They could undergo Upanayana, study the Vedas and even take to monastic life.
But when the Hindu society was subjected to unprecedented pressures due to foreign invasions by alien hordes, this freedom had got to be curtailed. Now, after political independence, enough opportunities have been afforded them to uplift themselves. However, it should be acknowledged by all concerned that man and woman are not competitors but complementary in the field of life.