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.