If husbands abandoned their wives, the latter could marry again; divorce
could be obtained quite easily. The sanctity of the marriage tie was not based on virtue
or affection, but on the payment of Sulka. Sulka or the fee, which the husband pays to the
parents of the wife, plays an important part in determining the validity and weight of a
marriage of any kind.
But, in spite of all this laxity, Kautilya gives preference to a life
of virtue. He says: A barren widow, who is faithful to the bed of her dead husband,
may, under the protection of her teacher, enjoy her property as long, as she lives; for,
it is to ward off calamities that women are endowed with property. On her death, her
property shall pass into the hands of her kinsmen.
He further gives a distinct recognition to Stridhanam in law and lays
down separate rules for its inheritance. If a husband, is alive and the wife is
dead, then her sons and daughters shall divide her property among themselves. If there are
no sons, her daughters shall have it.
In their absence her husband shall take that amount of money, Sulka,
which he had given her, and her relatives shall take back whatever in the shape of gift or
dowry they have presented her. Thus the determination of the property of a woman is
dealt with. A woman is entitled to three kinds of properties: (1) Stridhana, (2)
Ahita-dhana, (3) Sulka.