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Women In The Sacred Laws
Kulapati's Preface The Author
Foreword Prologue
The Dharma Sutras Contemporary Evidence
The Manu - Samhita The Later Law-Books
Digest On Hindu Law Espirit Des Lois
Major Sections

CONTEMPORARY EVIDENCE

The Sahitya-Darpana refers to it. ‘ If a woman of a respectable family is desirous of meeting her lover, she can do so by crouching (literally melted or absorbed into her own limbs-making herself as small as possible) with all her (tinkling) ornaments silenced, and covering herself with an Avagunthana'. 23

In the fifth Act of Abijnana Sakuntalam, the heroine comes to the court, accompanied by two hermits. She comes with her Avagunthana on. The king expresses his admiration thus:‘ Who could she be, with a veil and with the gloss of her body not fully manifested, standing in the midst of anchorites, like a tender sprout lit the midst of scarred leaves?"

In the above stanza the word Avagunthana means more than a veil of the face. It was an outer garment loosely covering her form hence the beauty of her figure wits partly hidden from view. It is thus clear, from the survey of the literature contemporaneous with early law-books, that one of the important changes forcing its way into society, was the seclusion of women.

But whether it originated in India, based on the Vedic injunction to keep a close watch on women, as has been enjoined by the law-givers, or whether it was taken from the tribes that swept over the country about that time, and were adopted into society, it is difficult to determine. The Vedic injunction to keep a close watch on wives, for fear or their being seduced seems to give a reason able and strong basis for adopting it in Hindu society, even if it were of a foreign origin, or at least provided a canonical precedent for the continuance of the custom.

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Women In The Sacred Laws
About Contemporary Evidence
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