But this right of a husband is limited only to Stridhana understood
in its widest sense and not in the special sense of the term. We thus find in this age of
commentaries and digest a new development in the status of women-viz. The recognition of
their right over certain kinds of property.
Whatever may be the nature and extent of this property, it is certain
that women, as members of society, had the right over it, independent of their husbands;
and special laws of inheritance for this kind of property came to be framed. Outside legal
literature the existence of this system can be traced even to Kautilya's time. The earlier
lawgivers, though they mention the word Stridhana, do not define it as special property,
but apply it to anything that a woman owns.
There are special laws of inheritance framed for it in the
But in the Dharma Sutras it is not till we come to Manu that we meet with rules declaring
the attempt of the guardians or relatives to appropriate Stridhana as punishable by
law.60 This absolute right over a certain kind of property avoided the right of a married
woman over the property as a whole; and rules declaring that a woman is not entitled to
appropriate for herself funds belonging to the common family estate are framed.
Raghavananda elucidates the purport of this rule by saying that a woman shall have no
dominion over any property except the textual Stridhana.
Hence, with the institution of special property for women, its nature,
extent and scope became a matter of dispute among the commentators; and we find all the
commentaries and digests launching out on this disputable question with all their strength
Thus the age of the commentaries forms the point of conflux of the
ancient law and the new. Politically, from the beginning of the 11th century, the country,
especially Northern India, came under the sway of the Muslims. A new civilization with a
different outlook upon life, especially regarding women, was knocking at the door of Hindu