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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

THE DHARMA SUTRAS

The scope of the activities of a wife in the religious field is restricted: he thus declares, ‘a wife is not independent with respect to the fulfilment of the sacred law ‘. 9 The commentators, however, have burdened this with some more restrictions, not evidently implied in the above, by laying down that she cannot perform ceremonies prescribed in the Puranas without the permission of her husband.

Strict discipline in life and fidelity to her husband are demanded from a woman. ‘Let her not violate her duty towards her husband ‘ and ‘let her restrain her tongue, eyes, and actions‘. 10 In case the husband renounced the world, she had, then, to lead a life of strict discipline and self- restraint; 11 but where the husband had disappeared, the wife had to wait for him for six years before she could marry again, and, if at the end of six years the husband returned, she had to go back to him. 12

A father, however, had to give his daughter in marriage as soon as she attained marriageable age, and any negligence on the part of the father was considered a sin.13 Gautama does not give the exact age at which a girl should marry. A reference to child-marriage is to be found, though it is of doubtful authenticity, for the corresponding Grhya rituals are definitely instituted for mature people.

Hence Gautama’s remark Some (declare that a girl shall be given in marriage) before she wears clothes‘ 14 is not compatible with the rituals of the Grhya-Sutras. It is, in all probability, an addition of later writers. Gautama, on the other hand, allows self- choice to girls who have not been given in marriage at the proper age, but they have to surrender their right to the property of their father

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Women In The Sacred Laws
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