Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://localhost:8081/xmlui/handle/123456789/191
Authors: Garg, Peeyush Kumar
Issue Date: 1991
Abstract: Woman has been a subject of intense and perennial interest in all times and climes. But the period from 700 A.D. to 1200 A.D. has witnessed striking changes in her position in society, particularly in Northern India. This v/as a period of disintegration in all spheres and more so politically. It was a period of small regional states of different Rajput dyansties locked in mutual conflicts. The Rajputs were born of the ancient Aryan Kshatriyas of India. The total identification of the Rajputs with the Indian religions, customs and values entitles them to be basically Indians in origin. Right from the Rigvedic times, the position of women had undergone various ups and downs. An analytical investigation has shown how the attitude and behaviour of men towards women has changed with the changing socio-economic milieu. In the early stages both the girls and boys were given education. The Upanayana ceremony was as much a right of a daughter as that of a (ii) son. In the Upanisad and the Sutra periods, women held an honoured position. Education was not denied to them. The widows did not become sati. A v/ife was entitled to a share equal to the sons. The property of a mother was bequeathed to her unmarried daughters. In the Epic age of the Ramayana, the position of women vacillated between great regard and negligence. The marriage tie was held sacred and inviolable. The virtues of women placed them in a respectable position. In the age of Buddhism too, women were held in high esteem. Some women like Dhammadina, Patacara, Brahmani Bhadda, Sanghmitra etc. were good preachers. In Jain literature, there are instances to prove that women commanded great respect in society. They could acquire education, seek admission to the Sangha and remarry. Polygamy v/as popular among the affluent. Sati system was unknown. Due to the strengthening of the Brahmanical sanctions, however, the position of women began to deteriorate. With Manu a new approach to womanhood is available. Now it was an act of virtue to marry a girl at an early age. Remarriage v/as denied to a widow and by (iii) 400 A.D. the sati system comes into practice. Freedom of v/omen got a severe setback. Purdah began to be observed. The widow's fate became miserable. She had no more right to levirate, divorce, seperation and remarriage. The most interesting development traced during the Rajput period is that of holding administrative charge by queens, regent queens, dowager queens etc. The Queen of Parmardi had acted as a diplomat to initiate talks for truce with Prithviraj. In Kashmir, we see Sugandha Devi, Didda as dowager queens who proved themselves as able administrators. Kurma Devi governed Mevad after the death of her husband. Silla and Chudda commanded the royal army and gave their lives in the battle-field. Queen Suprabha, Queen Hansavati, Silamahdevi are other examples of women administrators during the period under investigation,plus Srilekha, Anangalekha, Suryamati, Nona, Kalhanika, Radda Devi, Kokalla etc. A critical study of various roles of women as wife, mother, daughter, widow, devadasi, ganika etc. shows that the rights and duties of all these categories of women changed with the passage of time and the new (iv) interpretations were given by the vyavasthakaras. During the Rajput period, the girls were generally debarred from acquiring Vedic and higher education. Those who wanted to lead a life of strict celibacy could, however, attain higher and religious education. The discontinuance of Upanayana, denial of their religious status, unwillingness to their spiritual attainment and child marriages were responsible for the general decline in v/omen' s education. The old system of eight types of marriages continued during the period under review. Some cases of Svyamvara are also available. Now there were fixed rules about the qualifications of a girl, the age of the couple, considerations of gotra, pravar, pinda etc. in matters of marriages. The purdah system came to flourish during the Rajput period, perhaps as a result of the foreign invasions. Sati, the practice of widows burning themselves on the pyre of their husbands, came into being. Devadasis were the servants of the gods to please the deity. There v/ere ganikas who could be available to anyone v/ho paid for their entertainment. In Kuttanimatani, the ganikas or courtesans have been (v) described as well trained in the qualities of mind and body. They were very particular to maintain their beauty and grace. A critical study relating to the institution of marriage, divorce, economic status and rights of women shows that the status of women was not far from satisfactory. Women did enjoy palpable economic rights to maintain themselves in emergency. They enjoyed full freedom in taking part in religious matters. They could stick to any religion. Kumardevi and Vasantadevi were the followers of Buddhism. Santladevi was a devotee of Jainism. As regards economic rights during the Rajput period, property of the wife belonged to the husband, according to Medhatithi. Devala pleaded strongly for women's rights over stridhana. During the period 1000 A.D. to 1200 A.D. the decline in the economic status of women was obvious. Dayabhaga allowed only a gotraja to inherit and gotraja excluded the female. To be precise, v/omen were disqualified from owning and holding property excepting stridhana. A husband could use the stridhana in emergency and the repayment was optional. No kinsman could use it except the husband. If a person had sons, there was no question of inheritance by the widow. (vi) Medhatithi recognised the right of a faithful widow to maintenance. Bharuchi allowed niyoga to a childless widow and permitted her right in the property. As niyoga had fallen into disrepute in the Rajput period, the right to inheritance was almost denied to a widow. It is concluded that feudal value system had worsely affected the position of women during the period under study. In fact, the position of women was declining. Though there came to be differences in her position and treatment in the lower and upper classes of the society, yet a social awakening urging and encouraging a sympathy and liberalisation of attitudes to her status is discernible throughout the Rajput period.
Other Identifiers: Ph.D
Research Supervisor/ Guide: Sharma, K.K.
metadata.dc.type: Doctoral Thesis
Appears in Collections:DOCTORAL THESES (HSS)

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