Status of women : The Gradual decline through ages

Its been a while since I posted something. I had engaged myself in reading a lot of books about Indian mythology.
The epics are made of thousands of verses, mostly centered around wars. The verses before and after the war are basically devoted to tales of social conduct, pleasurable pursuits, sex, romance and spiritual activities.

Reading them made me analyse a very crucial aspect about how the status of women in the society changed with time!

In the early Vedic period, women were mistresses of their own sexuality. It was the pre- patriarchal phase when women were considered extremely valuable.
There are multiple stories in Mahabharata where mighty kings like Pururava and Shantanu surrender themselves to the conditions laid  before them by their lady loves. Kings and even the Gods would not dare to offend a woman because only through them could a man father a child and repay his debt to his ancestors and keep rotating the cycle of rebirths.

In this period women had full sexual freedom like men. In fact women could go to any man and a man who refused her was deemed a eunuch. This was allowed because childbirth was considered of prime importance to facilitate the reentry of forefathers into the land of living.
Shvetaketu, a sage is believed to be the founder of patriarchy. He restricted the number of men a woman was allowed to go to, to four. Further to which, she would be deemed as a whore.
This makes me wonder, why was no such rule set for men?

Ideally during a swayamvara, a woman was supposed to choose a husband from the group of assembled men. But as time passed, this right was taken away from them. It became a mere archery contest. And the bride was the winners trophy.
Kings would trade their daughters for kingdom , land and political alliance.

The auspicious considered women were considered as a chattel and not as wife/daughter . Pandavas gambled their wife in a game of dice.

The un-clothing of Draupadi is not merely the un-clothing of a woman; It represents the collapse of a civilization!

Since the Vedic times, the status of women has gone through several changes. There was a period of liberation and equality. There was a period of subjugation . There were times when she was worshiped as a deity of the home and then there were times when she was suppressed and oppressed.
There was gradual decline in the status of women and it is difficult to overlook it.  Abducted and abused ladies were blamed and punished since the old times. Sita was told to prove her chastity after being rescued from Ravana by giving Agni Pariksha. She was innocent and was still abandoned by her own people.

Women lost her respect in the ancient Indian society. We see a lot of crime against women now in the modern society . In Indian society, there is very little value given to the fact that men and women have different qualities.

They are complementary to each other and their relationship should not be of superior or subordinate.

We can not rely and put all our faith in the law and order. Constitutional provisions are not sufficient to get women the respectable position.

Its we who need to change; there has to be change in the mind set of people!

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Hemangi is a Tibco Consultant. A dedicated Business Intelligence geek by day and reader by night. She is an amateur writer and a frequent traveler who loves to hear 90's music. Get in contact with her on

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