The historical background to women's status in the Hindu society in India.

The reasons explaining the status of women in ancient Indian history and society are not easy to extract from the history of India, as the Indians traditionally were not as interested in the writing of history as they were in many other fields. Much of the information we have on this topic comes from the sacred and popular literature of ancient India: the great epics, the Code of Many, the Kama Sutra, the Vedic and Upanishadic texts, drama, poetry and songs. This discussion introduces some of the most important elements to be examined in order to determine women's status in ancient India.

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Solution Preview was happening to and within the Hindu religion. To make some sense of these variations, we can identify the winds of change in the literature of Hinduism as it developed, and divide the sequence as follows:

? The Vedic Age
? The Brahmanic era
? The Upanishadic Reaction, and
? The Classical Age

This sequence spans two millennia at least, most of which preceded the Common Era.

The Vedic Period

Conventional wisdom bestows on the Vedic period (1200? BCE - 800? BCE) the mantle of high status for women, claiming the following:

? That men and women both were accorded important roles in the household ceremonies that constituted a vital part of the Vedic religion

? That the age of marriage was later than occurred subsequently

? That the word for the Absolute, Brahman, has no gender; i.e., the ultimate godhead is not conceived of male.

? That women were educated along with men. There is a Sanskrit word "rshiksha" (female sage) which corresponds to rishi (male sage).

While Hindu scholars sometimes describe these phenomena in glowing terms, the literature can be deceptive and it is as well to take some of their praise with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that the role of women was the traditional one - management of the household and the family. There is also little doubt that their status in the Hindu religion was superior to what followed during the Brahmanic era.

The Brahmanic Age (800??BCE- 400??BCE)

When the brahmins took control of the Hindu religion, the status of women in Hinduism deteriorated markedly. Some of the reasons may be summarized as follows:

? Concepts of purity and pollution labeled women as unclean because of menstruation and childbirth

? Intermixing of the Aryan and non-Aryan communities brought non-Aryan women into Aryan households, and they could not perform the rites correctly.

? The rules for social interaction on all levels ...