What status did the women enjoy in Hindu society is an interesting study in itself. One finds that they enjoyed great and considerable respect during Rig Vedic Age. After some time their position considerable went down. She began to be considered inferior to males and made responsible for serving her husband.
During Middle Ages her position still further went down and deteriorated. Sati system became quite common. Widow was not allowed to re-marry. A woman was supposed to live within the four walls of her house. Education was denied to womenfolk.
This pitiable condition of women drew the attention of our social reformers. Due to their efforts and enlightened attitude of the British government, attempts was made to uplift women. Steps were taken for providing them educational and other facilities.
With the passage of time women have now begun to realise their position. They have now got many rights and are still demanding more and more rights. In fact now they are being treated equal with men in all walks of life.
Women enjoyed high respect in ancient India and in fact no ritual and action of her husband was considered complete unless his wife took part in that. Her status went down after some time and from age downward, throughout middle ages, she had a degraded position In our modern times, she is now regaining her lost position of respect and is being considered equal to men.
Women in Ancient India
From all accounts it is clear that women in ancient India enjoyed considerably high respect. They were given high education. They gave advice to men in all walks of life and discussed with them delicate and complex as v/ell as complicated problems connected with the philosophy of life and soul on the one hand and domestic problems on the other.
A woman was then considered as Ardhangini. No ceremony was perfect and complete unless and until she participated in that. From our religious texts it is clear that many learned women took-part in public life.
Status of Women in Epic Age
It appears that with the passage of time, position of women went down. This was more particularly so during Mahabharata days. It was during this period that Draupadi was put on dice by her husband while gambling with his brothers.
We also find that the Kurus did not even hesitate to make an attempt to openly put off her clothes in the Royal Court and so on. In spite of this we find that it was during this period that such an ideal women as Sita, Tara and Mandodari came to the front.
It also appears that by this time many restrictions had been put on their movements. It was however, gradually realised that women did not have that physical strength which enabled her to protect herself and as such in that respect she was inferior to man.
Women in smritis
It appears from Smritis that on the whole, women were respected. But we also find that certain restrictions were also being placed on them, Varahmihira says that women is jewel created by God and that she should be used as a helping hand for attaining Kama, Artha and Dharma. He also says that she is goddess of prosperity.
It was believed that in a family where women do not enjoy and respect that family is bound to disintegrate. Daughters should be regarded and treated with great care and, tenderness and that a woman was more venerable than man.