“Women are worthy of worship. They are the fate of the household, the lamp of enlightenment for all in the household. They bring solace to the family and are an integral part of dharmic life. Even heaven is under the control of women. The gods reside in those households where women are worshipped and in households where women are slighted all efforts at improvement go in vain.” Manusmriti 3-56
One of my friends, Prem – who writes on Drishtikone sometimes, says that he has seen that the societies where women are respected and have education turn out to be more prosperous.
I think he is right. The societies where women are treated as objects and as some decoration at best.. weak and so to be saved.. instead of those with equal rights and ability to get power, those societies tend to be backwards.
From 1 AD to almost 1100 AD, before the Islamic invasion, India had >30% of the world’s GDP share. Before the invasion was also the time, that rigidity of the Brahmanism had started setting the society back. These priests had forgotten or set aside the profound spiritual thought of the Rishis of the past and had become poor caricatures. The decline of the society to an extent where it couldn’t save its culture, education, philosophy, freedom and prosperity.
It is interesting if you go back into the scriptures of Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) and find the instances of the status of women. The opening verse on this post from Manusmriti, a heavily reviled treatise by upstart and illiterate Indian apologists and pseudo-seculars speaks unequivocally about the primacy of women in any society and family.
Vedas, considered to be the highest Hindu wisdom, were written by women as well. Rig Vedas, it is believed, had 20 women amongst its many authors. They were Ghoshsha, Godha, Vishwawra, Apala, Upanishad, Brahmjaya, Aditi, Indrani, Sarma, Romsha, Urvashi, Lopamudra, Yami, Shashwati, Sri, Laksha etc.
No wonder stuff like this was written:
“The sun god follows the first illuminated and enlightened goddess Usha (dawn) in the same manner as men emulate and follow women.” Athravaveda Samhita, Part 2, Kanda 27, sukta 107, sloka 5705.
Even the marriage is supposed to be a joint contract of good fortune, where BOTH, man and woman have equal partnership:
“O bride! I accept your hand to enhance our joint good fortune. I pray to you to accept me as your husband and live with me until our old age. …” Rigveda Samhita Part -4, sukta 85, sloka 9702
Of course, seeing the treatment of daughters and other women in today’s Hindu societies, one would think that’s how it was always.
However, after the Mahabharat war, Bhishma gave a long lecture for almost 2 months to Yudhhishtra about Sanatan Dharma. Here is what he said:
“O ruler of the earth (Yuddhisthira) the lineage in which daughters and the daughters-in-law are saddened by ill treatment that lineage is destroyed. When out of their grief these women curse these households such households lose their charm, prosperity and happiness.” Mahabharata, Anushashanparva, Chapter 12, sloka 14.
He further went on to reinforce the role of women:
“The teacher who teaches true knowledge is more important than ten instructors. The father is more important than ten such teachers of true knowledge and the mother is more important than ten such fathers. There is no greater guru than mother.” Mahabharata, Shantiparva, Chapter 30, sloka 9
Finally, women in Hindu society would do well to read and reinforce Rig Veda in their household…. for no text that I have ever read is such an advocate of a married lady:
“O bride! May you be like the empress of your mother-in-law, father-in-law, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law (sisters and brothers of the groom). May your writ run in your house?”
Rigveda Samhita Part -4, sukta 85, sloka 9712