Just as the son is born of one’s flesh so is the daughter, they are the same!A son is even [as] oneself, [such] a daughter is equal to a son; how can another [heir] take the estate, while such [an appointed daughter who is even] oneself, lives? 9:130.Bharatiya civilization is the only paradigm where ‘women’ are worshipped. Women hold the highest place in the cosmos. ‘Shakti’ is the absolute creator, regulator and destroyer. It is amusing to note that those people, who consider women the lowly creature, lecture us! Mother is the center of the universe, the society and the family.
For us, our country is mother, for us this earth is mother. The river is our mother and every woman is to be considered part of that ‘Shakti’. However, the continuous blame game that governs the resent academic-social narrative of current India, is striving day and night to prove the status of Bharatiya women as inferior, traditionally. There are many facets of arguments and ideas. One aspect that is always attacked is the ‘Code of Manu’. The condition of women and the status given to them can be seen from the Manusmriti.
Women and Marriage
काममामरणात्तिष्ठेद्गृहे कन्यार्तुमत्यपि ।
न चैवैनां प्रयच्छेत्तु गुणहीनाय कर्हि चित् ॥ ९.८९॥
Meaning: Father should not hurriedly give his daughter in marriage to a bad guy.
In the case of marriage, for women, many aspects of rights and protection were given to them. There are eight kinds of marriage according to Manusmriti. Out of which, three are considered lowly and degrading to the respect of women. Asura marriage is done by giving the bride price. Rakshasas marriage is the forceful kidnapping and consummation with the girl. In Manusmriti these are considered extremely prohibited. And the highly condemned practice, equivalent to that of crime is, paishach marriage. Here the girl is raped in the state of intoxication to marry her. For the seers of our tradition, the bride seen as a commodity is unacceptable. In the present context, the way dowry is practiced was never upheld in ancient society. The asuric marriage was restricted to only merchants and artisans whose occupations made them stay in foreign lands. Left-liberals are always creating ruckus over the issue of marriage as a symbol of domination in the society. But they don’t understand the mechanism for the safety of women
Manu considers, the house a prosperous one; where the wife is happy with the husband and the husband is happy with his wife. This assures stability and prosperity. A very emotional and genuine part of the code says, that new brides, young daughters, and sick or pregnant women, should be fed even before feeding the guests. In contemporary pop culture, the rude behavior of the daughter-in-law is mockingly portrayed in the context of Indian society. But if we go by the ancient societal rules, women were kept as revered and cared for as an entity.
When it comes to marital rights, Manu is very straightforward. The husband has full responsibility for his wife. He cannot get rid of the wife by abandoning or selling her (9.46).
After the death of her husband, she has the right to get remarried or either live on her own keeping the property given to her by the in-laws or husband.
Freedom of Women
Women must always be honored and adorned by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and brothers-in-law, who desire [their own] welfare. (3:55)
Freedom is a very vague word, which somehow has become the leading slogan of the modern world. But there are only material and physical ‘norms’ of freedom. There is no actual understanding of freedom. When coming to women’s freedom, Indian society is considered most backward and not attuned with modern relevancy. However, women in the ancient world were the center of the family and every relationship was linked and depended on her safety, happiness and fulfilment. But the bleak era of Islamic invasion infused fear, restrictions and objectification of women. While the villages were plundered, temples razed and the women were abducted and raped. This made the situation worse for women. Their security and safety became the major issue. Child marriage was seen as a way to get rid of the responsibility of women. Manu says, in 9.10, no man can protect a woman by force.
In 9.90, it is said that if a father doesn’t marry her in time and she finds a suitable man to marry then she or her husband doesn’t acquire a demerit. The kind of freedom and cumulative balance with the family upheld in MS is a supreme example of societal harmony.
One more important aspect of freedom is economic freedom. In Bharatiya tradition, women are considered the ‘Griha-lakshmi’. She is the cause and regulator of prosperity and abundance in the homeLet the [husband] employ his [wife] in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping [everything] clean, in [the fulfilment of] religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in … Continue reading. In MS, the practice of stri-dhan is very important. It is of six types.
- Adhi-agni: given before the nuptial fireBut to the maiden [sisters] the brothers shall severally give [portions] out of their shares, each out of his share one-fourth part; those who refuse to give [it], will become outcasts. 9:118.
- Adhi-avahanika: given to her by her parents at the time of departing to her husband’s home
- Pratidatta: given the festive occasions
- According to Kautilya’s Arthshastra, women have two types of property; vritti or cash
- Avadhya or kind which has no limit
A woman can use the property for various situations like sickness, emergency, or calamity.
In one of the articlesThe Manusmriti and a Divided Nation (thewire.in) by The Wire, hon’ble retired Justice of the Supreme Court tries to establish random and false information against Manusmriti. First of all his agenda to distinguish between Aryans and Non-Aryans does not comply with the recent historiography; neither the itihas has any such reference. And ironically, his reference point to establish Manusmriti as a supremacist ‘Aryan’ text is, Islam! According to him, the renaissance of Indian women’s position came after the Islamic and Christian conversions. Such blatant lies and brainwashing need no wordy rebuttals. Rather, the series of grand women this country had, are befitting replies. From recent past of the whole Maratha History, where women led every change and revolution. From Maa JIjabai to Tararani Saheb. They were staunch ‘Hindus’ and the visionary leaders.
For the protection and safety of women the code of Manu was followed by our kings which is changeable according to time and space. It is not something like hadis, stagnant and stinging.
For women, not just a respectable life is assured rather a mechanism is constituted which gives them a security cushion. Women are not considered a commodity but rather the center of the family. Their importance is assured by giving them consideration in every sphere of life. Women are always special and maintaining their sanctity and upholding their respect is the priority of any society. The life of women is a sheer example of piety and strength that has to be secured.
- tarang-200306-web.pdf (sanskritdocuments.org)Manu Smriti: A Misconceived, Maximum-Maligned Manuscript – The Commune (thecommunemag.com)
- Manu for Modern Times (srimatham.com)
- Manu Smriti: A Misconceived, Maximum-Maligned Manuscript – The Commune (thecommunemag.com)
|↑1||A son is even [as] oneself, [such] a daughter is equal to a son; how can another [heir] take the estate, while such [an appointed daughter who is even] oneself, lives? 9:130.|
|↑2||Let the [husband] employ his [wife] in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping [everything] clean, in [the fulfilment of] religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in looking after the household utensils. 9:11|
|↑3||But to the maiden [sisters] the brothers shall severally give [portions] out of their shares, each out of his share one-fourth part; those who refuse to give [it], will become outcasts. 9:118.|
|↑4||The Manusmriti and a Divided Nation (thewire.in)|