The left-liberal lobby seems to have not understood anything about Hindu Dharma in all their attempts to destroy it. The misconception and false narrative that Hindu Dharma is sexist,misogynistic is also picked up by many so-called western historians and scholars who twist statements to suit their agendas without any knowledge.
Some common myths include-
1. Application of sindoor on the forehead of a woman during her marriage is backward and oppressive.
2. Hindu scriptures endorse rape culture,violence and discrimination against women.
3. Celebrating festivals such as Holi, Durga Puja, Karva Chauth, etc., is regressive and fosters the belief that women are always dependent on men for everything and are robbed of their independence in all aspects of life.
4. Devadasis are treated as sex slaves and have no honourable position in society.
5. Women were not given any education,were confined to household duties all the time without any benefits.
Let us read and find out why such false notions about the status of women in Hindu society must be rejected.
1. Hindu society follows the practice of honoring women as much as men. In fact, it is Hindu dharma which worships the feminine power or potency without which Para Brahman becomes Nirguna or formless.
2. Many examples of empowered women are out in the open for all people to see. Some examples have it that Gargi was a very learned woman who surpassed even men with her vast knowledge. Savitri saved her beloved Satyavan from the clutches of death through her sheer willpower. The debate between Adi Shankaracharya and Mandana Mishra had the scholar’s wife Ubhaya Bharati as the judge because of the knowledge and spirituality she had obtained.
3. During the 7th to the 9th century A. D. also we find that the general level of the culture and position of women was high. Women, including those not belonging to the higher classes, had some opportunities for liberal education, as well as training in fine arts (especially those of painting, music and versification).
Rajyashree (sister of the renowned king Harshvardhana) was a disciple of Bhagwan Buddha and her advice was sought on various important matters. Rajshekhar (Kavya-Mimamsa) quotes examples of princesses, daughters of high officials, of courtesans, and of concubines who were poetesses as well as adepts in sciences.
Avanti Sundari, the wife of the poet Rajshekhar, was an exceptionally accomplished woman. Rajshekhar’s Karpurmanjari was produced at her request and Hemachandra quotes three of her stanzas. The dramas and prose romances of this age also illustrate the contemporary state of learning among women. Here we find that court ladies and even the queens’ maid-in-waiting are capable of composing excellent Sanskrit and Prakrit verses.
Shila-Mahadevi, wife of Rashtrakuta emperor Dhruva, probably ruled jointly with her husband and enjoyed the privilege of granting large gifts. Several queens of the Kara dynasty ruled in Orissa. Sugandha and Didda of Kashmir administered extensive kingdoms as dowager queens.
4. Usually,when men had to go through many hardships,it was their better halves that supported them. As an example, Rama was exiled to the forests for 14 long years and he decided to go alone. However, Sita insisted on going along with him to face all hardships. Even when abducted,she always thought of Rama who in turn, thought only about her. Hence,he followed ‘One arrow,one promise and one wife.’ throughout his entire life.
5. In most Hindu texts,it is implied that if women have everything they desire and they are satisfied, then that house is worthy even for the deities to reside in. Vivaha or marriage is very important for this reason.Women have equal rights to property as much as men do.
Women are also entitled to worship. She could perform all rituals, including Yagna if her husband was not present for some reason. She was allowed to recite mantras on par with men.
Rig Veda says “The entire world of noble people bows down to the glory of the woman so that she enlightens us with knowledge and prosperity.She is the leader of society and provides knowledge to everyone. She is a symbol of prosperity and a daughter of brilliance. May we respect her so that she destroys the tendencies of evil and hatred from society.” (1.48.8)
Atharva Veda states that “women should be valiant, scholarly, prosperous, intelligent and knowledgeable; they should take part in the legislative chambers and be the protectors of family and society. When a bride enters a family through marriage, she is to “rule there along with her husband, as a queen, over the other members of the family.” (14.1.43-44)
Yajur Veda tells us, “The scholarly woman purifies our lives with her intellect. Through her actions, she purifies our actions. Through her knowledge and action, she promotes virtue and efficient management of society.” (20.84)
6. There are many festivals that celebrate the feminine power and place her as someone always ready to help her children in times of distress and sorrow. Devi has her own temples in many parts of Bharata where people go to seek her blessings.
For example, Durga Puja is very popular among the masses when the Mother Goddess is worshipped for nine nights in nine different forms,most popularly in West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, etc.
Raja Parba is another festival celebrated mainly in Odisha that considers the menstrual cycle of women as auspicious, marking the entry of the girl to womanhood. It is quite similar to Ambubachi Mela observed in Assam for Devi Kamakhya.
7. In popular iconography of Hindu deities,the woman occupies an equal position beside her husband. For instance, Parvati or Gauri is seated to the left side of Shiva and not at his feet, as claimed by some people. Many popular styles of paintings depict Krishna and Radha as not merely lovers, but as a devotee associating with Bhagavan to inspire faith and devotion in people.
8. Many events in itihasa have established that women are also capable in knowledge, warfare, administration,polity and fine arts.
Rani Durgavati was a Chandela princess who married a Gond prince Dalpat Rai and became the queen of Garha. She is a very good example of a woman skilled in warfare, hunting and governance as she was like a mother to her subjects who treated her also with respect and honour. She was a woman of strong conviction who refused to submit to the Mughals at any cost, even until she killed herself in war.
Another out of the numerous examples of women empowerment in one of Matrusri Tarigonda Vengamamba, one of the most famous Telugu poets of the 18th century. Her early life was plagued with sorrow as she lost her husband at a very young age. However, such handicaps could not deter her from her devotion to Venkateshwara or Srinivasa, which eventually led her to compose ‘Venkatachala Mahatyam’, one of the most popular and widely accepted compositions regarding the itihasa of Srivari or Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala, Tirupati.
9. Regarding marriage,a lot of freedom was given to women to choose their husbands as per the Swayamvara system prevalent among the kings and princes of that age.Also,eight types of marriage were recognised, ranging from the father finding a suitable match for his daughter and obtaining her consent [Brahma] to the groom abducting her only when she had confessed her love for him [Rakshasa].
10. It is very important that a woman must be given her due by her family whether she is a mother, sister, wife or grandmother. Also, she is the most important decision maker in the house. The Sushruta Samhita has guidelines enshrined that are meant to be followed while taking care of pregnant women. Women also have the right to remarry if they lost their husbands as sanctioned by our timeless, ancient scriptures.
Regarding the practices of Sati, dowry and child marriage,they do not find mention in any of our scriptures. Some so called frauds found an opportunity to make easy money.Hence,our Dharma is being denigrated by the so-called secular lobby without any knowledge of the subject.
To conclude, Hindu Dharma has always valued the role and status of women in its society, sometimes putting them above men and as someone who is worthy of education,marriage and also be given their due in their family. They have also been given many choices and are free to choose what they need.
This is a humble plea from the author himself to all proud Hindus that we must stop playing petty politics and make unsavoury remarks about Hindu Dharma. Rather,we must make sure that our Dharma thrives in a vibrant atmosphere, shielded from both open and veiled threats by the liberal lobby.
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