Status of Women down the ages: Ancient & Medieval
The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia.
There has been a lot of information from various manuscripts, scriptures and Upanishads that, women in Ancient India had equal educational and social rights as men. The evolution of the status of women has been a gradual process of ups and downs throughout the history pages.
Women in Ancient India enjoyed equal rights as men. But gradually during the medieval period, these rights and equality among the gender depleted. The historical understanding of status of women in early Indian society shows a declining trend in the position of women.
Women were only recognised as wives and mothers and as a subordinate to men.
The patriarchal society of India dominates the social, political and economic life of people in the country has never ever encouraged its women in any field, except kitchen. Indian women are therefore disempowered and treated as very low than that of men from medieval times.
So, how these status were different in Ancient times than that of Medieval period? Let’s know the answer to this question below by categorically differentiating everything!
Status of Women in Ancient India:
During the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, evidences from history pages shows that worship of mother goddess was equivalent to worshipping women. Hence, from here we get to know that every women were highly respected and worshipped. And, during the Rig Vedic period it is believed that the position of women was honoured and acknowledged highly.
However, In case of marriage which is considered to be a religious sacrament, a woman is unfit for independence throughout her life.
She was not allowed to choose her own groom and that was selected by the girl’s father. Women during those times used to get married at a very tender age of 13 and that too with someone much older than them.
They were just expected to do all the household chores and give sexual pleasure and be faithful wives.
During the earlier part of this period, there were highly educated women holding prestigious positions in the society.Women also received training in their homes to excel themselves in the field of arts, music and dance.
Status of Women in Medieval Period:
In this period women were considered inferior to men and did not receive any rights regarding education and holding positions in social surrounding.
Furthermore, the age for getting married was lowered. And thereby it completed the opportunities for even getting minimum education. And, only the daughters of rich household were capable of learning arts, music and dance by a personal tutor. Medieval period is predominantly the history of Muslim rulers. They appeared in India as a warrior class and their rule is divided into two Eras. The Era of Delhi Sultanate and The Era of Mughals. The women in these households also had limited rights as compared to men. Even till now Muslim women are seen as inferior to men.
Similarly, most of the women were made to believe that their ideal place was the home and that they should not step out of their home alone.
Early Indian history is marked by violence and tensions between communities. So, it’s kind of a messy period which defies simplifications and over generalisations. The evolution of how women’s rights were gradually depleted shows us many things about our history.