Women Empowerment In Indian Culture
   Date :21-Jan-2024

Women Empowerment
Women empowerment is one of the dominant concerns of modern society. Numerous legislations, mandates, reforms, movements, etc, have seen the light of the day in this direction. Still in many countries of the world women are struggling for their basic rights to live freely and honourably. The core ingredients of women empowerment include education, social equality, freedom to choose life partners, employment, freedom of speech, etc. The culture of a country exerts a great impact on the issue of women empowerment.
The culture is basically composed of religious traditions and beliefs, social customs, economy, philosophy, etc. A look at Indian culture has a lot of positive stories to tell in this regard. The Rigveda, the oldest available text, has ample examples of women empowerment. There are 27 women seers mentioned in the Vedic literature. Apala, Lopamudra, Ghosha, Romasa, etc, are amongst the most famous Vedic seers who have contributed to the Vedic hymns. These scholarly women seers are called Brahmavadinis. They used to attend Sabha and Vidatha of the Vedic period. These Sabha and Vidatha were assemblies and core committees which used to take important decisions.It is mentioned that some of the women were trained in military warfare also. Mudgalini, Vispala, Sahiyasi, etc, are important among them. Kali and Durga were fierce fighters. Women used to take part freely in all festivities.There was sacred thread ceremony for girls also. Even today this tradition continues in India in some of the communities.
We find historical references to women bodyguards in Maurya periods. Swayamvara was a marriage tradition where girls used to choose their life partner. There was a tradition of widow remarriage also. There are multiple examples where women were married after the death of their husbands. Sati tradition is not found anywhere in the Vedic, post Vedic, the Ramayana and Mahabharata periods. None of the queens of Raja Dashratha became Sati after his death. In the Mahabharata also there is no single example of Sati. The scholarly tradition of women in Indian culture is very rich and robust. The erudite discussions of Gargi and Maitreyi are well known. During the debate between Adi Shankaracharya and Mandana Mishra, Ubhaya Bharati, the wife of Mandana Mishra presided over the debate.There are many poetesses of Sanskrit literature. Shilabhatarika, Indulekha, Lakshmi, Bhavadevi, Madalasa, Vikatanitamba, etc, are famous amongst them. In the divine pantheon women gods occupy prominent positions. Saraswati is the goddess of wisdom, Lakshmi of wealth and Durga of power.
The incarnation of women power is given utmost importance in the Vedic tradition. In Buddhist and Jain traditions also we find Bhikkhunis and Sadhwis.Gotami, Yashodhara, Uppalavana ,Vishakha, etc , are the earliest Buddhist female monks and scholars. Chandana is considered as the first Jain female monk. There is a rich tradition of Jain female monks. Thus whenever we turn towards the basics and core spirit of Indian culture, very rich traditions of women empowerment are evident there.
Bhushan Kumar
(The writer is Former DG Police & CG, Homeguards, Maharashtra)