Women in Vedic Times

published on October 16, 2010
M. P. Ajith Kumar*     

(Senior Lecturer in History, Sanatana Dharma College, Alappuzha, Kerala)

   The cultural height of any society could be gauged by studying the norms it has set to behave to its fair sex, opines the renowned Indologist, A. S. Altekar. Since woman had been one of the main units of cultural progress as well as decadence, any exhaustive study into the nature of a society calls for an analysis of the status of woman therein. A comparative study between the status women had in different societies could certainly be taken as a yardstick for understanding the difference in their cultural backgrounds along with the transition their status underwent as time passed by. For instance it is to be noted that in oriental cultures irrespective of geographical differences women enjoyed a position of social significance from time immemorial and this lasted almost up to the emergence of Semitic civilizations which disparaged the cultures thus far existed as pagan. Indeed the history of the East bristles with stories of bold women some of whom were even Queens. Even Arabia, where after many centuries, women rule became a taboo, had a matriarchal system and abounded in women rulers. It bestowed considerable reverence on a mother or grandmother. Arabia could boast of several queens during the pre-Islamic era which was not possible unless women enjoyed fundamental civil right. The story of Zabibi, the Queen of Aribi (Arabia) and of another Arabian Queen named Shamsiyah who were conquered by the Assyrian ruler Tiglath-Pileser (745 – 727 BC) are well known. Zenobia, the beautiful, courageous and ambitious wife of the Palmyrean king who bore the Indian name Odaynath was an illustrious woman.  Having appointed herself the regent of her son Wahb Allath, she boldly administered the country, repulsed the recurring Roman attacks to re-conquer Palmyra and declared herself to be the Queen of the East. The most famous of all Arabian queens was Bilquis, known to history as Queen of Sheba. Far famed for her beauty and accomplishment, she with her feminine charm mesmerized King Solomon who preserved her elegance in his romantic poems. Enamoured of the fabulous tales of Solomon’s wisdom she broke all the feminine confinements, if any, and traveled all the way to Jerusalem with gifts to see him. Even she conceived to celebrate the erotic hilarity of the occasion and gave birth to a son, Menelik II. This helps one know that even Arab women did not remain as mere veiled captives of their men but lived a happy and hilarious life with their freedom not infringed upon by male folk. The example of Khadija, wife of Prophet Muhammad is interesting in this context. Before marrying Khadija Muhammad was her trusted employ. Muhammad did not command women to observe purdah (veil) during the life time of powerful Khadija, who was a caravan trader in her own right. Nor did Muhammad indulge in polygamy when she was alive despite the fact that she was fifteen years older than he was and had been married twice before becoming his wife1. These are only a few instances of women enjoying socio-political privileges, which taken along with numerous such examples could lead to the generalization regarding the high esteem fair sex had in the Asiatic zone. If Arabia, which later originated the tenet of female slavery, was the cradle of feminine privileges in the early millennia, the picture would turn more sublime while coming to further south i.e. India.           

             The status of woman in ancient India has been a topic of dispute. It is generally said that the birth of a daughter was not much welcome in early societies. But India presented a different picture. Though the birth of a daughter would entail many burdens to the family, pertaining to her upbringing, education and marriage, the Vedic society was desirous of getting a daughter. We find one of the early Upanishads recommending certain rituals to the householder for ensuring the birth of a scholarly daughter (duhitha me panditha jayathe.).2 According to A S Altekar, the birth of a daughter was much desired in cultured families in ancient India. . And once born, she was treated with all the hounors at par with the boys.

     The lore has it that the society had taken much care in educating its girls. Atharva Veda observes that a maiden can succeed in her married life only if she is properly trained during studentship (Brahmacharyena kanyam yuvavindathepathim). According to Manu “woman who are destitute of the knowledge of the Vedic texts are as impure as falsehood itself. That is the fixed rule”.3  Though Manu is silent about the type of education and the way it was to be imparted, it is evident that the Vedic teacher was as particular about the female education as to get the woman trained for all the walks of life, including education and upbringing of the children. Naturally ancient Indian society produced a host of educated ladies and scholars. The Ramayana says that Sitha was educated in the Vedas, and refers to her as hurrying to the riverbank for her evening prayer in accompaniment of Vedic chants. The Vedic women, as presented by the lore, were educated in all branches of knowledge. We come to here of the women authors of Vedic hymns like Viswavara, Lopamudra, Apala, Romasa, Kadru, Juhu, Vagambhruni, Paulomi, Jarita, Sradhakamayani, Saranga, Devajami Yami, etc, all referred to in the Vedas as Mantradrushta or Seers. Women were also well versed in many arts including performing ones. The literature refers to lady dancers like Urvasi and Menaka. Also Mahabharatha refers to the lotus-faced girls of the harem of king Nala of whom the swan introduces himself as dance tutor at his maiden meeting with Damayanthi, the princess of Ayodhya. The science and art of developing portrait of human faces out of the character-sketch seems to have been familiar to girls as evident from the story of Usha and Aniruddha wherein Chitralekha, having heard the behaviour of the youth Usha met in her dream, stroked with her brush up to the picture of Aniruddha through the successive portrayal of the faces of Yadu family. Women received training in arms and guard duties. Rk Veda refers to Mudgalini, the wife of Mudgala, the son of Bhakshyaswa who fought down thousands of enemies.4 The story of Vispala, the wife of king Khela referred to in Rk Veda is well known. This daring female warrior lost her leg while engaged in night battle but continued to fight with the iron leg the Aswinidevas gave her.5   Ramayana speaks about the sthridhyakshas or women chiefs who guarded the entrance and harems:

       Thathra kashayino vriddhan vethrapanin svalankrithan
       Dadarsa vishtithan dvari sthridhyakshan susamahithan.6

Even ordinary ladies who served in the palace, Ramayana says were endowed with a high sense of political consciousness. These women, the epic says, opined that “Rama is not hot tempered though amidst mental strains, he renounces anger and pleases those in anger and agony”.7 That patience is foremost of the qualities a king calls for was known to Indian woman. And they condemned king Dasaratha’s sending Rama to forest as an act as foolish (abuddhir) as leaving all the beings (sarvabhuthanam) to trouble.  The women excelled in spiritual knowledge too. Ladies were greatly regarded in the field of Vedic knowledge. Atharva Veda hails Pavamani as the mother of Vedas:

     Sthutha maya varada vedamatha
     Prachodayantham pavamani dvijanam 8

Again it is equally interesting to note that Vedic thinkers identified knowledge itself with the female energy by placing Saraswathi, a Goddess herself as the deity of learning. They gave a female attribute to whatever was found good and noble. Sri Aurobindo points out that the female deity Ushas the Vedic forefathers worshiped was the symbolic representation of the ever widening mind and intellect. Everywhere the lore speaks about the supremacy of female energy without which the superman or God cannot work out his cosmic web.

 There were Brahmavadinis who aimed at high excellence in scholarship; and the lady scholars who specialized in mimamsa were called kasakritsnas.9 Vedas refer to the woman seers called Rishika.

    The girls were given enough freedom to choose the period of their education. The lore mentions two types of girl students in ancient Indian society. The life long students of sacred texts were called Brahmavadinis and girls who opted to study till their marriage were called Sadyovadhus. While Brahmavadinis with their austere spiritual disciplines catered to the spiritual well being of society the Sadyovadhus dedicated themselves to the welfare of their families, performing routine domestic duties. But the both continued to enjoy same status in society even after centuries as evident from the writings of Panini who calls the Brahmavidinis as Upadhyaya, Upadhyayi and Acharya and Sadyovadhus as Upadhyayini and Acharyani.10
    There are examples of women who deemed spiritual knowledge as more enduring than any material possession. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mentions the interesting story of a woman asking her husband to give her knowledge of the spiritual instead of the mundane treasure. The story has it that Yajnavalkya, the doyen of metaphysical knowledge at the court of king Janaka Videha of Mithila, prior to his leaving for the ascetic life asked his wife Maitreyi what part of material property she wanted from him. He wanted to divide his material possessions between his two wives – Maitreyi and Katyayani. Maitreyi, his first wife refused to accept his property and asked him to grand her everlasting wealth of knowledge or Atmajnjana. She asked, yadeva bhagavan veda thadevame bruhiti i.e. “teach me what alone is the ultimate knowledge”.11 Gargi was another woman whose intellectual accomplishment was so much unsurpassable so that she could make many towering heads in the world of metaphysical knowledge bow down. Gargi Vachakhnavi even challenged Yajnavalkya, the pioneer of spiritual knowledge, engaging him in a hairsplitting metaphysical tournament at the court of Mithila.12 Her arguments with Yajnjavalkya which constitute India’s early knowledge on cosmology were noted for their high scholarship in spirituality, science and science of logic. Honoured to be the spokesperson of the distinguished philosophers of the royal court of king Janaka who graced many ascetics of the time with Brahmajnjana, Gargi with her erudition and ruthless logic put many scholars in hot waters. Once it was Yajnjavalkya, the one who made yajnja or the highest disciplines of spiritual life his mantle and the questions of Gargi were on the ultimate realities regarding the origin and evolution of universe. To Yajnjavalkya who said that on the eve of creation there was apa or water as the warp and weft Gargi asked about the origin of water because for everything there must be a cause or source of origin.

Yadidam sarvmapsu otam cha protam cha

Kasminnu khalvapa otascha protascheti
(If in water was laid the warp and woof of everything
wherein was the warp and weft of water laid?)

   Thus one after the other she dragged Yajnjavalkya through many scientific speculations and perceptions until he spoke about the ultimate reality which can’t be subjected to scientific experimentation but something divine to be experienced. And Gargi left only after understanding that the problem she asked was about the divine itself which is beyond speculation, that it is no subject to be put to mere analysis of the mundane science and logic and that it is to be experienced through agama and not anumana. Literature makes mention of a number of other woman scholars like Atreyi, a student of Vedanta who was reading under the sages Valmiki and Agastya. We could therefore believe that at least a considerable number of women were educated.

       The parents’ anxiety to see the daughter married in time and well settled may be noticed through out the ancient literatures. Ramayana tells us that when Sita attained marriageable age the anxiety of her father, King Janaka became as intense as that of a poor man who loses all his money.13 Because the girls remaining in the house after the marriageable age was humiliating.  Thus says Ramayana:

The father may be equal to Indra [God of the celestials] in every respect, position, power, wealth, honour. Nevertheless if he has a daughter not yet married, from his equal and from his inferior he gets humiliation, censure of the worst kind.14

To get the daughter married in time parents neglected even caste and custom. This is what we learn when Mahabharatha says that with Kshatriyas having failed the test arranged to win the hands of Draupathi it was thrown open to the Brahmins also. King Drupatha was so much anxious to send his daughter in marriage at the earliest. According to Vedic tradition the girl remaining unmarried after the marriageable age is sinful. Vasishtha says, “If she stays in the house after her marriageable age sin falls on the father”.15 The smritis thus made it obligatory on parents to get the daughters married at the appropriate age, which varied in different smritis or law books.

   Marriage being an important factor that determined the status and position of women as well as the entire family and social system, ancient Indian law-givers accorded to it as much sublimity as possible and took much caution to see to it that once performed, it would last for good. Marriage according to Indian belief is the reunion of the couples of previous births. It was the greatest prayer between man and wife, a union for observing the duties or Dharma of life. Hence the terms sahadharma and sahadharmini, meaning the sacred duties tradition expects of couples and the wife who participates in her man’s duties. They were instrumental for the Divine to execute its cosmic principles or the Rita. Marriage was thus to ancient Indians a great sacrament. Naturally the cultural background of womanhood was something to be greatly emphasized in the opinion of Smritikaras in whose views, as a modern writer opines, “the home and family constitute the bedrock of society and women is that figure on whom the stability and sanctity of the home and household life depend.”16

       Rig Veda has it that girls were to be married only at the matured age.17 But once at the threshold of youth women had the right to choose their life partners with the consent of their parents. However the majority of literatures seem to have insisted on a right choice since the Dharmasasthra directed the society to send them in marriage only with suitable husbands. This may well be vouched from that Manu had permitted the fathers to keep their daughters unmarried even to the end of their life, if they did not get suitable alliance.

     Kamamamaranat tishtedgruhe kanyartumatyapi
     na chaivainam prayachhettu gunahinaya karhichit.18

“Even if the girl after attaining puberty remains unmarried till her
death she should not be given in marriage to one devoid of qualities”. 

   Quiet often the role of parents was reduced to that of mere facilitators since the society made it obligatory on them to arrange everything for the daughters’ marriage with the grooms they selected. This system was accepted among the social elites especially the ruling class which favoured the system of swayamvara or self-choice wherein the girls of  the princely houses set out to select their grooms. Here they were permitted to marry the most qualified from a long array of grooms awaiting the bridal garland. Rig Veda refers to the beautiful brides selecting their life partners.19 The story of Savitri given in Mahabharata proves an interesting example. The groom she selected was the scion of an ousted dynasty with his days numbered according to astrological predictions notwithstanding, the desire of Savitri prevailed. It was her adamant stand that compelled her father Aswapati to send her in marriage with Satyavan whom fate declined to be a forest
dwell. Competence was always deemed the masculine eligibility as revealed from the swayamvara of Sita which her father Janaka declared would only be with a groom capable of breaking the weighty bow dedicated to Lord Siva. Not different is the case of the marriage of Draupati. She would not be married to those who fail to dart at the goal through the narrow hole of a fast revolving disc. Interestingly King Drupata threw open the contest to non-princely contesters too when he saw Kshatriyas failing to win the hands of Draupati and it was only at this juncture that Arjuna, disguised as Brahmin, turned up to contest and won Draupati’s hand. The case was more or less the same among the princely class. Likewise was the case of lovers, who without any fear of social ostracism, carried on their affair and got married either with or without getting the social cooperation. In many cases one could see the girls eloping with their loved ones braving all the social and family odds. The Mahabharata story of Subhadra eloping with Arjuna or the Puranic incident of Srikrishna taking away princess Rugmini braving the might of her kith and kin prove fitting examples. According to certain versions of Ramayana Sita herself had developed pleasant feelings about Rama at her first glance of his handsome figure treading the street of Mithila in company of sage Viswamitra to attend the sacrificial ceremony there. The pairs falling in love and getting married were thus quite often. The freedom society gave the girl went much beyond. For instance, in case wherein the bride lost her male guardian the lore permitted her to arrange everything for her marriage with the help of the elders of family and society.   
     The above mentioned marriage systems apart, literatures refer to the regularly practiced eight kinds of marriages. They were Brahma, Daiva, Prajapatya, and Arsha forms which were approved by all ancient scriptures and Paisacha, Rakshasa, Asura and Gandharva which the ancient law givers proscribed for Brahmins.20 The Smritis give a detailed list of the different types of marriages performed by men of different levels.

      Manu prescribes the first four marriages as desirable to Brahmanas (Chaturo brahmanasyadyan prasastan kavayo vidu) and condemns the rest as fitting only to other segments.21 The marriage wherein father of the bride invites the groom who is educated in the Vedas and of noble conduct and character and gives him the daughter spruced up in costly garment and gold ornaments is called the Brahma rite.22 The gift of a daughter decked in gold ornaments to a priest who duly officiates at a sacrifice during the course of its performance is the Daiva rite.23 Arsha type of marriage with the groom paying the bride’s price (kanyasulka) in the form of a cow and a bull or two pairs (gomidhuna) appears to be queerer than the other ones and has evoked criticisms as well as admiration. Scholars of indology, commenting on the system often had it that in ancient India girl was a much priced one and the system was symbolic of socio-cultural value she held in the land’s ancient tradition. Though it has been negatively criticized also as ‘purchase’ of girl any sensible judgment could never construe that bride with all her costly dowry and ornaments would be of low value as to be compared with a cow and bull. Perhaps gomidhuna betokened the high socio-economic value the bride possessed or it was symbolic of a perfect union, a creative unity which the society expected of marriage. It might also be indicative of the hope the groom offered to bride’s father that their married life would be a perfect harmony which the in-laws naturally expects of a daughter’s husband. Again the smruti itself warns the father against taking even the smallest gratuity for his daughter since social laws of the time would disparage such a man as seller of his offspring. The kanyasulka ceremony could thus be taken as a token of respect and kindness towards maidens and in-laws.24 Hence the negative view regarding the bride purchase untenable. The fourth is Prajapatya marriage. According to this system bride’s father invites the groom and after honouring him gives his daughter as a gift asking the couple, “may both of you perform together your duties” (sahobhau charatam dharmamiti).25 Since these types of marriages are graced with the touch of nobility and cultural aristocracy becoming of the pious and the learned, the lawgivers of ancient India prescribed them for the learned i.e. Brahmins. Performed in accompaniment of Vedic chants and religious rites and hailed commonly as the noble systems, these four types of marriage continued down the ages.               
    The lore also refers to the other four systems of marriage which it did not seem to have recommended for a noble man. They were Gandharva, Paisacha, Rakshasa and Asura in which bride had to suffer both mental and physical pain from the bridegroom since they noosed her into the nuptial knot through unfair means. The Gandharva and Rakshasa types of marriage were approved by some scriptures including Manu but with much reluctance. Definitely the majority of scriptures did not approve it because of the arbitrariness and lack of spiritual serenity involved.

The voluntary union of a maiden and her lover one must know (to be) the Gandharva rite, which springs from desire and has sexual intercourse for its purpose.26

    The forcible abduction of a maiden from her home, while she cries out and weeps, after (her kinsmen) have been slain or wounded and (their houses) broken open, is called the Rakshasa rite.27

But the smruti writers proscribe the last two, Paisacha and Asura, they being heinous of all. The undesirability involved in the both is clear when the Dharmasastras describe their barbaric nature.

     When the bridegroom receives a maiden, after having given as much wealth as he can afford, to the kinsmen and to the bride herself, according to his own will, that is called the Asura rite.28  
Here the statement ‘according to his own will’ is to be specially noticed because it is not the one performed in line with injunctions of social laws. Indeed this system never got the social or scriptural acceptance. The society as well as Dharmasastras abhorred these systems as inferred from the writings of Medhatiti, Narada and Kullukabhatta.     
When (a man) by stealth seduces a girl who is sleeping, intoxicated or disordered in intellect, that is the eight, the most base and sinful rite of Paisacha.29
These are indeed systems which even the most modern societies with people addicted to consumerism and colonial mindset whom one may call civilized barbarians would abhor, leave alone the ancient Indian society adhered to spiritual and ethical culture.30 It is thus clear that the ancient Indian society had some noble ideas regarding the marriage. Deemed the most sublime of all social institutions, it was to be performed like any other sacrament of life. The greatest prayer between man and wife for the observance of Dharma or sacred law, marriage in ancient India was not merely personal but social too. It was expected to spiritually discipline man, to turn the gruhastha or the householder into an asrami or a man of discipline, and hence the word gruhasthasrama for the household life.
      Marriage having been a ceremony to ensure the safety and welfare of the fair sex and to maintain social harmony and equilibrium, the law givers prescribed marriage from the same caste. According to Manu, “… a twice-born man shall marry wife of equal caste who is endowed with auspicious bodily marks”.31 But in exceptional cases marriage from other castes were also permitted. Manu having fixed the standard and duties of each varna, would not allow a high born plummeting by marrying the low born. One may take for instance the views of Indian thinkers including Sri Krishna that the four varnas are created according to the tastes and duties of a person (Gunakarma vibhagasa) Therefore deteriorating in Guna and Karma by marrying a low born was some thing inadmissible. Hence their becoming averse to the anuloma marriage wherein the high born marries the low born woman. Yet the society seems to have crossed the caste barriers and inter-caste marriages have been in vogue for a long time. The literature itself refers to the existence of such marriages even though social laws proscribed them. Besides, this is a question to be discussed against the backdrop of caste scenario of ancient India where people crossed caste barriers on many occasions. One could take the instance of Sri Krishna himself who though was born into the cowherd community became king of Dwaraka and kingmaker of Kurukshetra. Though not born in the Brahmin community Krishna became the greatest philosopher of the day. And finally he declared, “The four varnas are created on the basis of quality and duty one performs”. Similarly Veda Vyasa was the son of a fisher woman, but proved to be the greatest scholar of Vedas who collected Vedic literature lying at random and divided and categorized them for the first time. That caste itself having thus proved a mere phantom on many occasions, it was relegated to tertiary importance was a fact testified to by many inter-caste marriages. Parasara marrying Matsyagandhi, the king of Panchala as mentioned already readying to send her daughter in marriage with groom from other communities when all the Kshatriyas seemed to have lost the chance in the archery test are good examples to illustrate this point. Naturally in a society wherein people often threw caste laws to wind, dictates against anuloma marriage too must have certainly been a thing of unimportance. Yet it is again to be noticed that Manu was dead against the Pratiloma marriage in which a highborn maiden was married to the lowborn groom. Anuloma is in any way better than Pratiloma, Manu seems to have believed. He might have thought that the system of prathiloma would not elevate the mental and temporal status of girls. Indeed it could only make her plummet in standards. But a girl married to a highborn man who is above her in mental faculties and material planes would get the chance to be elevated to the planes of her husband. Manu must have believed that it is the husband who influences the life of his wife rather than vice-versa and sets her standards. Probably this is why he prefers Anuloma marriage to prathiloma.
      He also proscribes the blood related marriages. Marrying a sapinda is an unpardonable sin, which would entail consequences of grave dimensions, Manu believes.
A (damsel) who is neither a sapinda on the mother’s side, nor belongs to the same family on the father’s side is recommended … for wedlock and conjugal union.32
Along with the physical and physiological problems such marriages are likely to result in, Manu takes this as an unnatural relation too which is sinful, entailing inordinate social and moral disorders. Therefore he says:
He who has approached the daughter of his father’s sister, (who is almost equal to) sister, (the daughter) of his mother’s sister, or of his mother’s full brother…
A … man (who) takes as his wife any of these three … sinks low.33
Manu thus proscribed blood related marriage or the marriage between the sapindas or relatives. He too like all social reformers dictated against this barbarous practice which was universally condemned.
    Though lore makes mention of the wealth women were to legally inherit it does not allude to the system of dowry. With brides themselves having been socially reckoned as an invaluable wealth, the bridegrooms, if to quote an illustrious indologist, “could not have dreamt of demanding a further dowry or donation”.34 As a matter of fact there are no references either in smrutis or other Vedic literatures to dowry or any pre-nuptial contract payment made by bride’s father with bridegroom or his guardian.35 It is true that in affluent families brides’ fathers voluntarily used to give gifts in the form of cows, horses, elephants and ornaments as a symbol of love and affection towards his son-in-law. For instance Draupati, Subhadra and Uttara brought to their husbands’ houses rich presents of horses, elephants and numerous types of jewels. Sita is mentioned in Ramayana as decked in gold ornaments at the time of marriage.  
      As usual in ancient Indian society men administered family property. But nowhere in Vedic literature one comes across any evidence regarding the social or legal strictures against women administering financial matters. In fact law givers of the time do mention women’s property rights. Manu in his Dharmasastra has it that women in the absence of male members, for instance a girl who has no brother, should take care of family property and finance. After all, Manu believes that since daughter is equal to son (putrena duhita sama) she could inherit family property36. He believes that the very creator himself had created women for the continuance and prosperity of the family or vamsa. He again says that wealth of the mother belongs to daughter (matustu yautakam yatsyat kumari bhaga eva sa).37 Also it should be noticed that according to law givers if girls remain unmarried they had the right to inherit the paternal share. Simply speaking, Manu makes it obligatory on male folk to administer the property of women on their behalf. The legal right he leaves with the women, so that she could directly undertake financial management in the absence of male members. Indeed law givers accept the property right of woman and all her wealth totaled they called stridhana or wealth of woman which included her share from the father’s and mother’s properties, gifts given by the parents, ornaments and gifts given by her other relatives and property acquired by her through purchase and earnings from her own labour. Thus says Manu:
What was given before the nuptial fire, what was given on the bridal procession, what was given in token of Love, and what was received from her brother, mother or father, that is called the six-fold property of a woman.38
Stridhana was thus the private property of woman of which she was the sole owner. And Manu considered it a sin to appropriate woman’s wealth.
But those (male) relations who, in their folly, live on a separate property of woman, the beasts of burden, carriages and cloths of woman, commits sin and will sink into hell.39                                                                              
From this it is clear that women in ancient Indian society had enjoyed much economic independence like men and that the concept of stridhana or wealth of woman was something the laws of the day recognized. But it should not be construed that stridhana of Vedic times could be equated with the horse-trading in connection with the prenuptial financial negotiations between the groom and girl’s father. What she had was her wealth or stridhana and did not connote anything further. As mentioned earlier, in a society wherein woman herself was deemed invaluable there was little chance of thinking in terms of money based bargaining. Wealth was to it welfare and woman was the basis of all welfare. Woman really betokened welfare and prosperity in ancient Indian society. Naturally even in modern Indian society one can hardly imagine of marrying an unchaste and incorrigible girl though unimaginably wealthy. That wealth won’t make woman but woman is the wealth and light of family is a sublime idea as old as the genesis of civilization in India.    
  There were also provisions for divorce and remarriage for women. But it was always conditional. Divorcing and remarrying at will was not freely allowed. Divorce was permitted to women in such cases where husband is impotent, insane or suffering from incurable or contagious diseases. She could remarry on her becoming a widow, or when the husband lives separately from her or remains untraced for a long time or turns an ascetic or even misbehave

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