Position of Women In The Medieval India Medieval Indian Women
Medieval India was not women's age it is supposed to be the ' dark age ' for them . Medieval India saw many foreign conquests , which resulted in the decline in women's status . When foreign conquerors like Muslims invaded India they brought with them their own culture . For them women was the sole property of her father , brother or husband and she does not have any will of her own .
This type of thinking also crept into the minds of Indian people and they also began to treat their own women like this . One more reason for the decline in women's status and freedom was that original Indians wanted to shield their women folk from the barbarous Muslim invaders . As polygamy was a norm for these invaders they picked up any women they wanted and kept her in their " harems " . In order to protect them Indian women started using ' Purdah ' , ( a veil ) , which covers body . Due to this reason their freedom also became affected .
They were not allowed to move freely and this lead to the further deterioration of their status . These problems related with women resulted in changed mindset of people . Now they began to consider a girl as misery and a burden , which has to be shielded from the eyes of intruders and needs extra care . Whereas a boy child will not need such extra care and instead will be helpful as an earning hand . Thus a vicious circle started in which women was at the receiving end . All this gave rise to some new evils such as Child Marriage , Sati , Jauhar and restriction on girl education
1 . Sati : The ritual of dying at the funeral pyre of the husband is known as " Sati " or " Sahagaman " . According to some of the Hindu riptures women dying at the funeral pyre of her husband go straight to heaven so its good to practice this ritual . Initially it was not obligatory for the women but if she practiced such a custom she was highly respected by the society . Sati was considered to be the better option then living as a widow as the plight of widows in Hindu society was even worse . Some of the scriptures like ' Medhatiti ' had different views it say that Sati is like committing suicide so one should avoid this .
2.Jauhar : It is also more or less similar to Sati but it is a mass suicide . Jauhar was prevalent in the Rajput societies . In this custom wives immolated themselves while their husband were still alive . When people of Rajput clan became sure that they were going to die at the hands of their enemy then all the women arrange a large pyre and set themselves afire , while their husband used to fight the last decisive battle known as " Shaka " , with the enemy . Thus protecting the sanctity of the women and the whole clan .
3. Child Marriage : It was a norm in medieval India . Girls were married off at theage of 8-10 . They were not allowed access to education and were treated as the material being . The plight of women can be imagined by one of the shloka of Tulsidas where he writes [ rl ] " Dhol , gawar , shudra , pashu , nari , ye sab tadan ke adhikari " . Meaning that animals , illiterates , lower castes and women should be subjected to beating . Thus women were compared with animals and were married off at an early age . The child marriage along with it brought some more problems such as increased birth rate , poor health of women due to repeated child bearing and high mortality rate of women and children .
4.Restriction On Widow Remarriage : The condition of widows in medieval India was very bad . They were not treated as human . beings and were subjected to a lot of restrictions . They were supposed to live pious life after their husband died and were not allowed entry in any celebration . Their presence in any good work was considered to be a bad omen . Sometimes heads of widows were also shaved down . They were not allowed to remarry . Any woman remarrying was looked down by the society . This cruelty on widows was one of the main reasons for the large number of women committing Sati . In medieval India living as a Hindu widow was a sort of a curse .
5. Purdah System : The veil or the ' Purdah ' system was widely prevalent in medieval Indian society . It was used to protect the women folk from the eyes of foreign rulers who invaded India in medieval period . But this system curtailed the freedom of women .
6 . Girl Education : The girls of medieval India and especially Hindu society were not given formal education . They were given education related tohousehold chores . But a famous Indian philosopher ' Vatsyayana ' wrote that women were supposed to be perfect in sixty four arts which included cooking , spinning , grinding , knowledge of medicine , recitation and many more . Though these evils were present in medieval Indian society but they were mainly confined to Hindu society . As compared to Hindu society other societies such as Buddhism , Jainism and Christians were a bit lenient .
Women in those societies enjoyed far more freedom . They had easy access to education and were more liberal in their approach . According to these religions gender was not the issue in attaining salvation . Any person whether a man or a woman is entitled to get the grace of god . During the time of king Ashoka women took part in religious preaching . According to Hiuen Tsang , the famous traveler of that me , Rajyashri , the sister of Harshavardhana was a distinguished scholar of her time . Another such example is the daughter of king Ashoka , Sanghmitra . She along with her brother Mahendra went to Sri Lanka to preach Buddhism . The status of women in Southern India was better than the North India . While in Northern India there were not many women administrators , in Southern India we can find some names that made women of that time proud . Priyaketaladevi , queen of Chalukya Vikramaditya ruled three villages . Another women named Jakkiabbe used to rule seventy villages . In South India women had representation in each and every field . Domingo Paes , famous Portuguese traveler testifies to it . He has written in his account that in Vijaynagar kingdom women were present in eachand every field . He says that women could wrestle , blow trumpet and handle sword with equal perfection . Nuniz , another famous traveler to the South also agrees to it and says that women were employed in writing accounts of expenses , recording the affairs of kingdom , which shows that they were educated . There is no evidence of any public school in northern India but according to famous historian Ibn Batuta there were 13 schools for girls and 24 for boys in . Honavar . There was one major evil present in South India of medieval time . It was the custom of Devadasis .
7. Devadasis : It was a custom prevalent in Southern India . In this system girlswere dedicated to temples in the name of gods and goddesses . The girls were then onwards known as ' Devadasis ' meaning servant of god . These Devadasis were supposed to live the life of celibacy . All the requirements of Devadasis were fulfilled by the grants given to the temples . In temple they used to spend their time in worship of god and by singing and dancing for the god . Some kings used to invite temple dancers to perform at their court for the pleasure of courtiers and thus ( palace some Devadasis converted to Rajadasis dancers ) prevalent in some tribes of South India like Yellamma cult .