God made man and woman as necessary wheels of the universe. One cannot exist without the other. Man may be countless times wiser and more virtuous than he is at present but he will badly fail in the mission of his life without the presence and co-operation of the woman. Thus men and women are complementary to each other. Though their fields of activity seem to be separate but they are interconnected. The life of man would have been drab and dull if there had not been woman by his side to nurse him, to love him and to guide and console him at different stages in life.
Women in the Ramayan and the Mahabharat period
Since the origin of humanity, man has looked upon woman with respect in India. During the Ramayan and the Mahabharat period, women enjoyed love admiration of men. In ‘Treta’ Sita enjoyed affection on her father, love of her husband and respect of her sons and the people. Her name is always prefixed to the name of Lord Ram as Sita Ram’. In ‘Dwapar’, Radha enjoyed love and confidence of her father, her lover and the people alike. Her name precedes the name of Lord Krishna as Radha Krishna’. Likewise, Draupadi when her honour was damaged, became the cause universal war. Our ancient history and mythology stand as testimony to the fact that woman has been considered venerable in the past India. It shows that we were highly cultured, decent and magnified in living and thinking because women occupied a high place in society then.
Women in the Vedic period
During the Vedic period, the same holy tradition was maintained. There are reliable proofs of the fact that women moved freely in the society and took active part in all the social activities. The names of Gargi and Madalasa are well known to all. This tradition had a setback during the Buddha period. The woman was looked down upon by man during the Buddha period. The result was that she was deprived of her ancient honour and respect. The condition went from bad to worse during the Maurya and the Gupta periods. By and by, the women lost her old greatness and respect and came to occupy a secondary place in human society. It was the beginning of decline in the position of women in Indian society.
The downfall of women
The Muslim invasions of India made the situation still worse. The Indian society, in general, and the position and condition of woman, in particular, degenerated pitiably. The Rajput rules began to fight among themselves for beautiful women considering them as source of carnal pleasures. The Muslim rulers took undue advantage of this sorry plight. It was the period of utter downfall of women. The result was that she was confined to the four walls of the house. The saintly poets called her Maya’ and ‘Thagini’ and described her as an embodiment of many vices in their poems and asked man to keep himself aloof from her.
The impact of the West
With the advent of the British regime in India, woman became a plaything in the hands of man. Man gave her freedom and allowed her to move out of the four walls of the house and called her beloved. That he did to satisfy his sexiness. In was due to the western impact on us. In the distant past, Indians looked upon woman with deep respect but in the present age man looks upon her as his greatest source of pleasure and recreation. He has granted her full freedom willingly or unwillingly but he has no sincere respect for her Now woman enjoys fundamental rights like man and takes parts freely in all the activities, social or political but she has lost her ancient chaste honour. She is respected as mother but loved as butterfly. If this state of affairs continues, woman will have to face utter humiliation. Now she lacks mental poise. She must remain under control of main from birth till death, as a daughter under the control of her father, as wife under the control of her husband and as an old lady under the control of her children. Then and only then, she can win respect and confidence of the society.
The modern women is proud of her elevated position. She has become leader, minister and Prime Minister. She has proved herself equal to man in all respects. But it is painful to note that whatever a woman has become, she has become at the cost of womanhood. Since the woman has crossed the four walls of the house to participate in the various activities of life, she has ceased to be a woman.