Vedas are scriptures, which describes the social, economic and political paradigm and outline of the world at the time when they were composed. They are one of the oldest compilations of scripts known to mankind. Contribution and status of male and female counterparts in any society or economy makes a great impact in the governance and dominance pattern of any government. We often hear about male dominance or suppression of feminism to be a bad effect in the society, which evolved since the ancient times. However, historical evidences do not support these facts. As this column is specified about the Vedas, and as far as Vedic tradition and culture is related, women held a significant social status and importance at that time.
Status of women in Indian society has although witnessed a great fluctuation, yet, there was no discrimination as it is assumed or thought of. If we start from the inception, had there been any type of discrimination based on gender, then Hindu Mythology might never had any concept of Goddesses. Only Gods would have ruled the religious texts and scriptures. On the contrary, “Shakti” shares the most influential position with “Shiva” as the Supreme Being, which is of feminine attribute. All the Gods of high tier has their wives who are holding very important responsibilities of nurturing the nature and society.
Existence of Gods and Goddesses is the most significant and glorifying example of the fact that both male and female have equal responsibilities in sustenance of life and society. For example, Lord Vishnu has Goddess Lakshmi by his side. Lord Vishnu is responsible for sustainment and protection of the Universe and Goddess Lakshmi is the bestower of wealth and prosperity. It is a very well known and established fact that without wealth or income maintenance of any institution is not possible and you can never lead a prosperous life. Therefore, this auspicious pair itself symbolises the fact that male and female are like the identical wheels of the same chariot named life and living.
Another instance is that of Prajapati Brahma and Goddess Saraswati. Prajapati Brahma is the Creator of Universe or everything we know or is beyond our knowledge. Goddess Saraswati is the giver of knowledge, wisdom and intelligence. For this pair, it can be analysed that without knowledge, wisdom and intelligence, you can never create anything. Engineers, scientists and research fellows have to surpass a long duration of education, training and research before they involve themselves in process of invention or discovery.
Speaking of the Rig-Veda, few hymns are dedicated for Aditi, mother of Vedic Gods. As of Goddesses, there is mention of Usha – Goddess of Dawn, Prithvi – Goddess of Earth, Saraswati – Goddess of knowledge, art, music, wisdom and learning, Saranya or Sandhya – Goddess of clouds, Aranyani – Goddess of forests and wild animals, Nirrti – Goddess of deathly hidden grief and sorrows. All the responsibilities handled by the Goddesses are very important for the balance and integrity of life cycle and preserving the universe.
Lopamudra is one of the greatest philosophers of Vedic times and she is wife of Sage Agatsya. Two verses of Hymn 179 of Rig Veda is composed by Lopamudra. This itself is the greatest proof that female has equal right to education and had social freedom as that of their male counterparts. The shlokas composed by Lopamudra and their meanings are as follows:
The above two shlokas clearly indicates the dependencies of a husband over his wife and vice versa. This is a great evidence to point out that if Lopamudra, being a female can compose such liberal verses, the society at that time was certainly liberal and always motivated, accepted and appreciated female participation in all phases of life.
It is a very basic fact that if men had all the potentials to accomplish everything on their own, women had never evolved. And the opposite is also true. Neither can a man or a woman alone is capable to framing a prosperous and dignified life. Female fraternity of Indian subcontinent has witnessed drastic changes in their acceptance and participation in society and government. The sub-continent has been ruled by various dynasties and each kingdom had different values and principles regarding the presence of any female in any venture or pursuit. However, speaking of Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism, or the Vedas, female always held a respectable, dignified and pretentiously notable position in society and household.
Read About>>>> Construction of Temples – the Vedic Architecture