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In as well. Women held very important

In ancient India, though patriarchal system was highly prevalent – al1 male
domination — women enjoyed a position of respect and reverence. Several inscriptions
make references to the status of women in that they enjoyed the freedom to make liberal
gifts to religious institutions like temples, dharmasalas not merely for the welfare of
heads of the families but for their parents as well.
Women held very important position in ancient Indian society. There are
evidences to suggest that woman power destroyed kingdoms and mighty rulers. Elango
Adigal’s Sillapathigaram mentioned that Madurai, the capital of Pandyas was burnt,
when Pandyan ruler Nedunchezhiyan killed a woman’s husband by mistake. Veda
Vyasa’s Mahabharata tells the story of the fall of Kauravas because they humiliated
Draupadi. Valmiki’s Ramayana is also about the annihilation of Ravana when abducted
and tried to marry Sita forcibly. The plethora of Goddesses in ancient period was created
to instill respect for women. Ardhanareshwar (God is half-man and half-woman) was
highly worshipped. Women were allowed to have multiple husbands. They could leave
their husbands. In the vedic society women participated in religious ceremonies and
tribal assemblies. There is no seclusion of women from domestic and social affairs but
they were dependent on their male relatives throughout their lives. The system of Sati
existed among the Aryans in the earlier period. The hymns of the Rig-Veda, the Adharva
Veda show that it was still customary for the widow to lay symbolically by the side of her
husband’s corpse on the funeral, forced child marriages were unknown. Women could
choose their husbands through a type of marriage cal1ed Swayamvara. In this, potential
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grooms assembled at the bride’s house and the bride selected her spouse. Instances of
Swayamvara ceremony can be found in epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharaya. This
continued even in the later period in high caste families.
As the time passed the position of women underwent changes in all spheres of
life. In the vedic period, women lost their political rights of attending assemblies. Child
marriages also came into existence.

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