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Hinduism and Gender Equality

 

Hinduism does not say that God created Adam like an earthen pot. Hinduism also does not say that God took a rib of Adam and created from it Eve and delivered her to Adam for his entertainment. While giving the description of Srishti or projection of the universe Vedas do not make any special reference to creation of the man preceding the woman. Actually the male and the female are sides of the same coin. The Rig Veda depicts young men and married girls mixing freely and gives no evidence that married women were in any way secluded. It is pertinent to note that the hymns or suktas of Vedas were composed or written by Rishikas (women preceptors) also and those portions are read with same reverence. Any impartial observer may compare it with religious texts of West Asian origin where revelation is exclusive right of men.

       Vedas, the most adored Hindu scripture, give respectable position to women. Rig Veda allows share in property to the daughter who resides for ever with her parents (2-17-6).It gives right to girls to choose their life partners or husband (10-27-12). A hymn of Atharva Veda says, “May women be united with handsome husbands. They should never be widows and never be in tears. May they be very prosperous and rich! May they wear pretty garments and beautiful ornaments and may they wish to take rebirth in human yoni (form) to maintain perpetuity of humanity (12-2-31). A husband is supposed to request and praise her wife and get her voluntary consent if he wishes to have sexual union with her (6-9).

     There are numerous passages showing the honour and esteem in which women are held. For example, the great epic Mahabharata says----

“The wife is half the man.                    

The best of friends,

The root of the three ends of life,

And of all that will help him in the other world”

“With a wife a man does mighty deeds

With a wife a man finds courage.

A wife is the safest refuge….”

A man aflame with sorrow in his soul,

Or sick with disease, finds comfort in his wife,

As a man parched with heat

Finds relief in water”

“Even a man in the grip of rage

Will not be harsh to a woman,

Remembering that on her depend

The joys of love, happiness, and virtue    

For woman is the everlasting field,

In which the Self is born.”

 

 

Article written by Sushil Kumar Srivastava, author of Book "Gauravshali Bharat"  published by 'Sahitya Sewa Sadan', Nirala Nagar, Rae Bareli
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