The Women of the Hindu Religion Universally, the women of the world have been trying to gain the same opportunities as the men. The women in India who are committed to the Hindu religion have been struggling for years to break the traditions. The women of the Hindu religion had many challenges in becoming a nineties women. In the Hindu religion the traditional values are sacred and cannot be broken. Even with these restrictions the Hindu women have passed many obstacles and became the women that they want to be today. In this paper, I will go into detail about the women of Hinduism.
I will focus on two main areas. The first area is marriage. A big part of marriage deals with tradition, abuse, divorce, and the commitment that a women has to put into the marriage. Education is another main obstacle that Hindu women pushed their way past; however, women that are well educated cause a lot of problems within the Hindu religion.
The first area that I researched was Hindu marriage. Marriage is extremely sacred in the Hindu religion. The women get wed at a very young age. The common age is 17-20, which for me is hard to comprehend. However, in India this age is very common and still to this day women are becoming wed at a young age. Many women are urged to wait until after they get out of school, but if they follow the Hindu tradition it says that home and marriage comes before all other obligations.
According to the Indian Caste Systems by OMalley, “It is necessary for an orthodox Hindu to get his daughters married before the age of puberty: an unmarried daughter is a matter for reproach and causes a family to be looked down upon” (OMalley 91). One thing that caught my attention when I was reading was if an unwed girl dies, the family honor is saved my paying a man to go through a form of marriage with the corpse. In the United States it is common for people to meet their future husband or wife through a mutual place of work or acquaintances; however, in India many of the women meet their husbands through adds in the Hindustan Times. The add in this particular newspaper says, “A typical abbreviation used to be 22/160, the young womans age and height. It is now 22/160/2,200, her monthly earnings” (Mitter, 20).
As you can see the women have progressed, but there is still a problem considering that the women must place an add to find a suitor. Another obstacle that women had to overcome is the caste system. In the Hindu society the caste system is the basis of their religion, so it is important for the people of the religion to follow the rules as they are written. The men had to marry women within the same caste system or from a lower caste system with permission.
In the book Indian Caste Systems it is noted that, “It is necessary for every Hindu to marry so as to have a son, for his salvation after death depends on offering duly made by one lawfully begotten: if a man has not go one, he should adopt a son, who will be as capable of performing the necessary rites” (OMalley 90-91). Marriage is a sacred event and according to orthodox Hindu belief, women can only perform this once in her life time. Women are taught at a young age that their husbands are earthly gods and that men are superior beings. So, from a young age the Hindu women are taught to feel less than their husbands and all men. If a Hindu women is a widow of a high caste she is prohibited to remarry; however, many women of lower castes do remarry and go against the Hindu tradition. Another big taboo in the Hindu system is if the wife commits adultery it is said, “she should be torn apart by dogs”.
In the past few years divorce has become more common in the Indian tradition, but the women that go through with it are looked down upon. Abuse in the Hindu religion is very common, but it is overlooked and has been for years. The Hindu religion has guidelines for women called the Kama Sutra (1V,2), which outlines the duties of a women and her obligations to be a good housewife. As I was reading Dharmas Daughters I came across a quote that really bothered me it said, “Whatever my husband has to say I listen” (Mitter 65). I do not consider myself to be really into my rights as a women, but as I was researching this paper I was really disturbed by the traditions that the men have and how degrading they are for the women.
The next major topic of Hindu women that I will focus on is the education of the women. In the past women were not allowed to get an education and had trouble even leaving the house. This is one topic that through time it has changed. A lot if not all girls are allowed to attend school and are encouraged to go and get an education.
However, there are problems with the Hindu tradition when young girls are getting the education that every girl deserves. The main problem is that the girls do not want to get married until they are out of school and since it is a ritual for a girl to get married during puberty many of the older generations of Hindus are against the girls in schooling. Another problem are the women that actually got the degrees. They had many consequences from their actions. In Dharmas Daughters a survey shows, “Forty percent of working women were not married. Most of the women that were voluntarily not employed were married and home with children” (Mitter 157).
In an interview a top graduate said, “A women should work only if her husband does not earn enough or if her family needs money for her marriage expenses” (Mitter 157). That statement in India would be a common statement, but this statement, in my view, is nothing more than an old tradition that should be reconsidered. I see the point about the women should only work if her husband or their family needs it, but I do not understand why a women with a degree should stay home because her husband does not want to break tradition. In the United States a woman with an education is looked up too and commended for her hard work. This is not the case in India. A girl who is educated is assumed headstrong and liberated from tradition.
She is also a big threat to the family harmony and in the Hindu religion they sum it up in one main word “unmarriageable”. Another problem in India is that when the girls are urged to stay in school there is often a shortage of jobs. In Dharmss Daughters a young women says, “You urged us to stay in school, and now we have our SSC (secondary school certificate) but there are no jobs. If we have to end up doing the same work as our mothers, why were we encouraged to go for education? (Mitter 148). This creates a large problem for all of the women that gave up so much for their education.
Granted every country has this problem with jobs, but there are more consequences with this problem in the Hindu religion. So as you can see the Hindu traditions are very strict. The women had many obstacles to overcome. Through the past few decades Hindu women have given themselves a place in a mans world.
The Hindu tradition of marriage and the womens responsibilities have changed through time. Education has also been a new opportunity for women. The women of India have progressed and I am sure through more time the situation will improve.