Indian Women

The Journey of Indian Women

We as a country, are proud of our rich history and civilization. At the drop of a hat, we are all set to give an elocution of our great culture, values and intact families which almost always involves sacrifices of women, covering up of women and respect of husbands and elders by women. Here is a history lecture on the facts of this voyage.
In this blog, I try to capture the long journey of Indian Women over the last thousands of years. It’s a lot of facts, figures and details. But please try to read through and understand this voyage over hundreds of years. The next time someone tries to make you do something you don’t want to , in the name of “Culture” , you could be ready with points!

The Journey of Indian Women

Rig Vedic society (1500 BC to 500 BC)

This is the time period when the Vedic Sanskrit texts were composed in India.This civilization laid down the foundation of Hinduism as well as the associated Indian culture.

    Some Interesting Points:

  • Women were assigned a high place in society and shared an equal standing with the men.
  • The feminine forms of Absolute Hindu Goddesses are believed to have taken shape in this era.
    • Goddess Kali depicts destructive energy,
    • Durga the protective,
    • Lakshmi the nourishing, and
    • Saraswati for knowledge.
  • Girls and Boys were equally educated. The educators wisely divided women into two groups namely Brahmavadinis and Sadyodvahas. “The former were life-long students of theology and philosophy, the latter used to prosecute their studies till their marriage at the age of 15 or 16.” Brahmavadinis are female Brahmacharis. So marriage was an option for women.
  • Many educated women became teachers or Upadhyayinis.
  • Seventeen of the Seers to whom the hymns of the Rig Veda were revealed were women.
  • The girls and boys of the Rig Vedic society had freedom to choose their partners in life.
  • Inter-caste marriages were also very much possible in this era.
  • Book 5 hymn 6 verse 8 of Rig Veda expresses that “..the wife and the husband being the equal halves of one substance were regarded equal in every respect and both took equal part in all duties, religious and social.”
  • There are indications of matrilineal influence in the society. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mentions genealogies of teachers that bear matrilineal influences.

In short, this was the golden age for Indian women !!

The degradation in their status came in the post vedic period.

2nd century BC (Dharmashastras)

Dharmashastras refer to the genre of Sanskrit text pertaining to Hindi dharma, a product of the Brahmanical tradition in India. Dharmashastras are linked to Hindu law.

  • The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, written in Sanskrit. It identifies its author by the names “Kauṭilya” and “Vishnugupta“, both names that are traditionally identified with Chanakya. Kautilya’s Artha Sastra which is a social and historical document reveals the status of women in India.
  • Some Interesting Points
    • Kautilya considered women as a child bearing machine and encouraged pre-pubescent marriage. If a wife was barren for eight years or if she had borne only daughters over a twelve-year period, the husband could take a second wife without paying compensation to the first or returning her dowry.
    •  When a man had more than one wife, the earliest surviving wife or the one who had borne many sons was given priority
    • The text records the number of restrictions that were imposed on women. “According to him a woman who goes out during day time, to sports or to see a woman or spectacle shall pay a fine of six panas.”
    • Not being a virgin at the time of marriage was an offence punishable by a fine of 54 panas.
    • A wife did have certain rights! The physical punishment which a husband could inflict on his wife was limited to three slaps .
  • Manusmirti is an important Dharmanshastra texutal tradition of Hinduism. The text presents itself as a discourse given by Manu, the progenitor of mankind to a group of seers, or rishis, who beseech him to tell them the “law of all the social classes”.
  • Some Interesting Points:
    • Manusmriti did not favor inter caste marriages as that would pollute the Aryan society. So, “. .to avoid pollution, you must control birth . . . but you lose control over birth, if you lose control over women.” .
    • The text visualizes the role of an ideal Hindu or Indian woman . Woman by nature is wicked, susceptible to passion and infirmities. Hence she should be controlled by a male who is supposed to be strong and superior to her.
    • The text insisted that a woman should never be allowed any freedom. “Day and night women must be kept in dependence by the males of their families. Her father protects her in her childhood, her husband protects her in her youth and her sons protect her in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.
    • According to Manu, a wife is never freed from her husband. A wife must tolerate and obey even a cruel husband. In one passage, Manu even declared that selling a wife is a minor crime.
    • Widows did not have any right over husband’s property or money.
  • The purdah system existed among Kshatriyas in the period of Dharma Sastras. But the Hindu women veiled only their face or sometimes only covered their heads with sarees or “dupattas.”
  • Thus we see that the Rig Vedic Concept of “Sahadharmini“(or equal partner) was slowly being replaced by “Pativrat Dharma“(or duties of a chaste wife).

The Buddhist Influence (3rd century BC to 6th century BC) 

  • The Buddhist Age witnessed a series of changes which lifted woman out of her complacency. More seen as compassion than a desire for equal rights.
  • Budha made the adoption of daughters valid which went against the custom of the prevailing Brahmanical religion. This squashed the general 46 belief that the birth of a son was indispensable to attain moksha or salvation
  • Women were accepted as nuns in the Buddhist monasteries and were free to cross the boundaries of the country.
  • Gautama the Buddha believed in woman-man equality, as evidenced in his concept of marriage.
  • The age at whlch a woman could marry was made twenty.
  • Education to girls were encouraged.
  • Buddhism recognised the real meaning of the word “dampati” which etymologically meant “the joint owners of the house.”In order to emphasize this aspect Buddha gave the wife the right to inherit the husband’s property.
  • Buddhism also permitted divorce in exceptional cases.

3rd century AD to 12 Century AD

After the decline of Buddhism, the ineligibility for learning Vedas by women was encouraged by the Brahmanical religion. By 15th century A.D, most of the women in Indian society were uneducated. But the Buddhist impact certainly was there on the Kshatriya classes. The women belonging to the Kshatriya families were educated at their homes, with the purpose of enabling them to manage their affairs on their own.

  • The status of women underwent further deterioration and they were regarded as equal to Sudras.
  • Seclusion of women became very common even before the advent of Muslims, especially in the upperclass society, due to the rigidity of the caste system.

Medieval India (12th Century to 16th Century)

  • Many social evils like female infanticide, sati, child marriages, Purdah system or zenana, the seclusion of women developed during the middle ages, due to the political instability of northem India, especially due to various invasions.
  • Female infanticide was prevalent among Rajputs and other high castes.
  • Dependence of women on their husbands or other male relatives was a prominent feature of this period.
  • Indian women were politically, socially and economically inactive except for those engaged in farming and weaving.
  • Dowry system was a common phenomenon.

We all know the rest of the story ! Indian womanhood was mercilessly locked in the echo chamber.

In the family, man began to assert his power. Violence was also used to secure this end. This made an average Indian woman a storehouse of fears and weaknesses. Her self-respect was torn into shreds and there was no escape from the miasma of discrimination. There was neither equality nor freedom.

The damage that was done continues even now.

An ideal Indian woman is the one who is totally committed to her husband and family. “It is precisely this rootedness that has made it impossible for even the Indian feminist to challenge family as the single most oppressive institution.” !

I must say our curve is rather steep down.down-graph

Lets hope we bounce back to atleast how it was in the Vedic Age.

To be honest, the Vedic age seems like a luxury now.

Fast Forward to 2018 …… Not every one has changed their mind set from the 2nd century !

Its true that some men of upper middle class , educated families are truly genuine and modern and they care for their women , encourage them and want to help them in all possible ways, be it their wives, sisters, daughters or friends.

But how about the women themselves? Are we ready to change ourselves? Are we going to support, encourage and help other women in their growth and advancement. Are we ready to stop being judgmental about ourselves and other women? Are we okay to just let it be, and not worry so much about our physical appearance to appease men? Are we ready to choose an outfit that makes us feel ‘comfortable’ rather than ‘hot’. Coz the responsibility lies more on our own shoulders to change the the tens of thousands of years of footprint we have left behind.

Now its on us women to decide, whether we need to wait and hope that a new age “Chanakya” or “Manu” will write up another document to change our future or whether we need to write one for ourselves, to show case the world how we intend to work from now on!

Some Books on Ancient India


Indian Women

What now?

Ever since the very unfortunate Nirbhaya incident in Delhi, there has been an outbreak of  #MeToo‘s, #Indiasdaughter‘s, #Womenempowerment‘s doing its rounds in the Social Media.

Feminists, activists, liberals have been encouraging women/society/parents to speak out when their baby, child, or women are abused.

So yes, many heard. Many spoke out. Many fought. Many filed a case. Many wrote blogs. Many debated on TV channels. Many discussed. Many got angry. We are not ashamed any more to report abuses ! Our constant worry of ‘izzhat’, ‘honor’ and upholding the great culture by women acting ‘shudh’ and ‘pure’ have now taken a back-seat.

Fast forward another six years. Its 2018.

Women still require accompaniment of a male member of the family if they choose to step out after dark in many Indian small-towns.  Ladies who dare to share their thoughts on equal-rights or emancipation are still being harassed openly in the social media by the so-called custodians of the patriarchal culture. A woman is still raped every twenty minutes somewhere in India(Yes, this is the reported case..mind you). Child-rape has increased by 336% in the last 10 years. Are these numbers not good enough for further actions? Or is there a specific target for these numbers, that the whole country is waiting upon?

As I write this, another victim of rape, a defenseless eight-month-old baby is fighting for her life after undergoing a three-hour operation and the hospital hallways are deafened by her shrieks and cries.
Hullooo…….Is any one taking notice or even listening??

There is a huge cry for  help..

Is the Law Enforcement,  the Legal System of the country or the respected Prime Minister giving any updates to the citizens ?

  1. The Nirbhaya Fund Report: An amount of Rs 1000 crores have been allocated to the ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ in the 2013-2014 budget. An equal amount gets allocated to the fund every year even after the Modi government has taken over.  How exactly has this fund been used in the prevention of further abuses? Can the government show us the report on the progress?
  2. Prohibit alcohol and drugs: These inhuman crimes have been conducted 99% of the time under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Other than the states of Bihar, Gujarat, Nagaland, and the union territory of Lakshadweep, and a partial ban in the state of Manipur, all other states permit alcohol. Imposing restriction on the easy access and usage of alcohol in public places or a total ban of the alcohol would help prevent most of these barbaric cases. There needs to be an effective crack down of the drug mafia as well. Can the government invest heavily on this initiative? (Nirbhaya fund still remains unspent.)
  3. Clean up the streets from stares and touches:  Use the fund to eradicate such routine and cheap practices that every single woman face on a day to day basis. Hooligans find the public transport or the streets a perfect venue to practice their groping, stares and foul language at women. The policing should be made more effective and widespread in every alley instilling deep fear in the perpetrators.
  4. Enforce Punishments within 6 months of the crime: Impose harsh punishments on the convict within six months of the crime. Until 2013, the highest degree of punishment for rape was a maximum imprisonment of seven years if the convict was proven guilty. The “if” here is a BIG IF. Now the law has been changed to life imprisonment of minimum 20 years or even death penalty in extreme cases. That is a step in the right direction and we appreciate the government and the legal system for this big move. But even in a case as brutal as Nirbhaya, it took the judiciary almost two and a half years to give the verdict. Can the process be made faster?
  5. Please Please Please show us some examples: The media goes on and on reporting the crime making it as sensational as possible. They interview the victim, the victim’s family, the victim’s neighbors. A sad background score is added to present the remorse. Panels of discussion are arranged on all TV channels where distinguished politicians, leaders, educationists, feminists discuss in length about the present state of affaires.  But when it comes to making the mass believe that justice would be finally served, or this is a country that takes rape as a serious crime and convicts are arrested and punished ruthlessly, the media does not take the same interest. Every single case where a convict is punished should reach the length and breadth of the county with the same enthusiasm and devotion as it takes to report the crime. Can the media report all the convicted cases with the same  frenzy and vigor as the crime?
  6. Elementary level Education: The importance of education cannot be emphasized enough. Elementary school education provides the base for a person’s thought process and beliefs. Explain to little kids about gender equality, respect, rights, self-respect and dignity. Teach them to speak up when they think something is not happening right. Widen their horizons and talk about the great world leaders both women and men. Let our boys and girls learn to live together in a society that harness mutual respect and love for each other.

It’s easy to say ‘This is India. This is all we can expect’. Our negative and fizzling attitude will only encourage the evildoers who is waiting for a chance to pounce on another innocent and hapless being.

India has come a long way in the last seventy odd years after the Britishers looted us and left us in ruins. We have stayed together in unison albeit the fact that we are of different faith, culture, creed and language. India is now one of the leading democracies of the world. We have made it through the hard times staying together hand-in-hand.

Now this is another epidemic that is plaguing India and we will tackle it too efficiently. But now is the time to act and lets commit to it together with utmost sincerity and earnestness. Let justice prevail!

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Indian Women · The Indian Society

Choose Your Women Wisely!

It was my cousin sister Neha’s big day.

She and the ‘boy’ were talking in her room with the door shut while the rest of the cousins were parading outside giggling and craning the necks hard to get a good peek at the ‘couple’ through the window. It was a perfect scene of ‘girl seeing’.

The ‘boy’ aka Vinay was a software professional from California. Neha too was a professional employed with Microsoft at Hyderabad.  Neha was an absolute darling. A trained Carnatic singer with exceptionally brilliant communication and interpersonal skills. She was the youngest of all cousins, the prettiest, the pet of our family, and our sun shine girl. All of us cousins had gathered at her home, hoping to get a glimpse of ‘Neha’s guy’.

The proposal from Vinay’s side came to us about three months back. They were from a neighboring town, around two hours drive from our place. The horoscopes had matched perfectly. Vinay’s father and uncles had come home to see Neha last month. Vinay was now on his vacation from his job in California and his father had called last week to inform us of his arrival. Neha’s parents arranged this get together for the families to meet and greet.

Vinay came along with his father and two uncles on the Sunday morning. He was a handsome fellow, 5 feet 10 inches tall, cleanly shaven face and neatly dressed. One look at him, and we were gaga over him. He would be perfect for our Neha. His actions and mannerisms too were gentlemanly and the way he ushered Neha to her room and held the door open for her was rather impressive.

We waited impatiently outside Neha’s room and after what seemed like an eternity, the door opened. Neha exited her room, soon followed by Vinay. Vinay stole a glance at the giggling, gawking cousins and stifled a smile. We knew instantly it must have been a ‘Yes’ from him. Vinay joined his father, uncles and other men of our family and within the next five minutes the gang got up to leave. We tried to poke Neha for an answer but she remained quiet.

The men of our house accompanied them till their car and as Vinay entered the car we found him extending his gaze to spot Neha. But Neha didn’t come out to see him off and stayed back inside home.

We waved our hands at their car watching them leave and ran back home to reach Neha’s side.

“So Neha, how was he?” I could not hold it any longer.

“He seemed nice didi. He is well read and had good manners” Neha replied.

“So is it a ‘Yes’ from you? Oh he is dashingly handsome. He is such a good match for you. ” The excitement in the room was exponentially growing.

“No, its not a Yes from me. It is a ‘No'” Neha responded sharply while the rest of us were baffled.

“Why Neha? Do you want to talk more to him? May be spend more time with each other?” Neha’s mom took over the discussion.

“Well I have concerns.” Neha replied slowly as we raised our eye brows.

“I am not sure if this is the right family for me” Neha was thoughtful.

“Why Neha? What concerns do you have of his family? We enquired very well. Their family is highly reputed. They are very affluent and respectable people in their home town” Neha’s father too got involved in the discussion.

“Oh I don’t doubt their affluence or their stand in the society daddy. But I don’t think the family respects women” Neha said.

“But he had great manners towards women. He held the door open for you. He let you walk ahead. He even did a namaste to your mother and grandmother”. I interrupted with my background in MA psychology backing me up .

“Yes his manners were impeccable. But I do not want to get into a family who did not care to bring the mother of the boy to meet the prospective wife of his son both the times they have been here” Neha made her point and we all nodded to the fact. It was indeed a notable point. Bot the times the family came over, the mother was absent. Why is it that they don’t respect her opinion?

“Did you mention this to Vinay? Neha’s mother asked.

“Yes I did. His response was the first time his dad didn’t get the mother along as the proposal was not finalized. And when Vinay called his mom to accompany him today, she responded saying it’s Vinay’s decision that matters , not hers”

“That makes sense Neha, after all it is yours and Vinay’s decision to marry or not. Not his mother’s.” I suggested.

“Yes but Vinay has grown up watching his parents. He has seen a dad who does not care for his wife’s presence and raised by a mother who does not consider her point of view relevant enough. She need not be a decision maker. But she doesn’t think of herself important enough to meet her proposed daughter-in-law.”

We all nodded our heads in unison.

“Vinay could be as modern as he could get. He could be the futuristic idol a woman could dream of. But the relation between his parents and his mother’s lack of self-importance speak volumes of how their son would view his own wife and his life. I would never want to get into a family with whose women I cannot connect”  Neha concluded as the rest of us agreed to her notion.

Neha may have been the youngest of all. But her observation made us all ponder. It sometimes takes the new generation to lead us to the right path.

Women are social beings and feel the inherent need to depend on each other for support, mentorship, approval, and friendship. Be wise in choosing your women be it in-laws, friends, co-workers, for it determines the kind of person you would eventually shape up to.

It’s not just the men we choose that matter, it’s the women we choose too!

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Holiday Deal – Free e-book!!

Please subscribe to my blog with your email id or comment your email id below or contact me ( this December, and receive a free copy of my e-book !  Guaranteed, the book will place a smile on your face!

Enjoy your holidays !

“The Money Lender – Tales from a Small Town in South India”


Indian Women

Book Review: The Money Lender

Thank You Geeta for the lovely words. So glad you enjoyed the read!

Fabric of Life

TITLE: The Money Lender: Tales from a small town in South India
AUTHOR: Manju Nambiar
GENRE: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781521423868



“I am a money lender by profession and belong to a small town in the Southern State of Kerala in India. I help people financially in their times of need, and demand exorbitant interest rates in return. I love money. I think the world revolves around money. Money is one thing that can bring happiness, peace, tranquility to my life. As I spent all my life dealing with money and people who yearn for it, I get to hear several interesting tales about the fascinating people around me. So I compiled few of such amusing stories for my readers. These stories reflect our town, our way of living, our thoughts and priorities and our deepest innermost fears.”

The book is a collection of short stories, narrated…

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Blog · Humor · Satire · The Indian Society

A Perfect Indian Wedding.

A stressful day at work, followed by an evening of cranky kids and a know-it-all husband! That was all I needed to break down and collapse. To calm myself, I tried my comfort food of dal-chawal-ghee for dinner. Though it helped a little, I still had tensions in my body and felt stiff. My latest meet-up with the mindfulness group had warned me to always look for any strain of stress deep into myself under such grave circumstances.

I breathed in and out a couple more times and tried hard to pacify the nerves . I knew a round of yoga before sleep had the potential to put me at ease, but was too lazy. So I went ahead and did the one thing that have always (well 80% of the time) had an instant soothing effect. “Call my mom in India” . Amma would fill me in with the latest from our village and the story of some one else magically puts the spirit back in me. Thanks to the Indian blood flowing in my veins. Old habits die hard.

So I put the kids to sleep and installed the husband back to his computer. I then went into the bedroom, closed the door, adjusted the room temperature, covered myself in a blankie, lied down and called my Amma. The familiar tone of our landline buzzed in my ears “Tring Tring Tring…” and I had already begun to feel better

“Hello” my mother’s voice was a welcome music to my ears.

“Hello Amma, what news there?” I enquired not wasting time.

“Neethu, we went to attend Bhaskaran mama’s son’s wedding yesterday” Wow a marriage in the family meant there would be enough tales to fill me in.

Atul, my cousin who is getting married lived 40 miles away from us in California. I had just talked to him a few months back. I knew his parents were looking for a bride for him. But didn’t realize they would find one so fast.

“How is the bride?” I led her on

“She was so-so” Came my Amma’s standard reply, who never gave exemplary credits for anyone. Her “so-so” actually meant that the bride was ‘very good’, but Amma just didn’t want to admit it.

“Is Atul happy?”

“Oh poor boy, he has become so thin. Does not get to eat anything.”

“I thought he looked rather fat” I corrected her recalling the chubby cheeks and the protruding tummy.

“What fat? He looks so thin and frail now. No one to cook for him in the US. Poor boy!” My Amma almost cried.

“Yes poor indeed” Agreeing with her was easy and I wanted her to move on.

“So what does the bride do?” I changed the subject back to the bride.

“She is an MBA. Lekha was very particular in getting a post graduate.”

Lekha mami, Atul’s mom had pledged to her husband’s family that her son would marry only a post graduate. This was when her co-sister and my other aunt, Meena mami, had disclosed in a family gathering that she was the only postgraduate woman in the entire family. Lekha mami, being a failed BA graduate, took this as an insult to herself and had vowed in to bring a post-graduate to her family for her son.

“Ahh that’s good. Why did they marry in a hurry?” I asked.

“They saw the girl three weeks back and the kids liked each other. Why wait for all this?” Amma retorted. Yes why waste time trying to find one’s soulmate!.

“Well, they could have gotten to know each other better Amma”

“Yes but poor Atul, he is starving there. He really needs to eat good food”

“Then he should hire a cook. Is this a good reason or what?”

“Neethu, don’t you know? Its so expensive to get a cook in the US” Amma sounded concerned.

“So is wife a free cook?” I asked in an irritated tone

“Neethu, it’s the wife’s duty to take care of her husband’s health. Why do you say such things?”

“How come the bride agreed to marry so fast?”

“Oh her family wanted a son-in-law in the US.” I guess there was another story of solemn vow running in their family as well.

“Besides she wanted to continue her studies in the US. So they are also very happy with this alliance.” Amma continued.

“That’s good Amma.”

“And your grand mother is so happy she could see Atul marry” My 95 yeard old grandma was praying hard to get Atul marry ASAP, so she could witness her grandson’s marriage.

“That’s wonderful Amma” I felt wonderful too.

“We missed you Neethu, Please promise you will be here for the next wedding in the family”

“I promise Amma, I will be there ” I said Good Night to Amma after all her wedding stories and switched off the phone.

Well, All is well that ends well.


1) Atul found a good cook
2) Lekha mami found a post graduate daughter-in-law. Finally she can hold her head high in the family gatherings.
3) The Bride gets to continue her studies in the US without worrying about the stay, and visa.
4) The Bride’s family got an American son-in-law.
5) Grandma gets to attend Atul’s wedding.

“What a perfect system.” Every one is happy and every one is celebrating. And
this is a foolproof system for 80% of the cases. God Willing, the couple will go on to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary one day.

And a time saver as well! No worries about finding a potential partner, dating and getting commitment from the potential person, or no hassles about arranging your own wedding. All you got to do is “Trust your parents!”

“But how about love?” I wondered. Well that will eventually develop when you see the other person fulfilling his/her duties towards you. After all, we brought the concept of “Karma” into this world!

A smile appeared on my face as I thought about explaining this concept to my American colleagues. A practice they will never understand, but something that’s been tried and tested in our country for centuries. A successful society that is driven  by ‘Karma’ !

With that, I found myself at complete nirvana. I closed my eyes and fell into a deep slumber in no time.

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Nitya (aka Neethu) is a character from my next book. The above article is from her perspective. Watch out for my next book, to know more about Nitya ! You will find her quite entertaining!