IMPERIENCE           DRKCV.ORG           SSS           


What is new

A Handbook of Hindu Religion: Womanhood


The home is the unit of Hindu society and the nursery of its ethical and spiritual life, and the Hindu woman is the pivot of the home, its source and sustenance. If man is the gṛhastha or the householder, woman is the gṛhiṇī or the owner or maker of the home. There can be no home without a wife or mother. She is the ministering angel of man and the very cradle of family life. Hinduism thus honours the woman as wife and mother as no other religion does.

Marriage is a sacrament and not a civil contract. It is not lust and the gratification of animal instinct but love that links the male and the female as pati-patnī. Wedlock brings out the spontaneity and reciprocity of love, its constancy and irrevocability and the value of spiritual partnership. The domestic life of the woman is not a drudgery but an inner delight arising from her ministering to the husband's needs and the upbringing of the children. As sahadharmacāriṇī, the wife, with her feminine sweetness and grace, co-operates with her husband in the maintenance of the family as the foundation of the corporate life of the community. She willingly shares the duties of the husband in the performance of his fivefold duties involving gratitude to the forefathers and hospitality to the poor and the needy. Her domestic life is not one of mere passivity and dependence due to feminine receptivity and responsiveness, but she is the queen or mistress of the home and its mainstay and prosperity or Laksmī incarnate. As patnī, she often leads the pati in sweetening his masterful will.

Her life of love is enriched by the advent of motherhood. Her instinct of self-sacrifice and service are fully brought out in the bearing and rearing of the children, worthy of the gotra and the spiritual tradition. It is motherhood that elicits the infinite spirit of self-denial and affectionate solicitude and is manifested in the fostering of the child by endless privations and patience bordering on martyrdom. The forgiving nature of the mother increases with the prodigalities of the children even if they happen to be prodigal.

Wifehood is, therefore, extolled in Hinduism as the symbol and embodiment of Divine Love. The Īśvara-Iśvari relation of Godhood is a dual-non- dual relation of Pārvatī-Parameśvara or Sriyaḥpati. Īśvara rules by law and Iśvari by love and the two are glued together as one. It is Divine Motherhood that is the operative grace of God which consists in forgiveness and the redemption of the sinner from his ways of wickedness. The mother's love is spontaneous and the Divine Mother forgives sins by Her overflowing love.

The love shown by the pati to the patnĪ is the real property of the woman and it is richer and more enduring than earthly property and material welfare. The work of the woman is not confined to the fostering of domestic felicity as she often takes a leading part in social service like feeding the poor, healing the sick and rearing children and rejoicing in devotional activities. But her feminine nature is essentially suited to the founding of the home and her fundamental right is the right of love which rules the home and society.