Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Status of Women in the Samudramanthana’ of the English study of the Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya: an important work on Hindu dramaturgy (Natya-shastra) from the tenth century dealing with the ten divisions of Sanskrit drama (nata), describing their technical aspects and essential dramaturgical principals. These ten types of drama are categorised based on the plot (vastu), hero (neta) and sentiment (rasa)

Part 13 - Status of Women in the Samudramanthana

Women enjoyed high respect in the society. The Candels were very free-minded administrators. There were no restrictions on the women in the society. People were living peacefully. Even marriage within one’s own caste (varṇa) seems to have already become the general rule. Candella Harṣa married a suitable lady of same class (savarṇa) named Kañcukā, from the Cāhanāna family. Yaśovarman had for his wife Puppā, hailing from a noble family. Mahādevavarman had three queens. The Brāhmin ministers of the Candel rulers were also careful in selecting brides from equally illustrious families. Khajurāho rock inscription indicates the polygamy in the princely society having co-wife (sapatnī). The chief queen was enjoying distinctive position even in the royal court. Brahmins also could take more than one wife. Ananta, the most favourite minister of Kīrtivarman, had two wives. The use of vermillion (sindura) on the forehead of married women must have been very popular.

The married women are described as “sīmantinī” (married woman decorated with vermillion on the forehead at the beginning of the parted hair). On the death of the husband, it was the custom, as it is now among Hindu women, to remove the sindura mark along with jewellery such as necklace of pearls. External signs by which widowhood is indicated in the Hindu society seem to have been widely in use in the Candel country and with these signs must have been associated the usual austerities which a Hindu widow is required to perform.

The society upheld the Puraṇic idea of womanly chastity and devotion to the husband. To protect a married woman from all kinds of danger and harm was apparently regarded as a sacred duty. The birth of a son raised the status of the wife. Some of Candel queens, however, seem to have taken part in the social activities. For instance, queens of Paramardideva and Vīravarman, undertook some works of social activity like building of rest houseand digging of well.

The Samudramanthana describes many important aspects of women, such as familyand costumes. For instance, the place of wife was important in the family. She was well-wisher of the husband and used to share her sorrows and happiness.

Women also respected their parents as Lakṣmī did.

mama durlabham devatārūpasya stātasya
  –(Samudramanthana, C. Dalal, p.186).

The female offspring could not bear death of the father,


However, there was the system of offering dowry to the groom at the time of marriage ceremony of a girl

ayam cāstu kanyāmahādānasya dakṣiṇākaustubho maṇiḥ
  –(Samudramanthana, C. Dalal, p.190).

The Samudramanthana describes some traditional beliefs like quivering of eyes and shoulders:

vāmām prasphurantīm, pratyāsannam priyadarśanam piśunayati
  –(Samudramanthana, C. Dalal, p. 157).

It also describes the good behavior of people.

For instance, when an ascetic visited any place, they treated the guest with high regard:

“(bṛṣīmupanīya) alaṃkarotu etāmāryaḥ
  –(Samudramanthana, C. Dalal, p.181).

Sometimes they were using their own upper-garment as the seat of a person:

“(uttarīyamāsanavat kṛtvā) idamalaṃkarotu dānavendraḥ
  –(Samudramanthana, C. Dalal, p.180).

Further, it describes the habit of people like sleeping on a cot:

paryaṅkatām yāti jagatpateryaḥ

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