Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Status of Women in the Urubhanga’ 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 Ūrubhaṅga

The girl child used to get the same kind of respect as a son. In those days, people used to live in the joint family. The women do their housework, serve food to their in-laws, husband. They were allowed to study and pass time with friends in their young age. However, they learnt only music and dance. For women the husband was the lord and protector. The wife follows the husband’s path under all circumstances. She used to always cover her face with the veil. In the Ūrubhaṅga, when Duryodhana was lying on the battleground, the family members come to see him. Both the queens (Mālavī and Pauravī) had not covered their face with the veil.

Seeing them, Duryodhana becomes surprised:

yanme prakāśīkṛtamūrdhajāni raṇam praviṣṭānyavarodhanāni

The queens always think of the welfare and happiness of their husband. In religious activities, both husband and wife give feasts and donations together. They perform fasts and penances. Widows were denied from performing auspicious activities. Their dress was different from the married woman. However, sometimes they were allowed to remarry.

The regular (anuloma) marriages were allowed but the marriages contrary to caste (pratiloma) were strictly prohibited. The marriage used to be celebrated in the house of bride. There was no child marriage system in those days.

From the Ūrubhaṅga, we come to know as to how women were loyal to their husbands and mothers loved their children, regardless of being good or bad. Gāndhārī’s heart is overcome with grief, getting news of the fall of Duryodhana. She is eager to see her son.

For her, Duryodhana represented the hundred sons and he constituted the golden pillar of the sacrifice:

vīryākaraḥ sutaśatapravibhakta cakṣuḥ………timirāñjalitāḍitākṣaḥ

The relationship of mother and son is never lost, even after the death.

Gāndhārī agreed to the request of Duryodhana, that she should be his mother again in the next birth (jātyām me tvameva jananī bhava) and she complimented Duryodhana that he expressed only her wish:

mama manorathaḥ khalu tvayā bhaṇitaḥ
  –(Ūrubhaṅga, T. Gaṇapati Śāstrī, p.108).

The queens could not control themselves watching their husband’s ill fate. They were crying non-stop, because they knew that they were going to lose their husband.

When Duryodhana tells the queen Mālavī, that the warrior’s lady should not cry, Mālavī replies that she may be a warrior’s wife, but she is a woman and his wife first and so she should cry:

bālā eṣā sahadharmacāriṇī rodimi
  –(Ūrubhaṅga, T. Gaṇapati Śāstrī, p.108).

However, the Ūrubhaṅga informs about also the self-immolation (satīdāha) of some of the queens. The system was accepted by the society in those days also.

In the Ūrubhaṅga, the other queen says that she would not cry but she would like to sacrifice herself in the funeral pyre

ekakṛtapraveśaniścayā na rodimi
  –(Ūrubhṅga, T. Gaṇapati Śāstrī, p.109).

Hence, it can be observed that women in those days sacrificed themselves in the funeral pyre of their husbands.

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