Dasarupaka (critical study)

by Anuru Ranjan Mishra | 2015 | 106,293 words

This page relates ‘Status of Women in the Mudritakumudacandra’ 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 Mudritakumudacandra

Yaśaścandra has mentioned very few things about the women of that period, in the Mudritakumudacandra. However, Hemacandra, who was contemporary poet to Yaśaścandra, gives more details about woman of that period in his Dvyāśrayakāvya. Yaśaścandra has mentioned that women unlike men had very little freedom. The women were tortured and ill treated by the Digambaras.

That is why, Devasūri fought the Digambaras to liberate the women:

taruṇījanasya yanmuktiratra prakaṭam rahasyam

However, Hemacandra gives more information about the women of those days. He states, in his Dvyāśrayakāvya, that the women were considered as “abhayatilakagaṇi” (xviii.62), because a girl was considered as the head-ache for her father. However, it is also true that the women were at times regarded as the partners of men and enjoyed everything with them. Even they eat and drink in one pot (xi.2). After the death of the husband, the widow used to be dressed in a deer leather (iv.65). They were also free to go out to buy the vegetables and food items from the market (vii.78). The Women used to be educatedand were expert in grammar, fine arts like singing and dancing (iv.44). They were allowed to go to the public place and temple to watch dance programs, but they had to cover the face by the veil. Married girls were instructed to maintain social customs. They observed vratas like Cāturmāsika, Aṣṭācatvāriṃśya (xvii.50). Besides domestic duties, they also performed other jobs, such as protecting fields, cornand fruit and also they used to harvest crops, sell garlands and flowers (xviii.33-34). Some Āryan and non-Āryan wives used to accompany their husbands in the battle field.

For the marriage, bride-groom used to come to the house of a bride. The custom followed the Hindu laws. The child marriage was accepted in the society but the widow marriage was prohibited. However, in exceptional cases, the widow marriage was allowed but there was no sanction for inter-caste marriage. The birth of female child in the house was not an occasion of happiness, whereas the birth of a male child was a great occasion of happiness. There was no system of taking dowry; however, the gifts like ornaments and jewels were counted as their own and also they were called “strīdhana”. The Dvyāśrayakāvya gives the evidence of co-wife system; particularly, it was practiced in the royal families (i.107, ii.9).

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