Africa to Indus-Valley (Vedic Age - Women)
In antiquity migrated small families began settling down in separate family groups near water and food sources. Male members were responsible for arranging food which prompted to stay away for several hours and days from the family. In his absence mother was responsible to take burden on her shoulder. Perhaps Mother’s instinct, emotion and attentive nurturing together privileged upper hand in the family. Her extreme sacrifices towards protecting children and family revered her as saviour. She was a friend, partner and caring, her guidance to kids and male members honoured the title as ‘Goddess’. Rig Veda 10.17.10: “O’ Mothers! Purify us with your compassion, understanding and enlightenment. The women cleanse us all from all our sin, corruption and defects. We come out firm, pure and noble from their blessed company. Atharveda 6.61.7 O’ enlightening Mother! You have the potential to destroy the evil. You have potential to destroy the clouds of frustrations and doubt. You are brave and you only aspire for our well-being and success! We indeed are blessed!” Over the period of time growing family members demanded more space, separated settlements but lived together in same group, which formed a hamlet that originated them as “tribe”. Perhaps the tribal group names May have derived from their behaviour, occupation and culture. The Mother of first family who established root of family group was called ‘Kula Devi’ and Father named as ‘Kula Devata’. Realization to pay tribute created deity of Kula Devi and honoured during family group gathering. “Rig Veda 8.18.7 May the pure life-giving enlightening woman be respected as mother everyday so that she provides us with peace and eradicates all hatred from the society.” Mahabharata, Shantiparva, 30.9 Bhishma Pitamaha said: “The teacher who teaches true knowledge is more important than ten instructors. The father is more important than ten teachers of true knowledge and the mother is more important than ten such fathers. There is no greater guru than mother.”
Women had significant role, both Pre and Proto Vedic scholars realised the importance of men-women contribution towards foundation of a civilization. Veda inscriptions emphasised spiritual role for women which clearly signifies the importance. Pre Vedic civilization went further ahead considering mother as above all the Gods. Mother Goddesses spiritually ruled most ancient civilizations. View pictures of Mother Goddesses: Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Minoan, Mycenaeans, Athens, Chinese, Mesoamerica, and Romans. “When God Was a Girl” - BBC Documentary (Women and Religion) on youtube explains about ancient Goddesses received respect from ancient people who worshiped and chanted praises. “O bride! Ma the knowledge of the Vedas be in front of you and behind you, in your center and in your ends. May you conduct your life after attaining the knowledge of the Vedas. May you be benevolent, the hardbinger of good fortune and health, and live in great dignity and indeed be illumined in your husband’s home (Atharva Veda 14.1.64).” In early Vedic civilization women were equally encouraged performing social activities. Manu Smrity (3/56) - “Yatr Naryostu Pujyantay, Ramantay Tatr Devataa” The Gods reside in places where women is Worshiped. Atharvaveda 11.5.18, 14.1.6, 14.1.20, 7.46.3, 7.47.2 scripts respected and encouraged women. Rig Veda 10.85.7, 3.31.1, 10.159, 1.164.41, 10.85.46 focuses on importance of women contribution of knowledge in home and society. Yajur Veda 20.9, 16.44, 10.26, 30.15 emphasis men and women are equal. Rig veda 10.53.8 bodies in the ancient times was not burnt but buried; nor can we discover the slightest allusion to the later practice of Sati or cremation of the widow with her husband. Beauty of women considered more important than the race and caste. There is an example of unmarried Satyawati daughter of a fisherman tribe met a sage Parashara who fathered her son Vyasa. Satyavati was great-great mother of Pandava and Kaurava of Mahabharata. Later King Shantanu enchanted by her beauty and smell she carried offered to marry her, which she accepted on condition that their children would inherit the throne. Such encouraging examples too prevailed during those times.
The slavery existed during Rig Vedic period. Manu in samhitas “he refers to slave girls who waited upon the Kings to look after his comforts. Manu requires the King to fix their wages and allowances suited to their rank and position for the women employed in royal service”. Manu (v.8.363) – “Yet who secretly converses with such women or with female slaves kept by one master and with female ascetics, shall be compelled to pay a small fine.” In Rig Veda there is reference of ‘Slave Girls’ were rounded up and used as slave girls after killing their men in raids by rival tribes. These girls or women were maid servants in the day to serve woman masters and house. Rig Veda 6.27.8, 8.38 and 5.47.8 denotes how kings presented chariots full of slave girls to guests, close circles and priests. Women were subjected as property in many cases, were taken under possession after lost in gambling and failing to loan payment. They were known as ‘Vadhu’ is also knows for wife, masters were free to establish sexual contact without any marriage ceremony. In most cases masters behaved civilly with them, rather kept them as family members. However children born to them did not have property or hereditary rights. It was up to the will of the master to consider but could be challenged by other members if disputed. Few examples of kings ruthless behaviours towards wives (India Devine org) – 1st “Ahalya, the rishi’s wife, first victimised by powerful Indra and then instead of finding refuge in husband’s arms, faced curse for doing wrong.” Atharva Veda 14.1.20 describes Hey wife! Become the queen and manager of everyone in the family of your husband - 2nd “King Harishchandra sold his wife in the market considering Taramati a wife is his property.” Rig Veda 10.34.13 describes any kind of gambling particularly the fame of dice also cause of corruption - 3rd “Yudhishtar waged Draupadi after lost in the gambling with Kauravs” There are more examples which reveal sobbing history of women not only in Vedic period rather persisted in all the civilisations, except the Dravidian and early Vedic period which delivered women higher status than men by honouring her with Goddesses. Slave girls system was cruel as were shared with nearest and dearest guests and sold. Perhaps women slavery gave birth to freelance prostitution.