Great Women Of India,The Holy Mother Birth Centenary Memorial by Advaita Ashrams, Editors Swami Madhavananda Ramesh Chandra Majumdar

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THIS VOLUME deals with the ideals
of Indian womanhood, its position in
Indian life and society through the ages,
as well as the biographical sketches and
contributions of great Indian women
who made their marks in different
spheres of activities and different periods
of Indian history.It is divided into two main sectionsThe first gives a general survey of the ideals and position of Indian womanhood in different spheres of life, both in the past and in the present, together with a chapter on the evolution of Mother worship in India. This is intended to emphasize not only the highest conception of woman as mother, but also her potentialities as an instrument for realizing the Divine-the highest honour and reverence that a community can offer to its womanhood. This section mainly seeks to review in a general way ‘what Indian woman was in the past and what she is at present, pointing to the obvious conclusion-what she may be in the future.The same object is sought to be achieved in the second section by a study of the lives of great women in India-not only those who actually lived and died,but also many others who are known only from literary sources such as the Epics, Puranas, and classical Sanskrit literature.OF GREAT women in Vedic literature our information is unfortunately scanty and uncertain. Although some women appear
to have been heroic enough to take part in big fights, they have had no place in political life; the Maitrāyaṇī Samhitā (4.7. 4) expressly says that men go to the assembly, and not women. In the time of
the Upanishads we have evidence that some women shared in the intellectual interests of the day, as is exemplified by Yājñavalkya’s two wives, one of whom was interested in his philosophical discussion,the other not. As scholars or teachers some other women are mentioned, such as Gārgi, who tried to embarrass even the great Yajñavalkya by her searching questions. But these instances probably form exceptions rather than the rule; for from the time of the Brāhmaṇas we find distinct traces of the lowering of the position of women. No doubt, the wife was a regular participator in the sacrificial offerings of her husband ; but her right of independently
offering oblation appears to have been restricted in later times. She was given an honoured place indeed as mistress in her husband’s home, but she was still subservient to his will; and in the Shatapatha Brāhmana (1. 9. 2. 12; 10. 5. 2. 9) we have a reference to the rule
that the wife should take her food, not with but after the husband.Although the Kātyāyana Shrauta-sūtra (1. 1. 7)remarks that the Shruti ‘does not discriminate between man and woman,’ this Brāhmana (4. 4. 2.13) declares that ‘women own neither themselves nor an

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