Saturday, May 7, 2016

Women and Religion

Towards the end of the later vedic age , religion became a monopoly of the priestly class and were complicated. It was Beyond the reach of common man, shudras . It denied the salvation to shudras. Sacrifices and rituals became rampant . Women, who enjoyed equal status till Early Vedic Period, were no longer allowed to sit in sabha. They were discriminated in performing religious rituals. This led to the emergence of Buddhism and jainism.
Following facts reveals the discriination faced by women in religious space:
* The Buddhism as a religion evolved out of questioning existing faith and irrational practices. Shudras were allowed to enter into sangha , initially women and insolvent were discriminated upon. After resistance of Ananda women's entry were allowed. 
* Jainism allowed women as head of monasteries. However, maintained that ascetic life was not for women as their nudity was an impediment to their own and others’ salvation
* The Tamil saints Karaikal Ammaiyar and Andal present two different paths to salvation for the woman bhakta. Which was discriminatory. 
* Bhakti and Sufi movement which emerged during medieval time for religious and social reform confined itself on the basis of catse. Women's rights and their religious space was not theme of these movements.
Lack of religious rights along with other rights and perpetuation of patriarchal mind set led further deterioration in the status of women. Later it took the form of evil like Sati. In the 19th and 20th century social reformer like Rjaram Mohan Rai, jyotiba Phule , Ayankali etc gave impetus to movements relating to women's right and dignity.
Our constitution provided equal rights to women that of man. Art 15 provides govt to take affirmative action to uplift the social condition of women. However,despite of all these guarantee, the situation of women ,in religious sphere, is still pathetic in the country. The present women movement regarding temple entry is manifestation of that.

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