Womanhood, an Indic Perspective

  • Article provides an Indic perspective on importance given to women in society. We need rediscover this wisdom and share it worldwide.

When International Women's Day is round the corner the status of women and empowerment will be discussued. All such conversations are invariably based on emphasizing  the obscurantism of the Indian culture and it’s condemnation for all the evils affecting our women folks. 


In this context, it is pertinent to have an overview of the Indic perspective on Womanhood which is diametrically opposed to the prevalent notions. If the world follows this profound idea of Womanhood, almost all issues concerning Women will get resolved.

This very idea is the edifice of the quintessential wisdom of our ancient scriptures, where women are revered as Prakriti or Shakti. This whole cosmos is the manifestation of it and she is the energy which runs it. Purush in our Samkhya Darshan is the ultimate consciousness and Shakti is that divine force which brings completeness to the Purusha. Shiva is a Pure Being & Shakti is the Power to become. 

Each world has the nature of Shiva, higher Self or Spirit, and the  power or dynamic energy of Shakti. Each creature has the nature of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is the intrinsic reality ,Shakti is the power of action.  Shiva is beyond every action, while Shakti is the power of action at all levels. Shiva is the state of absorbption or Samadhi , the highest stage in meditation, in which a person experiences oneness with the universe, and Shakti is the power of bliss. 

The earliest evidence of reverence for the feminine aspect of God in Sanatan Dharma appears in chapter 10.125 of the Rig Veda, also called the Devi Suktam hymn

I am the Queen, the gatherer-up of treasures, most thoughtful, first of those who merit worship.

Thus gods have established me in many places with many homes to enter and abide in.

Through me alone all eat the food that feeds them, – each man who sees, breathes, hears the word outspoken.

They know it not, yet I reside in the essence of the Universe. Hear, one and all, the truth as I declare it.

I, verily, myself announce and utter the word that gods and men alike shall welcome.

I make the man I love exceeding mighty, make him nourished, a sage, and one who knows Brahman.

I bend the bow for Rudra [Shiva], that his arrow may strike, and slay the hater of devotion.

I rouse and order battle for the people, I created Earth and Heaven and reside as their Inner Controller.

On the world’s summit, I bring forth sky the Father: my home is in the waters, in the ocean as Mother.

Thence I pervade all existing creatures, as their Inner Supreme Self, and manifest them with my body.

I created all worlds at my will, without any higher being, and permeate and dwell within them.

The eternal and infinite consciousness is I, it is my greatness dwelling in everything

– Devi Sukta, Rigveda 10.125.3 – 10.125.8

The Shakti epitomises so much in our ethos, in the form of Saguna Goddess, she is worshipped as Saraswati, Durga, Lakshmi, Parvati. Indic approach not just speaks of revering women but Women are the one who provide wisdom and virtue to society. Therefore, in numerous of our Vedic Chants, Feminine Power is eulogised as the most divine and sacred power embedded with all intellect and knowledge.

The Rig Vedic Mantras speak like this:

O scholarly woman, the way a river breaks away mightiest of hills and rocks, the scholarly woman destroys myths and hypes through her intellect alone. May we bow to women through our polite words and noble actions.” - Rigveda 6.61.2


“A scholarly woman, the entire life of society depends upon you. You provide us the right knowledge. May you bring knowledge to all segments of society.” - Rigveda 2.41.17


It’s elucidation is the presence of so many Female Rishikas who were no lesser in wisdom than their male counterparts for eg Ghosha, Apala, Lopamudra, Aditi, Gargi. 


Lopamudra was the wife of Saint Agastya who visualized the Panchdasi mantra of the Shakta tradition and was one of the prominent Brahmavadini. Ghosha, a Brahmavadini was also a Mantradrika (well-versed in Mantras). Similarly Apala, the daughter of Sage Atri was a woman saint who too composed hymns devoted to God Indra. Gargi, the Vedic prophetess and daughter of sage Vachaknu, composed several hymns that questioned the origin of all existence. When King Janak of Videha organized a 'brahmayajna', a philosophic congress centered around the fire sacrament, Gargi was one of the eminent participants. She challenged the sage Yajnavalkya with a volley of perturbing questions on the soul or 'atman' that confounded the learned man who had till then silenced many an eminent scholar. Woman along with man participated in all Dharmic activities equally and hence she was considered as SAHADHARMACHARINI.


The presence of such dynamic women in the society is enough to prove that women played an esteemed and elevated role. Hence, what needs to be done is not just make occasions like International Women's Day, a simple ritualistic thing on the Western stereotypical idea of Feminism but try to reaffirm this Indic Wisdom and make it so prominent that it becomes a way of life across the world and particularly India.


Indian Women need not blindly emulate and judge themselves through the Western feminist prism which is altogether different in paradigm. What is required is not Western preaching but popularizing and instiling at the societal level,  these lofty Sanatani ideals which have been forgotten by us for long.


This is the only panacea which India being a 'Vishwa Guru' can impart to the world at large.


To read all articles by author


Author is a practicing Sanatani Dharmic Hindu who has obtained M. Phil and Ph. D. in History. She has published articles on a variety of historical, Dharmic and Samskritic aspects.


Also read

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2. Women Gurus in Hinduism

3. Life story of Ahilyabai Holkar

4. Kerala’s outstanding women


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