DMPQ- Write an essay on the status of women in Gupta Period.

The Gupta Empire was observed as the classical age of Indian culture because of its legendary and artistic happenings. Some information on roles for leading women comes from the Kama Sutra, a manual about the many ways to acquire pleasure, a legitimate goal for Hindu men in the householder, or second stage, of their lives. Women were allowed to be educated, to give and to receive sexual pleasure, and to be faithful wives. There was an increasing tendency to lower the marriageable age of girls with girls being married before or after puberty. Marriage within the same caste was preferred but forbidden within certain degrees of relationship. Girls of high families had ample opportunities for acquiring ability in higher learning. In Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra, instances of princess are mentioned whose intellect was sharpened by knowledge of the Sasatras. The literary evidence of the Gupta age demonstrates that girls of high class also those living in hermitages read works on ancient history & legend. Girls living in royal courts were trained in singing & dancing too.

In the Gupta period, Sati was inscribed by some but strongly criticised by others. It was thought that the custom was not extensively prevalent during this period. Probably due to the foreign invasions and its significances for women, the custom of sati, though confined to the warrior class earlier began to gain pervasive acceptance, be perceived as a great sacrifice. The tendency to regard women as feebler and not of strong moral fibre got stronger during this period although women as mother, sister continued to be highly esteemed. Remarriage of widows though coming into disfavour was not forbidden. The only direction in which the position of women improved was in the arena of proprietary rights. During this period, society began to discourage widow remarriages, there began to arise a class of childless widows who needed money to maintain themselves. Due to a lowering of the age of marriage, girls were not literate as earlier. This degraded the status of women. Brides being too young and they did not have any choice in marriage decisions. Love marriages were a thing of the past. During this period, marriage became a binding union, but it was one sided in favour of the husband. Since women were not as educated as before they did not know how to lead life in right way. The most striking modifications may be the increased recognition in Katyayana of the women’s right to property and a noteworthy rule in Atri that allowed women ill-treated by robbers to recuperate her social status. Some women enjoyed political power e.g. Prabhavati-gupta, daughter of Chandra-gupta II who ruled the Vakataka kingdom on behalf of her son, in the 4th century a.d. Available Exisitng literature designated that married women in higher families did not usually appear in public without coverings.

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