Women education in India : With special reference to advent of modern education amongst women in Assam
Mrs. Anuradha Baruwa
Astt. Prof. Dept. Education
Jorhat Kendriya Mahavidyalaya
Education is the only device by which the contemporary society may be moulded to meet the current challenges. With women forming fifty percent of the entire population, it is essential that they match their strides with the male population. Only then can a nation advance. Keeping this in mind, many of the developing nations are allocating a quarter of their national budget to education; some of them even more. (Venkataiah, 2001)A host of problems have however kept these countries from achieving their goal. A major problem faced by most of the developing countries is that they have inherited the educational system from the colonial rule. The education system adopted by the colonial rule was specifically to meet their needs and requirements rather than fulfill the requirement of the society. This study attempts to trace the development of women education in India from the vedic to the post independence period.
Education of women in the Vedic period.
History has witnessed the status of women in the early Vedic period when it was at its zenith. They were revered during that period and were regarded as the fountain source of strength. It is mentioned that Brahma divided his soul into two forms – husband and wife. (Chaube & Chaube, 1999). She was therefore, considered as the symbol of man’s power, his knowledge, inner strength and action and known as ardhangini. Women were considered as the inseparable counter part of man in the Rig Vedic age as she was not only the symbol of man’s power, but also of his knowledge, inner strength and action. No Yajya was considered complete without the active participation of women.. The Rig Vedic literature refers to many learned and scholarly women such as Visvsvara, Ghosala, Lopamudra, Urvashi and Apala. But in the post Vedic stage they were deprived of all their social rights. They were not even permitted to participate in the social functions. The status of women gained a new lease of life in the period of the Upanishads. The rights of the women in the religious functions were reserved and thus they remained entitled to receive higher education in the Vedas. The two wives of Yagyavalkya, Gargi and Maitreyi, were both erudite and scholarly ladies. In the age of the Sutra the status of women remained unchanged. During this period mention is found of Upanayana ceremony that was compulsory even for girls. Sufficient were evidence is there to prove that was a large number of female students and teachers. According to Panini there were some student-hostels in which only girl students resided and the supervision of these students were carried out entirely by a large number of female students and teachers.
The status of women remained more or less unchanged right up to the Mauryan period, but around 200 B.C. it received a set back. The social degradation there after adversely affected the female education. With the advent of child marriage and later the purdah system, the education of women was severely curtailed. The status of women in the society went into a steady decline after that. Even during the Buddhist period, it may be noted that Buddha did not initially permit women to join as nuns in the Sangh. It was only after his step–mother, Mahaprajapati joined the Sangh along with 500 Kshatriya women and also due to the solicitation of his disciple Anand, that he decided to permit the Sangh to take women into its fold. However, the rules of the Sangh were very harsh among the women. There was a testing period for two years during which period they had to live separately from the other monks. They were educated by one permanent monk twice a month, in the presence of another monk. Even though they had the same daily routine, their status was considered to be lower than the other...
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