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Report No. 66

3.14. Third period (500 B.C. to 500 A.D.).-

In the third period, which was the age of the Dharmasutras, the Epics and the early Smritis, the position of women deteriorated to some extent This is attributed by Altekar1 to the practice of inter-marriage with the local (non-Aryan) races. He says-

"The introduction of the non-Aryan wife into the Aryan household is the key to the general deterioration of the position of "women that gradually imperceptibility started at about 1000 B.C. and became quite marked in about 100 years. This was because of the fact that the non-Aryan wife, with her ignorance of the Sanskrit language and Hindu religion, obviously did not enjoy the same privilege in religion as the Aryan wife. Evidently, the whole class of women was declared ineligible for study and religious duties."

It was during this period that marriage was substituted for "initiation"2 in the case of girls.

1. Altekar Position of Women in Hindu Civilization, (1956), Chapter on Retrospect and Prospect (Chap. 12).

2. For "Initiation", see para. 3.7, supra.

Married Womens Property Act, 1874 Back

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