Report No. 66
3.29. Limitations on woman's power of disposition.-
It may be stated that the texts of Yajnavalkya and Vishnu under which the widow, the daughter, and other females are recognised as heirs, do not seem to make any distinction between the estate taken by them and the estate taken by male heirs who take under the same texts. One would, therefore, suppose that so far as Smriti authority is concerned, there is, indeed, very little in it to support the limited estate of women in inherited property.
Yajnavalkya, whose text on the definition of stridhana has been the subject of much discussion, declares1:
"What was given (to a woman) by the father, the mother, the husband, or a brother, or received by her before the nuptial fire, or presented to her on her husband's marriage to another wife (adhivedanika), and the rest is denominated stridhana. So, that which is given by kindred, as well as her fee and anything bestowed after marriage."
Benares school-Mitakshara.-The highest authority in the Benares school is Mitakshara, which is also universally respected throughout India.2 The author, adopting the text of Yajnavalkya as the basis of his definition of stridhana, has the following commentary on the first sloka on the subject (II, 143):-
"That which was given by the father, by the mother, by the husband, or by a brother; and that which was presented by the maternal uncles and the rest, at the time of wedding, before the nuptial fire; and a gift on a second marriage or gratuity on account of supersession, as will be subsequently explained in the text. 'To a woman whose husband marries a second wife, let him give, & c.,' (and, as indicated) by the word adya (and the rest), property obtained by inheritance, purchase, partition, acceptance, finding; all this is stridhana according to Manu and the rest3."
Vijnaneswara then remarks: "The term stridhana (woman's property) conforms in its import with its etymology, and is not technical: for, if the literal sense be admissible, a technical acceptation is improper."4
1. Yajnavalkya II, 143, 144. The text in the original runs thus:- Jimutavahana reads (and also adhivedanika) for (adhivedanika and the rest).
2. Banerji Marriage and Stridhana, (1923), p. 328.
3. Mitakshara, Ch. II, section XI, 2. The translation is from Banerji Marriage and Stridhana (1923), p. 328.
4. Mitakshara, Ch. II, section XI, 3.