Indian Feminism

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Feminism, in India and Indian writings—be they in English, Hindi or any other Indian language, has been a modern concept. Feminism has originated as a reaction to the consciousness that woman, in the scheme of creation, is inferior to man and hence, needs to be assigned a subjugatory position. Indian history and theological studies, undoubtedly, point at woman’s subordinate status since the division of the society took place on the basis of the nature of jobs assigned to various sections. But if we consider the ancient Indian literature and the portrayal of women characters in it, we find female characters more assertive, decisive, determined, educated and enlightened than their male counterparts. While Christian and Mohammedan theologies attach a sense of sin and guilt to woman and hold her responsible for man’s fall, Hindu Vedic philosophy believes that both man and woman are complementary to each other’s existence. In fact, it holds that the whole of the universe is conceptualized as a conjugation of Purusha and Prakriti. In other words, the world comprises two principles, life and matter. Purusha or the pure consciousness represents life and Prakriti or nature represents matter or material world. Thus, the ancient Indian philosophy assigns the position of Purusha and Stri not on biological basis but as embodiments of cosmic essence and substance. Sankhya, one of the six orthodox systems of philosophy of the Vedas sees the world as:
… a result of two principles, Purusha and Prakriti. Prakriti is the active principle, the potentiality of all nature, through which the material and psychic world comes into being. Purusha can be translated as soul. In each living being, there is a Purusha yet essentially, all Purushas are the same. The empirical self is the union of the free spirit, Purusha and of Prakriti. ( Dalal, The Vedas: An Introduction to Hinduism’s Sacred Texts)
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In the Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Monier Williams defines Purusha as “the primaeval man as the soul and original source of the universe; the personal and animated principle in men and other beings, the soul or spirit; the Supreme Being or Soul of the universe (sometimes with para, parama or uttama; also identified with Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga. (927)” the definition reveals the sense that the noun (Purusha) does not ascribe specifically to males only but can be applied to both the sexes depending upon the human

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