Defining Social Roles for Men and Women in India through Traditional Hindu Texts

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Social Roles for Men and Women in India through Traditional Hindu Texts

Throughout this essay, I will discuss the social roles of men and women in the home, within rituals and within creation. I will look at the roles of a husband and wife, as well as Goddesses and Kings. The main traditional texts that support these roles are the Rg Veda, the Kalpa Sutras, the epics (the Ramayana and Mahabharata), Tryambaka, and Manu Smrti. They are believed to lay the foundations for order in society, as well as giving people the knowledge of their duty. I will show how these separate texts have defined roles within castes and genders and show how their different styles of writings have defined roles in different ways.

A person's role in society
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The first three are "called the twice born." This is brought about by "the initiation ceremony (upanayana) at which they are ceremonially reborn and assume the sacred thread." The Saudras are not permitted to perform this ceremony. There is also a class called the `Untouchables', which are outside the caste system as they are too polluted and "contact with whom was considered polluting." These people deal with things that are seen as polluted, e.g. bodily fluid and certain animals. All these different classes determine a person's duty in society.

A person's duty in known as their `Dharma'. This is dependant on their caste, as well as their age and Gender. For example a woman's duty in the Brahmanical caste would be different from a mans. This is mainly because a woman is prohibited from reading the Veda. It is believed that this is one of the six things that cause a woman to fall. This was written in the Stridharmapaddhati of Tryambakayajvan, (guide to the religious status and duties of women). A person's age also comes into account. The main sources of Dharma are believed to be in the Veda, the Kalpa Sutras, as well as the epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. All these texts have helped to shape what peoples duties are in life, as I will show later on in this essay.

The main feature that dharma brings to society is a sense of social structure or

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