According to Manu, what are the primary duties of Hindu women?Instructions: Please review the following questions and be prepared to discuss in class. Students are not required to hand in answers but will be expected to contribute the class discussion about this document.

1. According to Manu, what are the primary duties of Hindu women?
2. Picture yourself as a woman living under Hindu dharma. What are some of the key words you would use to describe that life?
What do you think are the sentiments revealed by the Buddhist nuns in their poems?
What part do you think religion has played in gender relations throughout history?

Cast(e)aways? Women in Classical India (200 CE, 6th c. CE)

The Law of Manu: The Sacred Books of the East. Edited by F. Max Müller. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Poems:

1991. “Women Writing in India.” 600 B.C. to the Present. Edited by Susie Tharu and K. Lalita. New York: The Feminist Press.

Gender relations and the societal conditions experienced by women became a topic of intense study and debate in the second half of the twentieth century. Central to that study are the place of religion and its impact on the experience of women throughout history. Hindu beliefs, as expressed in the Vedic literature, placed the Indian woman in a thoroughly subservient position within the caste system. Her entire life was circumscribed by rigid laws, and even in death she could not guarantee escape from domination by men.

The Law of Manu offers one of the clearest statements of dharma as its relates to Hindu women. Jainism and Buddhism offered little in the way of improving the lot of Indian women, though the Buddha reluctantly agreed to accept female nuns among his followers. In striking contrast to the strictures related by the scribe Manu are the second and third selection included below: poems by two Buddhist nuns, Mutta and Sumangalamata. Though still treated as second-class citizens, the two women revel in the freedom of their unique social position.

The Law of Manu


 

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