Women in ancient India enjoyed a high status in society. Their condition was good. The women were provided with an opportunity to attain a high intellectual and spiritual standard. Though monogamy was most common, some sections of the society indulged in polygamy. There was no system of early marriage.
But from enjoying free and esteemed positions in the society, women started being discriminated against — in education and other rights and facilities. Child marriage, widow burning, and polygamy further worsened the women’s position. Apart from child marriage, prostitution and the Devadasi system became widespread.
There’re some bright exceptions in this dismal picture. The part of women in ancient Indian literature is huge. Ancient India had many learned ladies. There were two types of scholarly women — who never married and cultured the Vedas throughout their lives; and who studied the Vedas till they married.
Women wrote Sanskrit plays and verses, shined in music, painting and other fine arts.
Women from the noble classes enjoyed education and other privileges but the common woman still suffered humiliation, deprivation, and difficulties.
Women could shine as debaters in public assemblies. They usually occupied a prominent place in social gatherings but they were denied entry, into the meetings because these places besides being used for taking political decisions were also used for gambling, drinking, and such other purposes. Women’s participation in public meetings and debates, however, became less and less common gradually.
It may thus be concluded that in ancient India, women did not enjoy an inferior status rather they occupied an honorable place. They’d ample rights in the social and religious fields and limited rights in the economic and political fields. They weren’t treated as inferior or subordinate but equal to men.