women, for whom the period of husband’s absence which justified
desertion on the part of the wife was of no consequence; thus the shortest
duration of waiting was recommended for the wives of the Sudras.
Widow remarriage was generally confined to the lower varnas throughout
the ancient Indian period.
Niyoga, which in Vedic age was practised largely by the Brahmins and
Kshatriyas, came to be confined to the Sudras from the early centuries of
the Christian era onwards.
Polygamy was quite popular among the higher varnas, while monogamy
was prevalent mostly among the lower varnas.
Instances of intercaste marriage mainly concerned men of higher and
women of lower varnas, and were chiefly limited to the union between the
Brahmins and the Kshatriyas.
The varnasamkara theory was meant mainly to accommodate foreign and
indigenous tribes in the caste hierarchy.
POSITION OF WOMEN
The true study of a nation means really a study of its aims and ideals, of the
means adopted and the paths followed, rather than its actual successes and
failures. That is why a real understanding of Indian womanhood essentially
depends on that of its ideals in their various aspects. It is true that four aims
of life (chaturvargas) are spoken of in Indian literature, viz. dharma, artha,
kama, and moksha: moral behaviour, wealth, worldly pleasure, and salvation.
But it is at the same time unanimously and unambiguously asserted that
moksha is by far the highest ideal of man.
Ideals of Indian Womanhood
In India, two great classes of persons have been generally recognised:
ascetics and householders. For women also India has recognised two main
ideals, viz. that of a brahmavadini and that of a sadyovadhu. A brahmavadini
is of an ascetic type striving for the highest philosophical knowledge: thus
her ideal of life is spiritual well-being. A sadyovadhu, on the other hand, is of