The Indian traditions and concepts in the ancient time gave women enough power and space. They perceived woman and men at the same parameter. Women apart from biological differences have an equal status to that of a man.
The best example is that of ‘Ardhnarishvara’ that is the Shiva –Shakti swarupa, another form of lord Shiva that is based on the concept of the amalgamation of two energies in the universe, into a single entity. It is thus a powerful union. It sheds light on the presence of both masculine and female power in a human being.
A great deal of respect was given to the female in the context of their power to endure pain and suffering with grace. Female form, from being the caretaker, gives birth and played the role of a mother who is selfless and has unconditional love for her children. This power of bearing pain was in turn taken as a symbol of weakness by men who were physically stronger.
The changing concept of male dominating society was introduced in India by the incoming of the British. The British considered the habits of Indian men effeminate. The originality was washed out; they created their own concepts of manhood which had a crazy drive to gain power and Industrialize. Their concepts of an ideal man dealt with one being Heroic, the provider, tough and rough.
Indian men were looked down upon by the British and were considered incapable of ruling as they were weak. They considered Dhoti as a disgrace and transformed the sensitive Indian man to that of a Baboo who defined masculinity on the basic of suppressing and tormenting women. Demonstrating, them their powerless on the steps of biological differences. In time women were subjected to violence, abused and taken advantage of.
During the colonial period the art movements like Kalighat Painting were basically a mockery on the society. They tried to mirror the changes. A satire, on the culture of Babus and Dandi’s, the men had lost a grip on their character and had become dishonest; they wooed courtesans and were hollow.
The main theme of the painting was to mock the Babus, women were shown with broom in their hands beating up their husbands, who had become fickle. A cat was shown with a lobster in its mouth and a rosary around its neck, to show the double faced generation. The themes of god, goddesses and popular events were taken up by the artist. News and day to day events were pictured by them.
There rose a generation of boneless men and the concepts of an ideal Nagrik (Civilian in a society) which were written in the book ‘Kamasutra’ by Vatsayana in the third century B.C, was wiped out. The British distorted the concepts of free Indian Society and restricted and limited it. Women were regarded as an object of pleasure.We should not forget the spirit of bravery shown by Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi, who fought the British to protect her Kingdom and struggled for the throne that her son was supposed to decent upon. Women in time have revolted against the suppression.
With the incoming of the nineteenth century women hailed a cry of freedom. There were revolts and reforms to abolish Purdha system, Child Marriage, Polygamy, Sati and to start Widow Remarriage. Schools were specially set up for women, which further initiated class system, where in women from the higher classes went to learn fine habits and be refined and develop themselves intellectually. Women who were educated understood the vital need for a woman to know their rights, so that they can stand up to injustice. The concept of feminism was introduced and revived.
Women in India took active participation in the reforms and Swadeshi Boycott movements, where they wore handmade cloth and they quit the western attire. They took part in demonstrations and Dandi march, the quest to make salt from sea water. Women raised their voices against the emptiness of the domination male society.
Women in the twentieth century strived for more than just their rights which they had since birth. They voiced their own rights to control their own life. Sarojini Naidu said “The hand that moves the cradle is the hand that moulds the world.”
Women education was initiated with the idea that an educated woman will further educate her children. The spirits of bearing hardships and suffering which is a genuine part of a mother was thought upon by Gandhi ji and adopted by him in his struggle for freedom of his nation. The system of non-violence is a tough state to achieve. It is hard to say a million words through silence.
The art practised by the women to mirror the society. Art colleges were set up in Calcutta, Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Madras which further gave women fair charge to prove themselves in the field of art.
The Picture Globally
In the global context, the image of women sitting back home cooking and knitting was changed due to the World War –II. Where basically many American soldiers were slayed fighting for their country, leaving their family behind to be driven by single mothers who had to work to support their family. Women stepped out and earned a name for themselves. This effected the society and the way of life drastically and enveloped the whole world at a very fast pace. The system of take away started which gave rise to art movements like Pop Art. Women have made a difference and left an impact on the society.
From politics to sports to administration, women in the contemporary society have a sense to comment and a deeper vision to empathize with the situations of enduring. Women have put a voice to the screams of the million others who were beaten down and left to suffer in pain. Due to the active participation of women in the field has helped the world to see the dual aspect of a coin and to level the judgement through the eyes of a woman.