First, we need to understand the meaning and influence of matriarchy in society. Influence of matriarchy can be understood by the time as the time has evolved so does the thinking of society this took a lot of time. People from many ages in different societies and countries have evolved with time. This affected differently in as due to different religions, believes, class, sex, creed and others due to which affected differently on the family’s many generations have witnessed the changes in the society as human thinking changes with the passage of the time regarding males and females.
As it happened in India this evolution affected differently in all the countries and religions. Taking this into consideration let us understand this concept relating it with different religions basically the Hindus and Muslims the majority and minority under our top head of understanding.
Succession laws of both are evolved with the custom and traditions and also from the modification of the modern concept this keep on changing to overcome problems faced by modern society.
Hindu society was guided by the Smritis or rules of conduct, which interpreted by successive generations of commentators. Manu was followed by Yajnavalkya in the 4th century, Narada in the 5th century and Brihaspati in the 6th or 7th century. These changes have been greater during the last 250 years under the British. Thus, law reforms were the useful starting point because equality before the law was essential, especially economic equality, for developing the full potential of women as a participant in the total development. When the British came there were no definite uniform laws, so when they set up law courts, they took the advice of pundits to determine local laws and customs. For about 100 years in different parts of Madras, Bombay, and Bengal, a European judge would call two Hindu Pundits to advise him on any matter relating to the Hindus and two Kazi’s or Maulvis for matter relating to the Muslims. No uniformity in the Hindus law evolved out of these judicial decisions
Hindu’s concept of women rights and position of women earlier
The year 1947, brought an end to the British imperialism and gave India her long-awaited independence. At the dawn of independence, rules of succession among the Hindus were unsatisfactory. The difference between the Mitakshara and Dayabhaga systems, the existence of sub-schools serving to emphasize local differences, prevalence of the matriarchal system, curbs on women’s freedom to own property, perpetuation of the doctrine of women’s limited estate, denial of equal rights with males in regard to heirship, the chaotic and complicated rule governing stridhana succession, the continued existence of Mitakshara coparcener with its principles of right by birth of sons and devolution by survivorship which, however, well it might have served in other days when the country’s economy was agricultural, had become unsuitable to a society switching over to industrial economy. The catalyst effect of the social goals envisaged in the Preamble of the Constitution, the guarantee of equality before law enshrined in the Article 14, and the abolition of discrimination on grounds of birth of sex assured in the Article 15 called for an immediate overhaul of the rules of the Hindu Succession. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was parliament’s response to this. The pioneer to this change can be attributed to the various State legislation.
The foremost action in this regard was introduced in the year 1937 namely, the Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act, 1937, wherein the Act only provided the right to maintenance from and out of her husband’s property. The right is restrictive in nature and the same was provided only to the lifetime of the women, and then the property will revert back to the common pool of joint-family to the shares of other coparceners. Then, there was the culmination of various legislations and a wide concept of law in the form of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, wherein the right was conferred on the women from the right of the father and made the life estate right of maintenance as that of an absolute right of the women. The properties entrusted to the women in lieu of the maintenance were made as the absolute property of the particular women. Hindu women have neither been excluded from the right to inherit property nor have they had absolute rights in property devolving on them. Women could only have a life-interest, which meant they have not been able to alienate, sell or mortgage it. For the first time, a uniform law of succession applicable to all the Hindus grants the right of inheritance to the daughter. It is, therefore, regarded as a significant step in achieving emancipation and equality for our women. It used to be the view, especially among western writers, that the women of India in ancient times were no better than chattels, that they were incapable of holding property in their own rights, except Stridhana. The strictly legal influences deducible from a consideration of the aphorism as a whole are thus set forth by D.N Mitter: “Firstly, that women are persons in the eye of the law, and cannot be regarded as chattel; secondly, that there can be no purchase or sale of women, and the chariots and cows given to the bride at the time of marriage, being constant in number, do not make the transaction of sale; thirdly that women are capable of owning or holding property, and in this respect no distinction is drawn between acquired and inherited property; fourthly, that the position of women cannot be linked to that of laws according to the Vedas, and if there was anything contrary to it in the Smritis, that must be disregarded, fifthly that the wife has co-ownership in the husband’s wealth and the husband has co-proprietary right in the wife’s wealth and that neither the wife nor the husband can part with property belonging to either without the other’s consent, and that a gift made by the husband without wife’s consent is invalid. The principle of equality was incorporated in the objectives of the Resolution of Free India in 1947 and was later elaborated in the constitution of the Indian Republic. The right of succession was the first time extended on the agriculture land in Madras. Hindu women rights property in 1947.
Analyzed review of the topic
Earlier the Hindu women were not treated equally or we can say as the men’s were given more preference yet some how even today usually it is still happening in many villages of Haryana, U.P, Bihar etc in some parts of India, so still there is lot to do and understanding what are the prerequisites required to change the mind set of the people, excluding the odds the laws which I have talked about in the above description has prominently accepted the sense of equalization for women and also this is how matriarchy has influenced the laws to reform and over come modern queries in such a ways in that can achieve such equal rights and duties in society and by the personal laws which are assured by the constitutions of India, matriarchy concept is familiarization somehow gave people a sense of acceptance and knowledge that women are not just chattel which is just for giving births to child or for house hold work loads ,they are a person and can’t be treated like a property which can be sold or bought , left was done by the framers of law which took women as a capable person’s with out any discrimination on their physique and capabilities to inherit her parents property fully, so legally can be owner of the property just like the males were to the property of their fathers, which in females were not in practise before matriarchy. This concept is also relatively somehow same for a widowed wife with some significant changes yet.
The perspective of matriarchy on families have given a breakthrough to the public to really see and anticipate the outcome of women being the head of the family, how well the family is doing in relation to their social, political, cultural, financial, aspects so this was very influential strategy not only strike on the man but also on women cause they were also seeing matriarchy women’s hefty to work outside their homes and supporting their family’s financially, being equal in status of male member in their family’s, in offices workplace, and also the thirst for respect and equality made women think and work even harder in becoming independent and successful just like men and also after acquiring educations they got to estimate their rights and duties of them and also knowing how to fight back for the same, this made women think they are no lesser than men and should be treated equally or relatively more important than the man in the society . We cant really anticipate that all the men underestimated women but some considerable ratio of men were there. Today a huge number of women are inheriting their property’s share’s like the male and are working out regardless , this change can be seen not only the cities but also in the villages that women are becoming self-reliant and are taking over their family responsibility’s better than men’s in general. Matriarchal is not just a way of living life it made deep and long- lasting effect in the life’s of the general people due to which even today many family’s having domination of matriarchal system.
Author: Ginit pal Kaur bal
Amity law school Noida (2nd year)