Frankly I did not know the meaning of the word Regressive. The meaning given in Oxford Dictionary is ‘moving backwards’. If by using the word regressive we mean that we are going back in time, going back to the Vedic times. Then wow what joy.
If you are one of those who have lifted their eyebrows and mumbled a ‘huh’, then let me proceed to make it easier for you.
In the vedic times there were varnas and there were ashramas.
Varnas; Brahmanas ( imparting knowledge), Kshatriyas (protection), Vaishyas (traders) and Shudras (helping everyone). And no the varna system was not passed on i.e. it was not hereditary. A Brahman’s son could become a shudra. As Krishna says in the Bhagvad Gita ‘catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah’. The four divisions were based on a person’s guna and karma.
Ashramas – Every person from his birth to death went through four stages – Brahmacharya (student) stage, Grhastha (householder), Vannprastha (gradual ‘dis’ attachment for family life), Sannyasa (quest of spirituality). If a brahmachari felt that he was not fit for family life and he would rather go in for spiritual quest, he was allowed to migrate directly to the Sannyasa stage.
Now you may ask where does a woman figure in this picture.
Women were at the center of this whole social structure.
The very first thing a girl was taught was to milk the cows. ( Du huti- milking of cows; that is how the English word daughter was coined). You may smirk and say see girls were made to do such silly and menial stuff. But then remember those days farming was pivotal and so was tending of cows. Each house had at least two cows. Milk and it by products were never bought. Neither did people buy vegetables, it was tended at home.
Girls were taught yes. No they were not sent to gurukul but taught at home. And their subjects were more comprehensive than what we learn today. (FYI Sita was a sociologist, Satyabhama had learned military warfare).
BUT the prime job of a woman was to look after her home. A home she ruled with iron hands and a job in which no man dare interfere..
Yes she covered herself fully Why?? Because in Vedic times a person’s aim of life was spiritual quest. You may say what is the relation of dress and spiritual quest. Well I leave it for your discretion with just a hint. How many of you go to a religious place in tight-fitting/ short clothes. Don’t most of us go traditional when we go to the temple/ gurdwara etc ??
The roles of a man were divided finely. A man looked at outside chores. A woman was the queen of the inside world. There was no trespassing.
The grhasthas had the responsibilities of looking at all the other three varnas and it were the women who saw that the society ran smoothly. Women saw to it that all had enough to eat, enough to wear and a place to sleep.
So if women had this much freedom in a regressive society. Pray tell me what is progressive.
But then if regressive really means going back in time then I do not mind being regressive.