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Is there a reason for wives in modern times to submit to their husbands? Women are becoming more and more equal with men in all categories:

  • They are becoming more and more educated through getting high college degrees like PhD and masters in technical fields
  • They are starting to hold positions of power as politicians, judges, police, etc.
  • They are landing high paying jobs and don't need to rely on their husband's salary
  • They don't need the physical protection of a man because they can use modern firearms like handguns, tasers, pepper spray, etc., whereas in ancient times, they had to rely on their husband's physical strength because only men would be capable of swinging swords, hammers, etc. with great force.
  • They don't need to worship their husband anymore like a god, like the dharma shastras say, doing Sati by entering the fire so they can go to their husband's loka, because the path of Sharanagati has allowed women to attain salvation through surrendering to God directly and not relying on their husband or asking their husband for permission to do religious activities (see Draupadi, God saved her even though she didn't ask permission from her husband).

Given all this, it doesn't make much sense today for a woman to submit to a man when they are practically equal. It's like, will you submit to your equal friend?

The relationship between husband and wife is nothing like the relationship between guru and shishya, because one has ignorance and the other has knowledge.

And it's also nothing like the relationship between a parent and child, because the wife and husband are partners.

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    How is this not an opinion based question?
    – user27936
    Aug 3 at 11:48
  • I do not understand how this is even remotely connected to Hinduism. Asking what Hindu scriptures have to say on this matter might be. Aug 3 at 13:19

1 Answer 1

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The presumption of this question is entirely flawed since it focuses only on temporal aspects and assumes a hierarchy in marital relationships. It is not true that there exists a hierarchy in marital relations. Both are always equal, and the scriptures define the relationship as a friendship. There can indeed be some fixed or dedicated tasks, such as pregnancy, which the other partner cannot do, but it does not draw a hierarchy among them. You can read answers to this question that can answer many of the questions mentioned in your post.

The wife is a man's half. The wife is the first of friends.

By Sakuntala

[Section 74, Sambhava Parva, Adi Parva, The Mahabharata]

Shiva Shakthi can be an example of the equality of husband and wife in marital relationships.

Is there a reason for wives in modern times to submit to their husbands?

The wife's relationship with the husband should not affect by time as the laws are assigned for eternity. And the relationship can act as a root for salvation.

I will now propound the eternal laws for a husband and his wife who keep to the path of duty, whether they be united or separated.

[1, 9, Manu Smriti]

So, whatever the manifestations of modern timings, there are no changes in those eternal laws.

The wife is the root of religion, profit, and desire. The wife is the root of salvation. ref

And if you read about the purpose of marriage, they are independent of time.

They are becoming more and more educated through getting high college degrees like PhD and masters in technical fields.

You are saying the potency of girls in technical education, which is intended for vyavahara. According to the scriptures, the highest vidya is Brahma Vidya. We have women who served their husbands being liberated, excelling Brahma Vidya. Chudala, Hemaleka etc., are examples of this. Both Chudala and Hemaleka assisted and uplifted their husbands to liberation.

Chudala responded said:—I have not lost my former form, nor am I changed to a new one to come before thee at present; but am as ever thy fortunate lady and wife.

[6.79.21, Yoga Vasista]

The above are the words of Chudala with her husband immediately after liberation. This invalidates the dependency on knowledge aspect in marital relationship.

They are landing high paying jobs and don't need to rely on their husband's salary.

Salary does not matter. We do have great examples for that. Sita, Damayanti, and Savitri followed and stayed with their husbands in the case of calamity even though they had the option of living a life with richness and pleasures. The following are the words of Sita and Damayanthi that deny the dependency of marital relations on the financial aspects.

A wife alone, O best of men shares the destiny of her husband. I am also therefore, ordered to dwell in the forest. (a command to you is a command to me

By Sita

'O king, thinking of thy purpose, my heart trembleth, and all my limbs become faint. How can I go, leaving thee in the lone woods despoiled of thy kingdom and deprived of thy wealth, thyself without a garment on, and worn with hunger and toil? When in the deep woods, fatigued and afflicted with hunger, thou thinkest of thy former bliss, I will, O great monarch, soothe thy weariness. In every sorrow there is no physic equal unto the wife, say the physicians. It is the truth, O Nala, that I speak unto thee.'

By Damayanthi

[Section 61, Nalopakhyana Parva, Vana Parva, The Mahabharata]

They don't need the physical protection of a man because they can use modern firearms like handguns, tasers, pepper spray, etc., whereas in ancient times, they had to rely on their husband's physical strength because only men would be capable of swinging swords, hammers, etc. with great strength.

You must remember that Damayanthi, Draupadi, Sita, etc., protected (or struggled to protect themselves) from dangers because of their dharma. There can be several instances like this. So, it is not true that the husband always protects his wife and that the wife is weak. They all continue to live and/or wait for their husbands even though their husbands didn't protect them due to the circumstances, and they never used to blame their husbands for the same. This invalidates the ever dependency of the wife on the husband for protection.

And Damayanti already distressed upon being deprived of husband and kingdom, in that hour of grief beyond utterance, cursed him in anger, saying, 'I have never even thought of any other person than Naishadha, therefore let this mean-minded wrath subsisting on chase, fall down lifeless.' And as soon as she said this, the hunter fell down lifeless upon the ground, like a tree consumed by fire."

[Section 61, Nalopakhyana Parva, Vana Parva, The Mahabharata]

They don't need to worship their husband anymore like a god, like the dharma shastras say, doing Sati by entering the fire so they can go to their husband's loka, because the path of Sharanagati has allowed women to attain salvation through surrendering to God directly and not relying on their husband (see Draupadi, God saved her even though she didn't ask permission from her husband).

God helped Draupadi (Damayanthi etc.) due to their dharma. You are comparing it with salvation. Women need to devote their hearts to husbands. One needs to remember that the devotion should be independent of the body, salary etc., Wife perceives the husband as a lord. It means there is no need or reason to leave the husband to surrender to God. She should not view her husband as an entity other than god. Thus, she devoted her heart only to the god through her bhavana.

She is a true wife whose heart is devoted to her lord. She is a true wife who knoweth none but her lord. ref

Thus, it can be inferred from the scriptures the role of the wife does not change with time as the relationship does not depend on the external aspects and is intended for eternal benefits also. Those who view the relationship for temporal benefits only may perceive the relationship as a provider of finance, protection, and knowledge. But, Sananthan dharma insists on perceiving the relationship for both temporal and eternal benefits.

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    This is the awesome answer sir. Just even reading this gave me chills. Aug 4 at 3:44
  • Thanks @Chamundadas :)
    – hanugm
    Aug 4 at 4:03
  • @hanugm You can also add this to your answer: "Women, however, deserve to be honoured. Do ye men show them honour.....Do ye serve them and worship them. Do ye bend your wills before them." - Bhishma in Mahabharata: sacred-texts.com/hin/m13/m13b011.htm
    – Ikshvaku
    Aug 7 at 2:07

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