During the 18th century the social and religious
condition of India was no better than its political condition.While Europe
during the said period was passing through the process of enlightenment and
renaissance. India was given to social apathy and inertness.
Social rigidity and out-of-date customs had become the
conspicuous features of the 18th century India. Retrogressive rituals and
superstitions had taken deep roots.
There was always the fear of being ostracised for violating
the caste rules. The practice of untouchability, another social evil, was a
result of this rigid caste system.
The position of women in the 18th century India was likewise
poor and pitiable owing to various social and religious restrictions imposed on
them. Prepuberty marriage of the girl child was one such practice. As a result,
not only the girls were deprived of proper education and healthcare but also
fell victim to early widowhood.
Another cruel social practice was sati. Under this practice,
women were forced to commit sati by burning themselves on the funeral pyres of
their dead husbands. The system of purdah, was one more evil practice. The
practice was not very popular among the lower caste working women both in the
rural as well as the urban areas and among the women in southern India.
Birth of a girl child came to be regarded as unfortunate
among many Hindu castes. Hence, inhuman and cruel practices like female
infanticide also became popular.
The system of devadasi prevalent in some temples of the
Madras Presidency and Orissa presented one more pathetic instance of the
condition of women in contemporary India.
They were not entitled to own property. Hence, the life of
women remained mired in ignorance, illiteracy and poverty.