The Predicament of Women in Ancient India: [02] Putrika As A Substitute For A Son

Published: 15.05.2008
Updated: 01.10.2008

Complexities of kinship relation surface in the putrika concept. If a father has no son, a daughter may be a substitute for a real son, mainly in connection with ancestor worship. But, naturally, it was always safer to have a true son.

Putra means son, and putrika is the daughter who technically replaces a missing son. The "daughter herself is considered a son." "The dilemma in which the son-in-law [husband of the putrika] found himself could be resolved by having the putrika-putra [son of the putrika] perform the shraddha [daily offering for the benefit of dead relatives] for both his own father and his maternal grandfather." The putrika-putra was "continuing two separate lineages" (SCHMIDT 39-40). -- For the putrika the construction had probably more disadvantages than advantages. See SCHMIDT 33 on "the predicament faced by the brotherless daughter." SCHMIDT 38: "The aversion to marrying a brotherless maiden was motivated by the fear that the bride's father would claim the future son and leave the bridegroom with the prospect of remaining without a son of his own who would continue his lineage and offer the ancestor worship." -- Was there a rite to inform the public that a girl was henceforth considered a putrika? -- The putrika (putrika-putra) custom disappeared when the kalivarjya rules came out.

JOLLY 72 and 73; KAPADIA 234-235; KANE 435-436; SCHMIDT 30-75; SYED To 165.

Title Photo Background:
Picture Credits: ASW - Aktionsgemeinschaft Solidarische Welt e.V., BERLIN.

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  1. Fear
  2. Shraddha
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