This post began as a comment to phoenixritu's post on some Indian women she admires. Here's how I see all these Indian Women. Do I admire them?
1. Savitri was witty and smart I guess, but she also wanted a hundred sons (not even one daughter!), a bad example and role model today!
2. Draupadi: She did not have five husbands, the five husbands had her as their wife, and they had other wives also! But I must say she made the most of the situation. She is an okay role model, the message she gives is, 'Don't sit and cry, make the best of what you have'? Do read Panchali's Mahabharat to see her point of view.
3. Sita was a victim! A husband who abandoned her in a jungle, in her third trimester, had the audacity to claim the custody of her sons. She should have been stronger. It is very convenient for any MCP (In Bollywood movies or K serials) to use her as an example of a good wife.
Edited to add: Yes to Sita, No to Ram. This awesome article made me see Sita in a different light.
4. Gandhari: Blind folded and a hundred sons, no wonder she couldn't raise them well! We see such blind mothers, in India all the time.
Not a good role model at all. And of course she asked for a hundred sons, no daughters. We are still following her example when we bless newly weds, and wish them many sons.
5. Kunti: The famous mother of five successful sons. Five? What about my favourite Karna? Even if she had to abandon him when she was a helpless and innocent young princess, couldn't she tell her sons, just before the war began, that he was their brother?
I can't admire a mother who lived like a queen while her first born suffered humiliation and ignominy, for no fault of his.
I prefer Priety Zinta of Kya Kehna anyday :)
6. Kaikeyi: I agree with phoenixritu, she got bad press :) Kaikeyi did exactly what Sati Savitri did, snatched her husband back from Yama...but unfortunately she was not an only wife.
Still, she cannot be considered a good role model either. She could have asked for Bharat to be made the king without exiling Ram, OR made them share the Kingdom, Pandavas and Kauravas style.
LOL ...or like Mukesh and Anil Ambani ?
7. Laxmibai was married at the age of 9, to a 45 year old King! She is a symbol of courage, so not a bad role model for today's women. Rani Laxmi Bai also shared her (disputed) birthday with Mrs Indira Gandhi and Sushmita Sen (November 19th).
8. Mrignayni: Need to read up on her...
9. Ahiylyabai Holkar: Amongst other things, she helped widows retain their husbands’ wealth. She made sure that a widow was allowed to adopt a son. Way ahead of her times, and far more admirable than Kunti, Sita and Savitri.
10. Jijabai: Agree with phoenixritu, she is a true example of 'The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the crown. 'She is a great role model for today's women. Her strong influence was behind Shivaji's tolerant attitude towards other religions as well as in his fair and kind treatment of women and non-combatants.
Today's armed forces can learn about human rights from her.
11.Panna Dhai: It was common for nurse maids to grow closer to the baby they nursed, than their own babies who were fed on rice gruel or cow's milk, but Panna Dhai is supposed to have nursed them both, so she must have loved her own child too.
How important was it then, to let her own son be killed, to save a prince's life in those days, when princes were being killed in coups all the time? (The coups remind me of Tintin in various African countries.) We were just a collection of bickering kingdoms, fighting with each other, for some extra jageers for taxes and revenues.
As a kid I remember wondering if she actually let her own child pass off as the Prince?
12. Meera Bai: The biggest thing Krishna did for Meera Bai was that her devotion to Krishna protected her from a death by fire, as sati ! She is admirable in the way she lived by her own rules in those terrible times. Love her bhajans and her courage to follow the path she chose.
My favourites are Ahilyabai Holkar and Jija Bai.