Hindu women's legal right to inherit property has been restricted from the earliest times in Indian culture. In the ancient text Manusmriti, Manu writes: “Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth and her sons protect her in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.” However, women were not always excluded from inheriting movable or immovable property from ancestral and marital families. But their proportion of share in the property was far less than that of their male counterparts.
Throughout history, restrictions on Hindu women's property rights have undergone change, and current laws governing these rights are more liberal than those of ancient Hindu society. Patriarchal Hindu society provided women with property known as stridhan (literally, women's property or fortune), and it mainly came from marriage gifts (clothes, jewelry, and in some rare cases, landed properties). However, women were denied property rights to the ancestral or marital landed property, and their right over succession of the landed family property was limited. With the emergence of different schools of Hindu law, the concept of stridhan started expanding its literal and legal meaning, granting women more rights to certain forms of property. Later, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries witnessed the passage of several pieces of legislation that were intended to remove more of the barriers to full and equal property rights for Hindu women. Most recently, sexual discrimination in Hindu succession rules was mostly discontinued by the recent Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act (2005).