Surpanakha Her unbridled desire for Rama was the reason Ramayana happened. Yet, in texts, Surpanakha has been vilified and presented as evil incarnate. Her advances were rejected, and her appearance was ridiculed; when she expressed her desires to Lakshman, he chopped off her nose. Here’s a woman who was vocal about her sexuality, and in return, was demonized. She was neither demure nor dependant, and hence was written off as a lustful villain. An excellent read, Kavita Kane’s Lanka’s Princess, attempts to humanize this demonic figure of Indian mythology

  Savitri Using her words and wit, Savitri tricked the God of death to save her husband’s life in the Mahabharata. Despite knowing that her husband, Satyavan, was fated to die in a year, she stood her ground and married him. Her beauty was legendary, and there were many suitors, but she chose someone she loved, even though he was poor and came with a death sentence.

 Ahalya One of the Panchkanyas from Ramayana, Brahma created Ahalya to be the most beautiful woman. She was Brahma’s prized possession, and after an open contest, she was married off to one of the greatest sages of all times - Gautama. Infatuated by her beauty, Indra, the king of gods, seduced Ahalya disguised as the sage. While some argue that she was hoodwinked, others believe that Ahalya was asserting her right to choose by knowingly committing adultery.

 Mandodari Wife of the demon king Ravana, Mandodari is another woman of note in the Ramayana. Like the other four women of the Panchkanyas, she is the epitome of chastity and purity but suffers for no fault of hers. Loving a man with vices is not easy, but Mandodari accepted Ravana for who he was, wickedness and all. Her undying love for him, however, did not blind her. She knew her rights from her wrongs even attempted to counsel her husband, trying to lead him on a righteous path.

  Urmila Always relegated to the sidelines, Urmila is Sita’s younger sister; she is also a wife to Lakshman. When Rama is exiled, Lakshman prioritizes his brother over his wife and leaves her behind to care for his parents. Her unparalleled sacrifice was overshadowed by Sita’s and remained largely unsung.