This book offers a variety of Scholarly studies in the idea, situation, and
definition-including the self-definition-of women in Indian society, from the earliest
historical period up to the present day. Both in its rage of topics and depth of
research, this volume creates a sustained focus that is not presently available in
the literature on women in India.
Faces of the Feminine in Ancient, Medieval, and Modern India comprises 25
essays contributed by a diverse mix of Indian, Canadian, American, and British
women scholars, most of whom have lives or for extended periods. Arranged
chronologically, these groundbreaking essays set aside the myths and prejudices
that often clutter discussions about women in India. Part I, which is dedicated to
the ancient period, defines women's positions as depicted in texts of sacred law,
considers subordinated women in major Hindu epics, describes women's role in
ritual and their understanding of religion, and examines the patriarchal
organization of women's lives in Buddhism. Part II begins with an essay on Tantra,
a major force in medieval India which influenced both Hinduism and Buddhism
and placed women at the centre of its sacred rites.
Other essays in Part II look at the life and legends of a medieval woman saint
poet, the portrayal of a Hindu goddess in medieval Bengal, and the role of women
from Mughal harems in decision making. Part III describes the colonial perception
of Indian women in the late nineteenth century and shows how women's
perceptions of themselves have been expressed through their art and writing as
well as through their political action in the twentieth century.
Providing informed and balanced analysis of extensive primary source material,
this book will be an essential resource for students of women's lives in India.
About the Author:
Mandakranta Bose is Director of the Centre for Indian and South Asia
Research, and Lecturer in Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies at the
University of British Columbia.
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