The Goddess as Role Model seeks to under-stand the major mythological role models who mark the Hindu moral landscape for young women. Traditionally, the goddess Sita, faithful consort of the god Rama, is regarded as the most important role model for Hindu women. The case of Radha, who is mostly portrayed as a clandestine lover of the god Krishna, seems to challenge some of the norms the example of Sita has set. That these role models are just as relevant today as they have been in the past is witnessed by the popularity of televised versions of their stories and the many other allusions to them in popular culture.
In this intriguing work, Heidi Pauwels examines the fascinating ways in which Sita copes with love. The book begins by looking at the goddess falling in love, the arrangement of her wedding, and the significance of the wedding ceremonies. In Part II Pauwels looks at Sita's married life as she faces the kinds of challenges many women do, such as following her beloved into hardship or out of purdah and coping with threats from "the other woman" and "the other man."
Taking the case of Sita as the main point of reference, but always comparing her with Radha, Pauwels studies the moral messages sent to Hindu women at different periods in history. She compares how these role models are portrayed in the most authoritative versions of the story and traces the ancient Sanskrit sources, the medieval vernacular retellings of the stories, and the contemporary television versions as well. By analyzing several popular recent and classic movies that use Sita and Radha tropes, Pauwels shows how these moral messages spill into the domain of popular culture for commercial consumption. This comparative analysis results in some startling conclusions about the signals sent to Indian women today, with implications far beyond the purview of religion.
HEIDI RIKA MARIA PAUWELS is Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington and author of Krishna's Round Dance Reconsidered and In Praise of Holy Men: Hagiographic Poems by and about Hariram Vyas.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend