Religion and Rajput Women: The Ethic of Protection in Contemporary Narratives

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University of California Press, Jan 1, 1992 - Religion - 260 pages
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What is the relationship between caste and gender in the narratives of Rajput woman? During a year and a half of fieldwork in Rajasthan, a parched land dominated by the great Indian Desert, Lindsey Harlan interviewed more than a hundred women from all levels of Rajput society. She wanted to understand why certain religious practices were so important to Rajput women, and how they justified these to themselves. During the course of her interviews, the women described their religious practices--chief among them the worship of the family kuldevi (the goddess who exemplifies the ideal wife by staving off sickness, poverty, and infertility) and the veneration of satimatas (women who have immolated themselves on their husband's funeral pyre). As the women discussed these rituals, many of them also told Harlan religious myths and stories, drawing parallels between their behavior and that of various Indian heroines. These narratives and the role they play in the women's self-perception are the fascinating and enlightening subject of this book. What is the relationship between caste and gender in the narratives of Rajput woman? During a year and a half of fieldwork in Rajasthan, a parched land dominated by the great Indian Desert, Lindsey Harlan interviewed more than a hundred women from all levels of Rajput society. She wanted to understand why certain religious practices were so important to Rajput women, and how they justified these to themselves. During the course of her interviews, the women described their religious practices--chief among them the worship of the family kuldevi (the goddess who exemplifies the ideal wife by staving off sickness, poverty, and infertility) and the veneration of satimatas (women who have immolated themselves on their husband's funeral pyre). As the women discussed these rituals, many of them also told Harlan religious myths and stories, drawing parallels between their behavior and that of various Indian heroines. These narratives and the role they play in the women's self-perception are the fascinating and enlightening subject of this book.
 

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Interesting and memorable.

Contents

Introduction
1
Rajasthan and the Rajputs
25
Myth Story and Context
52
Interpretation and Intention
91
The Transformative
112
The Role of Volition
154
Padmini
182
Mira Bai
205
Conclusion
223
Interview Background
229
Glossary
237
Bibliography
245
Index
253
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About the author (1992)

Lindsey Harlan is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Connecticut College.

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