Donors, Devotees, and Daughters of God: Temple Women in Medieval Tamilnadu

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Oxford University Press, Mar 9, 2000 - Religion - 318 pages
Through the use of epigraphical evidence, Leslie C. Orr brings into focus the activities and identities of the temple women (devadasis) of medieval South India. This book shows how temple women's initiative and economic autonomy involved them in medieval temple politics and allowed them to establish themselves in roles with particular social and religious meanings. This study suggests new ways of understanding the character of the temple woman and, more generally, of the roles of women in Indian religion and society.

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Discerning and Delineating the Figure of the Temple Woman
Temple Women as Temple Patrons
Temple Women as Temple Servants
Identity Geography Religion and Kinship
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III

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Page 4 - The introduction of dancing girls in temples tended to lower their moral and spiritual atmosphere. Some people began to visit shrines, not so much to pay their respects to deities as to carry on their love intrigues with the singing girls employed there.
Page 4 - Further, it is well-known that in ancient times women were dedicated to the service of the temples, like the Vestal virgins of Europe. They were held to be married to the god, and had no other duty but to dance before his shrine. Hence they were called the god's slaves (deva-dasi), and were generally patterns of piety and propriety. In the present day they are still called by the same name, but are rather slaves to the licentious passions of the profligate Brahmans of the temples to which they belong....
Page 3 - Deva-dasis (handmaidens of the gods) are dancing-girls attached to the Tamil temples, who subsist by dancing and music, and the practice of ' the oldest profession in the world.
Page 275 - Temples as Landed Magnates in Early Medieval South India (c. AD 700-1300), in RS Sharma & VN Jha (ed.), Indian Society : Historical Probings, New Delhi, 1974, p.
Page 3 - It is one of the many inconsistencies of the Hindu religion that, though their profession is repeatedly and vehemently condemned by the Shastras, it has always received the countenance of the church. The rise of the caste, and its euphemistic name, seem both of them to date from about the ninth and tenth centuries AD, during which much activity prevailed in Southern India in the matter of building temples, and elaborating the services held in them. The dancing-girls...
Page 270 - Yogadrstisamuccaya. in: Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History, ed. John E Cort, Albany, SUNY Press, 98; India: The Land of Plentitude.
Page 4 - ... at least to European ears, of excruciating discord. All the temples also maintain troops of dancing girls. The Tanjore temple possesses fifteen, ten of whom danced before me in the court of the temple with far livelier movements than are customary among the Nach girls of Western and Northern India. There can be no doubt that dancing in the East was once exclusively connected with religious devotion, especially with homage paid to Siva in his character of lord of dancing (see p. 85). Further,...

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