24 November, 2012

The Feminine Sacred in South Asia

The Feminine Sacred in South Asia

By- Harald Tambs-Lyche (ed)

Published in association with
Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, France

South Asia is the only major region where the ‘Great Goddess’ is still a living reality for believers—yet its society remains male-dominated. Drawing their examples from ritual practice, myth, and sacred texts the contributors to this volume discuss the place of the feminine within the sacred sphere of South Asian religion. The theme is full of contradictions, for the impurity of woman must be held against the powers she incarnates, and the religious status of these powers is an old theme of debate among Hindu and Buddhist thinkers. Finally, the feminine pole in religious thought cannot simply be equated with human womanhood. . . . Yet the very presence of feminity in the sacred sphere contrasts with its exclusion from scriptural Islam or from protestantism, and offers, perhaps, to women a mode of religious expression in an idiom where gender is a central paradigm of thought.

This volume then, contributing to the debate on feminity in South Asian religion, should also be of interest to scholars dealing with gender in a broader perspective.

Harald Tambs-Lyche, a social anthropologist, is professor of ethnology at the University of Picardie-Jules Verne, Amiens (France). He has worked on Gujaratis at home and abroad (London Patidars, Routledge, 1980; Power, Profit and Poetry, Manohar, 1997). He is currently doing fieldwork in Karnataka.

ISBN  978-81-7304-246-1   2004   148p.   Rs.300/Pounds 35

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