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Women in Ochre Robes
Gendering Hindu Renunciation
Women in Ochre Robes
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Meena Khandelwal - Author
SUNY series in Hindu Studies
N/A
Hardcover - 252 pages
Release Date: October 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5921-7
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5921-8

Out of Print
Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 252 pages
Release Date: October 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5922-5
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5922-5

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Focuses on the lives of female Hindu ascetics and the significance of gender to the tradition of renunciation.

Meena Khandelwal offers an engaging and intimate portrait of extraordinary Hindu women in India who wear "ochre robes," signifying their renunciation of marriage and family for lives of celibacy, asceticism, and spiritual discipline. While the largely male Hindu ascetic tradition of sannyasa renders its initiates ritually "dead" to their previous identities, the women portrayed here are very much alive. They struggle with, and joke about, the tensions and ironies of living in the world while trying not to be of it.

Khandelwal juxtaposes the common refrain that "in renunciation there is no male and female" with arguments that underscore the importance of gender. In exploring these apparent contradictions, she brings together worldly and otherworldly values within renunciation and argues that these create tensions that are at once emotional, social, and philosophical.

Women in Ochre Robes is a fascinating travelogue of a … pilgrimage into the women-centered ashrams of the hoary pilgrim town of Haridwar … Unlike similar academic studies, it locates the researcher squarely in the midst of her subjects. This methodology is refreshing.” — Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“…a delightful book … compelling and revealing.” — Religious Studies Review

"This book provides richly detailed accounts of the author's many months living with, observing, and interacting with sannyasinis, their followers, and fellow ascetics. Descriptions of daily life at the ashrams; reports of long conversations; attention to the details of place, dress, food and its preparation; and the descriptions of visitors all help create vivid pictures of the lives of the sannyasinis." — Anne Mackenzie Pearson, author of Because It Gives Me Peace of Mind: Ritual Fasts in the Religious Lives of Hindu Women

"This is a delightfully readable, thoroughly original, and wonderfully insightful work. Not only does it offer invaluable new visions of the under-studied topic of female renouncers in Hindu traditions, but it also illuminates South Asian gender constructs in general, as well as the broader relationship between householders and renouncers that has long fascinated observers of Indian society." — Ann Grodzins Gold, author of A Carnival of Parting


Meena Khandelwal is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Women's Studies at the University of Iowa.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Note on Transliteration

Introduction: Sannyasinis as Persons

1. Gendering Hindu Renunciation

2. Walking a Tightrope: Renunciation as Love

3. Real Saints Don't Need Sleep: Renunciation as Service

4. (Ir?)reconcilable Tensions: Individual Existence as Spiritual Journey

5. The Genuine and The Fake: What's Attitude Got to Do with It?

6. Sannyasinis as Women

Notes

Glossary

Works Cited

Index



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