1st Edition

The Man Who Was a Woman and Other Queer Tales from Hindu Lore

ISBN 9781560231813
Published December 5, 2001 by Routledge
180 Pages

USD $64.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

A god transforms into a nymph and enchants another god.

A king becomes pregnant.

A prince discovers on his wedding night that he is not a man.

Another king has children who call him both father and mother. A hero turns into a eunuch and wears female apparel. A princess has to turn into a man before she can avenge her humiliation. Widows of a king make love to conceive his child. Friends of the same sex end up marrying each other after one of them metamorphoses into a woman.

These are some of the tales from Hindu lore that this unique book examines. The Man Who Was a Woman and Other Queer Tales from Hindu Lore is a compilation of traditional Hindu stories with a common thread: sexual transformation and gender metamorphosis.

In addition to the thought-provoking stories in The Man Who Was a Woman and Other Queer Tales from Hindu Lore, you'll also find:

  • an examination of the universality of queer narratives with examples from Greek lore and Irish folklore
  • a comparison of the Hindu paradigm to the biblical paradigm
  • a look at how Hindu society and Hindu scripture responds to queer sexuality
  • a discussion of the Hijras, popularly believed to be the “third gender” in India--their probable origin, and how they fit into Hindu society
With the telling of each of these tales, you will also learn how the author came upon each of them and how they relate to the context of dominant Hindu attitudes toward sex, gender, pleasure, fertility, and celibacy.

Table of Contents


  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Placing Stories in Context
  • Universality of Queer Narratives
  • Differences in Queer Narratives
  • Hindu versus Biblical Paradigm
  • Structured Society Within Fluid Philosophy
  • The Hindu Way of Life
  • Hindu Response to Queer Sexuality
  • Adoption of the Colonial Discourse
  • The Third Sex and Gender in India
  • An Ancient Legacy
  • What About the Women?
  • Representation in Narratives
  • Interpretation of Narratives
  • Structure and Aim of the Book
  • Chapter 1. Women Who Become Men
  • Bhisma: The Son Who Swore Celibacy
  • Avikshita: The Prince Who Believed He Was a Woman
  • Amba's Quest for Manhood
  • Children of the Man with Queer Virility
  • Shikhandini Gets a Male Body
  • The Raja's Daughter Who Became His Son
  • The Girls Who Got Married
  • The Inseparable Girls
  • Man Who Was a Woman
  • The Woman Who Became a Man and Then a Woman
  • Sariputra's Sex Change
  • Malli Who Became Malli-Natha
  • Chapter 2. Pregnant Kings
  • Bhangashvana: The Man Who Was Father and Mother
  • Somavat: The Male Wife
  • Son of a Eunuch
  • The Forest Where Men Became Women
  • The Dawn-God Becomes a Woman
  • Riksharaja's Dip into Womanhood
  • Narada Becomes a Woman
  • Yuvanashva: The Pregnant King
  • Ravana's Pregnancy
  • Shiva Gives Birth to Shukra
  • Kavya Gives Birth to Kacha
  • Birth of Kartikeya
  • Kartikeya Turns Away from Women
  • Chapter 3. Cross-Dressing Tricksters
  • Mohini Tricks Bhasma
  • Mohini Fools the Asuras
  • Mohini Kills Virochana
  • Mohini Enchants the Sages
  • Vishnu Arouses Shiva
  • Death of Adi
  • The Son of Shiva and Vishnu
  • Kali Becomes Krishna
  • Shiva, The Milkmaid
  • Krishna Wears Radha's Clothes
  • Krishna Kills Araka
  • Krishna and Arjuna As Mother and Daughter
  • Ghatotkacha in Women's Clothes
  • Bhima in Women's Clothes
  • Santoshi and Her Brother
  • Krishna Becomes Aravan's Wife
  • Samba's Pregnancy
  • Ravana's Harem
  • Past Lives of the Milkmaids
  • Chapter 4. Castrated Men and Women
  • Brihanalla: The Eunuch Dancer
  • Urvashi Castrates Arjuna
  • Bahuchara Emasculates Her Husband
  • Bahuchara Cuts Her Breasts
  • Kannagi Plucks Out Her Breast
  • Shiva Castrates Himself
  • Sages Castrate Shiva
  • Indra Loses His Manhood
  • Laxmana Mutilates Surpanakha
  • Emasculation of Jamadagni's Sons
  • Chelliamman's Female Companion
  • The Man Who Had Never Seen a Woman
  • Chapter 5. Neither This nor That
  • Narasimha
  • Creation of Ganesha
  • Two Queens Conceive a Child
  • Ganesha Remains Single
  • The Separation of the Three Worlds
  • Rama's Return
  • Purusha Splits into Two
  • Brahma Sees the Half-Woman God
  • Shiva Makes Parvati His Left Half
  • Shiva Fuses with Parvati
  • Shiva Cursed to Become an Androgyne
  • Bhrungi Tries to Separate the Androgyne
  • Shiva-Linga
  • The Prince Who Married His Left Half
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Reference Notes Included

View More