The text examines the role of the Hindu tradition in the ideology and methodology of the Indian women's movement. By showing how leaders of the movement have restated aspects of the tradition, it provides insight into the ways in which a women's movement can restate a religious tradition. Throughout Indian society religion has been central to debate about the position of women and opposition to the women’s movement has often been rationalised in terms of religion. Through a review of the speeches and writings of leading figures of the movement from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it identifies positive as well as negative representations of the tradition and its implications for women. It shows when and why the movement has chosen either to offer a traditional justification for its aims and activities or to eschew such a justification in favour of an alternative rationale.
'I strongly recomment it. It has good historical material on a century of Hindu women's involvement in socio-political activiy, and a well-presented survey of contemporary uses of Hindu literature in Indian feminism. a very useful book fo rcourses on both Hinduism and Women's Studies' - C. Ram-Prasad, Reviews in Religion and Theology
'does a great service in teaching a great deal to those who do not know this history and in highlighting the names of the extraordinary women who have fought for women's rights in Indian history, and who are still fighting.' - Gavid Flood, Bulletin of SOAS
The Hindu tradition and the Indian Women's Movement; the "woman question" in India - reform, revival and the Hindu renaissance; the "awakening" of Indian women - the emergence of the women's movement; "women's uplift" - the appeal to Hindu beliefs and values; "equal rights" - the appeal to liberal beliefs and values; legislation and change - campaigning for women's rights; the contemporary debate - activists, academics and the Hindu tradition; conclusion - tradition and liberation.