Women in the Hindu Tradition: Rules, Roles and Exceptions, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Women in the Hindu Tradition

Rules, Roles and Exceptions, 1st Edition

By Mandakranta Bose


170 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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This book accounts for the origin and evolution of the nature and roles of women within the Hindu belief system. It explains how the idea of the goddess has been derived from Hindu philosophical ideas and texts of codes of conduct and how particular models of conduct for mortal women have been created. Hindu religious culture correlates philosophical speculation and social imperatives to situate femininity on a continuum from divine to mortal existence. This creates in the Hindu consciousness multiple - often contradictory - images of women, both as wielders and subjects of authority. The conception and evolution of the major Hindu goddesses, placed against the judgments passed by texts of Hindu sacred law on women’s nature and duties, illuminate the Hindu discourse on gender, the complexity of which is compounded by the distinctive spirituality of female ascetic poets. Drawing on a wide range of Sanskrit texts, the author explains how the idea of the goddess has been derived from Hindu philosophical ideas and also from the social roles of women as reflected in, and prescribed by, texts of codes of conduct. She examines the idea of female divinity which gave rise to models of conduct for mortal women. Instead of a one-way order of ideological derivation, the author argues that there is constant traffic between both ways the notional and the actual feminine. This book brings together for the first time a wide range of material and offers fresh stimulating interpretations of women in the Hindu Tradition.


"Bose’s work is indispensable to the field of women’s studies in general and to the study of women in Hindu social and philosophical thought in particular; the author manages to bridge gaps in the existing knowledge, and her work will hopefully spark new discussion, especially given the preoccupation with women by men throughout history." - Susanne Kranz, Zayed University; Journal of International and Global Studies Volume 4, Number 1, (November 2012).

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Gendered Divinity: Goddesses in the Hindu Tradition 3. Shaping Women’s lives: The Role of Ancient Hindu Texts 4. Women Poets of Hinduism 5. Sanctuary: Women and Home Worship 6. Conclusion

About the Author

Mandakranta Bose is Professor Emerita, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia, Canada. Two of her major publications are Faces of the Feminine in Ancient, Medieval and Modern India and Sangitanarayana: A Critical Edition.

About the Series

Routledge Hindu Studies Series

This series, in association with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, intends primarily  the publication of constructive Hindu theological, philosophical and ethical projects aimed at bringing Hindu traditions into dialogue with contemporary trends in scholarship and contemporary society. The series invites original, high quality, research level work on religion, culture and society of Hindus living in India and abroad. Proposals for annotated translations of important primary sources and studies in the history of the Hindu religious traditions will also be considered.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Hinduism / Rituals & Practice
RELIGION / Hinduism / Sacred Writings
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General