Sati, the Blessing and the Curse: The Burning of Wives in India / Edition 1

Sati, the Blessing and the Curse: The Burning of Wives in India / Edition 1

by John Stratton Hawley, Hawley
     
 

Several years ago in Rajasthan, an eighteen-year-old woman was burned on her husband's funeral pyre and thus became sati. Before ascending the pyre, she was expected to deliver both blessings and curses: blessings to guard her family and clan for many generations, and curses to prevent anyone from thwarting her desire to die. Sati also means blessing and curse

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Overview

Several years ago in Rajasthan, an eighteen-year-old woman was burned on her husband's funeral pyre and thus became sati. Before ascending the pyre, she was expected to deliver both blessings and curses: blessings to guard her family and clan for many generations, and curses to prevent anyone from thwarting her desire to die. Sati also means blessing and curse in a broader sense. To those who revere it, sati symbolizes ultimate loyalty and self-sacrifice. It often figures near the core of a Hindu identity that feels embattled in a modern world. Yet to those who deplore it, sati is a curse, a violation of every woman's womanhood. It is murder mystified, and as such, the symbol of precisely what Hinduism should not be.

In this volume a group of leading scholars consider the many meanings of sati: in India and the West; in literature, art, and opera; in religion, psychology, economics, and politics. With contributors who are both Indian and American, this is a genuinely binational, postcolonial discussion. Contributors include Karen Brown, Paul Courtright, Vidya Dehejia, Ainslie Embree, Dorothy Figueira, Lindsey Harlan, John Hawley, Robin Lewis, Ashis Nandy, and Veena Talwar Oldenburg.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195077742
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
09/01/1994
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
232
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x 6.13(h) x 0.54(d)

Table of Contents

Language and Transliteration
Abbreviations
Introduction3
1The Iconographies of Sati27
Comment: A Broader Landscape49
2Die Flambierte Frau: Sati in European Culture55
Comment: Sati and the Nineteenth-century British Self72
3Perfection and Devotion: Sati Tradition in Rajasthan79
Comment: Good Mothers and Bad Mothers in the Rituals of Sati91
4The Roop Kanwar Case: Feminist Responses101
5Sati as Profit Versus Sati as a Spectacle: The Public Debate on Roop Kanwar's Death131
Comment: Widows as Cultural Symbols149
Comment: The Continuing Invention of the Sati Tradition159
Afterword: The Mysteries and Communities of Sati175
Select Glossary of Indic Terms187
Bibliography195
Notes on the Contributors203
Index205

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