Towards a ‘Vedic Feminine Renaissance’
Keywords:Feminism, Feminist ideals in Vedic literature, Indian theory on Feminism
The sense of justice and equity towards women is considered among the best indicators that reflect the socio-cultural development of a civilisation. The position and status of women, as reflected in literature naturally serves as a test to gauge the sensibilities and cultivation of each associated age. It is matter of general agreement that the feminine ideals of womanhood during the early Vedic age remain exalted and exemplary. The Vedic narratives elevate the ephemeral spirit of womanhood, which progressively lost its sheen in successive stages.
While the contemporary feminine polemics consistently unravel unhackneyed theories, generic in nature, we are lacking in such an orientation which targets specifics of local, regional and traditional culture. Feminists in India are no exception, and have largely adopted the theories of Feminism emanating from the discourse of the West. The Indian Vedic repository contains instances which testify the epitome of womanhood at its best. However, the Indian ethos of feminism imbedded firmly in the Vedic roots remain largely inaccessible in the contemporary feministic theory. The need for adapting ‘global feminism’ to the ‘classical Indian taste’ remains an unobserved concern.
This paper explores the possibilities inherent in the study of classical mythic literature and their potential for stimulating ‘local theories’ of feminism in India through a study of selected feminine ideals present in the early Vedic narratives. Can study of ancient Vedic literature inspire a reawakening in Indian feminism, just as the study of classical Greek literature did for the West during Renaissance in Europe - is a question, this paper seeks to address.
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