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Ideals , Icons and Reality Dr Neekee Chaturvedi Lecturer in History Govt. P. G. College,Dausa, Rajasthan India

Neekee chaturvedi icas'12

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  • Ideals , Icons and Reality

    Dr Neekee ChaturvediLecturer in HistoryGovt. P. G. College,Dausa, RajasthanIndia

  • Enormous cultural value of the MahabharataPan-Indian significance Perpetuation through regional variations and modern interpretationsCrucial to the woman questionImplications for social history

  • To appraise the historical record through the women characters and their roles as viewed by the writer of Mahabharata and also as perceived and perpetuated by the societyTo identify the general constituents or traits of women within the epic - strisvabhavaTo elaborate upon the norms of conduct for the woman stridharmaTo understand their interplay and bring out the dichotomy between societal norms and individual action

  • Mahabharata is a revolutionary epic that provides women with an alternative course within and despite the constraints of rigid patriarchal norms, the premise for which lies in a belief in the harmony of personal and societal needs.

  • Certain ideas were formed about the idealsProjection of women images conforming to these idealsAppeal to scriptural-historical pastTool for patriarchal subordinationReligious sanction to subordination of women

  • Attempts to challenge & analyse androcentric assumptions and gender stereotyping

    Yuganta by Irawati KarveNathawati Anathawat and Katha Amrita Saman by Shaoli MitraQueens of the Mahabharata by Kavita SharmaThe Women of Mahabharata by Badrinath ChaturvediStri Women in Epic Mahabharata by Kevin McGrathThe Palace of Illusions by Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni

  • 1. Inherent thought stream in the Mahabharata is totally subordinate to the patriarchal norms

    2. The women characters have been interpreted as strong, independent and crucial players and therefore challenge patriarchy

  • Religious scriptures right from the vedic period accorded a low status to women.Aitereya Brahman, Maitreyi Samhita,Tattiriya Brahmana, Shatpath Brahman, Bhagvada GitaMahabharata Anushasanaparva, Shantiparva, VanaparavaBuddhist Jatakas also portray concurring opinion

  • Source of evil causing disasters, vices and sinsBarriers to spiritual lifeFickle minded, selfish and falseUnreliable and unable to keep a secretPossess uncontrollable sexuality

    Women are the edge of a razor, poison, snakes and fire, all rolled into one

  • Totally devoted and subservient to her husbandSahdharmini To be a pillar of srength and support to her husbandSuch ideal woman are the standard of women

    A husband alone is womans god, her friend, her support; there is neither support nor god like her husband

  • Shakuntala,Uma, Damayanti, KapotiShow strength and self-respectYet actions and aspirations totally in congruence with patriarchyThe portrayal of iconic women mainly in the upakhyana (sub stories)Therefore, they represent contemporary norms and not necessarily a rigid view of the epicCan also be regarded as character-specific property rather than prevalent societal practice

  • Many of the women characters in the Mahabharata reflect an alternative approach e.g.Kunti Unwed mother, NiyogaDraupadi PolyandryAmba Love and revenge

  • Correct perspective by marking a distinction between dialogues and deedsDraupadi very assertive and independentYet at the normative level conforms to patriarchyAlso does not stand for collective feminismChallenges completely the notion of external sexual purity

  • Kunti Becomes an unwed mother but abandons the childCopulates with other men through levirate or niyoga to beget childrenManipulates political forces to place her own progeny on the throneYet she is totally devoted to perpetuating the kshatriya code without even a fleeting reference to her personal desires

  • Victory of women who challenged the external norms e.g. Kunti visavis GandhariInternal values were more important than external puritySocietal issues were prominent in place of personal feelingsAccess to an alternative courseThe epic strives to strike a balance between social norms and individual desires