Sati, the Blessing and the Curse

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

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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

  • Paperback | 227 pages
  • 154 x 232 x 18mm | 340.2g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • frontispiece, halftones, map
  • 0195077741
  • 9780195077742
  • 2,095,920

Review quote

This book is grea? * presents elegant and thoughtful essays on a very disturbing issue, one that my students ask me about endlessly. *
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About John Stratton Hawley

John Stratton Hawley is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religion at Barnard College, and Director of the South Asian Institute at Columbia University. He is the editor of Songs of the Saints of India (Oxford, 1988) and Fundamentalism and Gender (Oxford, 1993), as well as numerous other books on Indian religion and literature.
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Rating details

13 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 31% (4)
4 54% (7)
3 15% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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