PresenterPintchman Tracy - Loyola University Chicago, Theology and Religious Studies, Chicago, United States
Panel02 – Rewriting Hindu Women within Contemporary Popular Media
This paper explores the rewriting of Sītā’s story in Amish Tripathi’s popular mythological fantasy Ramchandra series, with a focus on the second novel,”Sita: Warrior of Mithila” (2017). Amish is a controversial writer who has been criticized from the right, which objects to his total rewriting of the Rām story, and the left, which accuses him of playing into right-wing religious sentiments by advocating a retrieval of “traditional” Hindu mores, which many critics find to be regressive. But he has professed on more than one occasion to champion modern, liberal values, and his stated views on gender are progressive. In his series, Tripathi recasts Sītā as a fierce warrior, political leader, incarnation of Viṣṇu, and heroic advocate of women’s self-determination. The paper argues that Amish’s Sītā succeeds in large part because she is woven into a narrative that reflects the political, social, and economic aspirations and values of many young, urban, educated Hindus—who face the challenge of embracing and celebrating “traditional” Hindu identity while accommodating it to modern, liberal, and capitalist values.