ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

The reassessing of Hindu women’s ideal in the Hindi novels Gāndhī aur Saralādevī Caudhrānī: Bārah adhyāy and Tr̥n dhari oṭ


Mangraviti Fabio - La Sapienza, Italian Institute of Oriental Studies, Rome, Italy


02 – Rewriting Hindu Women within Contemporary Popular Media


Indian literatures are still playing a major role in reshaping the values and representations linked to Indian women’s identity. As far as Hindi contemporary literature is concerned, especially over the last years, there have been many attempts at reassessing values and symbols linked to mythical, religious and historical Hindu women characters (Mangraviti: 2021). It is remarkable that, currently, also prominent Hindi women writers are committed to recast symbols linked to female figures, drawn from Indian history or religion.  Alkā Sarāvgī, for instance, has reassessed the imaginary linked to the social reformer, activist and writer Saralādevī Caudhrānī, whose intellectual relationship with Gāndhī has been described in the book Gāndhī aur Saralādevī Caudhrānī: Bārah adhyāy (2023). Recently, Anāmikā has moved towards the same direction by addressing the figure of Sītā in Tr̥n dhari oṭ (2023). The two books are quite different in their content. However, in both cases, the authors projected on to the protagonists of their novels several values and symbols, engaging with the life of I women within and outside the family, which are functional to renegotiate, in a complex and multi-layered way, the norms traditionally attached to Hindu women. The article proposes, on the backdrop of a general analysis on contemporary literature and medias, to investigate the sociocultural and political impact of the above-mentioned literary representations in the contemporary Hindi public sphere.