ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women and Spirituality

Walking Naked – Women, Society, Spirituality in South India by Vijaya Ramaswamy; Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, 1997; pp x+257, Rs 350.

Vijaya Ramaswamy’s study explores  the space accorded to women in religious and devotional movements in south India. She traces this historically from the earliest periods of recorded history (dating from the Sangam period) till the 17th century, i e, the pre-colonial period, using Gramsci’s concept of ‘historical blocs’ to divide a history spanning nearly 2,000 years into five specific units of analysis.

At the outset, it must be made clear that this book believes in spirituality as a mystic, personal experience. This then raises two not easily answered ambivalent questions – the first, can a spiritual experience be different for or be distinguished between women and men, for surely such an experience should transcend all the trappings of identity of a material world. The other is, to what extent can or should women be treated as women and not as de-sexed or asexual persons in the spiritual sphere.

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