The Feminisms of Dharmic India

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Jay Upadhyay


Over the span of many thousands of years, Indian civilization has developed a rich variety of customs, traditions, norms, values, and philosophies that have illuminated the lives of those that belonged to it. Even within strictly regulated and defined social groupings, there are irreconcilable differences within that same group. The Brahmins fit this example well as they are in some regions forbidden to consume meat, like in Gujarat, whereas in other regions meat would be the staple of their diet, like those of Kashmir. It is in this diversity that the history of India should be framed and constructed. What is true in one place may not be in another, what unites a group may not make them uniform, and even the most ancient traditions show signs of evolution. The concept of Dharma, which incorporates everything from duties to ethics, is a fine embodiment of this principle. Dharma is the implicit philosophy for many Indians, especially those of the Dharmic traditions or religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. It is in this reality that I seek to situate my investigation of womanhood in Dharmic India.

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