Ursula King (Professor Emerita, Senior Research Fellow and Associate Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Bristol. Professorial Research Associate, Centre for Gender and Religions Research, SOAS, University of London)
This talk will introduce the theme of the worskshop and will address the problem of traditional representations of women as Goddess or Victim and will provide a historical overview of the problem. This will set the scene and provide the background for the discussion that follows.
In India the treatises of law founded upon the sacred books of the Hindus had a far-reaching and defining influence on social life. As foundational documents of the Hindu way of life which codified social relations as well as personal belief as religious imperatives, these texts have exerted the deepest influence on the lives and conduct of women through history and their teachings have not yet entirely lost their force.
Nivrtti denotes disengagement with worldly conventions. Of course it is used more in the context of samnysins/samnyasinis in connection with the pursuit of moksa (liberation). But this paper intends to release the word nivrtti from this narrow application and look at it in a wider context. The paper will examine the instances in the texts which have representations of women who go against the conventional, mother/warrior image.