New Books Network

The Hindu tradition has held conflicting views on womanhood from its earliest texts—holding women aloft as goddesses to be worshipped on the one hand...

The Hindu tradition has held conflicting views on womanhood from its earliest texts—holding women aloft as goddesses to be worshipped on the one hand and remaining deeply suspicious about women’s sexuality on the other. In Woman as Fire, Woman as Sage: Sexual Ideology in the Mahabharata (SUNY Press, 2008), Arti Dhand examines the religious premises upon which Hindu ideas of sexuality and women are constructed. The work focuses on the great Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata, a text that not only reflects the cogitations of a momentous period in Hindu history, but also was critical in shaping the future of Hinduism. Dhand proposes that the epic’s understanding of womanhood cannot be isolated from the broader religious questions that were debated at the time, and that the formation of a sexual ideology is one element in crafting a coherent religious framework for Hinduism.

Today we speak with Arti Dhand on her teaching, her research on the Hindu epics and her exciting new podcast on the Mahābhārata!


For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.