Gender, Religion, and Modern Hindi Drama

Gender, Religion, and Modern Hindi Drama

DIANA DIMITROVA
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 168
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.cttq465d
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    Gender, Religion, and Modern Hindi Drama
    Book Description:

    Diana Dimitrova studies the representation of gender and religion in Hindi drama from its beginnings in the second half of the nineteenth century until the 1960s - the period when urban proscenium Hindi theatre, which originated under Western influence, matured and thrived. Her focus is on how different religious and mythological models pertaining to women have been reworked in Hindi drama and whether the seven representative dramatists discussed in this book present conservative or liberating Hindu images of the feminine. She examines how the intersections of gender, religion, and ideology account for the creation of the canon of modern Hindi drama, specifically the assertion of a conservative interpretation of orthodox Hindu images of the feminine as well as the exclusion of dramatists who introduce innovative liberating images of the feminine. The overt reason for the negative attitude toward this innovative representation of gender is that it is perceived as "Western" and thus "non-Indian." By contrast, the author's analysis of Hindu mythology, religion, and theatre history reveals that the new interpretation of gender is deeply embedded in Hindu tradition and is thus both Hindu Indian and modernist Western in character.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7462-5
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-2)

    This book studies the representation of gender and religion in Hindi drama. The focus is on how different religious and mythological models pertaining to women and gender have been reworked in Hindi drama and whether the dramatists discussed in this book assert conservative or liberating Hindu images of the feminine.

    In the first chapter, “An Invitation to Modern Hindi Theatre,” I introduce the reader to major Hindi literary schools and playwrights. The dramatists’ interpretation of gender and religion depends on the different ideological positions that they represent. Therefore, it is essential to have knowledge of the history of Hindi theatre...

  4. 1 An Invitation to Modern Hindi Theatre
    (pp. 3-14)

    The plays discussed in this book belong to the category of sophisticated urban Hindi drama, which is performed on the elite urban stages of the big cultural centres of Delhi, Banaras, and Allahabad. These plays should be distinguished from the tradition of the urban Parsi theatre, from the religious folk dramasrāslῑlā(Kṛṣna’s round dance of love with the cowherd girls of Braj) andrāmlῑlā(a dramatic presentation of the deeds of Rām staged during the the Daśahrā festival of the first ten days of the month of Āśvin). Regional traditional Hindi theatre, which comprises the secular tradition ofnauṭaṅkῑ...

  5. 2 Images of the Feminine in Hindu Traditions
    (pp. 15-22)

    In my discussion of images of the feminine in the Hindu tradition, I draw on four major sources:Dharmaśāstraliterature, especially theMaṇusmṛti; theMahābhārataandRāmāyaṇaepics; thePurāṇas; andbhakti(devotional) literature. First, I examine the (negative) image of Hinduism associated with roles and duties prescribed for women in theDharmaśāstratexts and the conflicting representation of women and gender in theMahābhārataandRāmāyaṇaepics . Next, I proceed to discuss alternative (positive) images of the feminine in the Hindu tradition, as revealed in the tradition of womenbhaktisaints and in the mythology of the Goddess...

  6. 3 Remythologizing Tradition: Confinement or Liberation for Women?
    (pp. 23-48)

    This chapter discusses the interpretation of women in modern urban Hindi drama as revealed in the work of Bhāratendu Hariścandra, Jayśaṅkar Prasād, Jagdῑścandra Māthur, Mohan Rākeś, and Bhuvaneśvar. This sets the literary and historical context for further examination of the interpretation of women’s issues in the postcolonial period, for instance in Upendranāth Aśk’s plays. It is a characteristic of modern Hindi drama that the female characters are at the centre of the plays.¹ Thus the development of the protagonist in Hindi drama can be studied against the background of the interpretation of womenÙs issues.

    The work of Hariścandra and Prasād...

  7. 4 Subverting Tradition: The Liberating Innovations of Upendranāth Aśk
    (pp. 49-70)

    Female characters are at the centre of Aśk’s plays, for the conflict between tradition and modernity – the main conflict of his time – is best manifested in their lives. The author presents women as “imprisoned” by the old norms of traditional Hindu society and portrays them either as suffering the restrictions imposed on them or as fighting against them.

    Aśk does not endorsestrīdharma(traditional norms of womahood) in his dramas. Rather, he presents an alternative notion of womanhood by introducing the independent heroine who is aware of the injustice done to her by conservative tradition and who rebels against outdated...

  8. 5 The Heroines
    (pp. 71-85)

    The question of how the playwrights discussed herein either reinforce or subvert traditional religious notions of womanhood leads us to the study of the literary texture of the dramas and the issue of characterization. As readers and audience, we receive information that enables us to perceive the dramatists’ views on the subject matter. Most often, authors imbue their characters with their ideals and ideas. If the characters are well constructed, we find ourselves either agreeing or disagreeing with them, liking or disliking them. In this way, we internalize the ideas and respond to the messages that the playwrights convey in...

  9. Conclusion: Creating the Canon of Modern Hindi Drama
    (pp. 86-98)

    In conclusion, I want to look at how the dramatists’ interpretation of gender and religion is related to the creation of the canon of modern Hindi drama. The ideologically coloured concept of the “Indian character” of the dramas accounts for the selection of playwrights and their work. Works are considered to be “Indian” in character in two instances: (1) if a dramatist writes in conformity with the poetics of classical Sanskrit or Indian folk theatre (the neo-Sanskrtic and the nativistic play) and (2) if a dramatist’s interpretation of gender and religion endorses traditional values. By contrast, works are not considered...

  10. Summary of Dramas
    (pp. 99-102)
  11. Glossary of Hindi and Sanskrit Words and Hindu Terms
    (pp. 103-108)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 109-122)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 123-142)
  14. Index
    (pp. 143-149)