Books: Contestation and Compliance: Retrieving Women's 'Agency'from Puranic Traditions by Jaya S.Tyagi

This book looks into the representations of women in early textual traditions in order to trace the complex manner in which Puranic conceptualizations relating to women and their participation in religious activities have emerged. While retrieving representations of women in Puranic traditions and the context in which they exist, it becomes evident that women are discussed mainly in relation to religious praxis and moral propriety through the proper conduct of rituals and rites. This work attempts to ‘re-read’ the Matsyamahāpurāṇa and, through the study of vratas and myths, reconstruct the anxieties that theological traditions have with regard to women. It also attempts to retrieve women’s responses to these anxieties and how they may have used their agency in order to be included in the Puranic texts. Patriarchal traditions, rather than remaining frozen, have constantly reinvented themselves in order to deal with the negotiations and contestations that women make. It is these very traditions which, when read carefully, tell us about women and the challenges that they constantly put to theological traditions. It is in religious traditions that the most intensive conflicts and debates related to women and their bodies are worked out, and this study intends to focus on these debates. The book shows how women’s identities are not only established in ritual spaces but are also constantly reworked and negotiated.

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