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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Kali worship and its implications for the study of Bengali women Filteau, Carolyn Helen


The subject of this thesis is the description of the logic of power relations between men and women as they correspond with images held of Kali, a Hindu goddess. Kali is described in the religious literature as both a benevolent mother goddess and a demonic shrew. Kali is seen here, in my analysis, as a symbolic manifestation as well as a model for male-female interaction in the traditional Indian society. The thesis serves as a prelude and justification for intended research in Bengal. It is meant to challenge the notion that the social worlds of men arid women can be reduced to two spheres (domestic and public) with power limited to males in a so-called public arena. Power is defined as that aspect of social relations what has the effect of constraining or directing the behavior of another (Belshaw 1967). Two features of Kali are considered especially important; Kali's dual-nature and the fact that in India, women are seen as goddesses and goddesses as women. Mostly the analysis considers women as wives and mothers, however one chapter looks at the Indian courtesan. The courtesan represents an interesting juxtaposition of relations with the wife.

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