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The Life of Hinduism$
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John Stratton Hawley and Vasudha Narayanan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249134

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249134.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

• A Brahmin Woman

• A Brahmin Woman

Revenge Herself

(p.218) 14 • A Brahmin Woman
The Life of Hinduism

John Stratton Hawley

Vasudha Narayanan

University of California Press

This chapter fictionalizes a celebrated nineteenth-century event that vividly dramatized the costs of being a Nambudiri Brahmin woman. The Nambudiris of Kerala, at least in their own perception, occupy the very highest rungs of the ladder of caste, and, until the early twentieth century, maintained their eminence in large part through the control of women. Marriage was strictly confined to the Nambudiri fold, and a Nambudiri woman's sexuality was closely watched. The discussion notes that, in many communities, a woman's most important deity is her husband, which has led some observers to urge that such a story actually concerns two castes: Brahmins and women.

Keywords:   caste, Nambudiri Brahmin woman, Nambudiri woman's sexuality, Kerala

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