From the Jacket
Sita is one of the defining figures of Indian womanhood, yet there is no single version of her story. Different accounts coexist in myth, literature and folktale. Canonical texts deify Sita while regional variations humanize her. Folk songs and ballads connect her timeless predicament to the daily lives of rural women. Modern-day women continue to see themselves reflected in films, serials and soap operas based on Sita’s narrative.
Sacrifice, self-denial and unquestioning loyalty are some of the ideals associated with popular perceptions of Sita. But the Janaki who symbolized strength, who could lift Shiva’s mighty bow, who courageously chose to accompany Rama into exile and who refused to follow him back after a second trial, is often forgotten.
However she is remembered, revered or written about, Sita continues to exert a powerful influence on the collective Indian psyche. In Search of Sita presents essays, conversations and commentaries that explore different aspects of her life. It revisits mythology, reopening the debate on her birth, her days in exile, her abductions, the test by fire, the birth of her sons and, finally, her return to the earth-offering fresh interpretations of this enigmatic figure and her indelible impact on our everyday lives.
MALASHRI LAL is a professor in the department of English, and the current joint director of Delhi University, current joint director of Delhi University, South Campus. She has written and lectured extensively on women’s sociocultural positioning and women’s writing. her publications include The Law of the Threshold: Women Writers in Indian English and the co-edited volumes, Interpreting Home in South Asian Literature and Speaking for Myself: An Anthology of Asian Women’s Writing.
NAMITA GOKHALE is a writer. Her first novel, the critically acclaimed Paro: Dreams of Passion, was published in 1984, followed by A Himalayan Love Story and The Book of Shadows. Her other works include The Book of Shiva and Shakuntala: The Play of Memory; and most recently, she retold the epic The Mahabharata for young readers. She is also co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Back of the Book
This popular print of Sita, based on a painting by Raja Ravi Varma, depicts the abducted goddess, alone and brooding, yet with a flash of fire in her eyes. It is evocative of both past and future exiles, of her loneliness and strength. The passion and reverence with which Varma depicted his iconic mythological and religious figures, and the power of the new print technology, created a new, composite archetype of Indian womanhood for the Indian masses. - Aman Nath.
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