Author: Catherine Weinberger-Thomas
: Jeffrey Mehlman / David Gordon White
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 978-0-19-565387-8
Translated from original in French, this work, based on fifteen years of field work in northern India, attempts to see the Satis through Hindu eyes, providing a wide-ranging experiential and psychoanalytic account of ritual self-sacrifice and self-mutilation in South Asia.
The much publicized burning of a young Rajput widow from the state of Rajasthan in 1987 renewed intense debate on the subject of Sati. Long a topic of horrified fascination - how can a woman commit herself to death on her husband's funeral pyre, then actually carry through with it - Sati is at once both a powerful symbol of Otherness for the West and an act proving a woman's sacredness and sp0iritual power in the Hindu world.
Ashes of Immortality attempts to see the satis through Hindu eyes, providing a wide-ranging experiential and psychoanalytic account of ritual self-sacrifice and self-mutilation in South Asia. Base on fifteen years of field work in northern India, where the state-banned practice of sati reemerged in the 1970s, as well as extensive te3xtual analysis, Catherine Weinberger-Thomas constructs a radically new interpretation of satis.
She invites readers to set aside their personal prejudices and worldviews and enter the Hindu universe, in which humans and deities freely cross the borderline between heaven and earth, people are born and die again and again according to the laws of Karma, and violent self-sacrifice is perceived as a path to immortality.
Praise for the book:
Drawing upon sources never before covered all at once by a single author - classical Sanskrit texts, vernacular texts in Tamil, Hindi and Rajasthani and extensive field notes from decades of research in India - Weinberger-Thomas forces herself, and us, to go beyond horror to understanding. And that, I think, is the purpose of great scholarship. - Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago
At last, a daring book about sati. Catherine Weinberger-Thomas leaves us to be unsettled, to question an enigma, to probe, to be haunted. - Alf Hiltebeitel, George Washington University