Negotiating Societal and Spiritual Terrain
Vijaya Ramaswamy
WOMEN'S RENUNCIATION IN SOUTH ASIA: NUNS, YOGINIS, SAINTS AND SINGERS by Meena Khandelwal, Sondra L. Hausner and Ann Grodzins Gold Zubaan, an imprint of Kali for Women, 2007, 375 pp., 595
October 2007, volume 31, No 10

The first thing that strikes one about this collection is that the essays represented in it were not written sitting in libraries. It is quite clearly not a historical or sociological perspective on women ‘breaking away’ from conventional paths. The methodological approach is clearly from the stream of ethnography and is based almost entirely on participant observation. The reviewer’s intention is not to compare and contrast the two methodological approaches in order to privilege any one, but merely to draw attention to the striking difference between the two ways of encountering the extremely complex theme of women’s renunciation.

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