Contents: Preface. 1. Gendered spirituality: a South Indian perspective. 2. Women and spirituality in the Sangam age. 3. Women in Buddhism and Jainism. 4. Bride, demoness, other: women in the early devotional movements in South India. 5. Rebels-housewives: women in Virasaivism. 6. Women 'In', women 'Out': women within the Warkari panths. 7. Transition: gender, spirituality and the politics of freedom. Epilogue. Index.
"This book maps the spiritual history of women in the context of societal structures through historical time and space. The study looks at the issues of gender inequalities in the context of dominance and power and the debates over female sexuality and salvation. In the process spirituality emerges as a powerful form of women's self-expression finding its voice in the various 'cathartic' spiritual movements. Manifestations of female spirituality in particular societies, whether feudal, quasi-feudal or colonial, varied from tacit conformism (to male spiritual/social leadership) to deviance and even defiance. The author goes back in historical time to the 'material-spiritualism' of the Sangam Tamils and forward into the era of colonial transition. The Deccan and the region south of the Vindhyas form the geographical liminalities of this study which opens up the possibilities of a wider study of women, society and spirituality in the broader context of the South Asian region." (jacket)