Gender at janaka's court: Women in the bṛhadāraṇyaka upaniṣad reconsidered [Book Review]

Journal of Indian Philosophy 36 (3):405-426 (2008)
The female characters in the Br̥hadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad have generally been interpreted by scholars in two opposing fashions: as fictional characters whose historicity can be dismissed or as representative of actual women in ancient India. Both of these interpretations, however, overlook the literary elements of this text and the role that these female characters play within the larger philosophical debate. This paper is an analysis of the various women who appear in the Br̥hadāraṇyaka and their role in this text. Close attention is paid to their characterizations, their relationship to the doctrine discussed, and their functions in the larger narrative structure. The paper concludes with a discussion about the relationship of narrative to history and fundamental problems with the “woman question” based on this text.
Keywords Upaniṣad  Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad  White Yajurveda  Ancient India  Gender  Women  Brahman  Brahmodya  Genealogy  Yājñavalkya  Gārgī  Maitreyī  Gandharva
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