A Sanskrit and Vedic School for Girls in Varanasi
The Morgenstierne Lecture
by Ute Hüsken
Tradition, Innovation, and Resistance: A Sanskrit and Vedic School for Girls in Varanasi
The girls' school Pāṇinikanyāmahāvidyālaya in Varanasi (established 1970) is a resident school for girls' (aged 8 to 22 years) which hosts up to 100 girls from all over India. In this school in-depth practical and theoretical knowledge in Sanskrit and Vedic rituals is imparted to the girls, complemented by training in martial arts, music, and computer sciences. The presentation discusses the reception of this school and its activities in the influential Brahmin circles in Varanasi, contextualizes this with view of discussions of female religious agency (adhikāra) in Ancient India, and the views of the girls themselves on these matters.
Ute Hüsken is professor of Sanskrit and Head of the Indology Department at the University of Heidelberg. She has published several books, including Visnhu's Children: Prenatal life-cycle rituals in South India, Buddhist Modernities: Re-inventing Tradition in the Globalizing Modern World, The Ambivalence of Denial and The Denial of Ritual.
Among her present research project is Changing Patterns of Women's Ritual Agency in Religious Traditions of South Asian Origin.