The Department of Religious Studies presents T. Nicole Goulet from the University of Manitoba. Her talk, “Mother of India: Sarada Devi (1852–1920) and the Politics of Gender in Late Colonial Bengal,” will be held February 20, 2014, at 4:00 p.m. in McElhaney 206.
In the late colonial period, the question of what constituted the Hindu nation became the subject of intense debate in Bengal. Among those who participated in such debates was renunciate Vivekananda (1863–1902), disciple of Ramakrishna (1836–1886). While Ramakrishna was alive, he worshiped Sarada as a goddess, a woman to be revered but never touched, and inadvertently made of her a figure of popular adoration.
After Ramakrishna’s death, Sarada’s continuing celibacy and her more deliberate renunciatory practices precipitated her reconstruction by Vivekananda as not just a pativrata, or idealized wife, but as the Mother of India.
This paper addresses how Sarada’s life and religious practices became a site of political and social contestation.
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