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On Hinduism$
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Wendy Doniger

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199360079

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199360079.001.0001

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Saranyu/Samjna: The Sun and the Shadow 1

Saranyu/Samjna: The Sun and the Shadow 1

(p.269) Saranyu/Samjna: The Sun and the Shadow1
On Hinduism

Wendy Doniger

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on one particular figure from Hindu mythology, Saranyu, and her relevance in the context of ideas about gender, class/caste, and race. It first outlines the story of Saranyu in the Rig Veda and her appearance as Samjna in the Harivamsha, an appendix to the Mahabharata. In particular, it discusses the concept of varna in the story of Samjna in the sense of mortal versus immortal. It also considers another version of the Saranyu legend in the Markandeya Purana. Finally, it examines Samjna’s father-in-law, Tvastri, and the incestuous implications of his aggression against her husband in the Puranic corpus.

Keywords:   mythology, Saranyu, Rig Veda, Samjna, Harivamsha, Mahabharata, varna, mortal, immortal, Markandeya Purana

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