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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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Rings of Rejection and Recognition in Ancient India 1

Rings of Rejection and Recognition in Ancient India 1

(p.301) Rings of Rejection and Recognition in Ancient India1
On Hinduism

Wendy Doniger

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines three separate but related bodies of mythology in classical Sanskrit literature, each of which deals with the theme of sexual rejection and recognition. In all three cycles, a ring or a necklace, sometimes a bracelet or an anklet—plays a central role. The first cycle is about a clever wife who is rejected by her husband before she is able to get pregnant. The second tells the story of a woman who is impregnated before a public marriage has taken place and is then denied by her husband. The third is about a woman who disguises herself as a non-wife and is identified as a legal wife by her necklace. In each of these cycles, circular jewelry resolves the paradox of marital sexual rejection whereby the husband desires both an erotic encounter and a legitimate child, but not from the same woman. The chapter shows that the ring or necklace is a bi-polar, ambivalent object that signifies two opposite things at the same time.

Keywords:   mythology, Sanskrit literature, sexual rejection, ring, necklace, wife, husband, marriage, circular jewelry

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