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The High-Caste Hindu Woman (1887) is a work of political nonfiction by Pandita Ramabai. Written for an American audience, The High-Caste Hindu Woman was published in Philadelphia while Ramabai was living in the United States as a lecturer for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Born and raised in India, Ramabai converted to Christianity and dedicated her life to advocating on behalf of impoverished women and children. A fiery orator and true iconoclast, Ramabai’s activism led to important educational and social reforms in her native country.


Arguing for the need to offer education to women, Ramabai examines the nature of life for Hindu women born into the Brahman caste in nineteenth century India. Despite their position in Indian society, these women remained subjected to the control of their husbands, who limited their freedom and social mobility. Ramabai examines the traditions and customs of Hinduism in order to show how women are made ignorant by their oppression and taught to accept their conditions, thereby prolonging the suffering of lower caste and impoverished Hindus. Through education alone, Ramabai shows, are women able to alter their oppressed condition. Both a portrait of Indian life and a moving political treatise, The High-Caste Hindu Woman showcases Ramabai’s foresight as an activist and reformer who sought to radically improve the lives of her people.


With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Pandita Ramabai The High-Caste Hindu Woman is a classic work of Indian political nonfiction reimagined for modern readers.


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Date de parution

24 mars 2021

Nombre de lectures

0

EAN13

9781513285122

Langue

English

Poids de l'ouvrage

2 Mo

The High-Caste Hindu Woman
Pandita Ramabai
 
 
 
The High-Caste Hindu Woman was first published in 1887.
This edition published by Mint Editions 2021.
ISBN 9781513280103 | E-ISBN 9781513285122
Published by Mint Editions ®
minteditionsbooks.com
Publishing Director: Jennifer Newens
Design & Production: Rachel Lopez Metzger
Project Manager: Micaela Clark
Typesetting: Westchester Publishing Services
 
C ONTENTS I .  P REFATORY R EMARKS II .  C HILDHOOD III .  M ARRIED L IFE IV .  W OMAN’S P LACE IN R ELIGION AND S OCIETY V .  W IDOWHOOD VI .  H OW THE C ONDITION OF W OMEN TELLS UPON S OCIETY VII .  T HE A PPEAL
 
T he silence of a thousand years has been broken, and the reader of this unpretending little volume catches the first utterances of the unfamiliar voice. Throbbing with woe, they are revealed in the following pages to intelligent, educated, happy American women.
God grant that these women, whom He has blessed above all women upon the earth, may not flippantly turn away, as they are wont to do from some over-pious tale, and without reading, condemn! To begin this story of The High-caste Hindu Woman, and not to read it through attentively to the last word of the agonized appeal, is to invoke upon oneself the divine displeasure meted out to those who disregard the cry of “him that had none to help him.” These lines are written with deep emotion; the blinding tears which fall upon the page are the saddest tears my eyes have ever wept.
From childhood I had been familiar with the statements concerning the condition of the native women of India. My sympathies had always been with them, and my annual offering to the treasury of missionary societies which worked among them, had never been omitted; but in September, 1883, there came to my door a little lady in a blue cotton saree , accompanied by her faithful friend, Mrs. B. F. Carpenter, of Roselle, New Jersey, and since that hour, when, speechless for very wonder, I bestowed a kiss of welcome upon the stranger’s cheek in lieu of words, I have loved the women of India. The little lady was Mrs. Anandibai Joshee. Less than three months ago, the wealthy and conservative city of Poona, India, which gave her birth, was stirred as never before to honor a woman, and amid the pomp of Brahmanical funeral rites performed by orthodox Hindu priests, her funeral pile was lighted from the sacred fire, in the presence of a great throng of sorrowing Hindus. She sealed with her early death the superhuman effort to elevate her countrywomen and to minister in her own person to their physical needs.
To witness Dr. Joshee’s graduation in medicine, there came to Philadelphia from England her kinswoman, Pundita Ramabai Sarasvati. The two ladies never met until they greeted each other under my roof, March 6th, 1886; but, as kindred spirits, they had corresponded for several years. Strangely enough, each left India without the knowledge of the other, and within the same month, Mrs. Joshee sailing from Calcutta and the Pundita from Bombay. The day that Mrs. Joshee left Liverpool for New York, Ramabai and her little daughter landed in England. The reception of the two ladies in the summer of 1883, one in England and the other in the United States, was most cordial; and, comforted and blessed as neither had dared to anticipate before leaving India, each settled down to work with industry and with a degree of intelligence which was a revelation to onlookers.
My own personal experience relates to her who fell to our lot in the college in Philadelphia. She tried faithfully, this little woman of eighteen, to prosecute her studies, and at the same time to keep caste-rules and cook her own food; but the anthracite coal-stove in her room was a constant vexation, and likewise a source of danger; and the solitude of the individual house-keeping was overwhelming. In her father’s house, the congregate system, referred to in this book, prevailed; and, being a man of means, the family was always large. Later, when under her husband’s care, he had been in the postal service, and the dwelling apartments were in the same building with the post-office; hence she had never known complete solitude. After a trial of two weeks, her health declined to such an alarming extent that I invited her to pay a short visit in my home, and she never left it again to dwell elsewhere in Philadelphia during her student residence. In the performance of college duties, going in and out, and up and down, always in her measured, quiet, dignified, patient way, she has filled every room, as well as the stairways and halls, with memories which now hallow the home, and must continue so to do throughout the years to come.
In the spring of 1884, Mrs. Joshee accepted an invitation to address an audience of ladies convened for a missionary anniversary, and she chose as her subject “Child Marriage,” and surprised her great audience by defending the national custom. If there are any who still cherish the feelings of disappointment and regret engendered that April afternoon, let them turn to Ramabai’s chapter on Married Life in this book, and learn how absolutely impossible it was for a high-caste Hindu wife to speak otherwise. Let them also discover, in the herculean attempt of that occasion, a clue to the influences which at length overpowered and slew this gentle, grave woman.
“I will go (to America) as a Hindu, and come back and live among my people as a Hindu.” Brave, patriotic words! a resolve which was carried out to the death. Ramabai’s chapter on Married Life, the married life of a Hindu woman in the year 1887, no less than in past centuries, reveals to the Western reader what it was for this refined, intellectual woman, whose faculties developed rapidly under Western opportunities, and whose scientific acquirements placed her high in rank among her peers in the college class, to accept again the position awarded her by the Code of Manu (Manu ix. 22; see page 40). That she did accept it, that “until death she was patient of hardships, self-controlled, … and strove to fulfill that most excellent duty which is prescribed for wives,” is undoubted. She battled hand to hand with every circumstance, resolved, as a Hindu, to live and work for the uplifting of her sisters, but all in vain!
After years of exile, she found herself once more in the familiar places of her childhood, surrounded by her mother and maternal grandmother and sisters. She had returned to them too late to admit of the restoration of her appetite by the nourishing food their skillful hands knew how to prepare; but in love they watched beside her, and it was the dear mother’s privilege to support the daughter in her arms when at midnight the end came quickly. This occurred February 26th, 1887, in the city of Poona, in the house in which she was born. Previous to the cremation of the body, which took place the morning following her death, her husband had a photograph taken of “matter before it was transformed into vapor and ashes.” The pathos of that lifeless form is indescribable. The last of several pictures, taken during the brief public career of the little reformer, it is the most eloquent of them all. The mute lips, and the face, wan and wasted and prematurely aged in the fierce battle with sorrow and pain, alike convey to her American friends this message, not to be forgotten: “I have done all that I could do.” Ah! who will thus early dare to say that she has not accomplished more by her death than she might have accomplished by a long life? Herself and husband returned from a foreign land, where they had dwelt with a strange people, ought, by Hindu custom, to have been treated as outcasts, and their shadows shunned. Instead, when it was known that the distinguished young Hindu doctor had reached her early home, old and young, orthodox and non-orthodox, came to pay friendly visits and to extend a cordial welcome.
Even the reformers were astounded when they beheld the manner in which the travelers were treated by the most orthodox families. The papers from day to day chronicled the state of the invalid’s health, and when at length she passed away, several of the journals of Poona printed in the vernacular, contained under symbols of mourning, eulogistic notices of her character and work. Ramabai has translated two of these for me, and from them I make extracts:
“Dr. Anandibai Joshee has left us to abide in the next world; but the example she has set will not be fruitless. It is indeed wonderful that a Brahman lady has proved to the world that the great qualities—perseverance, unselfishness, undaunted courage and an eager desire to serve one’s country—do exist in the so-called weaker sex. We ought as a people to do something that will remind us of her and bear witness forever to her wondrous virtues; in our opinion, this debt of gratitude to Anandibai cannot be better discharged than by providing a lady, who will be willing to study medicine, with all the pecuniary aid necessary. Thus may the memory of the late distinguished lady be perpetuated.” Kesari, February 27, 1887.
“One of the great and grievous losses which our unfortunate Hindustan incessantly sustains was witnessed by Poona, we grieve to say, on Saturday last, when Dr. Anandibai Joshee was summoned from this world late in the midnight. She has been residing in Poona for the last two months; she came hither in the hope that her native city, which has many renowned physicians residing in it, might prove for her a healthy place, and that the pleasant weather and home influences would all contribute towards improving her health. The hopeful expectations of her countrywomen, who had looked forward to the day when they would be benefited by Dr. Joshee’s remarkable ability and well-earned knowledge, are now wholly dissipated.”
“Although Anandibai was so young, her perseverance, undaunted courage and devotion to her husband were unparalleled. We think it will be long before w

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