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Women Awakened: Stories of Contemporary Spirituality in India

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Item Code: NAC422
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Author: Swati Chopra
Language: English
Edition: 2011
ISBN: 9789350290507
Pages: 338
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 Inch X 5.5 Inch
Weight 380 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
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More than 1M+ customers worldwide
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100% Made in India
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23 years in business
Book Description
About the Author

Swati Chopra is a New Delhi-based writer. She is the author of a travelogue of the spirit, Dharamsala Diaries, and has written a modern introduction to Buddhism, Buddhism: On the Path to Nirvana. Her writing explores spirituality and its relevance to modern lives, and has appeared in several publications in India and abroad.


It was a memorable evening when Swati Chopra, a well-known I writer on wisdom traditions, walked into my office and started talking about her new, yet to be published book, Women Awakened: Stories of Contemporary Spirituality in India. As we started talking, I was surprised to find myself asking her some of my own questions about this whole tradition of gurus and disciples that I have been lately questioning. Little did I know that Swati's own book was not far from my own quest and we were deliciously amused that unknowingly we had already started a discussion on it.

Swati has explored a relatively less researched subject, living women gurus and renunciates. An independent, spiritually awakened woman, breaking the bonds of matrimony and domesticity, is a revolt; it is the declaration of autonomy in a patriarchal society that regards women as subservient, duty bound to serve their husbands, children and extended families while being kept on the margins of religious instruction and sadhana, if allowed into that realm at all.


Over the centuries, countless women have walked the inner paths of spiritual realization despite the thorns placed in their way by patriarchy, discrimination and unequal opportunities. Their journeys have been characterized by courage, determination, ingenuity and creativity. Where they couldn't get past the gender roles assigned to them, they found ways to lead spiritually rich lives under the skin of their worldly selves, amidst the babble of babies and bread, home and family. When they did manage to step outside the spaces designated for them by patriarchy, and found fulfilment as wanderers and mystics, as god-intoxicated, wise madwomen, they remained largely anonymous, their heroism unsung, in sharp contrast to their celebrated male counterparts.

This hiddenness, and the anonymity that stems from a 'second- class spiritual citizenship', persist till this day, at the dawn of the second decade of the twenty-first century when few male bastions remain untouched by feminine presence. At a time when women gurus have become far more visible than ever before, via new age media like television and the internet, there is still little understanding of a spirituality that could be qualitatively, even uniquely, feminine. For even when women gurus are written about and their voices heard, it is either in uncritical hagiographies or in discourses that tend to be gender-neutral and rarely address the issue of an empowered femininity. Because most spiritual paths lay such an emphasis on material and physical detachment, even 'dis-embodiment', that they tend to render the body, the personality attached to it, and consequently its gender, irrelevant, the possibility of a 'women's spirituality' rarely gets scrutinized or acknowledged.

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