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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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Transsexual Transformations of Subjectivity and Memory in Hindu Mythology 1

Transsexual Transformations of Subjectivity and Memory in Hindu Mythology 1

Chapter:
(p.342) Transsexual Transformations of Subjectivity and Memory in Hindu Mythology1
Source:
On Hinduism
Author(s):

Wendy Doniger

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199360079.003.0024

This chapter examines transvestism and transsexuality in Hindu mythology, focusing on the nature of human identity. It looks at key episodes in the two Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and the Valmiki Ramayana, to demonstrate transsexual transformations of subjectivity and memory. In the Mahabharata, Nala is transformed into a deformed dwarf, Arjuna disguises himself as a transvestite who may or may not be impotent, and Yayati becomes a younger man. In the Valmiki Ramayana, the demons, or anti-gods (asuras), create spectacular illusions whereas the human characters generally do not undergo nearly so many transformations as their counterparts in the Mahabharata.

Keywords:   transvestism, transsexuality, mythology, human identity, Mahabharata, Valmiki Ramayana, subjectivity, memory, demons, anti-gods

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