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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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Dogs as Dalits in Indian Literature 1

Dogs as Dalits in Indian Literature 1

Chapter:
(p.488) Dogs as Dalits in Indian Literature1
Source:
On Hinduism
Author(s):

Wendy Doniger

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199360079.003.0034

Animals such as cats and dogs occupy a central place in the Hindu religious imaginary. For example, gods become incarnate as animals and have animal vehicles, and cats and herons are used as symbols of ascetic hypocrisy. Animals of the mind and animals of the terrain are intimately connected and play essential roles in Hinduism. Texts about the lower castes are sometimes masked by narratives about dogs that stand for the people known as the Dalits, formerly called Untouchables. This chapter examines the depiction of dogs as Dalits in Indian literature, including the Rig Veda, the Brahmanas, the Mahabharata, and the Puranas. It also considers how dogs are treated in contemporary India.

Keywords:   dogs, animals, Hinduism, Dalits, Indian literature, Rig Veda, Brahmanas, Mahabharata, Puranas, India

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