Myths and Women in Modern India - How to Understand Sita read from Valmiki’s Ramayana today

A public guest lecture by Dr Arshia Sattar from Mahindra United World College of India in Pune

There are many versions of the story of Prince Rama and his beloved Sita throughout South Asia, but Valmiki’s Sanskrit text forms a core due to its age and dissemination. During the epic Rama loses Sita to the demon Ravana, whom he kills in order to win her back, before he returns to his kingdom to rule as the just king. Read through the eyes of a modern feminist reader, female demons and ascetics, just kings and unjust demons offer a much richer picture than the traditional understanding of Sita as the loyal wife. How is one to understand Rama’s cruelty towards Sita and what it means for him to be king, perhaps even against his innermost wishes?

All are welcome, but please register here:

About Arshia Sattar

Arshia Sattar has a PhD in classical Indian literature from the University of Chicago. Her academic and literary work addresses the questions of how contemporary art and culture relate to gender rolls and classical epics (also in film adaptations).

She has been teaching at various academic institutions. Since 2010 she teaches at Mahindra United World College of India in Pune.

In 2005 Sattar was the programme director of the Rangashankara theatre festival in Bengalore. She is also a main organizer of the Lekhana Literature Festival in Bengalore. She has translated Tales from the Kathāsaritsāgara. (Penguin Books 1994) and The Rāmāyaṇa by Vālmīki. (Viking 1996). A series of critical essays deal with the notion of ”women” in India. She has contributed to the The Economic History of India with The Mouse MerchantMoney in Ancient India (Penguin: Story of Indian Business 2013).

Selected publications

Sattar, Arshia (1994). Tales from the Kathāsaritsāgara by Somadeva. Penguin Books
Sattar, Arshia (1996). The Rāmāyaṇa by Vālmīki. Viking
Sattar, Arshia (2011). Lost Loves. Exploring Rama’s Anguish, Penguin Books
Sattar, Arshia (2013) The Mouse MerchantMoney in Ancient India, in: The Story of Indian Business, Series Editor: Gurcharan Das, Penguin Books
Sattar, Arshia (2016). Uttara. The Book of Answers, Penguin Books

The lecture is organised by ADI and the Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies in collaboration with the Association for High School Religion Teachers (Religionslærerforeningen).

For more information please contact:
Peter Andersen or Elmar Renner