Hetrosexual, bisexual, transgendered, third gender, transsexual, gay
same-sex love, hermaphrodite, cross-dressing, femininity, masculinity
from straitjacketed definitions, some of which bear the stigma of ostracisation, the twenty-first century is finally ready to probe the challenging confusions and dynamics of the 'accepted' and the 'aberrant'.
While Western perceptions have always classified human beings into either male or female, the Indian belief in the androgynous nature of humans stems from the divine concept of Ardhanarishvara - literally half man-half woman. More a philosophical construct than a social or cultural expression, the divine nature of this ideology lent it an initial acceptability. Today, however, it has emerged from the closet as a social manifestation, causing the blurring of traditional sex roles.
Does your anatomy determine your gender? Are environmental influences responsible for moulding gender identities? Is there a man in every woman and a woman in every man? What determines the 'natural' and the 'unnatural'? Is it a matter of tolerance, taboo or treading a path of realization and acceptance that the human race is diverse and sexual expressions differ?
Ardhanarishvara - The Androgyne: Probing the Gender within is a book that dares to challenge, question, muse over, analyse and compel you to stretch the frontiers of your mind towards the hard-hitting reality of gender expression. Thoroughly researched and appropriately illustrated, it propels you through the uncharted territory of the 'different'. A must-read for those with any genuine interest in the human race.
About the Author:
Dr. Alka Pande is a prolific writer on indology and art history. This book is culled out of the author's thesis on the Ardhanarishvara theme in Indian art with reference to sculpture. Her other books, namely, From Mustard Fields to Disco Lights - Folk Music and Instruments of Punjab, Kamasutra, Chinese Erotica and Indian Erotica are well acclaimed, with a few in foreign language translations. Her most recent release is the book entitled Masterpieces of Indian Art.
Consultant Art Advisor & Curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi, she has curated several significant exhibitions in India and abroad, including 'From the Tree to the Seed - A Contemporary Indian Art' 'Kutch - A Commemorative', 'Desi and Margi - Between Tradition and Modernity', 'Borderless Terrain', 'The Androgyne' and 'Science in the Arts', part of 'The Great Arc' exhibition in Cambridge and London. A visiting faculty member at the Delhi College of Arts, she is a Reader in the Department of Fine Arts, Punjab University, Chandigarh. Recipient of the Charles Wallace Award in 1999-2000, Dr Pande completed her post-doctoral studies in critical art theory from Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Cover Illustration :
Aishwarya and Gomti, kothis on their way back from the Aravan festival in Koovagam in Tamil Nadu.
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