ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Unfreezing Mira

Unfreezing Mira Gabriele Dietrich Upholding the Common Life: The Community of Mirabai by Panta Mukta, Oxford University Press, 1994. THIS book by Parita Mukta is extraordinary in methodology and content, though the style remains within the confines of scholarly anthropological study.' Parita Mukta, brought up with Mira 'bhajans' herself, had set out during the 1980s to place Mira's memory in the socio-historical context of Rajasthan and Gujarat. What she had found at the outset was that Mira had not been sung in Rajasthan until recently, that her memory had been ostracised and suppressed as her life had been an open challenge to the Rajput ethos, that her name was used as a term of abuse levelling charges of promiscuity. This is in stark contrast with the image of Mira as a satyagrahi which Gandhi used in the freedom struggle, It also does not explain why a Mira mandir should have been built in Chittorgarh by the Sisodya ruler in the recent past. The suggestion that the Gujarat middle classes have promoted Mira 'bhakti' also does not explain how Mira's memory might have survived before this middle class came into being. The field work therefore focused on the Mewar region itself, the main site of social conflict provoked by Mira's life, then shifting to Marwar her environment of birth and Saurashtra, where she migrated and where her life ended under unexplained circumstances.

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