Śyāmalā Daṇḍaka, one of the most mellifluous verses in Sanskrit literature, has almost always been considered a religious text. Surprisingly, the literary quality of Śyāmalā Daṇḍaka has been emphatically overlooked. There are many translations of the text, but almost all are from a religious standpoint. Often, amidst the religious paraphernalia, many scholars paraphrase the verses, discounting the poetic element. In this translation, Kishore and Sambasivan highlight the literary beauty of Śyāmalā Daṇḍaka, while adhering to its religious significance. The translators have interpreted the Divine Woman, Śyāmalā, in contemporary terms, as a revolutionary awakening to womanhood.
The eulogisation of Devī as the Universal Mother generates reverential awe. Unfortunately, this awe limits itself to religious spheres in India, where female foeticide, dowry fires, denial of inheritance rights to women, assault against women and lack of gender equality are burning issues. Although the female entity and the female body are sanctified in the many hymns to Devī, there seems to be great reluctance on the part of the average Indian to respect women. This socio-cultural contradiction has haunted the translators throughout the translation and will continue to do so. If only the Divine Woman were to translate herself into the socio-cultural plexus of India, we would see true awakening!
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