Indus Language Script Its Interpretations and Complexities

Author: Manik Mustafa Shar (Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Sindh Jamshoro, Pakistan)
Speaker: Manik Mustafa Shar
Topic: Language Documentation
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


Although female writers in Sanskrit literature have shown their genius in terms of imagination, treatment of both private and public issues and compositional skills, in comparison with male writers they have been relatively neglected. Little attempt has been made to assess or critically analyze female contribution in Sanskrit literature. Whereas male writers have written on various literary forms such as epic, drama and fiction, most female writers have written individual poems and small verses. The origin of the allocation lies in the societal attitudes of the time which did not actually encourage women to compose drama or long poems.

The aim of the presentation is to present how, in spite of drawbacks, female writers were able to touch upon societal issues neglected by male writers. The study aims to expose the way female writers countered male chauvinism, and to provide themselves with agency adequate to contest patriarchal constraints and to assert their own voice. The presentation sheds light ways in which female writers understood reader demands for a freer depiction of love and passion, were able to address the passion of the human body, and thus to counter dominant orthodox literary theory and trends.

The presentation thus analyses poems by female poets of Sanskrit literature, and attempts to show how these poets assign agency to their female characters, vis-à-vis work in other global regions. Silabhattarika, for example, graphically discusses sexual intercourse and the female figure’s desire to be reunited with her husband, thus assigning her voice. Marula depicts the psychological conflict of an alienated woman. Morika includes intense psychological understanding regarding issues of love and emotional attachment, and evokes sorrows of the female voice. Vikatanitamba depicts female splendor and passion within couples. By drawing from concepts of romantic love as a prominent theme in their work, and by rendering the desire of the body as crucial to celebration, all these female writers attempt to build a platform, and thus to assign voice to the neglected women.

Keywords: Indus Language script, Indus seals, Interpretations of Indus script by Pakistani scholars.