“Lakṣmaṇ-rekhā, or a (Thin) Boundary Not To Be Crossed”
Conférencière : Prof. Danuta Stasik (Chair of South Asian Studies, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw)
Tuesday 9 April 2019 (17h15 - 19h00) - Anthropole - 4088
The concept of lakṣmaṇ-rekhā originates in the later Rāmāyaṇa tradition and functions as a metaphorical expression denoting a strict (moral) boundary that should not be crossed, as its transgression inevitably exposes one to danger. It has featured prominently in Indian public discourse on female chastity and nowadays is also very much present in other social and political contexts, in works of art, films, etc. In the concept of lakṣmaṇ-rekhā, one of the most basic and at the same time most important function performed in culture by symbolic boundaries is manifested—the function of delineating the known, familiar, safe and permissible from the unknown, unfamiliar, dangerous, impermissible. Significantly, these boundaries have inherent moral weight and help individuals as well as whole societies to structure and regulate the universe they live in.