Engendering the early Household is a socio-historical study of the Grhyasutras, which are texts that detail rituals for the household. Compiled after the Vedas and the Bramanas, they represent how Brahmanical ideology came to be consolidated and how varna and gender hierarchies solidified. Using the texts, this book present how the Grhyasutras assimilated and ‘brahmanised’ commonly practiced rituals in a selective manner, highlighting only rituals centred around the household.
Jaya Tyagi’s study of the early Grhyasutras reveals how these texts project the household as a ‘sacred’ space that has two functions—production and reproduction. This book also reveals the deep roots of Brahmanical traditions by studying how grhya rituals seek to ensure the birth of male progeny for the male householder. The Grhyasutras thus project a social construct in which households are to be considered the personal domains of householders, while bramanas function as the custodians of social order through the mechanism of rituals. Engendering the Early Household is an incisive and well-researched account of the patriarchal biases of Brahmanism and goes even further to shed light on how norms laid down in early Grhyasutras continue, though in varied forms, till date.