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does not present feminist perspectives, are questions about sexism and other

hierarchical forms of domination irrelevant to setf-constructions in the text!
Arenk textual silences and omissions often pregnant with meaning and sig-
nihcant in interpreting texts!
My view is that Gartesian and other modern Western formulations, as well
as the Gira, the teachings of Buddha, and Marxist and feminist writings, in-
volve struggle and contestation, with some insights and interpretations being
suppressed and siienced and others being textualized and gairring aufhority.
My experiences in Sri Lanka and India made clear that people in different
historical and cultural contexts have interpreted the Buddhist Pali Canon or
the Hindu Ramayana in radically different ways. To abstract and fetishize a
text as free Gom all contexmal determinants and then to contend that masses
of peasanrs or Sinbatese Buddhists or Ayodhya Hindus "got it wrong" or
"got it right" does not seem to be an adequate approach to the nature of self-
constr~ctionsor even to the nature of tcxts.
What I concluded from such challenges in India and elsewhere is that
there exists a dynamic, complex, dialectical relationship between t e x t s and
contexts. When wc read tcxts, we are continually rereading, rclelling, recre-
ating, and reinterpreting-processes that are based, at least partially, on
changing cultural, socioeconomic, religious, philosophical, and other con-
textual influences. My reading of the Girn is not identical with rhc reading of
an orthodox, Veda~lticSbarlkara almost twelve hurldred years ago. Rather, to
some extent my reading is always something new. It is informed by my un-
derstanding of Shankara" ifntcrpretation, as taughr, to me at a yuung age by
orthodox Hindus in Banaras, but it; is also inforrned by the more socially ac-
tivist readings of Mohandas Gandhi and by gender, "caste, class, and other
voices that wcrc silenced or camouflaged in earlicr cultural contexts. When X
try to compare and contrast alternative self-constructions, I would agree that
I am "confusing" the issue by "mixing" different perspectives, but only if I
wcrc to r a i n some inadequate, essentialist, ahislorical, absolutc, dccontex-
tualized interpretation of texts. What I am trying to do instead is to provide
new, creative readings, interpretations, and constructions of texts that are al-
ways to some extent concextualized.
At the same time, I d o nor wallt to assume the rather fashionable, subjec-
tivist position that '"nyttxing goesm"ro privilege certain criteria and argue
that certain readings or interpretations arc more adequale than others would
be to impose a view made possible by a relatively superior position in the
context of contemporary power relations. Texts are always contextualized
and arc continually created and rccrcated as part of a dynamic cultural
process; but texts are nor infinitely malleable. They are extremely flexible
and can be revalorized in the most unexpected ways, but specific texts have
forms and strucmrcs, sewe functions, and disclose limits and boundaries in
their constructions of self.