Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Wendy Doniger  

Pen Name: Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty

Genre: History Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1940 in New York, New York

-- Website --
-- Wendy Doniger on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Wendy lives and works in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Wendy Doniger holds two doctorates in Sanskrit and Indian studies from Harvard and Oxford. She is the author of several translations of Sanskrit texts and many books about Hinduism and has taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and at the University of California at Berkeley. She is currently the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Committee on Social Thought. She has taught at the University of Chicago since 1978. Much of her work is focused on translating, interpreting and comparing elements of Hindu mythology.

Published Works

  • The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology, University of California Press, 1980
  • Siva: The Erotic Ascetic, Oxford University Press, 1981
  • Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts, University of Chicago Press, 1982
  • Dreams, Illusion, and Other Realities, University of Chicago Press, 1986
  • Textual Sources for the Study of Hinduism, University of Chicago Press, 1990
  • Other Peoples' Myths: The Cave of Echoes, University of Chicago Press, 1995
  • Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India, University of Chicago Press, 1999
  • The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was: Myths of Self-Imitation, Oxford University Press, 2006
  • The Hindus: An Alternative History, Penguin, 2010
  • On Hinduism, Oxford University Press, 2014

Selected Titles At Your Library

The origins of evil in Hindu mythology /
ISBN: 0520040988. OCLC Number:

University of California Press,. Berkeley :. 1980, ©1976.

In this pertinent and valuable study O'Flaherty answers the crucial questions such as, what solutions did the Hindus offer to the problems of evil? How did these arise and develop historically? And, how if at all can these various solutions be subsumed under a unified world view? The problem of evil, in particular the question of theodicy, has long been overlooked or misunderstood by Indologists, who have maintained that there is no problem of evil in Indian thought, or that it was "solved" by the doctrine of transmigration and karma. Writers on Indian philosophy have touched upon the problem but no one has treated the extensive mythology of evil in Vedic and Puranic texts, which offer the full range of Indian approaches to the problem. The intense emotional weight of the question of evil drove Hindus to generate literally hundreds of diverse and often contradictory alternative answers, presupposing but quickly transcending the logical yet unsatisfying "answer" offered by the doctrine of karma. The very bulk of these texts indicates the importance of the subject in Indian thought, and the failure to take into consideration some of the rather idiosyncratic Indian attitudes to this most basic problem has led to widespread misunderstanding of Indian religious thought in general.

Śiva, the erotic ascetic /
ISBN: 0195202503. OCLC Number:

Oxford University Press,. New York :. 1981, ©1973.

"Highly acclaimed upon its original publication in 1973 under the title Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Siva, this book applies a structuralist method to a corpus of mythology never before analyzed, or for the most part, translated from the Sanskrit. The author traces the development of an Indian approach to an enduring human dilemma: the conflict between spiritual aspirations and human desires. The work treats hundreds of related myths and examines a wide range of Indian texts (Vedic, Puranic, classical, modern, and tribal), centering upon the stories of the great ascetic, Siva, and his erotic alter ego, Kama"--Back cover.

Women, androgynes, and other mythical beasts /
ISBN: 0226618501. OCLC Number:

University of Chicago Press,. Chicago :. 1982, ©1980.

Dreams, illusion, and other realities /
ISBN: 0226618552. OCLC Number:

University of Chicago Press,. Chicago [Ill.] :. 1986.

Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty ... weaves a brilliant analysis of the complex role of dreams and dreaming in Indian religion, philosophy, literature, and art. ... In her creative hands, enchanting Indian myths and stories illuminate and are illuminated by authors as different as Aeschylus, Plato, Freud, Jung, Kurl Gödel, Thomas Kuhn, Borges, Picasso, Sir Ernst Gombrich, and many others. This richly suggestive book challenges many of our fundamental assumptions about ourselves and our world."? Mark C. Taylor, New York Times Book Review.

Textual sources for the study of Hinduism /
ISBN: 0226618471. OCLC Number:

University of Chicago Press,. Chicago :. 1990.

Other peoples' myths :
ISBN: 0226618579. OCLC Number:

University of Chicago Press,. Chicago :. 1995.

Splitting the difference :
ISBN: 0226156419. OCLC Number:

University of Chicago Press,. Chicago :. 1999.

The woman who pretended to be who she was :
ISBN: 0195313119. OCLC Number:

Oxford University Press,. New York :. 2005.

Many cultures have myths about self-imitation, stories about people who pretend to be someone else pretending to be them, in effect masquerading as themselves. This great theme, in literature and in life, tells us that people put on masks to discover who they really are under the masks they usually wear, so that the mask reveals rather than conceals the self beneath the self. In this book, noted scholar of Hinduism and mythology Wendy Doniger offers a cross-cultural exploration of the theme of self-impersonation, whose widespread occurrence argues for both its literary power and its human value. The stories she considers range from ancient Indian literature through medieval European courtly literature and Shakespeare to Hollywood and Bollywood. They illuminate a basic human way of negotiating reality, illusion, identity, and authenticity, not to mention memory, amnesia, and the process of aging. Many of them involve marriage and adultery, for tales of sexual betrayal cut to the heart of the crisis of identity. These stories are extreme examples of what we common folk.; In this book, noted scholar of Hinduism and mythology Wen oniger offers a cross-cultural exploration of the theme or us to become travesties of ourselves, particularly as we age and change. We often slip carelessly across the permeable boundary between the un-self-conscious self-indulgence of our most idiosyncratic mannerisms and the conscious attempt to give the people who know us, personally or publicly, the version of ourselves that they expect. Myths of self-imitation open up for us the possibility of multiple selves and the infinite regress of self-discovery. Drawing on a dizzying array of tales-some fact, some fiction-"The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was" is a fascinating and learned trip through centuries of culture, guided by a scholar of incomparable wit and erudition.

The Hindus :
ISBN: 014311669X. OCLC Number:

Penguin Press,. New York :. ©2009.

A narrative account of history and myth that offers a new way of understanding one of the world's oldest major religions, this book elucidates the relationship between recorded history and imaginary worlds. Hinduism does not lend itself easily to a strictly chronological account: many of its central texts cannot be reliably dated; its central tenets--karma, dharma, to name just two--arise at particular moments in Indian history and differ in each era, between genders, and caste to caste; and what is shared among Hindus is overwhelmingly outnumbered by the things that are unique to one group or another. Yet the greatness of Hinduism--its vitality, its earthiness, its vividness--lies precisely in many of those idiosyncratic qualities that continue to inspire debate today. Wendy Doniger, one of the world's foremost scholars of Hinduism, illuminates those moments within the tradition that resist forces that would standardize or establish a canon.--Publisher description.

On Hinduism /
ISBN: 0199360073. OCLC Number:

. .

"In this magisterial volume of essays, Wendy Doniger enhances our understanding of the ancient and complex religion to which she has devoted herself for half a century. This series of interconnected essays and lectures surveys the most critically important and hotly contested issues in Hinduism over 3,500 years, from the ancient time of the Vedas to the present day. The essays contemplate the nature of Hinduism; Hindu concepts of divinity; attitudes concerning gender, control, and desire; the question of reality and illusion; and the impermanent and the eternal in the two great Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Among the questions Doniger considers are: Are Hindus monotheists or polytheists? How can atheists be Hindu, and how can unrepentant Hindu sinners find salvation? Why have Hindus devoted so much attention to the psychology of addiction? What does the significance of dogs and cows tell us about Hinduism? How have Hindu concepts of death, rebirth, and karma changed over the course of history? How and why does a pluralistic faith, remarkable for its intellectual tolerance, foster religious intolerance? Doniger concludes with four concise autobiographical essays in which she reflects on her lifetime of scholarship, Hindu criticism of her work, and the influence of Hinduism on her own philosophy of life. On Hinduism is the culmination of over forty years of scholarship from a renowned expert on one of the world's great faiths." --

Speaking Engagements

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