The Search for Middle Age in India*

Sudhir Kakar

in Culture and Psyche

Second edition

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780195696684
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080304 | DOI:
The Search for Middle Age in India*

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This essay examines the Hindu ideas of middle age in ancient and contemporary India, citing both ancient and modern texts such as the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana, as well as the Dharmashastras and Sanskrit poetry, Hindi fiction and cinema, and popular sayings. These texts show that a person enters middle age when his role in family life changes, specifically, the marriage of the first child. The main psychological requirement of middle age is renunciation of the concerns of family life and of the outside world associated with adulthood. This culturally desired goal of withdrawal results in a psychological crisis which is represented in Sanskrit poetry in terms of the despair caused by renunciation of sexual life. Given certain vicissitudes of the female life cycle in India, women tend to cling stubbornly to the authority and power in the household when they reach middle age.

Keywords: India; middle age; epics; Sanskrit poetry; fiction; family life; psychological crisis; women

Chapter.  9877 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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