Androgyny is an engaging subject of discussion and research in the present times. This
volume makes an effort to understand concepts of androgyny and `nari bhav' or sensibility
of the feminine beyond the anatomy-directed definitions circumscribed within the dubious
realm of the `third sex', or `third gender'.
As expressed through various literary and performative traditions in India that
emphasize interrelatedness of art and society, the concept of `nari bhav' is a deeply
rooted cultural belief in the fluid interplay of the female and the male symbolized, for
example, as Ardhanariswara.
The belief that the constant interplay of duality engenders balance and harmony in both
personal and social aspects of human life, and the acknowledgment of the existence of male
and female tendencies-physiological and/or emotional-psychological-within each individual
has aesthetic validity, may be seen to form the basis of female impersonation in India.
Such perception urges more inclusiveness in social attitudes, easier acceptance of
different sexualities and ways of expressing gender.
The volume discusses concepts of androgyny that permeate Indian cultural ethos and as
expressed through female impersonators not only in religion, theatre and dance but also in
contemporary performative mediums like films, television, and the internet. The volume
also presents interactions with performers of the dying art form of female impersonation.