A heritage of heresy within tradition.

  • Vina Mazumdar
  • Published 1999 in Indian journal of gender studies


This paper presents stories of a heritage of heresy within tradition in the family of Vina Mazumdar. Two stories are set in East Bengal, wherein formal education was not practiced in the caste classes. This was broken by Vina's uncle, Romesh Chandra (R.C.) Majumdar in the 20th century. Along with two of his brothers, R. C. Majumdar pursued higher education in the modern English system. They restored the family's reputation for scholarship and pulled the next generation out of the mire of a declining family economy by ensuring its access to formal education. The first story of heresy tells about Vina's ancestral grandmother who protested against a religiously sanctified action before a crowd of five villages. The second story is about Pishima, Vina's aunt, who left her husband, returned home and never went back. Pishima got away with this defiance, just as her grandmother got away with hers, nearly 80 years ago. The other stories told of how Vina's mother and other relatives took stand against the insistence on all taboos, which reduced the options of women in the society.


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