Maps And Mother Goddesses in Modern India”, Imago Mundi, Vol 53 pp. 97-11by Sumathy Ramaswamy; “Death of a Kotwal”, The Caste Question pp.241-264 by Anupama Rao

The scales of shapes and skills remain balanced so long there is a constant urge to take action through acts and thoughts. Borrowing evidences from the texts from The Death of A Kotwal and Maps and Mother Goddesses of India, this paper argues how bodies produce knowledge. It lurks around the former where an innocent Kotwal is bludgeoned to death and the latter provides for a bodyscape which helped unite India. This paper reflects how irrespective of the existence of materials, constant interactions in the society can lead to formation of perceptions and abstractions. 


Bodies are known to be the hub for interactions and debates. Apart from their physical realities, in a rut to fight and provide evidence, humans intensify the meaning of the non-existential bodies to make them exist. Rao, in her paper explains the helplessness of the family and the Dalit community after Sawane’s virtual corpse is put under the eyes of the law. The case expedites when it is scrutinized deeply and Rao mentions, “The addition of the PCR Act’s Section 3(x)was mandatory and signaled that the case merited extra care as an atrocity”(243). The idea of the investigation of a dead body by another body in power(legislation) sensationalized the tiff in hand.This case was chalked out as an exception from all of the Anti-Dalit discriminations, because of its gruesome severity. Ramaswamy supporting this argument in her essasy argues reflects how soma (body) of a woman can be utilized for representing a map, to awaken the depressed patriots of India. She says, “These gendered bodyscapes also enable the viewing of the nation’s territory possessively, even pleasurably”(109). Considering maps of margins and boundaries incapable of provocation of any belongingness, she intensifies the need and power of embodiment. Such bodyscapes hence acted like moderators between different ideologies to brew a collective revolution.Man’s constant attempt to question and frame an individual to gain attention has made his instinct for differing between the real and unreal blind. The once real, body of the Kotwal and the virtual Mother India, both created by man are not hotplate for discussion and representations.


Bodies are meant to provide a structure and materialize the abstractions. However their state of living existence may be, bodies never cease to engender knowledge and awareness. When put under a magnifying glass of human perceptions, one views different from the other. Rao expresses how the location of the village was harmless yet a catastrophe occurred. As the case progressed it was found out that apart from being Dalit and follower of Ambedkar, he was also the gate keeper for his area. Rao writes, “Living outside the village boundaries, the mahar veskar is the outsider figure who protects the integrity of the village social unit” (258). Sawane wasn’t only a material body, but upon his death,a lot of humanity and responsibilities failed which remained unnoticed.Sumathy Ramaswamy too expresses how blank cartographical representations of their progressing nation once looked at differently, livened up. The body of the mother goddess as a map now, calls for national urge to freedom. She writes “They invite the citizen subject who gazes upon them to relate the nation not as some abstract, dead geographical space but as a near and dear person, his personal goddess, his vulnerable mother, even a beloved lover “(110). One couldn’t have imagined the power of abstract images with bodies to shake the restlessness in the nation and make them aware about their surroundings. These perceptions help build studies of knowledge and emotion amongst people who are witnessing the action. Hence to attain the key of all the knowledge of interest from a body, one must seep through all the roots of the body and decipher all its actions and emotions it represent for others before making quick judgments. It is only then when our deductions will surpass the normal overview of bodies, that we will take a leap into the world of actual reality.


Co-existing with other humans in the universe leads to various perceptions and ideas to be built around the body. The way he moves, his actions, his speech, all comes into consideration when there is an observer or listener who symbolizes his being with respect to own life. On one hand, Rao reflects the importance of politics in the society, on the other,Ramaswamy talks about the status of the female community through her work. The latter writes on behalf of many and says “feminist geographers have suggested that the conception of the nation as cartographically female enables a ‘masculinist’ relationship to the place”(109).In their purview, such kind of bodyscaping was centralized so men could join arms and perform righteous duties towards the vulnerable mother nation. On a similar note, Rao reflects how ideas taken from the perception of Dalit communities and Ambedkar’s role as a political leader helped shape the judgment. She resounds the case progressions and says, “Kharkov distinguished two forms of phenomenal violence: new violent caste social displayed in conflict around Ambedkar statue and retaliatory counter violence that reinstated Dalits’ stigmatized status” (255). This knowledge became crucial in understanding and refining the position of the Dalit kotwal and his ambition of constructing a statue of Ambedkar. The distress of the Dalit community and their political representative from the past, would not have come under notice if there was no action amidst communities. The analysis that came in effect after continuous actions and perceptions made in societies would not have been produced without the continuous expulsion of knowledge from the bodies. It is due to such their status in the society and such symbolic representations, that we can extrapolate their relationships and achievements in the past.

Humans, often involuntarily make decisions keeping in mind other people’s existence in their life and their effects. As goes their anatomy, knowledge can never be separated alone from the way they occupy space. This space however need not be tangible or visible, for what matters more is the influence created by it. By their own will, the bodies spout a river of emotions and actions in due course of their life. As they interact, the by products become adaptable and appreciable by the people over who he has the influence. Now this influence can be used to target a set of people or a notion, it can be used as a boon or a bay, or a tool or weapon. These assumptions about perceptions, extraction of reality from abstractions too are caused by an exchange in ideas and thoughts over time in space. Hence so I believe that bodies are more than occupants of the earth, they exceed their limits and become unique walls of creative knowledge.