Traditional Hindu ascetic orders have been, historically, upper-caste, male dominated formations. Inclusion of women during the medieval period of Bhakti Movement has been indirect, nominal and exceptional. There was no place for transgenders in these orders. The Hindu scriptures recognize the the concept of “third nature” and the religious rights of this community but in practice, no evidence of exercise of these rights are present in the history. Influence of global movements for gender rights on these orders has given rise to new processes of negotiation of cultural space. These negotiations have transformed the old norms and made the religious leaders more sensitive towards the demands of women and transgenders. This paper presents the case study of three recent gendered movements struggling for religious space. Two of them--Pari Akhada and Sarveshwari Akhada are exclusively female formations while the third one—Kinnar Akhada, is a transgender group. While the women leaders are still struggling for recognition, the transgenders have been successful in negotiating the space. It has been found that the agency and narratives adopted by the gendered formations play a crucial role in mobilization of followers and resources. The success of these movements further reflects in the change of structure of the traditional orders that have started recruiting more women and transgenders in their own fold and sharing power and authority even as they decline to recognize an all-women new order.


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