Breaking Boundaries with the Goddess: New Directions in the Study of Śaktism : Essays in Honor of Narendra Nath Bhattacharyya

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Cynthia Ann Humes, Rachel Fell McDermott
Manohar Publishers & Distributors, Jan 1, 2009 - Goddesses, Hindu - 386 pages
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This book draws together twelve Sakta interpreters from North America, Europe, and India to discuss the present state and future challenges of Studies of the South Asian Goddess. They focus on Sanskrit, Tamil, Bengali, and tribal languages, and they cover geographic areas from the north to the south of the subcontinent and beyond, including Tibet, and even parts of Central Asia that were once under Kusana rule. Their sources are wide-ranging: they investigate archaeological finds from the Indus Valley, sculptures recovered in robbers hordes in eastern India, and sites excavated by the Russians near Afghanistan. They read texts, including Vedas, Agamas, epics, Puranas, Tantras, medieval ritual digests, and glorifications; examine rituals, art, and social attitudes; and their fieldwork takes them to meet tribal Khonds, Gonds, Oraons, and Nagas, Bengali Tantric practitioners, and temple priests and devotees. Numerous goddesses find their way into the pages of this volume: the Vedic Viraj, Laksmi, Sita, Durga Mahisamardini, Kali, Korravi, tribal goddesses such as Tari Penu and Anna Kuari, the ten Mahavidyas, Jagaddhatri, various yaksinis, Vindhyavasini, and even goddesses whose names cannot be deciphered with our present knowledge. All of the contributors write in honor of the late Professor Narendra Nath Bhattacharyya (1934-2001), the Bengali master interpreter of Saktism, who mentored many of them and influenced the field tremendously, with his insistence that the study of ritual or text not to be divorced from a consideration of social institutions, particularly those derived from tribal culture, and his belief that the importance of women as ritual actors and purveyors of tradition not to be forgotten.

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