Seeking Mahadevi: Constructing the Identities of the Hindu Great Goddess

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SUNY Press, Jun 21, 2001 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 254 pages
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While Hindus recognize and revere a variety of different goddesses, they also tend to speak of one Great Goddess, Mahadevi, as a singular divine being who is the unity underlying all female deities. In this book, ten scholars reflect on both the diverse depictions of Mahadevi found in textual and devotional environments and the ways that the singularity and multiplicity of the divine Hindu feminine are negotiated. Seeking Mahadevicovers various geographical locations, from the Punjab and Bengal in North India to Kerala and Tamilnadu in the South, and makes use of evidence from ancient texts and contemporary interviews, male-authored documents and women's possession experiences, myth, ritual, and folklore. Arguing that Mahadevi has multiple, context-dependent identities that are constructed through human interpretive activity, this book highlights the great diversity of ways that those who worship Mahadevi conceive of and portray her.
Contributors include C. Mackenzie Brown, Sarah Caldwell, Thomas Coburn, Elaine Craddock, Kathleen M. Erndl, Jeffrey J. Kripal, Usha Menon, Tracy Pintchman, Andhra Pradesh, and Mark Edwin Rohe.
 

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Contents

Identity Construction and the Hindu Great Goddess
1
The Tantric and Vedāntic Identity of the Great Goddess in the Devī Gitā of the DevīBhāgavata Purāna
19
Mahādevī as Mother The Oriya Hindu Vision of Reality
37
Ambiguous and Definitive The Greatness of Goddess Vaiṣṇo Devī
55
The Goddess as Fount of the Universe Shared Visions and Negotiated Allegiances in Purāṇic Accounts of Cosmogenesis
77
Waves of Beauty Rivers of Blood Constructing the Goddess in Kerala
93
From Village to City Transforming Goddesses in Urban Andhra Pradesh
115
Reconstructing the Split Goddess as Śakti in a Tamil Village
145
Perfecting the Mothers Silence Dream Devotion and Family in the Deification of Sharada Devi
171
Goddesses and the Goddess in Hinduism Constructing the Goddess through Religious Experience
199
What Is a Goddess and What Does It Mean to Construct One?
213
Glossary
223
References
227
Contributors
243
Index
247
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About the author (2001)

Tracy Pintchman is Associate Professor of Hindu Studies at Loyola University Chicago. She is the author of The Rise of the Goddess in the Hindu Tradition, also published by SUNY Press.

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