Devī-Māhātmya: The Crystallization of the Goddess Tradition
The Devi-Mahatmya is well-known to both devotees and scholars of the Indian Great Goddess. It is the first comprehensive account of the Goddess in Sanskrit, and it has maintained its centrality in the Goddess (Sakta) tradition to the present day. Like so much in that tradition, however, the text has until now resisted careful study from an historical perspective. It is this study that the present volume accomplishes.The central task here is to explore how an anonymous Sanskrit text articulates a view of ultimate reality as feminine when there is virtually no precedent in the Sanskrit tradition for such a view. To accomplish this task, an appropriate method of scriptural analysis is developed. This involves an examination of Hindu understanding of the Puranas in general, and of the Devi-Mahatmya in particular, along with consideration of several recent scholarly discussions, in India and elsewhere. Subsequently, a comprehensive inquiry into the Goddess's epithets in this text is undertaken, followed by examination of the earlier history of the myths that the Devi-Mahatmya associates with her. The study culminates in translations of the text's hymns, which are annotated so as to indicate the synthesis that is here being accomplished. The resulting illumination of Sanskritized form of Goddess worship is what Daniel H.H. Ingalls calls in his Foreword a notable scholarly achievement.
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THE EPITHETS 89208
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Page 10 - He continues, importantly, to add that: 8 the caste system is far from a rigid system in which the position of each component caste is fixed for all time. Movement has always been possible, and especially so in the middle regions of the hierarchy.
Page 11 - A low caste was able, in a generation or two, to rise to a higher position in the hierarchy by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism, and by Sanskritizing its ritual and pantheon. In short, it took over, as far as possible, the customs, rites, and beliefs of the Brahmins, and the adoption of the Brahminic way of life by a low caste seems to have been frequent, though theoretically forbidden. This process has been called "Sanskritization...
Page 15 - Central to Indian thinking through the ages is a concept of knowledge which, though known to Platonism and Gnosticism, is foreign to the modern West. Whereas for us, to put it briefly, knowledge is something to be discovered, for the Indian knowledge is to be recovered.
Page 16 - Sanskritic" is that which is the most ancient, therefore the most pure, and therefore hierarchically the most elevated; it thus provides a norm for exclusive personal or group conduct — exclusive for its purity and elevation — that most effectively proves itself in securing correct descent, backward by relating oneself to an ancient lineage or an ancient myth and forward by safeguarding the purity of future...