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The Mahavidyas are the representative Tantric feminine pantheon consisting of ten goddesses. It is formed by divergent religious strands and elements: the matr and yogini worship, the cult of Kali and Tripurasundari, Vajrayana Buddhism, Jain Vidyadevis, Saiva and Vaisnava faith, Srividya, the Brahmanical strand of Puranic traditions, etc. This volume is the first attempt to explore the historical process, through which these traditions culminated in the Mahavidya cult and the goddesses with different origins and contradictory attributes were brought into a cluster, with special reference to socio-political changes in the lower Ganga and Brahmaputra Valley between the 9th and 15th centuries CE.
Based on a close analysis of Puranas, Tantras and inscriptional evidence, and on extensive field research on archaeological remains as well as sacred sites, Jae-Eun Shin discusses the two trajectories of the Mahavidyas in eastern Sakta traditions. Each led to the systematization of Dasamahavidyas in a specific way: one, as ten manifestations of Durga upholding dharma in the cosmic dimension, and the other, as ten mandalic goddesses bearing magical powers in the actual sacred site. Their attributes and characteristics have neither been static nor monolithic, and the mode of worship prescribed for them has changed in a dialectical religious process between Brahmanical and Tantric traditions of the region.
This is the definitive work for anyone seeking to understand goddess cults of South Asia in general and the history of eastern Sakta traditions in particular. To aid study, the volume includes images, diagrams and maps.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9781138326903
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