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The Oxford History of HinduismThe Goddess$
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Mandakranta Bose

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198767022

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198767022.001.0001

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Cosmological, Devotional, and Social Perspectives on the Hindu Goddess

Cosmological, Devotional, and Social Perspectives on the Hindu Goddess

(p.17) 1 Cosmological, Devotional, and Social Perspectives on the Hindu Goddess
The Oxford History of Hinduism

Tracy Pintchman

Oxford University Press

Although Hindus recognize and revere a variety of different, discrete goddesses, they also tend to speak of “The Goddess” as a singular and unifying deity. This chapter focuses on three dimensions of the Goddess in Hindu traditions, grounding all observations in specific texts and contexts. First, the chapter examines the nature of the Goddess as a cosmogonic/cosmological creative force that creates, sustains, and permeates the universe. Second, it explores the Goddess as a being worthy of devotion who is also manifest as individual goddesses. Finally, it probes the nature of the Goddess as potential role model for human women, who in many contexts are viewed as special manifestations of the Goddess. The chapter looks at major themes in each category and the critical issues that these themes raise.

Keywords:   śakti, prakṛti, māyā, cosmogony, Purāṇas, Devī-Māhātmya, bhakti, breast/tooth goddesses, ecology, women

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