The Goddess in India: The Five Faces of the Eternal Feminine

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Inner Traditions / Bear & Co, 2000 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 168 pages
HINDUISM / MYTHOLOGY In India it is said that there is a goddess in every village, a nymph in every lake. Demonesses stand guard on village frontiers, ogresses howl on crossroads, untamed forests resound with the laughter of celestial virgins. It is a land of mysterious apsaras and seductive yakshinis, of terrifying dakinis and wise yoginis--each with a story to tell. In this wide-reaching exploration of ancient Hindu lore and legends, Devdutt Pattanaik investigates the evolving cultural perceptions of earth, women, and goddess over the course of 4,000 years. Some of the tales recounted are revered classics; others are common and folkloric, often held in disdain by priests. Until now most have remained hidden, isolated in distant hamlets or languishing in forgotten libraries, overwhelmed by the din of masculine sagas. As these tales come to light through word and stunning imagery, the author identifies the five faces given to the eternal feminine as man sought to unlock the mysteries of life.The female half of existence is at first identified with Nature, gradually deified and eventually objectified. She comes to be seen as the primal mother, fountainhead of life and nurturance.The all-giving mother then transforms into the dancing nymph, a seductress offering worldly pleasures that bind man to the cycle of life. As this nymph is domesticated, the dominant image of woman becomes that of the chaste wife with miraculous powers. Finally, the submissive consort redefines herself as the wild and terrifying goddess who does battle, drinks blood, and demands appeasement. Exploring mysteries of gender and biology and shedding light on the roots of taboos and traditions still practiced in India today, Pattainaik shows how mortal woman can be both worshipped and feared as she embodies the image of the Mother Goddess. A medical doctor by training, DEVDUTT PATTANAIK moved away from clinical practice to nurture his passion--mythology. His unorthodox approach is evident in his books on Hindu mythology, which include introductions to Shiva and Vishnu. Dr. Pattanaik lives in Mumbai, India, where he works as a health communicator and writes and lectures on Hindu narratives, art, ritual, and philosophy.
 

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Contents

Left Halves FEMINIZING THE CIRCLE
6
Earth Mother ROTATING THE CIRCLE
21
Dancing Nymph TRANSCENDING THE CIRCLE
57
Cult of Chastity SQUARING THE CIRCLE
89
A Brief History of Hinduism
158
Dates of Hindu Scriptures
161
Glossary
162
Select Bibliography
168
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The Goddess in India
The Five Faces of the Eternal Feminine

Introduction
1. Left Halves: Feminizing the Circle
2. Earth Mother: Rotating the Circle
3. Dancing Nymphs: Transcending the Circle
4. Cult of Chastity: Squaring the Circle
5. Goddesses with Unbound Hair: Reclaiming the Circle
Appendix I A Brief History of Hinduism
Appendix II Dates of Hindu Scriptures
Glossary
Select Bibliography

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