Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas
The Hindu pantheon is rich in images of the divine feminine—deities representing a wide range of symbolic, social, and meditative meanings. David Kinsley's new book documents a highly unusual group of ten Hindu tantric goddesses, the Mahavidyas, many of whom are strongly associated with sexuality and violence. What is one to make of a goddess who cuts her own head off, or one who prefers sex with a corpse? The Mahavidyas embody habits, attributes, or identities usually considered repulsive or socially subversive and can be viewed as "antimodels" for women. Yet it is within the context of tantric worship that devotees seek to identify themselves with these forbidding goddesses. The Mahavidyas seem to function as "awakeners"—symbols which help to project one's consciousness beyond the socially acceptable or predictable.
Drawing on a broad range of Sanskrit and vernacular texts as well as extensive research in India, including written and oral interpretations of contemporary Hindu practitioners, Kinsley describes the unusual qualities of each of the Mahavidyas and traces the parallels between their underlying themes. Especially valuable are the many rare and fascinating images he presents—each important to grasping the significance of the goddesses. Written in an accessible, engaging style, Kinsley's book provides a comprehensive understanding of the Mahavidyas and is also an overview of Hindu tantric practice.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Mahāvidyās 38 Worship of the Mahāvidyās 49
The Goddess Who Guides through Troubles
Tripurasundari She Who Is Lovely in the Three Worlds II 2
Bhuvanesvari She Whose Body Is the World
Chinnamastä The SelfDecapitated Goddess
Bhairavi The Fierce One
Other editions - View all
adept appearance aspects associated Auspicious Wisdom avatāras Bagalāmukhi Bhairavi Bhuvanesvari blood body Brahmā brahman Buddha Buddhist Calcutta Chinnamastā consciousness consort contemporary context corpse cosmic cosmos creation cremation ground cult death Delhi demons depicted described destruction Devi-māhātmya devotees Dhūmāvati dhyāna mantras Diksit Durgā epithets evam example female fierce garland goddess gods guna guru hair Hinduism Ibid iconography identified India individual Mahāvidyās interpretation Kālī Käli's Kāma Kamalā kundalini Laksmi lotus magical powers Mahā Mahādevi Mahāvidyās male deities Mātañgi meditation myth Nirrti offerings pañca tattva ritual Pârvati polluted Prakrti priest Rati reality represents role Rudrayāmala sadhaka sadhand sākta Sakta-pramoda Sakti samsāra Sati says severed heads sexual intercourse siddhis Siva Siva's skulls Sodaśī spiritual Sri cakra Srividyā story suggest Swami symbol Tantra Sästra Tantrasāra tantric Tantric Literature tantric texts Tantrism Tārā tattva temple theme thousand-name hymn tongue Tripura-sundari Varanasi vidyās Visnu wears worship yoga yoni