Devi

Comparative Studies in Religion and Society

Book 7
Univ of California Press
1
Free sample

The monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have severely limited the portrayal of the divine as feminine. But in Hinduism "God" very often means "Goddess." This extraordinary collection explores twelve different Hindu goddesses, all of whom are in some way related to Devi, the Great Goddess. They range from the liquid goddess-energy of the River Ganges to the possessing, entrancing heat of Bhagavati and Seranvali. They are local, like Vindhyavasini, and global, like Kali; ancient, like Saranyu, and modern, like "Mother India." The collection combines analysis of texts with intensive fieldwork, allowing the reader to see how goddesses are worshiped in everyday life. In these compelling essays, the divine feminine in Hinduism is revealed as never before—fascinating, contradictory, powerful.
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About the author

John S. Hawley is Professor of Religion at Barnard College and Director of the the National Resource Center for South Asia at Columbia University. Donna M. Wulff is Professor of Religion at Brown University. Together they edited The Divine Consort: Radha and the Goddesses of India (1986).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Univ of California Press
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Published on
Jul 1, 1996
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Pages
373
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ISBN
9780520916296
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Hinduism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The recent atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina have stunned people throughout the world. With Holocaust memories still painfully vivid, a question haunts us: how is this savagery possible? Michael A. Sells answers by demonstrating that the Bosnian conflict is not simply a civil war or a feud of age-old adversaries. It is, he says, a systematic campaign of genocide and a Christian holy war spurred by religious mythologies.

This passionate yet reasoned book examines how religious stereotyping—in popular and official discourse—has fueled Serbian and Croatian ethnic hatreds. Sells, who is himself Serbian American, traces the cultural logic of genocide to the manipulation by Serb nationalists of the symbolism of Christ's death, in which Muslims are "Christ-killers" and Judases who must be mercilessly destroyed. He shows how "Christoslavic" religious nationalism became a central part of Croat and Serbian politics, pointing out that intellectuals and clergy were key instruments in assimilating extreme religious and political ideas.

Sells also elucidates the ways that Western policy makers have rewarded the perpetrators of the genocide and punished the victims. He concludes with a discussion of how the multireligious nature of Bosnian society has been a bridge between Christendom and Islam, symbolized by the now-destroyed bridge at Mostar. Drawing on historical documents, unpublished United Nations reports, articles from Serbian and Bosnian media, personal contacts in the region, and Internet postings, Sells reveals the central role played by religious mythology in the Bosnian tragedy. In addition, he makes clear how much is at stake for the entire world in the struggle to preserve Bosnia's existence as a multireligious society.
No Hindu god is closer to the soul of poetry than Krishna, and in North India no poet ever sang of Krishna more famously than SūrdD=as-or Sūr, for short. He lived in the sixteenth century and became so influential that for centuries afterward aspiring Krishna poets signed their compositions orally with his name. This book takes us back to the source, offering a selection of Sūrd=as's poems that were known and sung in the sixteenth century itself. Here we have poems of war, poems to the great rivers, poems of wit and rage, poems where the poet spills out his disappointments. Most of all, though, we have the memory of love-poems that adopt the voices of the women of Krishna's natal Braj country and evoke the power of being pulled into his irresistible orbit. Following the lead of several old manuscripts, Jack Hawley arranges these poems in such a way that they tell us Krishna's life story from birth to full maturity. These lyrics from Sūr's Ocean (the Sūrs=agar) were composed in the very tongue Hindus believe Krishna himself must have spoken: Brajbh=as=a, the language of Braj, a variety of Hindi. Hawley prepares the way for his verse translations with an introduction that explains what we know of Sūrd=as and describes the basic structure of his poems. For readers new to Krishna's world or to the subtleties of a poet like Sūrd=as, Hawley also provides a substantial set of analytical notes. "Sūr is the sun," as a familiar saying has it, and we feel the warmth of his light in these pages.
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