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Aiden Murphy
Aiden Murphy

Tantric Visions Of The Divine Feminine: The Ten...



What is one to make of a group of goddesses that includes a goddess who cuts her own head off, a goddess who sits on a corpse while pulling the tongue of a demon, or a goddess who prefers sex with corpses? Tantra visions of the Divine Faminine deals with a group of ten Hindu tantric goddesses, the Mahavidyas, who embody habits, attributes, or identities, usually considered repulsive or socially subversive. It is within the context of tantric worship that devotees seek to identify themselves with these forbidding goddesses. The Mahavidyas, who embody habits, attributes, or identities, usually considered repulsive or socially subversive. 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 that help to project one's consciousness beyond the socially acceptable or predictable. Kinsley not only describes the eccentric qualities of each of these goddesses, but seeks to interpret the Mahavidyas as a group and to explain their importance for understanding Tantra and the Hindu tradition.




Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten...



The kitschy, bizarre, mostly sugary and sometimes frightening representations of gods and goddesses that one comes across all over India in prints and calendars are bound to intrigue the non-Indian traveller. Who are these gods and goddesses? What meaning do these pictures convey? David Kinsley has a long-standing interest in Hindu and other goddesses, as we can see from his previous books The Sword and the Flute (1975), Hindu Goddesses (1986), and The Goddesses' Mirror (1988). In this book, he has selected for study one particular group from the Hindu pantheon, the ten Mahavidyas, ten goddesses who indulge in necrophilia, are worshipped in cremation grounds, and display generally disconcerting behaviour. Kinsley treats the goddesses first as a group and mentions some particular temples where they appear in wall paintings and carvings. Stressing that most devotees believe that all the ten goddesses are in fact only one, who is the same as the Great Goddess, Kinsley then goes on to give detailed descriptions of the forms and functions of each individual goddess. However, the pervasive question in Kinsley's study is why these 'anti-social' goddesses are worshipped at all. They certainly do not conform to the general Hindu idea of female behaviour: they are not mothers and nurturers, they are not obedient consorts of a male god. On the contrary, they indulge in sex and drink and are offered blood and semen by the worshippers. Interestingly, all the tantras and pur[Symbol Not Transcribed]nas describing the worship of these goddesses seem to take for granted that the devotee is male. Kinsley speculates on 'The Potentially Liberating Nature of Social Antimodels' and conjectures that 'The Mahavidyas, as antimodels, are awakeners, visions of the divine that challenge comfortable and comforting fantasies about the way things are in the world.' 041b061a72


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