Book Review: Devi by John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff

Book Name: Devi The Goddesses Of India

Editors: John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff

Publisher: Aleph

Rating: 5/5

Book Blurb: 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.

Review: This is perhaps one of the most seminal works on the various forms of the Indian feminine divine form worshipped as Devi. Right from Wendy Doniger (well known in India thanks to the pointless controversy) to John Stratton Hawley, many renowned scholars have contributed essays to this erudite collection of writings.

It discusses almost all forms of the female divine form right from Vindhyavasini, Kali, Radha, Bharat Mata, Sati and even the Holy Mother Ganges. I was much interested in learning if there were writings on the association of Tantric practices as they have contributed towards the development of Gods and Goddesses in not just Hinduism but also other religions such as Jainism in India.

The chapter on Goddess Kali is full of information that is not easy to locate. While Radha and some other forms are well known, even lesser known forms of the female Goddesses limited to some geographical regions are explored in this book.

Read this book to learn about the development of the female divinity worshipped in almost all corners of India. This is a flawless book and a welcome endeavor.


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